The Lucky Seventh
My researcher friends and I have gone around previously about the origins of the seventh inning stretch, so I’ll not revisit that today. However, I can recall as a boy learning that the seventh was a lucky inning for the home team. Apart from the magical properties assigned to the number 7, here may be the origin of that notion in baseball, from the Brooklyn Eagle of December 25, 1910, relying upon contemporaneous accounts from the New York Clipper. The subject is the Atlantics’ victory over the Excelsiors in 1860–a return match after having lost the opener at the Excelsior Grounds on Court Street. [The accompanying art at left is the first of Norman Rockwell’s baseball works printed in color, published when he had just turned twenty.]
Atlantics Start “Lucky Seventh”
At 3:35 the game commenced and for the first three innings the Atlantics failed to get a man across the home plate, so skillful was the work of the visiting players in the field. In the meantime the Excelsiors scored 8 runs by timely batting.
In the fourth inning the Atlantics made 2 runs by good hits on the part of Smith, McMahon and Peter O’Brien. The Excelsiors added 3 more runs to their credit, making the score at the end of the inning stand at 11 to 2. This certainly looked bad for the Atlantics, but they never gave up while there was a chance to win. In the next two innings they began to get warmed up to their work, for they added 4 runs to their score, while they held their opponents down to a single run.
Then something happened. For the first and only time in Creighton’s career, he was batted out of the pitcher’s position, and Edmund Russell took his place in the remaining two innings. That seventh inning, which was thereafter called “the lucky seventh,” was a memorable one in the annals of the Atlantics’ career, for a finer display of batting was never before seen in this vicinity.
Then, too, it was marked by one of the greatest instances of fielding ever witnessed up to that time in this country, Russell’s catch of a ball sent by Price to left field being one of the finest ever made. Price had sent the ball with terrific force over into left field, when Russell, while running at full speed, made a most remarkable catch—taking tho ball on the fly within a few inches of the ground, and eliciting a spontaneous burst of applause from the spectators that lasted until he took his place in the pitcher’s position, he succeeding Creighton. The result of this inning decided the game, the Atlantics making 9 runs and bringing their total up to 15. The Excelsiors just missed tieing the score, and that was all they could do, so brilliantly did the Atlantics play in the field. [Note below that the Atlantics, as the home club, elected to bat first.]
Atlantic 0 0 0 2 1 3 9 0 0–15
Excelsior 3 4 1 3 1 0 0 1 1–14