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Old News in Baseball, No. 13

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As we near Induction Weekend at the Baseball Hall of Fame, this week’s Old News column, while referencing many whose plaques adorn the gallery in Cooperstown, focuses on the game’s lesser lights. It is men like Joe Borden and Victory Faust and Hank Borowy and John Blanchard who provide a special pleasure of recollection, for their brief entries into baseball lore are what oldtimers like myself love to share with a newer generation of fans. Who would believe the circumstances of even a relatively recent event like the Pine Tar Game if it had not provided such a flash of theatrics and lingering controversy? These, by the way, are lovingly recounted in Filip Bondy’s new book titled, unsurprisingly, The Pine Tar Game, published this week by Scribner.

July 24

1911: An American League all-star team plays a benefit game against the Naps in Cleveland‚ raising $12‚914 for the late Addie Joss’s family. The great pitcher, ill through much of his brief career, had died on April 14 of tubercular meningitis; he was 31. The all-stars win 5-3 behind Joe Wood and Walter Johnson. Cy Young, who pitched for the Cleveland side, had said at Joss’s funeral “He was a great man. I feel sure he never made an enemy.”

1911 Addie Joss Benefit Game

1911 Addie Joss Benefit Game; Ty Cobb’s Detroit uniform did not arrive in time

1959: Before the International League game between the Havana Sugar Kings and visiting Rochester Red Wings‚ Fidel Castro pitches two innings for his pickup team Los Barbudos against a military police squad. Castro strikes out two batters with the aid of some friendly calls‚ and ground outs to short.

1983: In what came to be known forevermore as “Pine Tar Game” at Yankee Stadium‚ George Brett hits an apparent two-run home run off Rich Gossage to give the Royals a 5-4 lead with two outs in the top of the ninth. Then Yankees manager Billy Martin points out that the pine tar on Brett’s bat handle exceeds the 17 inches allowed in the rules. Brett is called out, giving New York a 4-3 victory and precipitating his memorable tantrum. The Royals immediately protest‚ and league president Lee MacPhail overrules his umpires. He follows his own precedent, established after a protest in 1975 of the September 7 game played between the Royals and the Angels. In that game, the umpire crew had declined to negate one of John Mayberry’s home runs for excessive pine tar use. MacPhail upheld the umpires’ decision with the view that the intent of the rule was to prevent baseballs from being discolored in game play, and that any discoloration that may have occurred to a ball leaving the ballpark did not affect the game’s competitive balance. The “Pine Tar Game” will be resumed, from the point after Brett’s home run, on August 18.Pine Tar Game, Bondy

July 25

1867: The Washington Nationals, touring the West, lose to the young men of the Rockford Forest City Club, by a score of 29–23. There had been upsets before in baseball’s brief history, but never one on this scale. Immediately it was alleged that the Nationals had tanked the game so as to narrow the odds for their coming contests against the Excelsiors and Atlantics of Chicago. When the Nationals went on to win those games by respective scores of 49–4 and 78–17 to close out their tour, the cries of fraud regarding the Rockford contest only grew louder. No one could have known that several of the Forest City lads would one day become nationally prominent players—particularly pitcher Al Spalding and infielder Ross Barnes. For more, see:

1898: The Giants forfeit a game to Baltimore in the fourth inning on orders from President Andrew Freedman. He is offended by anti-Semitic remarks from Orioles left fielder Ducky Holmes‚ who used to play for Freedman. Responding to typical taunts from his former teammates, Holmes shouted across the diamond, “Well, I’m —— glad I don’t have to work for a sheeny no more.”) Freedman ordered his men off the field, forfeiting the game to Baltimore despite his own players’ sympathy with Holmes: Who didn’t hate Freedman? Holmes was suspended, Freedman was fined. When the suspension was rescinded but the fine was left to stand, animosity increased.

1956: At Roosevelt Field in Jersey City‚ the Dodgers defeat the Reds‚ 2-1 when Duke Snider hits a homer in the ninth. This is one of seven games the Dodgers will play in Jersey City this year, with seven more the next, as they advertise their dissatisfaction with Ebbets Field. 

Joe DiMaggio, 1933

Joe DiMaggio, 1933

July 26

1933: The 61-game batting streak of San Francisco’s 18-year-old rookie‚ Joe DiMaggio‚ is stopped by Ed Walsh‚ Jr. of Oakland. Joe’s streak breaks the Pacific Coast League mark of 49‚ set by Jack Ness in 1915. DiMaggio hit .405 (104-for-257) during the skein. Joe Wilhoit of the Wichita Jobbers of the Western League retained his hold on the longest such streak in the minors, however. In 69 games from June 14 to August 19, 1919, he went 153-for-297 for a .515 batting average.

1961: John Blanchard ties a big-league record by hitting his third and fourth homers in four at bats over three games. The spare catcher-outfielder will end the year with 21 homers in 243 at bats‚ the first player in history to hit 20 or more in fewer than 250 at bats. Four of his home runs would come in pinch-hitting spots.

1991: Against the Dodgers‚ Montreal’s Mark Gardner pitches a no-hitter through nine innings before Lenny Harris beats out an infield single in the tenth. The Dodgers get two more hits and win the contest. Gardner is one of many pitchers who once would have been credited with no-hitters but, following an MLB ruling to come in September of this year, such famous no-hitters as that by Harvey Haddix and Jim Maloney are tossed into the “nice try” bin. For more, see:

July 27

1904: John McGraw and John T. Brush announce they have no intention of playing in a World Series. “The Giants will not play a post season series with the American League champions. Ban Johnson has not been on the level with me personally‚ and the American League management has been crooked more than once.” says McGraw. “When we clinch the NL pennant‚ we’ll be champions of the only real major league‚” Ban Johnson fires back‚ “No thoughtful patron of baseball can weigh seriously the wild vaporings of this discredited player who was canned from the American League.” For the two-year-old background to this aborted World Series, see:

1945: In perhaps the most momentous midseason transaction in baseball history, the Cubs purchase pitcher Hank Borowy from the New York Yankees in a waiver deal. Borowy‚ 10-5 with the Yankees‚ was put on waivers‚ apparently to solve a short-term roster problem‚ and was passed over by all seven AL teams who assumed the Yanks would pull him back if claimed. The Cubs grab him, and he will help them win the pennant with an 11-2 record. For more, see: 

1969: Broadway producer David Merrick opines in the New York Times: “There’s not enough showmanship in baseball. It is show business, isn’t it? I don’t think baseball is dead by any means. But it needs things. In the theatre we’re always thinking of the audience. But in baseball they’re unmindful of the audience. . . . I like the idea of having a pinch hitter for the pitcher, one of the things they were trying this spring.”

July 28

1875: Philadelphia’s Joseph E. Borden‚ also known as Joe Josephs and “The Great Josephus,” pitches the first no-hitter in professional baseball‚ beating the Chicago White Stockings‚ 4-0. Boston will sign him to a big contract for 1876, and he will win the first game played in the National League, on April 22, 1876. But Borden will disappoint, ending the summer as Boston’s groundskeeper and turnstile operator.

Charles Victory Faust

Charles Victory Faust

1911: Charles “Victory” Faust shows up at the Giants’ hotel in St. Louis asking for a tryout. Manager John McGraw observes the “pitcher‚” and carries him on the team in unform as a mascot and good luck charm. The hayseed mental defective “helped” the Giants to pennants in 1911 and 1912. Fred Snodgrass recalled that Faust worked his charms on the 1913 pennant winners too, but research fails to back that up. For more, see:

1943: The Phillies threaten not to take the field for a game with the Cardinals‚ the proceeds of which are earmarked for the War effort. The players are upset because they learn about manager Bucky Harris’s firing by reading of it in the newspaper. Cox averts the strike but a few days later‚ Harris tells reporters that Cox had bet on games‚ a charge that will force him to sell the team. The chaos in Philadelphia will intrigued Bill Veeck, who later claimed that he sought to buy the club and stock it with stars from the Negro Leagues.

July 29

1889: Boston wins a ten-inning‚ 7-6 decision over Philadelphia but the Phils claim they are robbed by Mike Kelly. When Phillie slugger Sam Thompson hits a ball apparently over the fence in right field‚ Kelly runs back and then fires a ball to the infield. The Phils claim Kelly used a ball planted in the outfield before the inning began but the umpire rules it is the game ball. Thompson does not score.

1909: National League president Harry Pulliam‚ despondent over his inability to handle the problems and controversies of the league, dies after shooting himself yesterday. Pulliam had been suffering from a nervous breakdown that writers speculated had been brought on by the aftermath of the Merkle Boner controversy of September 1908, and New York Giants’ supporters’ resulting fury.

Old Timer's Day Reuniting Cy Young and Chief Zimmer

Old Timer’s Day Reuniting Cy Young and Chief Zimmer

1921: As part of Cleveland’s 125th anniversary celebration‚ Cy Young‚ 54‚ makes a two-inning appearance on the mound in an old-timers’ game. Chief Zimmer‚ 60‚ is his catcher. Nap Lajoie, Harry Bay, and other old-time heroes take the field as well.

First Nine cigars 1874, Boston and Philadelphia, English Tour

First Nine cigars 1874, Boston and Philadelphia, English Tour

July 30

1874: In Liverpool‚ England‚ the Philadelphia Athletics score five runs in the tenth to beat the Boston Red Stockings‚ 14-11. The two teams would miss nearly two months of the National Association regular season in order to demonstrate the American game to its English originators. The English are largely unimpressed. A correspondent signing as “Grandmother” will write to the London Times on August 11, 1874: “Sir——Some American athletes are trying to introduce to us their game of base ball, as if it were a novelty: whereas the fact is that it is an ancient English game, long ago discarded in favor of cricket. . . .”

1980: Attempting to throw for the first time since being hospitalized for tests last week‚ J. R. Richard suffers a stroke and is rushed into surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot in his neck. He will never pitch in the major leagues again.

2004: In a swap savaged by New York media‚ the Mets acquire pitchers Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunado from the Devil Rays in exchange for highly touted pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz. Relatively unnoticed on this day is another trade, in which the Mets obtain pitcher Kris Benson and infielder Jeff Keppinger from the Pirates for Ty Wigginton‚ Matt Peterson … and Jose Bautista‚ who, though he did not get into a game for the Mets, will emerge as a great slugging star with the Toronto Blue Jays.


Henry Moore, Mystery Man of Baseball

Henry Moore

Henry Moore with San Francisco Pioneers, 1888

I have been thinking lately of one-year wonders, phenoms who blazed their names in the sky and then retreated into obscurity. We’ll look at pitchers another day, but in the history of Major League Baseball, only three men have batted .300 in their first full season and then never appeared in the big leagues again: Buzz Arlett, Irv Waldron and, most interestingly to me right now, Henry (sometimes rendered as “Harry” or “Hen”) Moore.

Of these the most celebrated is Arlett, who in 17 minor-league seasons compiled 367 homers and a batting average  of .336. In his only MLB year, as a 32-year-old rookie with the 1931 Phils, he hit .313 with 18 home runs (with an OPS+ of 138), then returned to the minors, where in 1932 he hit 54 homers and drove in 144 runs. Like Babe Ruth, he had begun his professional career as a pitcher, leading the Pacific Coast League in wins in 1920 with 29 for the Oakland Oaks. In the years 1919-1922, before converting to a full-time outfielder in 1923, Arlett notched 95 victories. Waldron Muffs , Chicago Inter Ocean 1901

Irv Waldron began his professional career in 1895 with Pawtucket of the New England League. In 1901, the American League’s first year as a major, he hit .311 between the old Milwaukee Brewers (who would become the St. Louis Browns in 1902) and Washington Senators. While he played another nine seasons for various minor league teams, he never returned to the majors after 1901. Frankly, the difference in pay between the minors west of the Mississippi and a fledgling major league may be sufficient to explain Waldron’s decision–if it was his. His reputation for boneheaded defensive play may have been enough to ward off bidders, too.

Henry Moore hit .336 in with the Washington Nationals in 1884, leading the Union Association, a one-year major league, in hits and in games played. Yet, as David Nemec has written: “After a couple of years in the minors, he completely disappeared. As well as the record for the highest batting average of any player who appeared in the major leagues for only one full season, Moore left behind another unique legacy: He is the only .300 hitter about whom not a single biographical fact is known–where he was born, when he died, which way he batted and threw–none of it.”

I have taken that as a friendly challenge and proceeded to poke around a bit. What I can say with certainty is that he batted left, threw right, was born in California before 1865 and probably died there, certainly sometime after 1905 and before 1912. That is not very precise, I will be the first to admit; perhaps others will pick up loose strands from this ball of yarn and take the research further. [Breaking news as of July 25, 2015: Publication of this story last week prompted some of SABR’s best sleuths–Peter Morris, Richard Malatzky, and Bruce Allardice–to pitch in; see the Comments section below. We now appear to have a good birthdate for Moore of November or December 1862 and a deathdate of June 3, 1902.]

Reading of his various fistfights, suspensions, fines, and blacklists, we may safely say that Henry S. Moore had a problem with drink as well as self-control. It may not be too much to term him a sociopath. The best way to tell his sketchy, nomadic story is chronologically.

Mission Baseball Field, San Francisco, ca. 1880, near 25th and Harrison

Mission Baseball Field, San Francisco, ca. 1880, near 25th and Harrison

I think “our” Henry S. Moore (we don’t know what the S. stood for) is represented in the 1880 census as a 16-year-old living at home with his divorced mother, reportedly 50, and two siblings. In 1879 he had begun his baseball career with the San Francisco Eagles and the Stars, both in the Pacific League. Of his teammates Jerry Denny would be the one who would go on to stardom in the majors. While his parents were both born in Ireland, Henry was born in San Francisco. (On November 24, 1886, the San Francisco Chronicle declared, “Henry Moore, a Californian, and who leads the batters of Northwestern League, has returned to his native city….”)

In 1880 he again played with a San Francisco entry, this time in the California League, in which all four clubs were based in the city by the bay. Among his teammates were Live Oak Taylor and Ned Williamson. The following year found him with the San Francisco Mystics and the Californias. Hen Moore was recognized as an up and comer, and after one more year on the West Coast, with the San Francisco Nationals, he headed east to prove his mettle, joining the Actives of Reading, a strong club in the Inter-State League on which 17 of the 20 men had played in the majors or would go on to do so.

Moore played second base in 34 of his 35 games with the club—indicating but not assuring that he threw righthanded (in the following year, with Washington in the Union Association, he played eight games at shortstop, too). But it seems odd that the Actives played a schedule of at least 64 games, and Moore appears to have played nowhere else in 1883–why did he appear in only 35 games? It turns out that “at a meeting of the managers of the Active base ball club at Reading yesterday [June 22], Henry Moore, second baseman of the club, was ‘blacklisted’ for general misconduct.” After a period of reinstatement—he was undeniably a good player—on August 7 he was again blacklisted, this time permanently. “Manager Fox said that this was final and conclusive. Jacoby will continue to play second base, which he has been covering well.”

Boston Union Grounds, 1884

Boston Union Grounds

All the same, when the Union Association announced its entry into the arena as a third major league, the need to stock its clubs was pressing. Hen Moore was snapped up by the Washington Nationals, and given a starting place in the outfield. For manager Mike Scanlan he played in all but one of the club’s scheduled 112 games but probably should have been expelled again: “The queerest and meanest thing ever done on a ball field,” was how Washington’s pitcher Billy Wise described Moore’s actions in a game against Boston. Denied a $10 advance against his salary in a discussion the evening prior to the game, Moore came to the plate with the score 3-2 against his Nationals with two out in the ninth and Phil Baker on first and Wise on third. Let Wise tell the story:

He walked up the plate, smacked the first ball pitched into the far corner of the lot, good for twice four bases, threw his hat on the ground and deliberately walked to the players’ bench and sat down. Baker and I both raced to the plate but the Boston fielder finally overtook the ball and fielded it to first base, and the umpire declared Moore out, neither run counting under the rule, Boston winning the game 3 to 2….

Tim Murnane, who was present, said it was the most measly trick he ever saw perpetrated…. [Back in Washington] I was commissioned to interview the culprit and offer to remit the fine and suspension if he would agree to play his best for the remainder of the season, for we really needed his services. He seemed sorry for what he had done, and gave his promise, which he kept, playing gilt-edge ball for another month.

This pattern of insubordination, petulance, apology, expulsion, reinstatement, and renewed expulsion came to mark Moore’s career, as we shall see. When the Union Association blew up after its lone season, its former big leaguers were at first blacklisted by both the National League and the American Association, and its lesser lights struggled to hook on with minor-league clubs. Moore found a spot for 1885 with the Washington and then Norfolk clubs, both in the Eastern League. At season’s end, however, he headed west to resume play with the San Francisco Stars. On November 8, 1885, the San Francisco Alta ran an ad:

Baseball To-Day. The Stars and Pioneers will play at Central Park this afternoon. This will be the first appearance of Ed. Morris, Fred Carroll and Henry Moore, who have made such excellent records in the East this season. Morris will pitch and Carroll will catch for the Pioneers. Moore will play with the Stars….

The following November another ad appeared, this time in the Sacramento Daily Union, that confirms Moore to be a lefthand batter.

Sacramento Daily Union, Nov 13, 1886

Sacramento Daily Union, Nov 13, 1886


LOU HARDIE and INSELL will form the battery for the Haverlys, and McLAGHLAN and BORCHERS for the Altas. HENRY MOORE, the great fielder and lefthanded batter, will play with the Altas.

After incidents during a game on October 22, 1887 Moore, no doubt fueled by drink, got himself blacklisted again. The Los Angeles Herald reported that on October 26,

Henry Moore, the blacklisted centre-fielder, and manager [Mike] Finn, of the Pioneers, came to blows on the street this afternoon over a dispute growing out of difficulties in Saturday’s baseball game, when Moore was expelled from the club. The participants were separated before much injury had been done.

A feisty man with a barrel chest and handlebar mustache, Mike was approximately 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. No stranger to fisticuffs, he tangled with teammate Charles Gagus on March 28 after hearing that Gagus was jumping to another team….  In October Finn tangled with an insubordinate outfielder, Henry Moore, who was making disparaging remarks about him. Finn won the bout and Moore was blacklisted by league President Mone for the duration of the season….

Mike Finn

Mike Finn

Moore [had] made a farce of a Pioneer-Haverly game on October 22. Playing center field in the second inning, Moore, in the Chronicle’s estimation, “deliberately shirked a fly ball, which he could easily have caught, but folded his arms and stood stone still and allowed the ball to drop to the ground, three men scoring on the play.” Finn promptly ordered him off the field at the end of the inning to loud hisses and groans from the crowd. Moore was then blacklisted by league President Mone and was fined $25.

Three days later Finn and Moore ran into each other near a saloon on O’Farrell Street. Mike heard that Moore was making disparaging remarks about him, which Moore denied. Soon thereafter, blows were exchanged and a lively fight started, which was eventually broken up by the crowd. Reporters speculated that Moore’s behavior resulted because he had bet heavily on his team to win and was upset when they fell behind. Others thought Moore wanted to see his pitcher, Joseph Purcell, dropped from the team. [The blacklisted Moore in fact accused his teammates of throwing the game, then ventured south to Los Angeles, where he played left field with the touring Philadelphia Phillies for some games with the local nine.]

In March 1888 Moore took pen in hand to craft a public apology, which was published locally in the San Francisco Alta and in Sporting Life, the national sporting weekly.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 24. Editor Alta: As I intend applying to the California League for reinstatement, and as I earnestly hope my application will be favorably received, I feel that I owe the public that I should endeavor to set myself right before them. For my hasty action during the championship game the 22nd of last October I have no excuse to offer, but instead the most sincere apologies. To those of my friends who would make excuse for my conduct on that day I can only say that I acted in a moment of passion, caused by over-zealousness for the success of my club. Various reports circulated after that game, in effect that I had left the field because of my belief that it was a hippodrome, have gained credence. In regard to these I desire to have it understood that they, as well as many other statements reflecting on base ball, as conducted in this city, and which I was supposed to authorize, did not originate with me. I never had any reason to doubt the integrity of the officials of the California League; they have ever felt a kindly interest in the players, and their instructions have always been to play good, bona fide ball, and created in our minds the impression that shirking would not be tolerated. I know nothing of the charge that one of the managers had money wagered on the result of the League games. In conclusion, my dismissal has proved a most valuable lesson, and I know it will have a most beneficial effect upon me for all time to come.

Hoping that the foregoing will receive space in your valuable columns, I am very sincerely,

Henry Moore with 1888 San Francisco Pioneers,

Henry Moore with 1888 San Francisco Pioneers


Wally Wallace, with whom Moore had played on the San Francisco Californias in 1881, observed in print, “Henry writes well, doesn’t he? Moore is an immense favorite with the San Francisco public, and the magnates have the good sense to know that he is a powerful attraction. I am heartily glad that the great player will be given a chance.”

Moore was reinstated for the 1888 campaign, but within a month manager Finn canned him again, this time for drinking.

Henry S. Moore, ball player, is listed in the San Francisco City directory for 1889, a year in which he hooked on with the Sacramento and then Stockton clubs and, on April 2, married Maggie Agnew, a 29-year-old San Franciscan. For 1890 he was offered a return to the Stockton outfield but instead tried out for the Minneapolis club, which declined his services. Apart from an oldtimers’ game in 1897, Moore’s baseball days were done.

He became a salesman, nominally, and a streetcar conductor, but also a vagrant, hauled before the courts ignominiously. He and his wife had repeated rows which brought in the police. On May 7, 1900, the San Francisco Call reported, “Hen Moore has packed his grip and left his former home at 706 Ellis Street. He says he is through with his wife for all time.” In July he attended an event at the city’s famed Olympic Club; his reputation, for all the damage it had endured, somehow remained.

1886 Louisville to California

1886 Louisville to California

The last press mention of him alive may have come on May 26, 1905, when his 78-year-old mother, a dressmaker, was thrown out of a window by her 50-year-old female friend of two decades, in a dispute over a missing $15. Mrs. Moore “told her pitiful tale at the hospital, and said Mrs. Collins inflicted the wounds with her hands. Dr. Hill, who attended her, expresses but little hope for her recovery on account of her age…. Mrs. Moore is the mother of ‘Hen’ Moore, once a noted baseball player.” San Francisco death records were incinerated in the fires following the great earthquake of 1906, but Mrs. Moore never again appeared in a city directory listing, nor did her son.

In February 1912 James Hart, former business manager and part owner of the Chicago White Stockings, who had toured California with the Louisville club of the American Association in December 1886, returned to San Francisco. He reminisced about the ballplayers of those famous California nines of olden days with whom he had waged battle. “Two of the outfielders, Jim Bufford and Henry Moore, have since died,” he noted.

Old News in Baseball, No. 12

Newsboy logoThat was some All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, huh? Cincinnati proved to be the perfect host city. MLB’s design department outdid itself, at the park and all around town. The Franchise Four announcements were greeted by thunderous ovations for the hometown stars, who took to the field. And even the eyes of a crusty old veteran like me welled up at the sight of the four whom the fans voted “greatest living players”: Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax. And now for the crusty part: my whiskers twitched at the signage that celebrated “Cincinnati Red Stockings, Est. 1869.” Undefeated in that year, this was the team that made Cincinnati–and baseball itself–famous from coast to coast. But they were established in 1866, as you will read below.

July 17:

1903: Lefthander Dan McClellan of the Cuban X-Giants spins the first perfect game in black baseball history‚ blanking the Penn Park Athletic Club of York‚ 5-0. Rube Foster had whitewashed the Penn Park AC the day before.

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 1903

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 1903

1941: Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak is ended at 56 games. Indian pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby‚ plus sensational plays by third baseman Ken Keltner‚ stop the Yankee Clipper. Joe tells Phil Rizzuto after the game that his failure to hit cost him $10,000, as Heinz Ketchup (“57 Varieties”) was prepared to sign an endorsement deal with him. For more, see:

1974: In Los Angeles‚ during a 5-4 loss to the Expos‚ Dodger pitcher Tommy John blows his elbow out. Dodger doctor Frank Jobe will suggest a replacement for the torn ulnar collateral ligament‚ a first for a professional athlete. Given one chance in a hundred of ever pitching again‚ John will return to record 164 wins after the surgery‚ pitching until age 46.

o'doul, leftyJuly 18:

1925: Playing for Salt Lake City, Lefty O’Doul sets a Pacific Coast League record for hits in a three game series (16-for-17) and for a four-game series (19-for-21). O’Dould had come to the majors as a pitcher, but at the end of the 1924 season, in which he gave up 13 runs in one inning pitching for the Red Sox, he was released to the PCL. In 1925, in addition to the aforementioned hitting exploit, he batted .375 with 309 hits and 24 home runs. Earning a recall to the bigs in 1928, Lefty led the National League in hitting twice and finished with a career batting average of .349.

1987: Don Mattingly hits a home run in his eighth consecutive game‚ tying the record set by Dale Long in 1956 and later equaled by Ken Griffey, Jr.

1999: Don Larsen, who hurled a perfect game for the New Yorkers in the 1956 WS‚ throws out the first pitch prior to New York’s game against the Expos. David Cone then throws a perfecto of his own, defeating the Expos‚ 6-0 while fanning ten.

July 19:

1884: Boston’s Fred “Dupee” Shaw holds St. Louis, the top club in the Union Association, to one hit while fanning 18 batters‚ but loses the game 1-0. In his outings of July 16th‚ 19th‚ and 21st‚ Shaw will amass 48 strikeouts‚ a big-league record for three consecutive games. Possibly the inventor of the windup, Shaw’s motions in the pitching box [the slab did not come in until 1893] were thus described by Al Spink: “After considerable swinging and scratching around with his feet, during which he would deliver a lengthy speech to the batter, to the effect that he was the best pitcher on earth and the batter a dub, he would stretch both arms at full length over his head. Then after gazing fixedly at the first baseman for a moment, he would wheel half around and both arms would fly apart like magic… [H]e would wind his left arm around again and let the ball fly, running at the same time all the way from the box to the home plate.”

Neal Ball

Neal Ball

1909: Cleveland SS Neal Ball pulls off an unassisted triple play in the top of the second inning against the Red Sox. With Heinie Wagner on second base and Jake Stahl on first‚ Amby McConnell hits a line drive to Ball‚ who steps on second and tags Stahl. Earlier triple plays in professional baseball were achieved by first baseman Harry O’Hagan, with Rochester in 1902, and Paul Hines, with Providence in 1878. For more, see:

1960: In a spectacular debut‚ Giant Juan Marichal pitches no-hit ball until Clay Dalrymple of the Phillies pinch-hits a single with two out in the seventh. Marichal fans 12 in his one-hit win, the first by a National League pitcher in the century. (Before 1900, two men had thrown no-hitters in their first starts: Ted Breitenstein in 1891 and Bumpus Jones in 1892.)

Jim Corbett (right) and Abe Attell (yes).

Jim Corbett (right) and Abe Attell

July 20:

1858: The first game played in an enclosed grounds, the first to feature a paid admission, and the first All-Star Game. In many ways, today’s game at the Fashion Race Course, pitting the best of Brooklyn against the cream of New York—when these were separate cities—may be said to be the most important in baseball history. John Holder of the Brooklyn Excelsiors hits the first home run ever recorded in a box score‚ but New York wins the game 22-18. Brooklyn will take the rematch on August 19‚ and on September 19‚ New York wins the rubber game and the series. For more, see:

1898: Joe Corbett‚ the Baltimore hurler who has been holding out all season for a higher salary‚ spars with brother Jim‚ heavyweight champion of the world‚ to prepare him for his fight with Kid McCoy. Joe Corbett‚ who won 24 games in 1897‚ will not pitch in the majors again until 1904.

1969: San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry connects for his first hit of the year‚ and his first major league homer, to beat the Dodgers‚ 7-3. Last year‚ Alvin Dark had remarked to sportswriter Harry Jupiter about Perry’s hitting‚ “They’ll put a man on the moon before he hits a home run.” Perry’s homer comes about 20 minutes after the clubhouse receives word that Neil Armstrong has set foot on the moon.

Tim Keefe, 1887

Tim Keefe, 1887

July 21:

1892: Tim Keefe of the Phillies outpitches Pud Galvin of St. Louis 2-0. It is Keefe’s 326th win against 211 losses. Galvin’s career mark is 360-306. It is the fourth and last match-up, all in the past three years, between these two 300-game winners. The next match-up of 300-game winners will be between Don Sutton and Phil Niekro on June 6‚ 1986; the one after that will not come until Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens face each other on April 29‚ 2005.

1969: At an All-Star Game banquet in Washington, DC, the Baseball Writers’ Association announces an all-time team and an all-time living team. Babe Ruth is selected Greatest All-Time Player‚ and Joe DiMaggio‚ Greatest Living Player.

1970: Clay Kirby has a no-hitter going for eight innings‚ but with two outs in the 8th and trailing 1-0‚ Padres manager Preston Gomez lifts him for a pinch hitter Cito Gaston. Gaston fails to get a hit off Mets’ starter Jim McAndrew‚ and reliever Jack Baldschun gives up two runs in the ninth. Gomez will repeat the stratagem with Don Wilson and the Padres on September 4‚ 1974.

Diomedes Olivo, 1963

Diomedes Olivo, 1963

July 22:

1886: It is reported that Chicago owner Albert Goodwill Spalding has hired Pinkerton detectives to shadow the White Stocking players and report on their drinking habits. Seven players are fined $25 each. One of these is King Kelly, who accepts the fine but indignantly corrects Spalding, “It was straight whiskey; I never drank a lemonade at that hour in me life.”

1963: Diomedes Olivo‚ who will split his time between St. Louis in the NL (0-5 in 1963) and Atlanta in the IL (3-1) pitches a 1-0 no-hitter for Atlanta over Toronto. At 44 or so, Olivo is likely the oldest pitcher in Organized Baseball to toss a no-hitter.

1997: Greg Maddux throws just 78 pitches as the Atlanta Braves defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-1. It is the lowest pitch total for a nine-inning complete game since Bob Tewksbury threw 76 for the Cardinals against the Reds on August 29‚ 1990. But neither pitch count approaches the record of Red Barrett, who needed only 58 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout of Cincinnati on August 10, 1944 in which he did not walk or strike out anyone.

July 23:

1866: The Cincinnati Base Ball Club is organized. Harry Wright had left New York for the Queen City of the West in March 1865 to serve as the professional instructor and bowler of its Union Cricket Club. On this date in 1866, the Cincinnati Base Ball Club is formed, and Harry Wright is enticed into being its pitcher. To devote his full attention to the new national game for 1867, the baseball club’s directors, many of them holding office in common with the cricket club, will offer him the same salary he is already receiving to switch sports. The club will fare well against regional opponents but they see the need to recruit from the east for 1868 and then what will be the unequaled campaign of 1869. For more, see:

Cincinnati Red Stockings, 1868

Cincinnati Red Stockings, 1868

1870: Five thousand spectators jam Dexter Park in Chicago to see the White Stockings play the visiting Mutuals of New York. Mutuals pitcher Rynie Wolters holds the White Stockings to three singles, winning 9-0 for the first shutout game in big-time baseball history. Until this game, in the West a blank score had been termed a “whitewashing,” and in the East a “blinder.” In New York it had been called a “skunk.” After this 1870 landmark game, the New York Herald will use “Chicagoed” from now on to signify a shutout; the term will survive into the 1890s.

1924: The Yankees and Lou Gehrig hits the first of his longtime-record 23 grand slams in a game against Firpo Marberry and the Senators. Gehrig’s slam is an opposite-field fly ball in the seventh that left fielder Goose Goslin thinks will drift foul‚ but it drops fair and bounds into the seats, scoring Aaron Ward‚ Bob Meusel‚ and Babe Ruth. The bounce homer will not become a ground-rule double until the next decade.

Bowing Out On Top

Cap Anson.

Cap Anson

While researching the strange career of Henry Moore, Washington Nationals outfielder who hit .336 in his lone season in major league baseball (in the Union Association of 1884), I recalled having published this fine article by James D. Smith III in The National Pastime of 1983. Smith was, in 1983, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard and had contributed to historical, religious, and sports publications. Today, The Rev. Dr. James D. Smith III is Professor of Church History at Bethel Seminary in California, and is part time Minister of Pastoral Care at Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church. As to Henry (also known as Harry or Hen) Moore, I will devote a full column to him next week.

In the early months of 1926, Ty Cobb recounts in his autobiography, My Life in Baseball, the great outfielder was obliged to submit to eye surgery at the Johns Hopkins Clinic in Baltimore: “the dust of a thousand ballfields was in my eyes.” Shortly before he was admitted, a poem appeared in one of the local papers:

The curtain’s going to drop, old chap

For Time has taken toll,

And you could never play a part

Except the leading role.

You might go on and play and play,

But why go on for folks to say

“There’s old Ty Cobb, still on the job,

But not the Cobb of yesterday.”

The record shows that the Georgia Peach not only played that season, but added two more with the Philadelphia A’s before hanging up his spikes–batting over .300 each time. The point, however, is well taken: it has been said that, amid all the physical and mental exertion, the toughest thing for a ballplayer is knowing when to quit. And, as does no other sport, baseball often provides a decisive statistical indication of that moment when the sun has dropped below the horizon of a career.

The story is told of another Hall of Famer, Adrian (Cap) Anson, relating an incident which occurred a few years before his death in 1922. The old Chicago veteran was involved in a Windy City accident which nearly claimed his life. This prompted a close friend, half-jokingly, to ask what he would like as an epitaph when the time came for him to be laid to rest. With little hesitation, the reply came: “I guess one line will be enough–just write this on my tombstone: ‘here lies a man that batted .300.’ ” Pop Anson, of course, had finished his career on that note, batting .302 at the ripe age of forty-six.

But how many have gone out that way, clearing that time-honored barrier, satisfied with a strong effort at the plate during their final major league campaign? And, for those closing their big league careers in that manner, how was such a decision made—what marked the end? These two questions provide the starting point for a glance backward into a century of baseball history.

At the outset, four points must be made. As implied above, our investigation does not begin with any so-called “modern era” of baseball (1893? 1900? 1901? 1903?). In 1968, the Special Baseball Records Committee declared that major league baseball has been played in America since 1876. To approach completeness, even with changes  in the game and some records still being researched, our story must begin at the beginning and recognize the continuities.

Second, since many players have appeared briefly for a “cup of coffee” on major league rosters, or played only occasionally, some criterion of involvement is necessary. For our purposes, the measure of a “regular” player is not number of games, but a number of plate appearances equal to 2.5 times the scheduled games. That is, for a 154-game season, 385 appearances provide a cut-off point; for 1877, when the schedule called for 60 games, the figure becomes 150 plate appearances.

Next, not all players end their careers voluntarily—some do; most don’t.

(1) Some leave the game for health reasons.

(2) A few have been permanently suspended—barred from major league ball.

(3) Far more frequently, players have continued their careers in Organized Baseball by catching on with a minor league team.

(4) Finally, there is a story behind each of the thirty-six regulars who batted .300 in his last major league season; four of these–one from each of the categories listed above–will serve to epitomize the group. And within each group, four others will have their tales told in brief.

Smith ChartSome players are familiar, others obscure–but all reach beyond the statistics to provide a brief glimpse of the wealth of baseball history. Eight players played regularly in their final campaign, batted .300, and retired voluntarily from Organized Baseball.

Cap Anson has been mentioned above, retiring in 1897 after twenty-two legendary seasons with Chicago. In Anson’s obituary, Grantland Rice best summed up what lay behind his retirement: “The light in his batting eye was still carrying a bright glow when his ancient arms and legs had at last given away and ended his career upon the field.” His involvement with baseball was to continue in a variety of management and business ventures, including an unhappy stint as manager of Andrew Freedman’s New York Giants.

Bill Lange

Bill Lange

Bill Lange stands as the finest everyday, all-around player to retire from baseball at the peak of his career. Born in San Francisco, he developed there both his baseball skills and a lifelong attachment to the Bay Area. In 1893, aged twenty-one, he began his seven-season major league career with the Chicago Colts. By the time player-manager Anson retired, Lange was already being hailed by some as “the greatest player of the age.”

His physical tools were impressive. In an age of generally smaller players, he stood 6’2″ and weighed over 200 pounds. Moreover, he was lightning fast as a runner, as well as being agile in the outfield.

The 1897 season was vintage Lange. In the spring, he was helping to coach the Stanford baseball team. On March 5, he received a telegram summoning him to the Colts’ training camp in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Determined to remain in the West until local favorite Gentleman Jim Corbett’s fight with Bob Fitzsimmons in Nevada, his first stalling tactic was to send a wire refusing to report until he received a $500 raise. But the raise was quickly granted (provided he come immediately and tell no one of the bonus). The fight was scheduled for March 17. So he managed to “sprain his ankle,” wiring the news on March 12 that it should be all right in a week. It was (Corbett wasn’t), and Lange finally reported in time to hit .340 with 73 stolen bases.

More famous, however, was his 1896 campaign. Despite stealing 84 bases and batting .326, it was his fielding that would become legendary. AI Spalding, when selecting his all-time major league team years later, chose Lange even over Tris Speaker. “Both men,” he reflected, “could go back or to either side equally well. Both were lightning fast in handling ground balls. But no man I ever saw could go forward and get a low line drive like Lange.”

During the 1899 season, his last, a romance with Miss Grace Geiselman of San Francisco blossomed. After the campaign, wedding plans were made for the spring, and in October (with his fiancee in Europe) Bill Lange announced his retirement from baseball. He left to take up a position in a large real estate and insurance firm in his native city, accepting a partnership with his father-in-law to be.

In the following years, he played occasionally and became involved in scouting (sending nephew George Kelly to the majors) and in the business end of baseball in California. He died in 1950, mourned in his native San Francisco and by all in Chicago who ever saw him play.

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb, after twenty-four seasons of American League baseball, issued a statement on September 17, 1928, declaring that he was in his final campaign: “I prefer to retire while there still may remain some base hits in my bat. Baseball is the greatest game in the world. I owe all that I possess in the way of worldly goods to this game. For each week, month, and year of my career, I have felt a deep sense of responsibility to the grand old national sport that has been everything to me. I will not reconsider. This is final.” His aching legs and old wounds made his final season, the last of two under Connie Mack, “hellishly hard.”

Ted Williams, thirty-two years later, closed out his magnificent career with the Red Sox with a 425-foot home run at Fenway Park on September 28. Earlier in the season, after hitting his 500th home run, he had remarked: “I want to play out the year if I can. I hope I can get through it. I know I can’t play all the time. I need a rest about every fourth day. But I think I’ll be able to hit the rest of the year. I believe I can still help the club.” And hit he did, rebounding from his only sub-.300 season in a career which touched four decades. After his final game, in the dressing room: “I’m convinced I’ve quit at the right time. There’s nothing more I can do.” Except, perhaps, fish…

Lou Brock ended his stellar career with a major league record 938 stolen bases, 21 in his final season of 1979. In spring training he had declared, following a disappointing 1978, “I think this will be my last season in baseball. Even if present conditions change, I don’t think I want to go on. The mental tear is too much. The writing is on the wall … I am convinced that a real champ, a thoroughbred, can rebound. I’d like a chance to prove it.”

In September, after he had collected hit number 3,000 the previous month and was still going strong: “The most important thing was to crown my career with a fine performance. I’ve always wanted to leave baseball in a blaze of glory.” He retired to become Director of Sports Programming for a Cable TV concern and to pursue other business and civic involvements.

Four ballplayers ended their major league careers still batting a steady .300, but overcome by poor health, even death.

Dave Orr

Dave Orr

Dave Orr was the 250-pound first baseman on John M. Ward’s 1890 Brooklyn team in the Players League. In his eight major league years he never batted under .300–including a .373 mark in his final year–though often hit with nagging injuries. On July 12, he had two ribs broken by a pitched ball in a game against Boston. He continued to play for a time, but the pain continued. Late in the season, during an exhibition game in Renova, Pennsylvania, he was stricken with a paralysis which affected his whole left side. He hoped to find the therapy in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which would allow him to return in 1891, but he never fully recovered. He served in various positions attached to baseball, including a job as caretaker when Ebbetts Field was being built.

With the exception of Lou Gehrig, perhaps the player best remembered for a career tragically halted by terminal illness is Ross Youngs. At 5’8″, he was stocky, powerful, and aggressive. College coaches pursued him for his abilities in track and football, but he wanted to play professional baseball.

Immediately after graduation, in 1914, he became a seventeen-year-old trying to hold his own in the fast Texas League. The Austin team let him go, and he drifted into lower leagues for two seasons. In 1916, however, he enjoyed a .362 campaign in Sherman, Texas of the Western Association–and his contract was purchased by the New York Giants. John McGraw brought him to spring training camp at Marlin, Texas, in 1917 but sent him to Rochester, bringing him back at season’s end to hit .346 in seven games.

That was the first of eight straight .300 seasons Youngs registered for the Giants, who captured National League pennants in 1921-24. For the first of these four pennant winners, he drove home 102 runs with benefit of only 3 homers. He was a “short Ty Cobb.” In the process, he also  captured a spot in the hard-bitten McGraw’s heart reserved only for Christy Mathewson. The pictures of those two would adorn McGraw’s office wall for years to come.

Ross Youngs

Ross Youngs

In 1924, the Giants lost a hard-fought World Series to Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators. That winter, during a stay in Europe, Ross Youngs became ill, and carried the effects into 1925, in which he lost almost 100 points off his previous season’s average (.356-.264).

A cloud of uncertainty and concern hung over him at the Giants’ training camp in 1926. Youngs seemed sluggish and drained, somehow. When questioned, he laughingly replied, “I guess I’m getting old. It takes me more time to get in shape.” McGraw, however, was worried and depressed by all this (Mathewson had died in October 1925), and called in a doctor. He was told that “Pep” might not finish the season, that his condition would require a special diet and constant attention. “Muggsy”hired a male nurse to monitor his right fielder’s needs.

Youngs was determined to play as hard as he could for as long as he could. He joked about his male nurse and special care: “I used to laugh at Phil Douglas [the inebriate Giants’ pitcher] and his keeper–now I’ve got one.” He taught a seventeen-year-old rookie named Mel Ott to play right field. And, having played his final game on August 10, he closed his season at .306. He was no longer able to take the field, due to the progressive effects of Bright’s Disease, a degenerative kidney disorder which led to the retention of toxic uric acids. Despite the best care available in the 1920s, prolonged convalescence, and repeated transfusions, he died in San Antonio, Texas on October 22, 1927. He was thirty.

Perhaps the best summary of Youngs’ career is to be found in his eulogy by John McGraw, who had already managed the Giants for twenty-five seasons and whose baseball memory reached back to the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s: “He was the greatest outfielder I ever saw … he was the easiest player I ever knew to handle … on top of all this, a gamer ball player than Youngs never played….”

Ray Chapman is the only player to be killed by a pitched ball in the major leagues. On August 16, 1920, in the midst of the best of his nine major league seasons, he was struck in the head by a Carl Mays submarine delivery. One of the finest hitting and fielding shortstops in the American League, he remained conscious for a time but could not speak, passing away at 3 AM the next day.

Clemente at Ebbets Field, 1955

Clemente at Ebbets Field, 1955

Roberto Clemente ended his career in 1972, reaching the 3,000 hit milestone on September 30. Before the season began, however, his spring training interviews had told a story: “There is no way I can play more than this year and next year. No way.” Even as his hitting remained strong and he won his twelfth Gold Glove, it appeared that the 1973 season might well be his last. It never came. On the night of December 31 the airplane in which he was riding, carrying medicine and supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, plunged into the Atlantic. Waiving the five year wait, baseball writers voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

Two other players, both .300 batters but neither surviving midseason, deserve brief mention. Ed Delahanty, the great turn-of-the-century slugger, died on July 2, 1903 when he plunged off a railroad bridge into the darkness of the Niagara River–a mysterious end to a remarkable career (he was batting .333 for Washington at the time and that was below par for him!). Lesser known, but a fine player at age thirty, was Pittsburgh first baseman Alexander McKinnon. Batting .340 coming into a game at Philadelphia on July 4, 1887, “Mac” complained of not feeling well, and the next day was persuaded to go home to Boston: “I don’t believe I tried harder in my life to break a sweat than I did this morning, but it was no go.” He had typhoid fever, and died on July 24.

Four seasoned regulars enjoyed campaigns well over the .300 mark, but never played another inning in the major leagues–banished from Organized Baseball for conspiring with gamblers to throw games for a payoff.

The Black Sox scandal of 1919 immediately comes to mind–and, indeed, three of the plus-.300 group were mainstays of that team. The remaining figure, however, deserves special attention, as he played a vital role in what was baseball’s biggest scandal of the nineteenth century.

George Hall, 1874

George Hall, 1874

George Hall was born in Brooklyn in 1849, and polished his skills there during the baseball boom which followed the Civil War. There were no recognized professional teams or leagues in the mid-1860s. Amateur clubs and town teams had been in the field for decades, and as competition for the prestige and profit of a “winner” increased, under-the-table payoffs increased as well. Heavy betting and the periodic throwing of ballgames through intentionally careless play plagued the ballparks. Amateurism had become a sham—and into this turbulent atmosphere stepped a nineteen-year-old George Hall.

After an 1868 season with the Excelsior Juniors of Brooklyn, he caught on as first baseman for the Brooklyn Stars, one of the leading teams in the East. In 1870, he became center fielder of the Atlantics. But when the Atlantics decided to reorganize as an amateur club in 1871, Hall moved down the coast to play center field for the Washington Olympics of the new National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. He batted .260, but was just reaching his physical maturity, standing 5’7″ and weighing around 140 pounds. (It should be noted that, of the 150 or so NA players for whom vital statistics are available, only about a dozen were known six-footers.) He was a wiry left-handed batter with sure hands, good speed, and surprising strength for his size.

In 1872, the Olympics dropped back to “cooperative” status in the league, indicating an economy operation with players paid from gate receipts without guarantee. Faced with this, Hall moved to nearby Baltimore to wear the silk uniform of the Canaries. He batted .300 and.320 in 1872 and ’73, but with the high expenses of a twelve player roster, huge for that period, the team sank in red ink (in the latter season, Hall was the lowest-paid regular but drew $1000). The team scattered, and he joined Cal McVey in moving to the prestigious Boston Red Stockings–champions the past two seasons.

In Boston, though called a substitute, in deference to the legendary but aging Harry Wright, he played the latter’s traditional center field position in most of the league games (.329) and the several exhibitions. In July of that 1874 campaign, he enjoyed the team’s exhibition tour in England. For his season’s labors, however, he was paid only about $500. The following season, at age twenty-six, he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics.

The atmosphere in Philadelphia was significantly different from what he had known in Boston. The crowds were notoriously rowdy. Betting was heavier on games and innings, and the “baseball pools” were openly played on the premises. The undisciplined corruption which would eventually destroy the National Association was rife in Philadelphia.

During that season, Hall was also reunited with his tough, but moody, former teammate and manager in Baltimore, William Craver. After some years of taking a brutal beating as catcher (with no protective gear), Craver had developed skills as a second baseman. He had also cultivated other skills; in August of 1874, he had been accused by Billy McLean, a former New York City bare knuckle fighter and widely respected umpire, of “throwing” a ballgame. During his 1875 season with the Athletics, the Brooklyn Eagle named a starting lineup of “rogues” who “would think only of how much money to make out of a game,” and included Craver without fear of a libel suit.

By season’s end, the second-place Athletics were in financial difficulty and the fans were indifferent. The National Association itself collapsed, to be replaced by the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs.

In 1876, George Hall was stationed in left field for the reorganized Athletics and enjoyed his finest season, batting .366 and becoming the first NL home run king (5); the A’s, meanwhile, went 14-45 and, at the league meetings in December, were expelled for failing to play out their final scheduled games. Without a team, Hall signed with Louisville for the 1877 season, his last.

The Louisville Grays were a strong team. Holdover Jim Devlin was one of his era’s great pitchers, and in ’77 became the only one in major league history to hurl every inning of his team’s games. Hall joined a young and speedy outfield. The captain, however, was the aforementioned Bill Craver. And, when their third baseman developed a painful boil at midseason, Brooklyn native Al Nichols, who had batted .179 with a league-high 73 errors at that position for the 1876 New York Mutuals, was signed at Hall’s suggestion.

The Grays were league leaders and favorites well into the campaign but suddenly began losing late-season road games in suspicious ways. Amid Louisville Courier Journal headlines like “!!!-???-!!!” and tips on gamblers’ betting patterns, club vice-president Charles E. Chase initiated an investigation which led to confessions by Hall, Devlin, and Nichols, backed by incriminating telegrams from New York gambling connections. The three were promptly suspended by the Grays, along with Craver, who had refused to have his telegrams opened and was generally uncooperative and antagonistic. In December, the league reaffirmed these suspensions, as did all the clubs of the newly formed “League Alliance.” Having batted .323 while appearing in all his club’s games, Hall was banished for life. St. Louis tried to sign him and Devlin to ’78 contracts, but to no avail.

Following the scandal, Hall began, by choice, to fade into obscurity. While Devlin and Craver made repeated appeals in person to league officials like president William Hulbert, Hall’s fruitless appeal for reinstatement in December of 1878 was made by mail. He may have played ball in Canada–Craver tried to and Devlin did [also in San Francisco in 1880–jt].

Other evidence remains inconclusive. What is certain is George Hall’s eventual return to Brooklyn, where he labored quietly as an engraver for years. He died, at age 96, in 1945—unrecognized both as the last of the pre-National Association worthies and as one of baseball’s greatest wastes of talent. [Since initial publication of this article, Hall’s death date has been revised to 1923.–jt]

Black Sox and their Lawyers, 1920

Black Sox and their Lawyers, 1920; Weaver, #8; Jackson #9.

Four decades after the banishment of the Louisville Four, eight Chicago White Sox players were banned from Organized Baseball for life for their part in selling out the 1919 World Series to Cincinnati. Among these “Black Sox” were three regulars who had batted well over .300 in 1920, Happy Felsch, Joe Jackson (.382), and Buck Weaver.

Much has been written over the years about their relative guilt, or lack of such. The statement of Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, however, set forth a standard of baseball which would end their careers in their prime. Issued after the conclusion of their trial on August 2, 1920 (in which they were acquitted), it read, in part: “Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ballgame, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame, no player that sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it,will ever play professional baseball!”

After Judge Landis’s decision, each of the three played semipro and outlaw baseball for a number of years. Felsch returned to his hometown, Milwaukee, working as a crane operator and laborer, and opened a tavern to support his six children. Jackson played baseball until 1933, continuing a valet business and, later, buying a liquor store. He remained active in the management and administration of several semipro teams and leagues. Weaver repeatedly made appeals to Landis for reinstatement, but all were bluntly denied. He continued to run a drugstore for many years, and later worked the parimutuel windows at a local racetrack.

By far, most of those major league regulars (twenty) who batted .300 in their final seasons continued their careers in the various minor leagues that once dotted the American landscape.

Perry Werden was one of the most feared minor league batters of the 1890s, and played portions of seven seasons in the big leagues. In Minneapolis he hit 45 home runs in 1895–a record that stood throughout all baseball until the 1920 onslaught of Babe Ruth. In 1897 he was drafted by Louisville (then a major league franchise), when he compiled his highest big-time average, leading NL first basemen in putouts and assists as well. The following season, however, he returned to Minneapolis, unfortunatelybreaking his  leg and missing the entire 1898 season. Thereafter his power totals were reduced, but he continued to hit for a high average into 1906. He eventually made his home in Minneapolis.

George Sisler always insisted that his real career ended in 1923 when, after batting .420 the season before, he missed the entire season with a severe sinus infection which produced double vision. He returned to play major league ball in 1924-30 until, with his legs “gone,” he was unconditionally released by the Braves. He then batted .303 for Rochester and was released. The following year he dropped out of his player-manager position at Shreveport-Tyler when asked to take a large pay cut. He spent most of the 1930s as a businessman in St. Louis.

Buzz Arlett

Buzz Arlett

Buzz Arlett, like Harry Moore and Irv Waldron, as well as part-time .300 hitters Tex Vache (1925) and Monk Sherlock (1930), enjoyed only one season in the major leagues. He was, however, the greatest switch-hitter in minor league history, averaging .341 and blasting 432 home runs in 19 seasons (the first five largely as a pitcher). His first thirteen seasons were spent with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League. Depending on who ventured the opinion, Arlett was confined to the minors due to his fielding weaknesses, high price, temperament, or bad timing (the PCL President voided Arlett’s 1930 sale to Brooklyn after an altercation with an umpire). After his .313 NL season with the Phillies, who had purchased him for a healthy sum from Oakland, he was traded to minor league Baltimore.

Urban John Hodapp stands as the only ballplayer in this century who closed out his major league career as a regular batting .300–and ended the minor league tour which followed in the same manner.

Born in Cincinnati in 1905, “Johnny” had an uncle who took considerable interest in his baseball development. By the early 1920s, young Hodapp’s abilities stood out in several of the small amateur leagues which dotted the Queen City, and he turned semipro in 1923. Two years later, after a turn in the minors with Indianapolis, he appeared in 37 games with Cleveland. Although he batted only .238, his showing was stronger than that of three-year incumbent third baseman Rube Lutzke, and rapid improvement was expected. Instead, during spring training of 1926, he suffered a broken leg, limiting him to only five at-bats with the Indians that season.

In 1927, however, Hodapp returned to bat .304 in halftime duty. His next season, finally as the regular third baseman, was even better: his line drives produced a .323 mark, complemented by 73 RBIs. By that time, Hodapp was reaching his physical prime, a sturdy six-footer at 180 pounds, batting and throwing righthanded.

Unfortunately, in the following years, his knees were a constant source of trouble. Moved to second base in 1929 (his position thereafter), he managed to bat .327, with the benefit of increased pinch-hitting roles. During the offseason, taking special care of himself, he prepared for the 1930 campaign.

Teamed with Earl Averill, Eddie Morgan & Co., Hodapp played in all 154 games, leading the league in hits (225) and doubles (51), driving in 121 runs while batting .354. Though not a smooth fielder, he did pace AL second basemen in putouts. The 1930 season indicated what a healthy John Hodapp could do.

Johnny Hodapp

Johnny Hodapp

The next campaign, however, saw the return of serious concerns about his knees. Though he managed a .295 mark, both his power at the plate and mobility in the field were noticeably diminished. By 1932, it was clear that ligament damage was involved. Given the surgical care of fifty years ago, Hodapp was warned that an operation could possibly leave him with a stiff knee–so he chose to make the best of his situation. That season marked the close of his career with the Cleveland Indians, and he finished out the torturous year in the White Sox outfield and as a pinch hitter. Chicago let him go after its 49-102 season, and Hodapp signed with an AL team which was even more inept, the Boston Red Sox (43-111).

The 1933 Red Sox improved to 63-86. But, most significantly, the beginning of the Tom Yawkey era marked the end of the major league trail for four great hitters: Bob (Fatty) Fothergill, Dale Alexander, Smead Jolley–and Johnny Hodapp. The game second baseman was leading the league at .374 in June but, plagued with continued physical liabilities, declined to a still respectable .312 with 27 doubles. On October 31, with the Sox making rebuilding plans, Hodapp was released.

Not yet 30, and still in love with the game, he did not seriously consider retiring. Instead, he turned to the minor leagues. Hodapp split the 1934 season between Columbus (.344) and Knoxville (.307). This one year back in the minors was enough to convince him he would not be returning to the majors. He considered umpiring but, by this time, his father was waiting for a decision on the business offer which had been open for a decade: Johnny Hodapp returned to Cincinnati as a director in the family funeral home, with his brothers. He passed away in 1979.

In 1945, three American Leaguers batted over .300 in qualifying for the batting title, two of them on the Chicago White Sox–who released both–Tony Cuccinello and John Dickshot–in anticipation of the return of the World War II veterans. Cuccinello, in 1941 the manager of the Giants’ Jersey City farm club, had joined the Braves for the 1942 campaign and, during his final stint with the White Sox, led the league in batting (“strictly from memory”) almost until the final day. His outright release came as a complete surprise for, as the UPI noted, “the old Cuccinello was better than the Cuccinello of old.” He remained in the New York area in 1946, playing semipro baseball and turning down other opportunities due to family concerns. He managed the Tampa Smokers in 1947, batting .067 in seven games. Soon after, he began a coaching and scouting career, notably with Al Lopez, which would last for decades.

“One of the great thrills of my life,” Ted Williams once observed, “was when I was 14 and discovered I could hit whatever my friend Wilbur Wiley threw.” Cap Anson would, no doubt, have smiled in agreement, remembering his mastery of the hurlers of another era. A selective survey of those major league regulars batting .300 in their final seasons, however, clearly underlines a fact of baseball life: for some players a strong season at the plate simply isn’t enough.

Addendum: SABR’s Jacob Pomrenke rightly notes, “Since this article was written, you can add to the list Kirby Puckett in 1995 and Will Clark in 2000. (Dave Nilsson misses qualifying by a lone plate appearance, but he hit over .300 in 1999.)

“Thanks, as always, to Baseball-Reference for the ability to search for such queries in a matter of seconds. And let’s never forget to appreciate the quality of Jim Smith’s original research–and others like him–at a time when Baseball-Reference and the like did NOT exist.”

Ron Ziffer added Kirby Puckett to this list. He hit .314 in 1995; illness forced him to leave the game.

Old News in Baseball, No. 11

Newsboy logoDashing off to Cincinnati for the All-Star Game, I note that this week’s Old News inevitably touches upon a few Midsummer Classic highlights, such as Carl Hubbell’s feat of fanning five future Hall of Famers in succession. (There are others below, but why preempt myself further?) The 1933 All-Star game was Major League Baseball’s first, and it was bookended by September’s Negro Leagues East-West All-Star Game, also staged at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Yet both were preceded by a minor-league midseason all-star game, in the Hudson River League of 1903 (see:, and an all-star series, best of three, at the Fashion Race Course in 1858, one of the last years of the purely amateur era (see:

July 10

1874: Jimmy Wood‚ famed as a second baseman with the Brooklyn Eckfords and more recently known as the man who put together the Chicago White Stockings of 1870‚ has his right leg amputated above the knee. Although he no longer plays the game, he continues as Chicago’s manager. For more, see the six-part series of reminiscences beginning here:

Jimmy Wood, 1871

Jimmy Wood, 1871

1884: Hugh “One Arm” Daily of Chicago‚ having tied Charlie Sweeney’s one-game record of 19 strikeouts in his previous outing (including a 20th strikeout that eludes the catcher but is not counted by the rules of the day), becomes the first big-leaguer to throw consecutive one-hitters‚ defeating Boston 2-1. By season’s end Daily will have hurled four one-hitters‚ a record equaled by Grover Alexander in 1915.

1934: In the second All-Star Game,  Carl Hubbell fans five future Hall of Famers in a row. With two men on base in the first inning‚ Hubbell uses his screwball to strike out Babe Ruth‚ Lou Gehrig‚ and Jimmie Foxx. He adds Al Simmons and Joe Cronin to start the second. After three scoreless innings he leaves with the National League ahead 4-0, but the American League rallies for a 9-7 victory. For more, see:

July 11

2003: Pittsburgh first baseman Randall Simon is suspended for three games and fined $2‚000 for hitting one of the Milwaukee sausage mascots with his bat during the race held between innings of the July 9 game.

1971: Tony Conigliaro‚ who had gone 0-for-8 with 5 strikeouts for the Angels during their 20-inning loss 2 days earlier‚ calls a 5 A.M. press conference to announce his retirement. Later tests will show that the sight in his left eye‚ injured in a 1967 beaning‚ has deteriorated.

1887: Horace Fogel takes charge of the Indianapolis Hoosiers as manager. Like O.P. Caylor of the Mets‚ Fogel is a sportswriter by trade. He will later manage the New York Giants as well diastrously, and later, as president and part-owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, will be banned from baseball.

Hub Pruett

Hub Pruett

July 12:

1922: Hub Pruett fans Babe Ruth three times as the Browns top New York‚ 7-4. A highly ordinary pitcher (lifetime record 29-48), Pruett somehow has a hex on Ruth, who would strike out in 13 of his first 16 at bats against him.

1938: At Brooklyn‚ the Dodgers beat the Giants‚ 13-5. At Pat Diamond’s Bar and Grill in Brooklyn, Dodger fan Robert Joyce is teased by Giants’ supporter Frank Krug about the Dodgers and in retaliation he kills Krug and shoots proprietor Diamond, who dies three days later. Krug was convicted of first-degree murder.

2003: The Giants beat the Diamondbacks‚ 8-1. Barry Bonds hits his 30th home run of the year to join Jimmie Foxx as the only players with 12 straight 30-homer seasons.

July 13:

1825: The following notice appears in the July 13‚ 1825 edition of the Delhi Gazette, Hamden‚ NY : “The undersigned‚ all residents of the new town of Hamden‚ with the exception of Asa Howland‚ who has recently removed to Delhi‚ challenge an equal number of persons of any town in the County of Delaware‚ to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace‚ in said town‚ to play the game of Bass-Ball‚ for the sum of one dollar each per game.” For more, see:

Dean Stone

1936: Bill Lee wins a 1-0 duel from Carl Hubbell‚ who allows just two hits‚ as the Cubs move into first place. It is the last game the Giants ace will lose in 1936; he will win his next 16 decisions this year and his first 8 next year.

1954: In the All-Star Game‚ the AL breaks the NL’s four-game winning streak with an 11-9 win. Dean Stone is the winner‚ despite throwing just two pitches and retiring no batters. He relieves Bob Keegan in the 8th‚ with Red Schoendienst on third and Alvin Dark on first. With a one-and-one count on Duke Snider‚ Schoendienst tries to steal home and Dean’s throw is in time to get him.  The Americans score three runs in the bottom of the inning and Virgil Trucks throws a scoreless ninth to make Stone the winner.

July 14:

1934: In Detroit‚ Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-game string is extended by having him lead off and listed in the lineup as shortstop. He singles and leaves the game‚ and Red Rolfe pinch runs.

1946: Warren Spahn, who had broken in with the Boston Braves in 1942, pitching in four games without a decision, wins his first major league game‚ topping the Pirates‚ 4-1. He had missed all of 1943-45 while in military service, seeing action in the Battle of the Bulge.

1970: At Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium‚ the National League wins its eighth straight All-Star Game‚ a thrilling 12-inning 5-4 victory in Cincinnati. The most memorable play comes as Pete Rose crashes into Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run on Jim Hickman’s single. Both Fosse and Rose are hurt but the injury to the Indians backstop proves of more lasting damage.

George W. "Grin" Bradley

George W. “Grin” Bradley

July 15:

1876: George Washington “Grin” Bradley of St. Louis pitches the National League’s first no-hitter‚ defeating Hartford and Tommy Bond 2-0. It is his third shutout over Hartford in the three-game series. Starting all 64 of his club’s games, Bradley throws an amazing 16 shutouts while accounting for all 45 of the club’s victories. Boston’s Joe Borden had thrown a no-hitter the year before, in the National Association.

1952: Walt “Moose” Dropo continues his streak in the first game of a doubleheader, going 4-for-4 against the Senators’ Walt Masterson. In the nightcap Moose gets a single‚ double‚ and triple in his first three at bats to run his streak to 12 straight hits, tying the mark first set by Mike “Pinky” Higgins in 1938. . He goes 4-for-5‚ fouling out in the seventh.

Wagner T-206, Goulston Collection, NYPL

Wagner T-206, Goulston Collection, NYPL

2000: A 1909 Honus Wagner T-206 baseball club is auctioned for a record $1.1 million. This same card, the subject of an enduring controversy as to whether it was trimmed from its original size so as to improve its condition, will sell for $2.8 million in 2007.

July 16:

1866: Lipman Pike of the Philadelphia Athletics hits six home runs, five of them in succession‚ against the Alert Club of Philadelphia. Final score is 67-25.

1921: At age 63‚ Arthur Irwin‚ pioneer player‚ manager‚ and executive who began with Worcester in the National League in 1880‚ jumps to his death from a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. During the investigation into Irwin’s disappearance , two widows would emerge: one lived in Boston and the other lived in New York.

1951: While in Detroit‚ the Yanks option rookie Mickey Mantle to Kansas City of the American Association. Mantle will go 0-for-22 in his start with the Blues‚ before ending with a tear at .361. The Yankees will recall him August 20.

Early Team Names

1895-Cap-Anson_Runaway ColtI wrote this some 25 years ago, in a letter to friend Geoff Ward, but I post it today in response to a Twitter request for odd and interesting baseball team names. The Newark, New Jersey, team in the 1884 Eastern League had the most quotidian nickname of all time–the Domestics. Contrast that with its league rivals the Quicksteps of Wilmington, Delaware, and the Actives of Reading, Pennsylvania. The famous Excelsior Club of Brooklyn was originally formed in the 1850s as the JYBBBC, standing for the Jolly Young Bachelors Base Ball Club.

Many clubs were named after volunteer fire companies, such as the Knickerbockers and Mutuals, both of New York, the Alerts of Philadelphia, the Americus of Newark, the Resolutes of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and countless more in this vigilant vein. The Civil War supplied some grand names, such as the Antietam of Hagerstown, Maryland, the Monitor of Westport, Connecticut, and the McLellan of New Jersey.

Cosmological visions might have led to the naming of the Eons of Portland, Maine, the Constellations of Brooklyn, the Meteors of Addison, New York, the Mystics of New York, the Orions of Philadelphia, and the Harmony of Brooklyn.

Those of an exclamatory bent might have named the Eurekas of Newark, the Excelsiors of Brooklyn, and the Hunkidoris of Wheeling, West Virginia.

Literature may have given us the Pequods of New London, Connecticut, the Hiawathas of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, and the Mohicans of Hightstown, Maryland.

One is caught short by the Surprise Club of West Farms, New  York, and the Black Joke of New York, and the Wide Awakes of Hartford and Monumentals of Baltimore.

On the major league level, besides the oft-remarked Cleveland Spiders and Brooklyn Bridegrooms, we have such marvels as the Molly Maguires of Cleveland (as the current Indians were known for a couple of years at the turn of the century), the New York Highlanders (so named not only because their ballpark, known as Hilltop Park, occupied the high ground now taken by Columbia Presbyterian, but also because their owner’s name was Joseph Gordon … Gordon’s Highlanders).


Haymakers of TroyWe also have, as major league entrants, the Troy Haymakers; St. Louis Maroons, a.k.a. Black Diamonds; Boston Rustlers (later known as the Braves); Boston Pilgrims (today’s Red Sox); Chicago Whales (Federal League, which also gave us the Newark Peps, Baltimore Terrapins, and Brooklyn Tip-Tops); Baltimore Canaries (National Association, 1872-74); Worcester Ruby Legs; Louisville Eclipse; Cincinnati Porkers; Toledo Maumees; and the Cleveland (again!) Infants.

Which last named brings to mind the neat little story of Adrian Anson and the White Stockings: as a young player, before he became the famous captain of the Chicago nine, thus the nickname “Cap,” he was an umpire-baiter and complainer par excellence for the Rockford Forest City and Philadelphia Athletic clubs, at which time his universally accepted nickname was “Baby”–this for being a crybaby, principally, but also because he was the first white baby born in Marshalltown, Iowa, a tedious fact that became even more tiresome through repetition in the press. As Anson’s playing career extended prodigiously into its third decade, his nickname became “Pop,” and his inexperienced charges, the wretched White Stockings of 1893 and ’94, became known as the Colts. This team nickname was also the basis of a starring vehicle that melodramatist Charles Hoyt wrote for Anson in 1895 called A Runaway Colt. When Chicago fired Anson as manager after the 1897 season, Pop’s team became known in the press as the Orphans.

Why Discriminate?

Welday Walker, Akron, 1887

Welday Walker, Akron, 1887

Welday (also spelled Weldy) Wilberforce Walker was one of two African-American brothers to play in Major League Baseball in 1884, with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association. Moses Fleetwood Walker’s story has often been told, notably in David W. Zang’s book, Fleet Walker’s Divided Heart and in Jerry Malloy’s “Out at Home” at Our Game

His brother’s story is less celebrated, but he too was a notable player and an articulate champion of his race. When the Tri-State League banned black ballplayers in 1888 (a rule later rescinded) Welday Walker sent a letter to the league’s president and to the editor of Sporting Life, which published it on March 14, 1888:


An Appeal to the Tri-State League By a Colored Player.

W. W. Walker, a well-known colored player, requests THE SPORTING LIFE to publish the following open letter to the president of the Tri-State (late Ohio) League:

STEUBENVILLE, O., March 5. MR. MCDERMITT, President Tri-State League.—Sir; I take the liberty of addressing you because noticing in THE SPORTING LIFE that the ”law permitting colored men to sign was repealed, etc.,” at the special meeting held at Columbus, Feb. 22, of the above-named League of which you are the president I concluded to drop you a few lines for the purpose of ascertaining the reason of such an action. I have grievances, and it is a question with me whether individual loss subserves the public good in this case. This is the only question to be considered both morally and financially in this, as it is, or ought to be, in all cases that depend upon the public for success—as base ball. I am convinced beyond doubt that you all, as a body of men, have not been impartial and unprejudiced in your consideration of the great and important question—the success of the “National game.”

1883 Michigan with Weldy Walker

1883 Michigan with Welday Walker; Fleet had played with Michigan in 1882.

The reason I say this is because you have shown partiality by making an exception with a member of the Zanesville Club; and from this one would infer that he is the only one of the three colored players Dick Johnson, alias Dick Male, alias Dick Noyle, as THE SPORTING LIFE correspondent from Columbus has it; Sol White, of the Wheelings, whom I must compliment by saying was one, if not the surest hitter in the Ohio League last year, and your humble servant, who was unfortunate enough to join the Akrons just ten days before they “busted.”

It is not because I was reserved and have been denied making my bread and butter with some club that I speak; but it is in hopes that the action taken at your last meeting will be called up for reconsideration at your next. The law is a disgrace to the present age, and reflects very much upon the intelligence of your last meeting, and casts derision at the laws of Ohio—the voice of the people—that say all men are equal. I would suggest that your honorable body, in case that black law is not repealed, pass one making it criminal for a colored man or woman to be found in a ball ground.

Oberlin College 1881, Fleet Walker left, Weldy top

Oberlin College Base Ball Club, 1881; Fleet Walker left, Welday top

There is now the fame accommodation made for the colored patron of the game as the white, and the same provision and dispensation is made of the money of them both that finds its way into the coffers of the various clubs. There should be some broader cause—such as want of ability, behavior, and intelligence—for barring a player than his color. It is for these reasons and because I think ability and intelligence should be recognized first and last at all times and by everyone I ask the question again, why was the “law permitting colored men to sign repealed, etc.?”

Yours truly, WELDY W. WALKER.


Old News in Baseball, No. 10

Newsboy logoDebuts and swan songs. Triumphs and tragedies. July 4th and the All-Star Game. Baseball and America, indivisible … let Walt Whitman take over for me now. In his last years, living in Camden, New Jersey, Whitman had a devoted admirer at his side, Horace Traubel, who invaluably recorded their conversations. Upon reading in the newspaper of April 7, 1889, that Albert Goodwill Spalding’s world tourists had returned home, Whitman said to Traubel:

“Did you see the baseball boys are home from their tour around the world? How I’d like to meet them—talk with them: maybe ask them some questions.”

Traubel replied, “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!”

[Whitman] was hilarious: “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well—it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

For more in this vein, see:

July 3:

1912: Rube Marquard bests Nap Rucker 2-1 to capture his 19th straight game this season. With two end-of-year wins in 1911‚ the Giants’ lefthander and one-time “11,000 Lemon” has 21 in a row in regular season play. Both marks are records at the time, though the later is later topped by Carl Hubbell, with 24.

Jim Riley

Jim Riley

1921: In the Browns 5-1 loss to the White Sox, Jim Riley makes his big-league debut, replacing Jimmy Austin late in the game. The Canadian Riley will go hitless in four games with the Browns this season and a couple more with the Senators in 1923–but will finish second next year in scoring in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Riley will make his NHL debut with the Chicago Black Hawks on January 19, 1927; he is the only man to play in both MLB and the NHL.

1966: Pitcher Tony Cloninger hits two grand slams as the Braves rout the Giants at Candlestick Park 17-3. The Atlanta pitcher drove in another run with a single.  His nine RBIs are a major-league record for pitchers‚ breaking Vic Raschi’s mark of seven. The National League record for pitchers was five—most recently by Cloninger himself, three weeks earlier.

July 4:

1831: This may well be the earliest entry in Old News this year. In 1831 a group of Philadelphians in their mid-20s made the ferry ride across the Delaware River to Camden, New Jersey, to play town ball on Saturday afternoons. At the same time a club under the name “Olympic” convened to play town ball on the Fourth of July, and occasionally on other days as well. Following the example of the Saturday group, they began practicing on the same Camden grounds on Wednesdays. This led to a match game—among the earliest known, but with the results unrecorded. The two clubs merged in 1833 as the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia. For more, see:

Hooks Wiltse

Hooks Wiltse

1908: In the first game of a twin bill with the Phillies, Hooks Wiltse took a perfect game into the ninth inning and retired the first two batters. The last man up figured to be a pinch hitter for the weak-hitting pitcher, George McQuillan (lifetime batting average in ten seasons, .117). But McQuillan too had not allowed a run, so his manager permitted him to bat. Strike one. Strike two. Then poor Wiltse tried to get cute and threw an 0–2 hook to McQuillan … and hit him, erasing his perfect game. Although the Giants won the game in the tenth and Hooks retained his no-hitter, it was cold comfort. In the history of Major League Baseball, in which no-hitters foiled in the ninth are legion, there has never been another game like it.

1939: In between games with the Senators‚ Lou Gehrig bids farewell to 61‚808 fans at Yankee Stadium with a short and moving speech that begins: “Fans‚ for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig’s uniform number 4 is then retired‚ the first ML player so honored.

July 5:

1898: Lizzie (Stroud) Arlington, with the blessings of Atlantic League president Ed Barrow, later famous as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, pitches an inning for Reading against Allentown. She allows two hits but no runs in this first appearance of a woman in Organized Baseball. For more, see:

1946: The first-place Dodgers lose to the last-place Giants‚ 7-6‚ but not before Bums manager Durocher utters a now-famous line in a pregame conversation with Red Barber, who calls Giants manager Me Ott “a nice guy.” The Lip retorts‚ “A nice guy? I’ve been in baseball a long time. Do you know a nicer guy in the world than Mel Ott? He’s a nice guy. In last place. Where am I? In first place. The nice guys are over there in last place‚ not in this dugout.”

2004: The Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks‚ 6-5 in 10 innings‚ but closer Eric Gagne gives up two runs in the ninth inning as Arizona ties the score at 5-5. Thus his streak of 84 consecutive saves finally ends.

July 6:

1898: Erasmus Arlington “Arlie” Pond pitches Baltimore to a 15-0 win over Philadelphia in his last game before entering the Army Medical Corps as an assistant surgeon. For more, see:

1933 All Star Game scorecard

1933 All Star Game scorecard

1933: The first All-Star Game is played at Comiskey Park. Babe Ruth’s two-run homer is the margin of victory in the American League’s 4-2 win. Lefty Gomez‚ the starter and winner‚ also knocks in the game’s first run.

1983: In the 50th anniversary All-Star Game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park‚ the AL routs the NL 13-3 for its first win since 1971, breaking the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning. The key blow is Fred Lynn’s grand slam—the first in All-Star competition and, all these years later, the only.

July 7:

1900: Boston’s ace Kid Nichols notches his 300th career victory‚ beating Chicago 11-4. The win comes two months before his 31st birthday‚ making him the youngest to ever reach the magic figure. Nichols would finish his career with a mark of 361-208. For more, see:

1914: Suffering heavy losses from Federal League competition in Baltimore‚ Jack Dunn, owner of the International League’s Baltimore Orioles, offers Babe Ruth (plus pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan) for $10‚000 to old friend Connie Mack‚ who declines‚ pleading poverty. Cincinnati‚ which has a working agreement giving them the choice of 2 players‚ ignores Ruth and takes outfielder George Twombley and shortstop Claud Derrick. Dunn finally peddles his threesome to the Red Sox.

1948: The Cleveland Indians sign Satchel Paige‚ Negro League star of indeterminate age, thought to be 42. The move is ridiculed by some as a Bill Veeck publicity stunt‚ and J.G. Spink in The Sporting News editorializes‚ “Veeck has gone too far in his quest for publicity. . . . To sign a hurler at Paige’s age is to demean the standards of baseball in the big circuits.” Paige will answer the critics tomorrow with a relief win in an 8-6 triumph over New York. He will finish with a mark of 6-1.

Paige, Bowman card, 1949

Paige, Bowman card, 1949

July 8:

1902: John McGraw negotiates his release from the Orioles and officially signs to manage the Giants at $11‚000 a year‚ although he’d secretly signed a contract several days earlier. McGraw says‚ “I wish to state that I shall not tamper with any of the Baltimore club’s players.” But conspiring with Reds owner Brush and Giants owner Andrew Freedman‚ McGraw swings the Orioles to them‚ enabling them to release Orioles Dan McGann‚ Roger Bresnahan‚ Joe McGinnity‚ and Jack Cronin for signing by the Giants, while Joe Kelley and Cy Seymour go to the Reds. Denuded of players, the Orioles will fail to field a club for a scheduled game and their franchise will be taken over by the American League. Brush, Freedman, and McGraw do not care. The culmination of this farce is the birth of the New York Yankees in 1903. For more, see:

1918: Although Babe Ruth’s tenth-inning blast over the fence in Fenway scores Amos Strunk in the Red Sox win 1-0 over Cleveland‚ the prevailing rules reduce Babe’s home run to a triple. Such “sudden-death” home runs came in for review by the Special Baseball Records Committee prior to publication of the Macmillan/ICI encyclopedia of 1969: Its ruling read: “The committee originally voted that before 1920 any ball hit outside the park in a sudden death situation should be counted as a home run. However, after the committee had a further opportunity to review their ruling and [realizing that this would alter Ruth’s career total to 715] … they reversed their decision on May 5, 1969.”  For more, see:

1962: With homers in his first three at bats‚ 41-year-old Stan Musial of the Cardinals not only becomes the oldest player to hit three in a game but also ties the record of four straight home runs‚ as the Cards whip the Mets 15-1. Until today Ty Cobb had been the oldest, at age 38.

July 9:

1886: Joe Start, known as “Old Reliable,” plays his last game. The 43-year-old first baseman began his career in 1860, a decade before professional league play and the dawn of modern recordkeeping. With 27 years of play at the top echelons of baseball, Start’s tenure equals that of Cap Anson and Nolan Ryan.

Bert Shepard

Bert Shepard

1945: At Washington‚ the Senators defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers‚ 4-3‚ in an exhibition game. The game’s winning pitcher is Bert Shepard‚ who had lost a leg in military service. Shepard pitches four innings and gives up two runs. On August 4 he will make his lone appearance in a regularly scheduled game, against the Red Sox, with an impressive pitching line of 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 SO, 1 BB, 1 ER.

2005: Adam Greenberg makes his major-league debut with the Chicago Cubs in the 9th inning of a game in Miami and is hit in the head by the first pitch he sees from Valerio de los Santos. Greenberg will go on the DL‚ then go to the minors‚ then be released on November. Greenberg returns to play minor-league ball but does not return to a big-league roster until 2012, when Miami signs him and sends him to the plate for one final turn at the bat.

Self Portrait

thorn_ourgameMark Ruckhaus interviewed me some time back, and the story runs in the current issue of “The Inside Game: The Official Newsletter of SABR’s Deadball Era Committee.” I think it may be of passing interest to readers of Our Game, as it touches on baseball’s history as well as my own. I reprint this with the kind permission of the newsletters’s editor and SABR. Mark Ruckhaus kicks things off.

As it’s probably been with nearly everyone, there are numerous forks in the road where, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we can look back and ask, “How did I get here?” I asked Thorn about what might have been.

John: “Oh, like everyone on the periphery of the game, I would have preferred to have been a player — a shortstop, a center fielder, maybe. Or a writer of serial installments like Dickens, who held a nation in his grip while he decided what to do with Little Nell. Or a teacher. Or an archaeologist. But maybe I have been a little of each.”

Mark: As far as Baseball in the Garden of Eden is concerned, seeing that the Garden of Eden is, essentially, chapter one in the story of Creationism and your story is most definitely one of evolution, at least as it applies to baseball, was the choice of title deliberate?EDEN2

John: “Of course. While the story of baseball’s ‘birth’ and rise may be one of evolution, the Garden of Eden exists in the minds of fans and is memorialized in Cooperstown. Baseball is a game in which no matter how admirable the players of today and how compelling their accomplishments, we believe in our hearts, ‘Well, it wasn’t as good as the Babe woulda done.’”

Mark: Speculative question, if you don’t mind … And that is, have we pretty much unearthed all the major baseball history there is? Or, might there be another Lucy (the ape-like hominid found in Ethiopia about 40 years ago) hiding under the floorboards of someone’s attic somewhere, something that could turn what we know about baseball on its head? It could include anything from a 19th century or Deadball Era Allan Roth up to people we haven’t heard about before. What would surprise you?

John: “I think the historical spelunking of the past 15 years has been sensational, and the sabermetric revolution, begun perhaps 35 years ago, is still gathering steam. I have been privileged to be in both camps, off and on, and it is perhaps unsurprising if I feel that little truly great work remains. I may feel that way because I am old, and because I have been at this awhile. But my feelings are irrelevant; my brain tells me that we will come to understand the present moment in the game better with each passing year, and that while fewer historical ‘finds’ may lie at out our feet, greater perspective on history is always available. David Laurila [Ruckhaus note: Laurila writes for Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America among others) once asked me, in the lobby of a SABR convention hotel, ‘What was the greatest unanswered baseball question that remained?’ I replied, ‘Why does it feel so good to play catch?’ Get at the to and fro of play — and of life itself — and there will be a discovery that dwarfs the others.”

Mark: Regarding baseball’s birth and development, it seemed that the Civil War spread the New York version of the game around the country at the expense of other local versions, likely equally as popular in their own areas. More speculation … How might baseball have developed without the Civil War? For that matter, how might it have developed had the Players League succeeded, which it almost did?

Civil War Baseball at Fort Pulaski; Savannah, Georgia.

Civil War Baseball at Fort Pulaski; Savannah, Georgia.

John: “I think the variant regional games of baseball, along with cricket, were all poised to fail of expansion by 1860. The hoary explanation that the Civil War, with its prisoners and veterans returning home having learned the ‘new game’ in the camps, has been pretty well exploded. If the Players League had succeeded I think nothing substantial would have been gained on the field of play or in the game’s organization, as capitalists were the vital force behind that league as much as they were in the [National League] and [American Association]. I cannot point to a single development in the game that, had it not occurred, would have rendered the game indisputably different. Baseball’s history and rules do not comprise a house of cards in which the addition or removal of a card might prove fatal to the whole.”

Mark: There was a confluence of two events that may well have upset that house of cards and sent baseball in a different direction. And that was the Federal League case that Judge Landis  delayed his opinion on long enough for the league to go out of business combined with the Black Sox scandal. In the end, Landis becomes Commissioner, probably as repayment for what looked like the favor he did for MLB and the Terrapins take their case to the Supreme Court where, in not one of their finest hours, they upheld MLB’s anti-trust exemption. What’s your take on that period in baseball history?

John: “When baseball had its first boom in the 1880s, as the effects of the Depression of 1873 finally began to dissipate, the newfound optimism inspired the launch of two new leagues (American Association in 1882, Union Association in 1884). The reasons for the launch of the Players’ League (1890) were different, of course. Baseball’s next boom came after the Peace Agreement between the NL and AL in 1903, inspiring magnates to build new stadiums and a bunch of minor-league owners (Federal League, 1913) to have big-league aspirations, just as Ban Johnson had dreamed in 1900-01. The uncontrolled wild-west aspect of baseball in the 1910s gave rise to the Commissioner system and is highly interesting to the historian for all the swings in financial circumstances, the effect of our entry into WW I, and with Babe Ruth, the dawn of a new style of play. These are all truisms, but I mention them to indicate that my great interest in both the 1880s and 1910s is for largely the same reasons.”

Mark: More toward the era we write about here, in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, you mentioned, “When I first began writing baseball, I was enamored of the Deadball Era.” What was it about the era that you were enamored with?

John: “How rough, unpolished … experimental … it was. I loved that many things we today take for granted were novelties then. Gloria Swanson’s character Norma Desmond, in Sunset Boulevard, defended her silent-film days by saying that they did not feel the lack of words: ‘We had faces then.’ Well, Deadball players did not lack the home run.”

Mark: Though a lot has been written about Deadball, little seems to have been written about the style of play among the black teams of the era. After all, it was the blacks who brought the running game to MLB in the ’50s. Were they playing the white style of game in the aughts and teens or were they doing things differently and, if so, what were they?

John: “The minstrel tradition of showmanship was present in professional black baseball from the start — parades beforehand, sleight of hand and staged ‘bits’ during the game. The theatrical tradition — remember, baseball practitioners are called ‘players’ for a reason — continued into the Deadball Era, with less vigor and overt showmanship. But a daring style of play, shared with white baseball in the early years of the 20th century, persisted in the black game even after it, too, produced home run sluggers who might make a plodding base-to-base approach seem like superior strategy. When integration came in the late 1940s, African Americans brought their game of speed mixed with power to the formerly all-white major leagues and produced the beautiful game of our youth.”

Rube Waddell, 1902

Rube Waddell, 1902

Mark: You mentioned your enjoyment of the Deadball Era. Whether in that era or anywhere, is/are there any character or characters that seem to grab your attention and that you find fascinating above the others? If you don’t mind and, for the sake of discussion, mine would likely be Rube Waddell. The greats of the game back then could have survived in the current era as they had the talent and brains to “figure it out.” There are others, like George McBride and Bill Bergen, who would likely never have seen the light of day on an A-ball roster let alone MLB as there’s no market for good field/no-hit players at any position anymore. But Rube is an odd duck who might have been totally lost and ridiculed in the current day. Something just popped into my head. And you mentioned that those who participated in baseball were called “players” for a reason. Was Waddell more of a player/actor than a ballplayer — that he knew exactly what he was doing? Another one, and for a far different reason, is Honus Wagner. Immensely talented and his 1908 season is one of the most dominant ever, even in his 20s and 30s always looked like someone’s grandfather. Maybe it’s the black and white photos or maybe it’s the big schnozz. But he always looked much older than his years.

John: “I like Wagner, and I like Cobb, and I like Matty, too, especially because his life has been outstripped by the legend. Baseball writers felt they needed a Christian Gentleman, so they went to the Frank Merriwell stories for their model. Rube Waddell was the anti-Matty, the last of a line of heroes of the old sort. But he was no play-actor. He was a bit demented but, like all those shortchanged by God in one area, gifted in another. He is a great favorite of mine. I have a longish essay on this subject (that was recently posted) at (to be precise:, and I will quote a passage from it:

If Mathewson was not truly a prince among men — and he had his moments, from punching out a lemonade vendor to “high-hatting” his teammates — the press was only too glad to fit him into that role, which had been vacant in the game to that time. Baseball had certainly been well represented in the lower archetypes — knave, fool, sot, rogue, libertine — but a prince was something new.

Dime-novel heroes were red-blooded, not blue; a nobleman on the frontier was a dude, a figure of fun. Sportswriters did not need to look to Elizabethan drama or Classical legend for inspiration. Why bother, when the dime novelists of the day were mining those age-old conventions already? Whether creating fictional heroes, after the manner of James Fenimore Cooper and Sir Walter Scott, or stretching the truth of real-life figures like John Paul Jones, Davy Crockett, or Buffalo Bill, the writers of the early dime novel were giving the people a national history unfettered from mere fact. With Deadwood Dick, Jesse James, Nick Carter, Jack Lightfoot, and of course Frank Merriwell, they were providing America with a usable past, just as Parson Weems had aimed to do with his tale of George Washington and the cherry tree.”Hidden Game of Baseball 2015

Mark: More toward the present, you were coauthor with Pete Palmer in The Hidden Game of Baseball and the Total Baseball books, both of which gave people a different and more detailed look at statistics, as Bill James did. In your opinion, have the sabermetrics become too dominating in the game with people paying too much attention to the numbers and might it be akin to people going to a dance and counting 1-2-3-4 to make sure they get the steps right rather than listening to the music?

John: “I don’t think that hyper-analysis or rote recitation of stats constitute the problem, if there is one. My complaint in recent years has been how lousy the sabermetric writing is, with material that would make for a snappy table instead making for indigestible prose. There is also a mind-numbing tendency among younger writers especially to use stats as bludgeons in their battle to convince readers that, say, Dwight Evans is a superior player to Tommy McCarthy. Certainly by now I am more attracted to story than to stats, but I have abandoned neither my interest in statistical analysis nor my belief that it ought to serve the story rather than be the story.”

Mark: I read in an interview you did with Bleacher Report a few years ago that, in or around 2010, former Commissioner Bud Selig might have written a letter, noted on the web site Hauls of Shame, that he still believed the Creationism version of baseball — that Doubleday created baseball out of whole cloth. As MLB Historian, did you straighten him out just a bit and has he come over to the Evolutionary side? In a deeper aspect, is the Creationism vs. Evolution in baseball a microcosm of the real world Creationism vs. Evolution argument? I mean, even showing them the history and irrefutable proof we have, at least so far, are there people who are still entrenched in their baseball creationist ways?

John: “It has not been part of my job description to challenge folklore but instead to embrace it as being more powerful and enduring than fact. And it’s fun. If people wish to credit Abner Doubleday with the invention of baseball, they are free to do so; it is, on the whole, harmless and does not impede the progress of historical investigation. Commissioner Selig and I share the belief that Abner Doubleday is baseball’s ‘Father’ to those who feel the need for such a figure; some folks find a depersonalized evolutionary tale excessively dull. There are those who believe in Santa Claus, or Dracula, or Bigfoot. To them I say, mazel tov. The world spins anyhow.”

Mark: But the Commissioner believing in baseball Creationism might be akin to the Pope espousing evolution, wouldn’t it?

John: “Your proposition is silly. An understanding of history, on the one hand, and faith, on the other, have no rational intersection.”

Mark: It was Mark Twain who said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Is that how folklore marches on and is so powerful?

John: “Lying and folklore are kissing cousins, to the extent a ‘needful lie’ will, over time, become history — and then successfully resist attempts to revise it. I have great respect for the enduring strength of myth (which is a highly constructed sort of lying). I wrote in Eden: ‘It is said in folklore circles that when a custom is too old for its origins to be remembered, a story is often devised to rationalize what would otherwise be baffling. Such has been the case with baseball.’”

Baseball_Hall_of_Fame_Plaque_GalleryMark: Is the Hall of Fame relevant? After all, its foundation in Cooperstown is built on a lie as Doubleday never invented baseball and may not even have been in Cooperstown in 1839. And, considering it’s become the Hall of the Very Good, most of it likely due to the Frankie Frisch-led Veterans’ Committee, does the HOF have the meaning it should? If not, what would you do to change it?

John: “The Hall may have been founded on sand, but its foundation has stiffened with age, and it has a venerable past all its own. It’s not going anywhere, let alone away, and I think the electors have done an amazingly good job when one views the entire span of inductions since 1936. One may disagree with this inclusion or that one, but there are very few figures of great magnitude on the outside looking in (Marvin Miller is a notable exception to this view, I recognize). Me, I wouldn’t change a thing. Let the Hall tinker with its own procedures, and trust to their good sense and instinct for self-preservation.”

Mark: In your position as MLB Historian and remembering the famous Santayana quote and realizing that many in this country have either forgotten the past or don’t particularly care about it, how do you go about “spreading the word,” so to speak, and getting people, especially youngsters (as they’re baseball’s next customers) interested in that aspect of the game?

John: “The best outreach mechanisms have been via the web. ‘Our Game’ is astonishingly well attended for so nerdy a blog. I have nearly 10,000 followers [now greater–jt] on Twitter and as many friends as I might wish on Facebook. I am active on both — no recipes, no cats, just history.”

Old News in Baseball, No. 9

Newsboy logoWell, last week was the week that was … and in this column, so is next week. The past is present, especially in baseball, reflected in current events and providing background and context that illuminates the shadows. Speed up the game? Well, we have heard about that since the 1850s, when called strikes were introduced to deter batters from delaying the game by letting good pitches go by; and then a few years later, when the advent of called balls was designed to deter pitcher dallying. The proposed “20-second” rule, designed to have pitchers get on with the show, has been on the books since … 1901: “The umpire shall call a ball on the pitcher each time he delays the game by failing to deliver the ball to the batsman when in position for a longer period than 20 seconds.” Can things go too far in the name of speeding up the game? Read the entry below for June 27, 1911!

June 26:

1886: African-American lefthander George Stovey makes his pitching debut with Jersey City of the Eastern League after being purchased from the Cuban Giants. On July 14, as the directors of the integrated International League were discussing the circuit’s troubled racial situation in Buffalo, the Newark Little Giants planned to pitch Stovey in an exhibition game against the NL’s Chicago White Stockings. The Toronto World reported that “Hackett intended putting Stovey in the box against the Chicagos, but Anson objected to his playing on ac¬count of his color.” Stovey did not pitch, but Newark won, 9-4. For more, see:

Cleveland 1916

Cleveland 1916

1916: Cleveland players‚ in a game with the White Sox‚ wear numbers pinned to their sleeves‚ marking the first time players are identified by numbers corresponding to those on the scorecard. The practice is not broadly customary, however, until the late 1920s, after the Yankees affix numbers to the backs of their jerseys.

1944: More than 50‚000 pack the Polo Grounds to watch the Yankees‚ Dodgers and Giants play each other in a 6-inning round-robin contest to raise money for war bonds. Each team plays successive innings against the other two teams‚ then sits out an inning. The final score is Dodgers 5‚ Yankees 1‚ Giants‚ 0. This game was a precursor of the Mayor’s Trophy series, which began in 1946. The notion of a postseason city series dates to 1882.

June 27:

1911: In the seventh inning at Boston‚ the A’s Stuffy McInnis steps into the batter’s box to lead off and hits Ed Karger’s warm-up pitch for an inside-the-park home run while the Red Sox are still taking their positions. Boston manager Patsy Donovan protests, but umpire Ben Egan upholds the homer on the basis of Ban Johnson’s new rule prohibiting warmup pitches. Intended to save time, the rule—which dictated that pitchers must throw as soon as the batter is in the box—is soon withdrawn.

1955: Boston’s young star 1B Harry Agganis dies of complications following a bout with pneumonia, age 26. The “Golden Greek” was hitting .313 this season in 25 games. His last appearance was in a May 15 doubleheader when he stroked five hits.

Harry Agganis, Topps 1955

Harry Agganis, Topps 1955

1958: In a bid for a perfect no-hitter‚ Billy Pierce of the White Sox retires 26 Washington Senators in a row before pinch-hitter Ed Fitzgerald doubles. Pierce then fans Albie Pearson to win‚ 3-0. Other perfect games lost with two outs in the ninth: Max Scherzer just last week; Armando Galarraga, Yusmeiro Petit and Yu Darvish (2013); Mike Mussina (2001); Ron Holman (1990): Dave Steib (1989); Ron Robinson (1988); Milt Wilcox (1983); Milt Pappas (1972); Tommy Bridges (1932); Hooks Wiltse (1908).

Babe Ruth, George Bush, Yale 1947

Babe Ruth, George Bush, Yale 1947

June 28:

1999: Hack Wilson ups his RBI total for the 1930 season to 191, reflecting SABR research commenced in 1977. The Commissioner’s office also gives Babe Ruth six additional walks‚ raising his career-record total to 2‚062. “There is no doubt that Hack Wilson’s RBI total should be 191‚” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “I am sensitive to the historical significance that accompanies the correction of such a prestigious record‚ especially after so many years have passed‚ but it is important to get it right.” When 1980 research revealed that Ty Cobb’s hit total was inflated by a double entered 2-for-4 in 1910, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn declared a “statute of limitations” on historical investigation. For more, see:

1947: California wins the initial College World Series with an 8-7 victory over Yale. Cal freshman pitcher Jackie Jensen, who will later star in the majors, is staked to a 7-3 lead, but is relieved after a bout of wildness. Yale first sacker George Bush has no hits in the two games, but scores a run and makes 17 putouts with no errors.

1915: Recent University of Michigan graduate George Sisler makes his big-league debut as a pinch hitter. Sisler stays on to pitch the last three innings‚ giving up no runs‚ in the Browns 4-2 loss to the White Sox. For more, see:

Moonlight Graham, by Helmar Cards

Moonlight Graham, by Helmar Cards

June 29:

1990: Oakland’s Dave Stewart and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela both throw no-hitters today‚ the first time this has happened since Hippo Vaughan and Fred Toney’s double no-hitter of May 2, 1917. Stewart blanks the Blue Jays 5-0‚ and a few hours later Valenzuela beats the Cardinals 6-0. For more, see:

1905: At Brooklyn‚ the Giants score seven runs in the first three innings to coast to an 11-1 victory. Dan McGann paces the offense with a triple and homer‚ while Moonlight Graham‚ in his only game in the majors‚ takes over in right field as a late inning replacement. Graham will have no at-bats but will be made famous in W. P. Kinsella’s Field of Dreams.

1897: The Chicago Colts score in every inning to demolish Louisville 36-7 while setting the NL record for runs scored. Chicago amasses 32 hits good for 51 bases with Barry McCormick hitting 4 singles‚ a triple‚ and a homer.

1886: Sid Farrar’s grand slam gives the Phillies a 4-2 decision over the Whites. Farrar’s grandest contribution, however, was to father opera and film star Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967).

Letter to Waitkus, Ruth Sternhagen

Letter to Waitkus, Ruth Steinhagen

June 30:

1998: Mark McGwire belts his 37th homer of the year‚ tying Reggie Jackson’s record for most homers before the All-Star break. The homer is a 472-ft upper deck shot off Kansas City’s Glendon Rusch.

1949: In Chicago‚ Ruth Ann Steinhagen is arraigned for shooting Eddie Waitkus. Waitkus‚ in a wheel chair‚ testifies at the hearing. A jury finds her criminally insane and by early afternoon she is on her way to Kankakee State mental hospital. The Waitkus shooting inspired Bernard Malamud’s novel, and the later film made from it, The Natural.

1905: Nap Lajoie is sidelined by blood poisoning from neglect of a spike wound. He will play in only 65 games‚ losing a chance to lead the AL in batting for the fifth straight year. The infection was thought to have been caused by the red stocking his club wore; in subsequent years, ballplayers would swap their colored hose for stirrups, worn over white sanitary stockings.

July 1:

1945: Hank Greenberg‚ absent from the game for four years because of his early enlistment in the war effort, homers in his first game following his release from the Army.

1941: Despite the 95 degree weather‚ 52‚832 are on hand at Yankee Stadium to watch Joe DiMaggio lead a sweep of the Red Sox‚ 7-2 and 9-2. DiMaggio has two hits in the first game‚ off Mike Ryba‚ and one in the 2nd‚ off Jack Wilson‚ to tie Willie Keeler’s batting streak of 44 games. Fortunately for Joe, he gets his second-game hit early, as the contest is stopped after five frames.

Amherst-Williams 1859

Amherst-Williams 1859

1859: The first intercollegiate baseball match is played between Amherst and Williams colleges at Pittsfield‚ MA. Amherst wins the 26-inning game by a score of 73-32. Then why did the game take 26 innings, you ask? Because it was played under “Massachusetts Game Rules,” in whichan inning is one-out, side out. For more, see:

July 2:

1963: In a classic pitching matchup in San Francisco, Juan Marichal prevails over Warren Spahn 1-0 in 16 innings. Both pitchers go all the way. Willie Mays’s homer off Spahn at 12:31 A.M., with one out in the bottom of the 16th, gives Marichal the edge.

1903: Seeing that George Davis is playing for the Giants‚ Ed Delahanty decides to jump to New York too. Leaving the Washington Senators in Detroit‚ he boards an eastbound train. He is put off the train for rowdy‚ and possibly drunken‚ behavior at Niagara Falls. When he tries to walk across the railroad bridge over the Niagara River‚ he falls to his death. Delahanty had a .346 lifetime batting average over 16 seasons.

1885: Against New York‚ Detroit right fielder Gene Moriarty injures himself chasing a foul fly in the sixth inning. He is replaced by 25-year-old Sam Thompson in his big-league debut. The future Hall of Famer was an RBI machine in the years before they were officially counted, three times driving in more runs that he played games.


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