Posts Tagged ‘1906’

Long Day at the Office

February 21, 2010

On the 1st of September 1906, Boston saw one of the longest, if not best pitched games ever played. The Philadelphia Athletics, just off a losing trip to the World Series were in town to play the Americans (now the Red Sox). It was a Saturday afternoon.

The Americans sent second year pitcher Joe Harris to the mound. The A’s countered with rookie Jack Coombs, who was 5-7 going into the game. It was scoreless into the third inning when Coombs singled, stole second base, went to third on an infield out, then came home on an infield single. The Americans countered in the sixth when shortstop Freddy Parent tripled and came home on a single by center fielder Chick Stahl. Now with the preliminaries out of the way, the two pitchers settled down. They pitched scoreless ball through the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth. In fact they pitched scoreless ball through 23 innings. It wasn’t great pitching. Coombs gave up 15 hits and walked six. Harris gave up 12 hits and only walked two. But it was effective pitching. No body scored for 17 innings.

It came to an end in the 24th. Coombs led off the inning by striking out, then right fielder Topsy Hartsel singled and stole second base. Center fielder Briscoe Lord couldn’t advance him, but catcher Ossie Schreckengost, playing first that day, singled him home for the go-ahead run. Consecutive triples by left fielder Socks Seybold and second baseman Danny Murphy made the score 4-1. Then Coombs set down the Americans in order to post the win.

Coombs finished the season 10-11 and went on to a distinguished career with the A’s. In 1910 and 1911 he led the American League in wins (31 and 28) and posted 21 wins in 1912. In World Series play with the A’s he was 3-0 in 1910 and 1-0 in 1911 as the A’s won both series. He caught typhoid fever in 1913 and was out most of 1913 and 1914. The A’s sent him to Brooklyn in 1915 where he pitched well, winning the Robins’ (the were not yet the Dodgers) only game in the 1916 World Series. He hung on with Brooklyn through 1918, managed the 1919 Philadelphia Phillies to an 18-44 record and last place before being fired. In 1920 pitched five inning for Detroit before retiring. After leaving the Major Leagues he coached at Duke University from 1929-1952. They named the field for him. He died in 1957.

Harris’ career wasn’t nearly as successful. He ended the 1906 season 2-21, leading the league in losses. He stayed at Boston only through 1907 compiling a career 3-30 record  with a 3.35 ERA in 317 innings. He died in 1966.

For the game there are a couple of interesting box score lines. Seybold was 1 for 10, but the one was critical. Americans third baseman Red Morgan went 0-7. The game is fascinating, but inconsequential in the standings. The A’s finished fourth 12 games back and the Americans were dead last 45.5 games out of first.

1906: The Greatest Upset Ever

November 20, 2009

When the regular season ended in 1906, the Chicago Cubs had the most wins in Major League history, they had the highest winning percentage in Major League history,  and led the National League in most pitching categories. Then came the World Series. They managed 2 more wins, unfortunately, they needed four.

Their opponents were the crosstown Chicago White Sox. The Sox had the worst hitting team in World Series history.  They were dead last in batting average, hits,  and home runs  (In all of Major League baseball only the Braves had a lower average or less hits and no one at all had less power.). They could pitch, leading the league in shutouts and saves (with all of 9) So how did they win?

To begin with they were in the middle of the pack in runs scored and led the league in walks. So they were able to maximize their baserunners and produce runs when they needed. Also, don’t forget those 32 shutouts. That’s a third of their win total.

Looking at the numbers, the series should have been a blowout in the Cubs’ favor. It wasn’t. They lost game one 2-1, won the only blowout (7-1) in game two, then split the next two before dropping games 5 and 6 by scores of 8-6 and 8-3. The Sox figured out how to hit the Cubs pitchers and the Cubs failed to hit at all. Actually neither team hit above .200 for the series (there were no home runs), and only the White Sox hit triples.

The series was something of a fluke, the White Sox went back to 3rd place in 1907 and 1908, while the Cubs won the next 2 World Series, but for one year the weakest team in Series history won it all.

A good book on the subject is When Chicago Ruled Baseball by Bernard A. Weisberger.