Posts Tagged ‘1908 Brooklyn Superbas’

1908: Rucker’s Gem

September 5, 2018

Nap Rucker

In an otherwise dreadful season, Brooklyn had one ray of sunshine in 1908. On 5 September, Nap Rucker, their best pitcher, tossed a no hitter against Boston.

Rucker’s gem was game two of a Saturday double-header (Brooklyn lost game one). The Superbas (that’s Brooklyn) sent him to the mound with a 14-14 record. He’d pitched well but hadn’t gotten a lot of support from his hitters. The Boston Doves (who are now in Atlanta) parried with Patrick “Patsy” Flaherty, who was 10-14.

Brooklyn put up four runs in the second inning and two more in the eighth to post six runs. Clean up hitting first baseman Tim Jordan went three for three with two runs scored and an RBI and an eighth inning solo home run (his ninth of what would be a league leading 12). Second baseman Whitey Alperman had two hits and scored two runs, while catcher Bill Bergen knocked in two with a second inning double. Rucker, meanwhile struck out 14 while walking none.

The Doves (don’t you just love that nickname?) took advantage of three Brooklyn errors to put men on base, but had no hits. Shortstop Bill Dahlen struck out three times in as many trips to the plate. Flaherty allowed eight hits, walked two, and struck out two.

Flaherty ended the season 12-18 with more walks than strikeouts, while Rucker went 17-19 with a 2.08 ERA,199 strikeouts, and a league leading 125 walks. At the end of the day Boston would was 52-72 and in sixth place. Brooklyn, after this day was 44-78 and in seventh place (next-to-last), 31 games out of first.

It was a long season for both teams, but at least Brooklyn had a no-hitter to its credit.

1908: The Ball

August 4, 2018

Bill Klem

The 1908 season is primarily famous today for one play in one game, a game between the Giants and Cubs. The game I want to look at today isn’t nearly as famous, but the quirk in it is worth noting.

In 1908 the teams from Brooklyn and St. Louis were in a dogfight for last place in the National League. It took a while, but eventually St. Louis would prevail and finish four games behind Brooklyn. One of the reasons for that five game gap occurred 4 August 1908, 110 years ago today.

The game was played in Brooklyn with the Superbas (Dodgers would come later) sending Kaiser Wilhelm to the mound. In 1908 if you were named Wilhelm, “Kaiser” was sort of an obvious nickname. Here’s a picture of the non-baseball playing Kaiser Wilhelm, and his baseball counterpart.

Der Kaiser

and Brooklyn’s finest

The Cardinals responded with Bugs Raymond

who looked like this and was really named “Arthur”

Neither lineup had names that are familiar today (except maybe the German Kaiser) with a pair of first basemen, Ed Konetchy of St. Louis and Tim Jordan of Brooklyn being the main players for each team. The only Hall of Famer involved in the game was umpire Bill Klem (see picture above).

Brooklyn won the game 3-0 with runs scored in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings. The latter run was scored off reliever Ed Karger. Center Fielder Bill Maloney who was hitting .191 at the end of the game hit a home run (he hit three all year and managed to get to .195 by the end of the season–obviously he had a hot streak late). A stolen base and a Jordan double plated the earliest run and another stolen base followed by a long single scored the other (typical Deadball Era runs). Wilhelm managed to shut out the Cards on three hits (all singles) and a walk, while striking out six. At the end of the day, Brooklyn was five and a half games out of last place in the NL. The game took one hour and twenty-five minutes to play.

So why am I telling you about this otherwise obscure and unremarkable game? Well, according to a number of sources the entire game was played using exactly one baseball. It seems umpire Klem thought the ball was in good enough shape to keep it in the game and never changed to a new ball. Somehow it’s absolutely appropriate for a Deadball Era game to be played with one baseball.

probably not the actual ball