Posts Tagged ‘Joe Oeschger’

A Tale of Woe

April 10, 2015
Dolph Camilli about 1935

Dolph Camilli about 1935

Over the last several years one of the more common refrains of baseball is how much the fans in both Chicago and Boston suffered. It dropped off some when the Red Sox won in 2004 (and twice since), but you still hear it about Chicago, despite the White Sox win (primarily because it was the ChiSox, not the Cubs who won). But before you get all sad and start crying over the plight of the two cities, let me tell you about another city with the same kind of problem: Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was an early hot spot for baseball. The 1850s and 1860s saw the local team, called the Athletics, being competitive. Off and on through the 1870s and early 1880s teams from Philadelphia wandered through the ranks of Major League teams, with the American Association version actually winning a pennant. In 1883 the Quakers arrived in the National League and after deciding that wasn’t much of a nickname, eventually settled on Phillies as the team nickname. In 1901 the American League arrived and stuck a team in Philadelphia, naming it after the long gone Athletics.

The AL team was sporadically good. They won a pennant in 1902 (there was no World Series yet), then another in 1905 (losing the second World Series). Between 1910 and 1914 they won the World Series three times (1910, ’11, and ’13) and lost it once (’14). Then they fell into a malaise that lasted deep into the 1920s. They won pennants each year from 1929 through 1931, picking up a World Series title in both 1929 and 1930. Then they fell off. They fell off so bad that they never won another pennant. By the early 1950s they were dying and eventually left Philly altogether, heading first for Kansas City, then for Oakland (where they’ve again been sporadically good–4 world titles, a couple of pennants, and a few other playoff appearances in 45 plus years).

That left the Phils, who weren’t good, sporadically or otherwise. In 1901 they finished second, they got back to the first division in 1905 and hovered around fourth until 1915, when they broke through for their first ever National League pennant. They won the first game of the World Series (against Boston) with Grover Cleveland Alexander on the mound. Then they were swept out of the Series. They finished second in 1916 and 1917 then quickly went South. Between 1918 and 1948 inclusive they finished fifth twice (1929 and 1945), and fourth another time (1932). Other than that, it’s a long, long litany of sixth (four times), seventh (eight times), last place (16 times, including five in a row at one point).

They had some decent players through out the era. Chuck Klein made the Hall of Fame and after a trade got into a World Series (with Chicago). Dolph Camilli won an MVP, but of course it was after the Phils traded him to Brooklyn. They were also managed by Ben Chapman who became universally infamous for his opposition to Jackie Robinson playing in the Major Leagues (He’s played by Alan Tudyk in the recent movie “42”.) All in all it was a thoroughly forgettable 20 years.

In 1949 they started improving and stayed reasonably competitive through 1955. They won a pennant with the 1950 “Whiz Kids”, then were swept in four games by the Yankees, who featured a rookie pitcher named Whitey Ford who became the youngest pitcher to win a World Series game when he won game four (I didn’t check to see if he’s still they youngest winner). It was the same year that Alexander, the last Phillie pitcher to win a World Series game, died.

In 1964 there was the infamous collapse when they led the NL with two weeks to play and lost. They soldiered on until 1976, when they again made a playoff (the League Championship Series) and were again swept. In 1977 they finally won another playoff game before losing the LCS to the Dodgers in four games. For what it’s worth, Gene Garber became the first Phillie pitcher to win a postseason game since 1915 (it was in relief). At the time, only two members of the 1915 team, pitchers Ben Tincup and Joe Oeschger, were still alive (Milt Stock died in 1977). In 1980 they finally won another World Series game and Bob Walk became the second Phils pitcher, the first since Alexander way back in 1915, to record a World Series win. By then, only Oeschger was still around (Tincup died in 1980, but before the Series). Then to the astonishment of the entire baseball universe, they became the last team around in 1901 to win the World Series (even the Cubs had two wins in the 20th Century). Since then, Philadelphia has joined the ranks of the sporadically good with another World Series win and three World Series loses.

Boston Marathon

February 25, 2010

The longest game in Major League Baseball history, in terms of innings is 26. It occurred on the 1st of May 1920. The kicker? Well, both pitchers hurled complete games.

The Boston Braves squared off against the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers) on 1 May 1920. They sent 28 year old righthander Joe Osescher to the mound against Brooklyn’s 29 year old righty Leon Cadore. The game remained scoreless into the 5th inning when Robins catcher Ernie Krueger singled. Two batters later, second baseman Ivy Olsen singled driving home Krueger with the Robins’ run. In the bottom of the 6th right fielder Walt Cruise tripled and came home on an RBI single by third baseman Tony Boeckel. The score was tied. It remained that way for the rest of the day. For 20 innings the two pitchers managed to throw shut out baseball. There were baserunners all over the place, the Robins leaving 11 men on base and the Braves leaving 19, but nobody scored after the bottom of the 6th. It was the era before lights in stadiums, so finally after three hours and 50 minutes, 26 innings, and 25 hits the umpire called the game on account of darkness. It ended a 1-1 tie. For the game Oeschger had ptiched 26 innings, given up one earned run, 10 hits, three walks, and four strike outs . Cadore’s line read 26 innings, one earned run, 15 hits, five walks, eight strikeouts, and the Major League Baseball record of facing 96 batters in a single game.

Among the batters there were some awful box score numbers. Robins shortstop Chuck Ward went 0 for 10, as did Cadore. Braves second baseman Charlie Pick had an even worse day. He was 0 for 11 with two errors. There are slumps that have better numbers.

For the season Oeschger went 15-13 for the Braves who finished 7th in an eight team league, 30 games out of first. The Robins won the pennant (and lost the World Series to Cleveland 5 games to 2 in a best of nine series) with Cadore posting 15 wins and 14 losses. In the series he pitched in two games, taking the loss in game five.

Oeschger pitched until 1925, ironically finishing his career with Brooklyn. He was 82-116 for the career with an ERA of 3.81. walking 651 and striking out 535. He died in 1986.

Cadore pitched into 1924 winning 68 and losing 72. His ERA was 3.14 and he had 289 walks with 445 strikeouts. He died in 1958.

For the year of 1920 Oeschger pitched 299 innings. Cadore in 1920 managed 254 innings pitched. For both, 26 came on the same day. That’s 9.7% of Oeschger’s innings and 10.2 % of Cadore’s. No one, pitching more than a handful of innings, has ever topped that total for a single game. My guess is that no one ever will.