Posts Tagged ‘Tim Jordan’

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: Extra Bases

August 7, 2018

Tim Jordan, NL home run champ for 1908

In keeping with the idea that an individual game that appears meaningless in the standings can be interesting, here’s a look at a game played 7 August 1908, 110 years ago today.

On this date 110 years ago, the Cincinnati Reds were in Brooklyn for a Friday game. They were led by future Hall of Fame manager Miller Huggins and sent pitcher Bob Ewing to the mound. The Superbas (again, the “Dodgers” would come later), led by first baseman Tim Jordan responded with pitcher Nap Rucker.

The game ended 5-3 with the Reds grabbing a lead in the fourth and adding three more in the sixth and tacking on a final run in the eighth. The Superbas got two run in the seventh to narrow the lead to 4-2, but were unable to tie it up. in the bottom of the ninth, they got one more run to give Cincy a two-run margin. Ewing got the win and Rucker, who went eight innings (relieved by Jim Holmes for the ninth), took the loss. At the end of the day, the Reds were at .500, 11 games out of first (in fifth place) and Brooklyn was 23 games out in seventh (next-to-last place).

“So what?” you ask. Glad you asked. There were four games played that day (it was a short schedule) and in this game Huggins had a double and a triple. He neither scored a run nor knocked in any of the Reds five runs. Jordan hit a two-run home run to account for a third of the Superbas’ three runs and two of their three RBIs (shortstop Phil Lewis had the other RBI when he knocked in Jordan). Harry Lumley was on base when Jordan homered. Jordan would go on to lead the National League in home runs in 1908 (one of the few hitting categories not monopolized by Honus Wagner). Again you ask, “So?” Well, here’s the thing. The double and triple by Huggins and the Jordan homer were the only extra base hits the entire day in either league. The other scores were 7-0, 3-0, and 2-1. There were a total of 36 hits in the other three games, all were singles. In the Cincinnati vs. Brooklyn matchup there were 14 hits, a total of 50 hits in the day, only three, all in the same game were for extra bases. There were also 11 errors spread among the games and 22 total walks. The 7th of August 1908 is an excellent example of Deadball baseball at its finest.

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

 

Opening Day 1908

April 12, 2018

Jack Coombs

Continuing with the ongoing look at 1908, 14 April was opening day. That’s a Saturday this year, and I don’t post normally on a Saturday. So here’s an early look at the first day of the 1908 season.

There were seven total games opening the 1908 season, three in the National League, four in the American League. The defending champion Cubs opened on the road against Cincinnati. Chicago won 6-5. There are a couple of interesting points about the game. First Orval Overall started the opener, not Mordecai Brown (Brown relieved). Second, the Reds got all five runs in the first inning (only one was earned) then were shutout for the remainder of the game. Third, Hans Lobert, a pretty fair third baseman, started the game in left field. For the season he played 21 games in left and 99 at third. Finally, the hitting star was Johnny Evers. He went three for three with a double, three runs scored, an RBI, and a walk.

The Giants beat the Phillies 3-1 with Christy Mathewson throwing a four hit gem. He struck out seven, walked one, and saw a shutout lost in the ninth inning. In the other NL game, the Doves (Boston) knocked off the Superbas (Brooklyn) 9-3. Brooklyn first baseman Tim Jordan hit the NL’s first home run in the losing effort.

In the American League, Cy Young picked up a win leading the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Senators. The one Washington run was a home run by Jim Delahanty. The Browns (St. Louis) knocked off the Naps (Cleveland) 2-1 with Hall of Famer Addie Joss taking the loss. Fellow Hall of Famer Nap LaJoie, for whom the team was named, went one for four with a double. The New York Highlanders (now Yankees) beat Connie Mack’s Athletics 1-0 in 12 innings. All 12 innings took two hours and 25 minutes to play. In another oddity, later star pitcher Jack Coombs started the game in right field for Philadelphia. He went two for five. The two hits led the team. For the season he played 47 games in the outfield and pitched 26.

The defending AL champion Detroit Tigers were in a slugfest with the Chicago White Sox. The final was 15-8 for the ChiSox with Doc White picking up the win. Every Chicago starter, including White, scored at least one run. For Detroit, both Hall of Famers Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb did well. Crawford was two for five with a double and two runs scored, while Cobb went two runs scored, a double, and a home run.

That was opening day 1908.

 

 

Opening Day, 1910: Brooklyn

April 11, 2010

Zack Wheat

The Superbas were anything but superb in this era. They hadn’t finished out of the second division since 1902, had ended up dead last in 1905, and had not progressed beyond sixth by 1909. Not only were they not “The Boys of Summer”, it’s doubtful they were even the boys of winter.

Brooklyn finished the 1909 season in sixth place, 55.5 games out of first and 19 games out of fifth place. That meant major revision in the team. It started at the top, with manager-right fielder Harry Lumley losing his managerial job. He remained a part time right fielder, and I wonder how much tension existed between Lumley and new manager Bill Dahlen. Dahlen was 40 and something of a John McGraw clone. He won a World Series with New York in 1905. He was tough, fiery, intolerant of fools, and had never managed before.

The positional starters underwent major change in 1910. The day before the season began, Brooklyn picked up a new center fielder, Bill Davidson. He led off the first game, which must have been a trifle odd, even for Brooklyn. Rookie Jake Daubert was the new first baseman and hit second. Former first baseman Tim Jordan was still around but only got into five games in 1910 because of injuries. In 1909 a rookie named Zack Wheat got into 26 games. This season he would begin a Hall of Fame career by hitting third and holding down the left field spot. Second baseman Jerry Hummel, a bench player the year before,  took the clean up hole. Jack Dalton took former manager Lumley’s slot in rght field and hit fifth. Hold over third baseman Ed Lennox was in sixth and new guy Tony Smith was at short and hit seventh. Bill Bergen remained as catcher and eight hitter. Many of the old starters got bench roles. As mentioned, former first baseman Tim Jordan was hurt. Former manager Lumley got into only eight games, and 1909 shortstop Tommy McMillan was traded after 23 games. Ex-leadoff man Al Burch became the fourth outfielder. Gone entirely was ex-second baseman Whitey Alperman. Tex Erwin was the new backup catcher with Otto Miller getting spot duty as the third catcher. Pryor McElveen remained the backup middle infielder with Hap Smith doing a lot of pinch hitting.

The Superbas pitching in 1909 was nothing special. George Bell was 16-15 and everyone else, except Doc Scanlan (8-7) had a losing record.  At least all of them had more innings pitched than hits allowed. For 1910, Bell was back, so was potential ace Nap Rucker, along with Scanlan. Cy Barger who was over from the Yankees and Elmer Knetzer, a rookie who had pitched five games in ’09,  rounded out the starters. Gone was former starter Harry McIntire, and the final starter in 1909, Kaiser Wilhelm, was now the main man in the bullpen.

Brooklyn was in turmoil in 1910. They had done little to actually improve the team. Prospects of lifting in the standings were minimal. Having said that, new guys Daubert, and especially Wheat, held out prospects of a coming rise, but it was going to take a while.

Next: ST. Louis

1908: Wagner

February 4, 2010

Honus Wagner

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished  one game back in the National League pennant race of 1908, tied with the Giants. They hung close all season before dropping a key game to Chicago to put them out of the hunt in October. Losing wasn’t Honus Wagner’s fault, however.

Wagner’s 1908 is one of the finest seasons any major league ballplayer ever produced. The numbers don’t look all that stunning at first blush, but when you consider the context, the times, the pressure of a pennant race, they stand up against almost anything. I read a comment by historican/statistician Bill James that argued Wagner’s 1908 was legitimately one of the five best seasons ever and could be considered number one. In the 2001 version of his Historical Baseball Abstract he gives it a 59 win shares. Except for a couple of 19th Century pitchers who threw every game, that’s the highest total he gives any season, including the 1920’s for Babe Ruth.  

What’s all the fuss about? Here’s Wagner’s 1908 in a nutshell. He led the league in hits with 201, doubles with 39, triples with 19, RBIs with 109, stolen bases with 53, a .354 batting average, a slugging percentage of .542, an on base percentage of .415, an OPS of .957, and 308 total bases. For good measure he finished second in runs with 100 (to Fred Tenney, Giants first baseman who had 101 and 40 more plate appearances), second in home runs with 10 (to Brooklyn first baseman Tim Jordan with 12), and had 54 walks, good for a lousy tenth in the league (Roger Bresnahan had 83). Want to put that in Major Lague perspective. Ty Cobb betters him in  triples (20 to 19) but Wagner leads both leagues in all the other categories. His second in home runs and runs leaves him still second in home runs and he drops to fourth among all major leaguers in runs (Matty McIntyre and Cobb both have more than Tenney). Top all that off with a great glove at shortstop (in context of rough fields, gloves only slightly larger than a hand) and it’s quite a year.

In context it’s even better. The league average for runs per team was 3.32 in 1908 and the league-wide batting average stood at .239. The latter was the lowest for either league (and throw in the Federal League for good measure) in the entire 20th Century until the American League managed to lower it in consecutive years: 1967 and 1968. Pitchers dominated and hitters suffered. With all that going againt him, Honus Wagner stepped up to the plate in 151 of 154 games and simply destroyed the baseball.

The Pirates didn’t win in 1908. They did in 1909 and won the World Series. I supposed Wagner appreciated the outcome of 1909 much more than he appreciated his own efforts in 1908. We get to celebrate both.