Posts Tagged ‘Vic Saier’

28 June 1914: the NL

June 27, 2014
Heinie Groh, complete with "bottle bat"

Heinie Groh, complete with “bottle bat”

And now concluding a look at where all three Major Leagues stood on 28 June 1914 (100 years ago tomorrow), the day that the assassination in Sarajevo set off the spark that led to World War I, here’s a view of what was going on in the National League.

The National League had the most games on Sunday, 28 June 1914. Both of the other leagues had three games, a double-header and a single game. The NL went with twin double-headers. In one set Pittsburgh played two in Cincinnati and in the other the Cubs took on the Cardinals in St. Louis.

the Reds managed to sweep both games from the Pirates. In game one they rallied late to take a 7-6 victory. Pittsburgh scored a run in each of the first three innings, got three more in the seventh, and led 6-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Joe Conzelman, in relief of Babe Adams started the ninth, couldn’t get anyone out, and left the job to George McQuillan. McQuillan got two outs, but never got the last, as Cincinnati plated five runs, all earned, to win the game. Heinie Groh of “bottle bat” fame had two hits, scored a run, and drove in one.  But the big hero was center fielder Howard Lohr who had three hits (all singles) scored two runs, and drove in three.

In game two the teams went the other way. In the second, Groh singled, then came home on another single by left fielder Harry LaRoss. It was the only run that starter Marty O’Toole gave up, but Cincinnati starter Pete Schneider picked up his first win of the season by throwing a complete game shutout. For the day Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner went one for seven with an RBI, while fellow Hall of Fame player Max Carey went one for seven and scored a run.

In St. Louis, the two teams split the double-header. In game one the Cards routed Chicago 6-0. The hitting stars were Lee Magee and Dots Miller. Magee scored two runs and had an RBI while going two for two with two walks. Miller went two for four, but drove in three runs. Pitcher Bill Doak threw a complete game shutout.

In the nightcap, with the scored tied 2-2, the Cubs erupts for six runs in the fifth. Tommy Leach two runs, Vic Saier had three RBIs, and Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan had both a run and an RBI from the eight hole. With the score 8-2, St. Louis rallied for two runs in the eighth before Cubs ace Hippo Vaughn entered the game. He gave up one more run, but then shut down St. Louis to record his only save of the season and see Chicago pull off an 8-5 victory.  Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem had the plate for both games.

At the end of the day, Cincy stood in second place, five games behind the Giants, while the Pirates held down fifth place (and were the highest placed team with a losing record). The Cubs were in third and the Cards in fourth. By the end of the season the Cards had risen to third, the Cubs were fourth, the Reds had slipped to last, nine games below seventh place Pittsburgh.

One major trade occurred that day. The last place Braves sent Hub Perdue, a 2-5 pitcher to St. Louis. They got back first baseman Possum Whitted and utility outfielder Ted Cather. Whitted moved into the clean up spot for the Braves and Cather became part of an outfield platoon. Both men were instrumental in the “Miracle Braves” run to the NL pennant and the World Series triumph in 1914. The run began 6 July when Boston ran off seven of eight wins to start the climb to the top.






Tinker to Evers to…Saier?

May 27, 2014


Vic Saier

Vic Saier

This was originally supposed to be my Memorial Day post (Saier was in the military during World War I), but I wanted to get the mistake cleared up first. So here’s a late post on a former player who served his country (even if it wasn’t in combat).

The most famous, if not necessarily the best, double play combination in Major League history is still Tinker to Evers to Chance. By 1911, the combination was broken up for good. Tinker was still at short.  Evers was out much of 1911, but was back for 1912 and 1913. The real problem was first baseman Frank Chance. By 1911, Chance was 34 and appeared in only 31 games. For the entire rest of his career he would play in only 15 more. Ever wonder who replaced him at first? Let me introduce you to Vic Saier. Victor S. Saier was born in 1891 in Michigan. He was scouted as early as 1908, but not signed. He attended a local Business College, played on the local team, and was signed in 1910 by Lansing of the Southern Michigan League in 1910. He led the league in hits, batted over .300, and caught the attention of the Cubs. They signed him for 1911. He began 1911 as Chance’s backup, but when Chance was injured became the starter at first after failed attempts to draft two of the outfielders as first basemen. He played 73 games, hit .259 with a home run and 11 stolen bases. It wasn’t Chance, but it was good enough to get him the job for 1912. For the next couple of years he was good. He hit .288 in 1912, then had 14 home runs (3rd in the National League) in 1913 to go along with a league leading 21 triples. In 1914, he slugged a career high 18 home runs, second in the NL. He was doing well in 1915, when he injured his leg in a home plate slide. He was out for three weeks. He managed 11 home runs, 11 triples, 35 doubles, and 29 stolen bases, most prior to the injury. He didn’t recover well. His 1916 numbers were down, then in 1917 he was hurt in another play at the plate and was done after six games. He spent 1918 he joined the Army and was tasked with working in a defense plant helping the World War I effort. He resurfaced in baseball in 1919, this time with Pittsburgh. He got into 58 games, hit .223, and was done at age 28. For his career his triple slash line is .263/.351/.409/.760 with an ERA + of 120. He had 775 hits in 865 games, scored 455 runs, had 143 doubles, 61 triples, and 55 home runs to go with 395 RBIs. His WAR is 15.1 (Baseball version of WAR). After his career ended, he moved back to Michigan, ran a club in Lansing, and died in 1967. It wasn’t a great career. It also wasn’t a bad career.

Saier's military headstone

Saier’s military headstone

1910: Cubs Postmortem

October 5, 2010

This marks the beginning of the final three posts about the 1910 season (Is that cheering I hear?). The other two will sum up the Athletics season and explain why I think 1910 matters. I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow of the World Series. You can go to Retrosheet and see for yourself  how and why Philadelphia won. Or you can wait a few weeks and Kevin at DMB will run the 1910 World Series for you and you get pick up a taste of it then (and maybe root for an upset).

The year 1910 saw the end of the Chicago dynasty that had dominated the National League since 1906. They participated in four of the five World Series’ (missing 1909) during the period, winning two (1907 and 1908). But the run ended with the loss in the 1910 Series. If you look at the team at the end of 1910, you might figure that Chicago will compete for a long time. It turns out that the next time the Cubs made the Series was 1918. So what went wrong?

To start with, three-fourths of the infield and the starting catcher went by the way in 1911. Frank Chance was effectively done as a player. For the entire rest of his career, he managed to play exactly 46 games.  Johnny Evers played only 46 games in 1911 (talk about statistical coincidences). He did come back in 1912 and 1913, but was sent to Boston in 1914. Boston promptly won the World Series and Evers won the Chalmers Award, an early version of the MVP award. In 1911, third baseman Harry Steinfeldt went to Boston, got into 19 games and was through. By 1914 he was dead. Finally, catcher Johnny Kling started slowly, was traded, and finished his career in 1913. In short, half the everyday players of 1910 were unavailable for 1911, three of them permanently. That’s half the starting lineup that has to be replaced. Doing it with quality players is unusual, and Chicago didn’t have those quality players. The following people replaced the 1910 starters: Vic Saier, Heinie Zimmerman, Jim Doyle, and Jim Archer. Ever hear of any of them? If you’re lucky you may know Zimmerman who won a home run and batting title in 1912 an RBI title in both 1916 and 1917, and was banned for throwing games in 1920. The drop off is both stunning and quick.  

The pitching was aging. Three Finger Brown was 34 in 1911. It was his last good year in the NL (he did OK in the Federal League). Harry McIntire was 33. Orval Overall retired with a bad arm. That left King Cole (who ended up dying in 1916) and third starter (or fourth, depending on your viewpoint) Ed Reulbach. It’s kind of difficult to rely on your third starter.

Having said all that, Chicago still finished second in 1911. But in 1912 they fell to third, stayed there in 1913, then dropped to fourth and finally fifth by 1917. I doubt anyone saw this coming at the end of the 1910 World Series. So Chicago maintained high hopes at the end of 1910. Those hopes were a mirage.