The Odd Side Of Baseball

added 1/26/2009 by Gene Elston

This has been a very slow period since the World Series so I thought I would go back in time to warm up the cold, or cool, season until spring training. So far it has been only a minimum of free agent talk, some discussion of trades plus a list of arbitration eligible players - hoping the recession doesn’t interfere all panting as they dream of their possible big raises, save for the Yankees who took care of that - but all of that will come to pass by the end of February. Now is now, and so far the game is in a state of hibernation.

This offseason certainly would not fit into the past of the old Hot Stove Leagues, when fans gathered around the old pot-bellied stoves in country stores, barber shops, and wherever they met to review the past season, analyzing players, the winners, losers, franchises, owners and all the other factors of this great game. So, as a preface for the 2009 season, I have gone through my files and pulled up some unique, unusual, bizarre and little known facts to fill the void - happenings in the game that I found interesting in an off-beat way.

April 13, 1872 - A gathering of Cincinnatians takes place on the Union Grounds to witness the auction of the trophies of the famous Cincinnati Red Stockings Base Ball Club. Balls from the Reds victories of 1869 and 1870 sell for an average of $2 - $4 each.

June 15, 1872 - During the Athletics-Atlantics game, Tom Barlow, of the Atlantics, bunts the ball and reaches first base safely. The New York Clipper describes the play: "After the first two strikers had been retired, Barlow, amid much laughter and applause, 'blocked' a ball in front of home plate and reached first base before the ball did." That is one of only three hits off Dick McBride, as the Athletics win 11-1.

July 24, 1873 - Brooklyn's Bob Ferguson umpires a close game in the National Association between the New York Mutuals and Baltimore that ends in a three-run rally by New York in the last of the ninth to win 11-10. A police escort is needed to get the umpire to the clubhouse. Catcher Nat Hicks of the Mutuals and Ferguson get into an altercation, the end result of which is the striking of Hicks' left arm with a bat by the umpire. The men are later reconciled after the game, but Hicks' arm is broken in two places, and he will not play for the next two months.

August 16 or 27, 1873 - Lipman Pike, one of the early stars of professional baseball, was also a sprinter of note. While with Baltimore of the National Association (the first major league), the outfielder often accepted foot race challenges. On one of the dates mentioned above, he even took on a race horse - a fast trotter by the name of "Clarence". The race was held at Baltimore's Newington Park, the home park of the Lord Baltimores, and was witnessed by about 400 people. The horse started 25 yards back of the starting line and as he hit the chalk mark Pike let out and held on to the trotter for about 25 yards before edging ahead. Pike maintained a yard lead until the 75-yard mark before the horse broke into a run. The right fielder then increased his speed and crossed the finish line four yards ahead of the horse. Pike ran the 100 yards in 10 seconds. Now, I wondered how many bases Pike stole in his career and found the following - Pike played five years in 262 games in the National Association with 47 stolen bases. In his five more years in the National League, playing in 163 more games, never stealing another base (1,250 games, hitting .330 with an OBP .of .330).

September 11, 1875 - The first baseball game is played with women professionals takes place at Springfield, Illinois. The diamond is half-sized and a 9-foot high canvas surrounds the field. The uniforms are similar to the male version except the pants are shorter. Final score: "Blondes" 42, "Brunettes" 38.

August 6, 1877 - The National League, playing its second year has a rule calling for the home team to submit three names of approved local men as a possible umpire for each game, while the visiting team chooses one of them at random. This date at Louisville, Chicago’s catcher Cal McVey reaches into the hat and picks out a slip bearing the name of Dan Devinney, who accused St. Louis of trying to bribe him five days earlier. Disgusted, McVey then grabs the hat and finds that all three slips have Devinney’s name on them. The incensed White Stockings demand a new umpire and then snap the Greys' six game winning streak 7-2.

January 26, 1879 - Troy, New York receives notification of its admission into the National League. The Trojans are already committed to salaries totaling $10,240 for 11 players and a manager. The team would be moved to New York and become the Gothams in 1883 and the Giants in 1885.

February 14, 1879 - The Milwaukee Cream Citys following a last place finish in their only season (1878) in the National League is sold to satisfy a bankruptcy judgment of $125.61.

April 4, 1879 - The National League's Providence Grays vote to establish a "Bull Pen" in center field of their Messer Street Grounds for which 15c admissions can be purchased starting in the fifth inning. This will become a very popular ticket, with a daily rush in the fifth.

1879 - The Cincinnati Gazette ran the following, "The Baseball Mania Has Run Its Course, It Has No Future As A Professional Endeavor." The Cincinnati Reds had finished in last place in their first two seasons in the National League (1876-1877) and did likewise in 1880. It was another disastrous year for the Ohio city as they suffered the ignominy of being thrown out of the league for permitting beer and whiskey to be sold at their Bank Street Grounds.

February 12, 1880 - In the National League, the Boston Red Caps cut the price of season tickets from $14 to $12 after the team failed to win their third straight pennant the previous year.

September 2, 1880 - The first night baseball game is played in Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts, between two teams from two Boston department stores, Jordan Marsh and R.H. White. The Boston Post reports the next day that, "A clear, pure, bright light was produced, very strong and yet very pleasant to the sight by the 12 carbon arc electric lamps." The game ends in a 16-16 tie.

May 20, 1881 - The Chicago White Stockings resort to trickery to beat the Boston Red Caps in a National League game 5-4. Outfielder Mike Kelly scores the go-ahead run from second base on a groundout - cutting around third base by some 30 feet.

January 7, 1882 - The NL will continue the practice of using different color patterns for the different positions. Third basemen will wear gray and white uniforms, as the blue and white uniforms originally sought were "impossible to obtain."

May 5, 1882 - Chicago manager/first baseman Adrian "Cap" Anson is called out for walking back to his base after a foul ball, instead of running, as the rule specifies. This rule will be amended at the end of the season.

April 3, 1883 - The National League's Cleveland Blues visit the White House where president Chester A. Arthur greets them by telling them, "Good ball-players make good citizens."

John L. Sullivan.
May 28, 1883 - Heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan pitches the New York Gothams of the NL to a 25-15 victory in an exhibition game. For his efforts, Sullivan pockets half the proceeds - $1,595. On November 4, Sullivan will pitch another game.

August 20, 1883 - The American Association is in its second season as a major league. Following a game between the Louisville Eclipse and Pittsburgh Alleghenys, Pittsburgh outfielders Mike Mansell, Billy Taylor and second baseman George Creamer are each fined $100 and suspended indefinitely for drunkenness.

May 10, 1884 - In the first and only season of the Union Association as a major league, Washington Nationals catcher Alex Gardner, playing in his first and only Major League game, allows 12 passed balls, a major league record that still stands. The only other catcher in history to have double figures is Pat Dealy with the Boston Beaneaters in the National League on May 3, 1886 when he finished with 10.

August 13, 1884 - The strenuous exertions of the police alone prevented a serious difficulty at a game of baseball in Portsmouth, Virginia between the Baltimore Unions and the Athletic club of that city. Up to the sixth inning, the Baltimores had shut out the Athletics when it was discovered that they were playing with two balls, a live one for themselves and a dead one for their competitors. Intense excitement and confusion prevailed. Four or five hundred men and boys rushed to the diamond and the Unions would have been roughly handled but for the police and the cooler spectators.

February 22, 1885 - Boston Beaneaters pitcher Charlie Buffinton invents a baseball "roller skate" that gives pitchers greater impetus and swing in their delivery while still allowing them to keep both feet on the ground. Buffinton pitched eleven years in the majors and rolled up a better won-lost record (233-152) than his invention sales.

July 3, 1886 - Behind the pitching of Amos Alonzo Stagg, who will make his mark as football coach, Yale beats Harvard in the deciding game of the college championship.

May 14, 1886 - Manager/first baseman Charles Comiskey of the St. Louis Browns in the major league American Association prevents a double play by running full tilt into Reds' second baseman Bid McPhee, enabling the Browns to win 2-1. The Cincinnati fans are irate, but the umpire allows the play. The Browns are gradually making "breaking up the double play" an accepted part of the game. However...

June 16, 1887 - Before a riotous Baltimore club, outfielder Curt Welch of the Browns topples Orioles second baseman Bill Greenwood to prevent a double play and is promptly arrested for assault by a policeman on duty at the park. Welch will be fined $4.50 by a local judge.

1888 - Al Reach, the former major leaguer turned sporting goods magnate, came up with a well-intentioned invention that might unwittingly have altered the competitive balance between batter and pitcher more dramatically than any other single innovation in baseball history. Al’s brainstorm was a seamless baseball, "as smooth and even as a rubber ball," commented the Toronto Globe, "it is the cat-gut stitches that hurt the hands, and the new ball will no doubt become very popular with the players. Especially with all those spiring (sic) hitters who never quite master the breaking stuff."

June 13, 1889 - After the Louisville Colonels lose for the 19th straight time, Louisville owner Mordecai Davidson tells the players he will fine them $25 if they lose the next game. Two days later, June 15, only six Colonels player show up for their game in Baltimore, the others sit out in protest against the owner, who owes back pay and is now threatening them with fines. On June 22, Louisville’s losing streak reaches 26, the all-time major league record (still in effect), when the Colonels lose two heartbreakers to St.Louis, 7-6 and 3-2 in 10 innings. The next day, June 23, Louisville finally wins, defeating St.Louis 7-3.

February 8, 1889 - In New York City, workers are dismantling fences at the Polo Grounds to cut a street through the property, leaving the Giants without a home for the coming season. On April 29, the Giants play and win their first game 4-2 at St. George Cricket Grounds on Staten Island. This picturesque park was home of the New York Metropolitans while in the American Association, 1886-87. The Giants would play in 25 games there through June 14th and were back in the Polo Grounds on July 8. The field at St. George was bare and stony from second base to centerfield because the 1888 stage production of Nero had been staged there. The scaffolding remained in place, surrounding the outfield with the right fielder obligated to play on top of the stage platform, necessitating the use of rubber-soled shoes in wet weather.

June 9, 1890 - In Danville, Illinois The "Ladies' Baseball Club" composed of women from Chicago and Cincinnati, defeated the Danville Browns by a score of 23 to 12 before an audience of 2,000. Following the game State's Attorney Blackburn swore out a warrant for their arrest for unlawfully disturbing the peace and good order of society. Officer Patterson arrested them as they were leaving town in carriages for Covington, Indiana.

July 20, 1890 - In an American Association game, the Rochester Broncos beat the Columbus Buckeyes in a Sunday game 8-3 at Windsor Beach, located at Irondequoit, New York. Both teams are arrested.

Mike "King" Kelly.
January 9, 1892 - "Slide, Kelly, Slide," makes the top music charts, the first baseball song to do so. Mike "King" Kelly was an intelligent, handsome Irishman who could pass any man going from bar to bar or on the baseball field going from base to base. He played sixteen years in the majors seeing action at every position. After spending two seasons with Cincinnati and seven with the White Sox, Kelly was traded to the Boston Beaneaters in 1887 and that was the beginning of the Boston fans' cries of "Slide, Kelly, Slide" throughout their South End Grounds. In 1894, Kelly contracted a cold that developed into pneumonia and while being carried into a Boston hospital, the litter bearers stumbled and Kelly slid to the floor. "That’s my last slide!," he quipped. He was correct. Kelly was only 37 when he died on November 8, 1894, and in 1945 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

July 7, 1893 - The officials of the Louisville Colonels, in the National League, who are frustrated by their inability to sell alcohol or play Sunday baseball in their new Eclipse Park located in the suburb of Parkland whose laws proscribe such activities, get permission from the Kentucky Legislature to annex the land across the street from where the ballpark is located without the consent of Parkland residents. Alcohol sales and Sunday baseball commence almost immediately.

July 20, 1894 - Cincinnati benefits from bottom-of-the-tenth home runs by catcher Harry "Farmer" Vaughn and George "Germany" Smith, the latter with two outs, to squeak past Pittsburgh 7-6. The Pirate outfielder Elmer Smith, who is allowed to retrieve the game winning ball hit in the left field bleachers according to Cincinnati ground rules, is prevented from doing so by overzealous Reds fans, one of whom even draws a revolver on him.

August 22, 1894 - In 1894 the regulation bat was 42 inches, however on this date in a game played at the Polo Grounds a Chicago Colts player actually used a bat that was almost six feet long. A theatrical man named Frank McKee, manager of the Madison Square Theatre, presented the Colts right fielder Jimmy Ryan with a bat five feet, ten inches long and five inches in diameter in the thickest part. When Chicago centerfielder Bill Lange, who had been struck out twice by New York pitcher Jouett Meekin, came to bat in the eighth inning, he surprised the players, spectators and umpires by carrying the oversized bat with him. He pleaded with umpire John McQuaid to let him try just one time. Neither McQuaid nor the Giants, who were six runs ahead, objected and the crowd howled happily. A big roar went up when Lange hit an easy grounder to first baseman Jack Doyle who fumbled the ball for an error. The next batter, third baseman Charlie Irwin, also wanted to use the big bat but Giant manager John Ward objected and the umpire had the oversized lumber returned to the bench. New York won the game 8-5.

May 23, 1895 - The Louisville Colonels drop a game to Brooklyn because they ran out of baseballs. The home team is responsible for supplying balls but the game begins with just three on hand. Two of those were practice balls borrowed from the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. By the third inning, the balls were worn out and a message sent for new ones does not come back in time.

September 11, 1895 - As H.H. McCreary, editor of the Gainsville Sun and a member of the Florida Legislature, was passing though Palatka en route to Gainsville, he was arrested on a charge of criminal libel referred by a Dr. Stein. A few days earlier, the Gainsville and Palatka ball teams played a match game umpired by Stein. Gainsville lost and they claimed that Stein "robbed" them. The Gainsville Sun, McCreary’s paper, was also severe on Stein’s umpiring. Stein resented it and having the editor arrested. McCreary was held to answer in lieu of $1,000.

June 11, 1898 - The stigma of the "steal" outlives a day at the plate by outfielder John Anderson of Washington as he leads the Senators to a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in both games of a doubleheader with two home runs - 8-7 and 4-2. The stigma popped up in one of the victories when Anderson attempted to steal second base with the bases loaded.

July 5, 1898 - With the agreement of Atlantic League president Ed Barrow, the first woman player appears in professional baseball. It takes place in Pennsylvania. Although her name was Elizabeth Stroud, she played under the name of Lizzie Arlington and appeared in only one game for Reading against Allentown. With Reading leading 5-0 in the ninth inning, she entered the game as a pitcher and retired the first two batters on foul popups and a ground ball back to the mound. After loading the bases on two hits and a walk, she forced the final out on another foul popup. That one inning would be her only appearance in pro ball. This would be the first of only two instances a girl would appear in a minor league game. On September 7, 1936, Frances (Sonny) Dunlap would play the entire game in right field for Fayetteville against Cassville in the Arkansas-Missouri League.

February 17, 1900 - Mary Hamilton Von Derbeck becomes owner of the Detroit Tigers American League franchise as well as Bennett Park in lieu of unpaid alimony. However, her ex-husband George Von Derbeck files the required bond with a Michigan court to cover the due alimony, regains ownership of the club, and sells it to Tigers manager George Stallings on March 6.

September 17, 1900 - Reds shortstop Tommy Corcoran, coaching at third base in a game at Philadelphia, uncovers a wire in the coaching box that leads across the outfield to the Phillies clubhouse, where reserve catcher Morgan Murphy is reading Cincinnati's catcher signs and relaying them to the Phils' third base coach using the buzzer hidden in the dirt and relaying them to the batter.

April 27, 1902 - Cubs rookie RH pitcher Jim St. Vrain, sent up to pinch hit left-handed, grounds to Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner. The confused 19-year old St. Vrain runs toward third base as the astonished Wagner throws him out. The Pirates win 2-0. The rest of the story is rather strange since this would be the only season the youngster would play in the majors. The 5-9, 175-pound pitcher's record shows otherwise. In 12 games, 11 as a starter, ten of which were complete games, he won four and lost six. Here are his statistics: 95 innings pitched, 88 hits, 36 runs with an ERA of 2.08, 52 strike outs and 25 bases on balls.

July 13, 1902 - In the sixth inning of a game with Detroit, Harry Davis of the Athletics attempts a double steal with Dave Fultz who is on third base. But Davis does not draw a throw as he goes into second base. On the next pitch he "steals" first base. The next time he steals second base, he does draw a throw and Fultz scores from third. This double steal maneuver (stealing first base) will be attempted years later - on July 31, 1908 by Fred Tenney with the Boston Braves and on September 4, 1908 by Germany Schaefer of Detroit (see below).

July 17, 1902 - In Baltimore’s last season in the American League before the franchise is moved to New York, the Orioles were left with only five players available to play and forfeit a game to St.Louis as well as their franchise to the league, which borrows players from other teams and operates the club for the remainder of the season.

September 14, 1905 - Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers engage in a fistfight on the field during an exhibition game in Washington, Indiana because Evers took a taxi to the park, leaving his teammates in the hotel lobby. The pair would not speak to each other again for 33 years. Both had started with the Cubs on September 1, 1905 and played the next ten years in the Chicago infield together until April 12, 1912. Both had retired before engaging each other in conversation in 1938. Both entered the Hall of Fame in 1946.

September 17, 1906 - Playing under the name of "Sullivan" to conserve his college eligibility, Columbia University junior Eddie Collins makes his debut at shortstop with the Philadelphia Athletics. He gets a hit off Ed Walsh and strikes out twice. Collins will play 25 years in the majors, bat .333 and become a member of the Hall of Fame.

May 14, 1907 - The flag pole at White Sox' South Side Park, breaks during the pennant-raising ceremonies celebrating their 1906 championship.

Herman Schaefer.
September 4, 1908 - Detroit's Germany Schaefer, with a runner on third attempts to draw a throw by stealing second base, but Cleveland catcher Nig Clarke, holds the ball. With runners on second and third, Schaefer takes off for first base and is credited with a stolen base. On the next pitch, he takes off again for second base and arrives safely, this time drawing a throw and allowing Davy Jones to score from third. This is the second time in five weeks this prank has been pulled and not the first for Schaefer. Here is a little side-bar on Herman Schaefer - he was a popular veteran ball player of his day, playing 15 years with various teams in the American League and was affectionately nicknamed "Germany" despite the fact he was born in Chicago. Most everyone in the dead ball era knew there was a rejection of all things German as the great war of 1914 consumed the world. Sometime in February of 1916, Schaefer denounced his ethnic nickname, demanding that henceforth he would be known as "Liberty" Schaefer.

July 29, 1909 - National League president Harry Pulliam, despondent over his inability to handle the problems and controversies of the league, dies of a self-inflicted pistol wound.

July 7, 1914 - Suffering heavy losses from Federal League competition in Baltimore, Orioles (International League) owner Jack Dunn offers Babe Ruth (plus Ernie Shore and Ben Egan) for $10,000 to old friend Connie Mack, who refuses, pleading poverty. However, Cincinnati, which has a working agreement giving them a choice of two players, takes outfielder George Trombley and shortstop Claude Derrick. Dunn finally peddles his threesome (Ruth, Shore and Egan) to new owner Joe Lannin of the Red Sox for a reported $25,000.

October 10, 1916 - Brooklyn’s Charles Ebbets becomes the first owner to raise the price of World Series grandstand seats to $5 - up from $3.

October 12, 1916 - Boston’s 4-1 win in game 5 ends the Series. The Red Sox players earn $3,826; the Dodgers get $2,834 per man.

July 27, 1918 - Brooklyn Robins' rookie Henry Heitman gave up hits to the first four St. Louis Cardinals and never pitches to another batter in the majors. It was the shortest pitching career in major league history until Houston’s Larry Yount in 1971 officially entered as a relief pitcher and never threw a pitch because of an elbow injury. Heitman’s professional career continued in the minors as he spent years pitching, playing the outfield and first base in the International and Eastern Leagues.

May 25, 1919 - Ever-popular Casey Stengel, now a Pirate, is good-naturally applauded when he comes to bat in the seventh inning at Brooklyn, doffs his cap in response, and to everyone’s delight releases an "irate but much relieved" sparrow he had hidden there.

June 7, 1921 - The only organized Baseball game cancelled because of a murder occurs at Kingsport, Tennessee (Appalachian League), when the body of a slain girl is found at the ballpark To keep the trail fresh, police using four blood hounds, close the park and cancel the scheduled game against Knoxville.

December 13, 1922 - Alarmed at the increase in home run hitting (1,054 in the major leagues, up from 936), some American League owners back a zoning system setting a minimum of 300 feet for a ball to be called a home run. The motion dies.

May 25, 1923 - The Baseball Writers Association of America wire commissioner Landis and presidents Heydler and Johnson of the National and American Leagues opposing radio broadcasting of results from major league parks, stating "Understand permission has been granted to a wireless corporation to provide results of games at the Polo Grounds and other parks around the country, giving detailed results of play by play. If this is permitted, it will kill circulation of afternoon papers and will result in curtailment of baseball publicity."

August 20, 1923 - A fine crowd showed up at Comiskey Park, Chicago, to see Babe Ruth and the Yankees in action. It was no contest as the Yanks thumped the White Sox, 16-5. With the game out of reach, the Babe did his best to entertain the fans. In the ninth inning, a pup wandered out to left field, Ruth's domain that day, and the Babe rose to the occasion. He got down on all fours to follow the dog around and then threw his glove at the animal. The pup grabbed the glove and took off with it. At the same time Paul Castner, a White Sox rookie pitcher out of Notre Dame, hit a fly ball to left field, and the Babe nonchalantly caught the ball barehanded.

October 19, 1923 - Citing the unsavory characters associated with the sport, American League president Ban Johnson persuades owners to prohibit boxing matches in their parks. The National League declines to go along with it.

April 8, 1927 - Four days before the season opens, recently traded Rogers Hornsby breaks the impasse caused by his trade, selling his stock in the Cardinals for $112,000. He also receives $86,000 from Sam Breadon, $2,000 from each of the other seven NL clubs, and an extra $12,000 from his new team, the New York Giants.

August 20, 1931 - Tony Freitas, who will win 342 minor league games, is let out of jail to pitch for Sacramento (Pacific Coast League). He wins the game and then returns to finish a five-day sentence for speeding.

January 7, 1933 - With the country in the throes of the depression, Commissioner Kennesaw Landis cuts his salary from $65,000 to $40,000 hoping others in the industry would follow his lead. Very few, if any did.

July 4, 1934 - When Dodgers manager Casey Stengel comes out to the mound to remove pitcher "Boom Boom" Beck from the game in Philadelphia's Baker Bowl, the frustrated Beck turns and fires the ball at the tin wall in right field. Dodgers outfielder Hack Wilson, not paying attention to the happenings, hears the ball hit, hurries to retrieve it and fires a strike to second base.

July 31, 1935 - The Reds were playing the Cardinals at Crosley field before an overflow crowd that pushed its way to the edges of the playing field. Night games were new then and there was a circus-like atmosphere surrounding the event. During a delay in the eighth inning, Kitty Burke, a nightclub singer in Cincinnati, grabbed a bat from the Reds' Babe Herman and got into the batter's box against the Cards' Paul Dean. From then on it was all show biz. Burke missed Dean's first pitch then hit an underhand toss back to the mound and was thrown out at first. Later Herman quipped, "That’s the first time a broad has pinch-hit for me."

June 12, 1938 - 71-year old Cy Young stepped out of his role as an assistant manager of a Boston hotel and pitched one inning of a game between two teams of the Sacred Heart School in Sharon, Massachusetts. He struck one batter and did not yield a hit. The game was called in the fourth inning because of rain.

July 15, 1939 - A disputed call on a fly ball down the left field line at the Polo Grounds touches off a melee in which the Giants' Billy Jurges and umpire George Magerkurth spit at each other. Both will be fined $150 and suspended for 10 days. NL president Ford Frick announces that two-foot screens are to be installed inside all foul poles to prevent future arguments. The AL eventually adopts the rule.

George Magerkruth.
September 16, 1940 - A rhubarb at Ebbets Field results in a suspension and fine for Dodger manager Leo Durocher for "inciting a riot". Perhaps better known than that incident on the field is a photo showing an obese Brooklyn fan aside George Magerkurth pummeling the veteran umpire.

August 19, 1941 - Pittsburgh manager Frankie Frisch is ejected by umpire Jocko Conlan from the second game of a doubleheader when he appears on the field with an umbrella to protest the rainy conditions at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. The argument is later portrayed in an oil painting by artist Norman Rockwell.

September 13, 1942 - Chicago Cubs shortstop Lennie Merullo makes a major league record four errors in the second inning of the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Boston Braves. Merullo's son is born that day and is named appropriately, "Boots." The Cubs win 12-8, after losing the first game, 10-6. The four errors tie a major league record with two other players.

March, 1943 - With rubber needed for the WWII effort and supplies from the Dutch East Indies cut off, the Spalding Company turned to substitutes in the manufacture of baseballs. Pre-war baseballs were used in 1942 but in March 1943 Commissioner Landis, AL president Will Harridge, and Reds GM Warren Giles approved the use of so-called "balata ball" replacing the high-grade cork in the center of the ball was a combination if ground cork bound with balata a non-strategic material from the milky juice of tropical trees. It was a disaster. Giles felt that he had been misled and fumed after seeing very few long balls in spring training. He surmised that Spalding used "ground up bologna instead of balata and cork." The next year, cork and rubber were again available as Spalding reluctantly admitted its mistake.

June 1, 1943 - Rip Sewell of the Pirates throws his so-called "dewdrop" ball in a game. He loops the ball 18 to 20 feet high on its way to the strike zone. Later it is called a "blooper" or "eephus" pitch. The pitch is more than a gag and Sewell is on his way to a 20-win season.

October 6, 1945 - Tavern owner "Billy Goat" Sianis buys a box seat for his goat for the fourth game of the World Series and is escorted out of Wrigley Field. In retaliation, Sianis casts a "goat curse" over the Cubs, dooming them to never win a World Series. The Tigers tie the series on Dizzy Trout’s five-hit 4-1 win.

November 6, 1945 - A World Series bet made in Harlan, Kentucky was paid off at home plate on Navin Field in Detroit when a 550-mile baby carriage ended with the rider being dumped out on the rubber. Arson Stephens of Harlan picked the Detroit Tigers to win the series and Jim Ridner, of the same Kentucky town, backed the Chicago Cubs with the result that Ridner had to push Stephens all the way from the Bluegrass State to Michigan. No elapsed time was recorded for the trip.

May 30, 1946 - In a play that anticipates a scene in "The Natural" by Brooklyn-native Bernard Malamud, the Braves' Bama Rowell smashes a home run in the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. The ball shatters the Bulova clock high atop the right field scoreboard at 4:25 P.M., showering glass down on the Dodgers right fielder Dixie Walker. An hour later, the clock stops.

February 18, 1948 - Joe Williams, sportswriter of the New York World-Telegram, wrote in his column in The Sporting News, "To be named to the Hall is supposedly the highest honor you can bestow on a ball player. Do they appreciate it? Well last year we voted four of them into the shrine - Frank Frisch, Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell and Mickey Cochrane-and not a single one showed up. They just couldn’t be bothered. So this year, Mr. Ken Smith and his historians can include me out. The only player to show up at Cooperstown last year was Ed Walsh, who had been voted in by a special old-timers committee. Walsh, a 40-game winner for the White Sox in 1908 composed and read a poem for the occasion. In Walsh’s day, you see, the ballplayer had a great respect for the game he lived on and with."

February 15, 1956 - Pittsburgh and the Kansas City A’s cancel an exhibition game in Birmingham, Alabama, because of a local ordinance barring black players from playing against white players.

August 7, 1956 - The Red Sox fine Ted Williams $5,000 for spitting at Boston fans after the Sox edge the Yankees in 11 innings on Williams' bases-loaded walk. The spitting started after the crowd of 36,350 started booing the Splendid Splinter for muffing Mickey Mantle's wind blown fly in the 11th.

August 17, 1957 - Richie Ashburn, known for his ability to foul off pitches, hits spectator Alice Roth twice in the same at bat. The first one breaks her nose, and the second one hits her while she is being removed from her seat on a stretcher. Ironically, she is the wife of Earl Roth, the sports editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin.

May 26, 1959 - At Comiskey Park in Chicago, a helicopter lands behind second base before a Sox-Indians game, and four midgets dressed as spacemen jump out. Capturing 5’9” Nellie Fox and 5’10” Luis Aparicio, the spacemen are led by 3’7” Eddie Gaedel, who present the two with ray guns.

June 30, 1959 - At Wrigley Field, two balls are in play at the same time. On a wild pitch by the Cubs' Bob Anderson, Stan Musial of St. Louis draws a walk. As the pitch eludes catcher Sammy Taylor, Musial tries for second base. At the same time, umpire Vic Delmore puts a new ball in play and catcher Taylor throws to second attempting to retire Musial. While this was happening, third baseman Al Dark had chased down the original ball and thrown to shortstop Ernie Banks. The two balls reach second base at the same time as Banks tags out a confused Musial. After a 10-minute conference, the umpires agree Musial is out. Delmore will be fired because of the boner.

July 11, 1961 - Strong winds dominate the All-Star game and a capacity crowd sees Giants' pitcher Stu Miller blown off the mound at Candlestick Park. A balk is called enabling the AL to forge to a 3-3 tie before losing 5-4 in ten innings.

September 15, 1963 - The Alou brothers - Felipe, Matty and Jesus - appear in the San Francisco outfield for one inning in a 13-5 win against the Pirates. This necessitates the "benching" of Willie Mays.

August 23, 1982 - Seattle pitcher Gaylord Perry is ejected in the second inning of a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox for doctoring the baseball. It’s the first time in his 20 major league seasons that the self-proclaimed spitball king has been bounced for that offense.

September 1, 1987 - Williamsport Bills (Eastern League) catcher Dave Bresnahan introduces a new wrinkle in baseball - the hidden potato. With a Reading runner Rick Rudblad on third, Bresnahan returns from a timeout with a shaved potato hidden in his mitt. On the next pitch, he throws the potato wildly on a pickoff attempt. When the runner trots home, Bresnahan tags him out with the real ball. The unamused umpire rules the runner safe, gives the catcher an error and the league fines him $50. He is released the following day. That night, their last game of the season, the Bills admit any fan for a $1.00 and a potato. On each potato, Bresnahan autographs, "This spud's for you."

I end this bit of history with a quote by Lawrence Ritter in his 1966 book "The Glory Of Their Times":

"The strongest thing baseball has going for it today is yesterdays."

Gene Elston is the former play-by-play voice of the Houston Colt .45s and Houston Astros (1962-1986) and the 2006 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award given by the Baseball Hall of Fame. For more of Gene's remembrances and historical perspectives, visit Gene Elston's Journal.