April 20, 2024

League-Wide Doubleheaders

August 28, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

A look at September 7th, 1903 when all sixteen major league teams played doubleheaders.

In New York…

Despite competing with parades and other attractions that Labor Day brought with it, baseball was the best attended event in New York City on the holiday. Over 44,000 partisans in the Big Apple went to the city’s three major league ballparks to watch the four games involving the Brooklyn Superbas and New York Giants plus the Boston Americans and New York Highlanders.

The Superbas and Giants played a home-and-home twinbill with the first game scheduled for the morning at Washington Park in Brooklyn. The home side grabbed a quick 2-0 lead after the first inning but the Giants replied with single tallies in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th to take a 3-2 lead and in the process, chased Brooklyn starter Oscar Jones from the game. But in Brooklyn’s half of the fifth, they regained the lead on a bit of controversy. With Jimmy Sheckard at the plate, Sammy Strang attempted a steal of second base. Sheckard took the pitch and at the same moment as Giants catcher Frank Bowerman was  throwing the ball, Sheckard stuck his bat in front of ball and knocked it down. The Giants protested immediately but never called ‘time’ and Strang wisely advanced home for the would-be tying run if it stood.

Giants manager John McGraw, Bowerman, and a handful of other New York players began to protest the call, demanding that umpire Tim Hurst send Strang back to first and call Sheckard out but Hurst claimed their was no interference on the play and allowed the run to score. Bowerman protested vigorously but was ejected by Hurst before the confrontation got worse. On the first pitch after the delay, Sheckard deposited the ball over the rightfield fence to give the Superbas a 4-3 advantage.

The lead was short lived, however, as the Giants responded with another run in the sixth to tie the ballgame up. Then in the eighth, the Superbas handed the Giants the game, thanks to “five misplays…in as many minutes.” Relief pitcher Ned Garvin, shortstop Bill Dahlen, and first baseman Jack Doyle all committed errors in the frame, allowing two New York runs to plate for the 6-4 victory. After the game, both teams jumped aboard trains and traveled to Polo Grounds for the second contest.

The game was a pitching duel between Giants hurler Joe McGinnity and his opponent Henry Schmidt. Both starters allowed only four hits apiece but one of those knocks hurt McGinnity and New York the most; a triple in the opening inning by Sheckard, who would score on a groundout that same inning. It would be the only hit the ‘Iron Man’ would surrender through eight innings but it also was the only run scored through eight by either side in the contest. The Superbas added two more runs in the ninth on route to a 3-0 blanking of the Giants, who stranded five runners in the contest.

Over at Hilltop Park, over 12,000 fans clicked through the turnstiles to watch the American League doubleheader between New York and Boston. In the first game, the visitors got to New York starter Jack Chesbro quickly, scoring three runs in the first, highlighted by Jack O’Brien’s RBI double. O’Brien was at it again in the second inning, cashing in Lou Criger on a two-out single to make the score 4-0, which would eventually be the final. Chesbro settled in after the second but his team’s bats were stifled by the pitching of Tom Hughes. The Boston pitcher allowed six hits over nine innings but never allowed the Highlanders to string together multiple hits in an inning. Thanks to his performance and the early runs, Boston rolled to victory.

Game #2 saw Boston send pitching ace Cy Young to the hill in hope of capturing their second win of the day but he was simply bettered by his counterpart, Jesse Tannehill. The Highlanders’ lefty pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing seven hits while striking out five. Meanwhile, Young surrendered 10 base hits while failing to strike out a batter in a 5-0 loss. New York was led on offence by Herm McFarland, who had a double, home run, and two RBIs.

Elsewhere in the National League…

In Boston, the Beaneaters split their doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies. Thanks to a 15-hit outburst, the Phillies won the first game by a score of 8-4. Tully Sparks picked up the win for Philly while Pop Williams, who was previously with Phillies earlier in the year, got charged with the loss. Bad fielding dominated the morning contest, with the exception of a pair of splendid catches in the outfield by the Phillies’ Shad Barry. In the second game, the Beaneaters recorded a 5-3 comeback victory, much in part to a four run eighth inning. Other then the rough eighth inning, Philadelphia’s Bill Duggleby pitched wonderful, but still got the loss while Boston’s Togie Pittinger picked up the win.

The first game between Chicago and Pittsburgh, the National League leader, was described as one of the “poorest exhibitions” ever played in the city of Pittsburgh. Both starting pitchers saw their day’s expire after only two innings of work. The Pirates though, entered the seventh inning up 6-5 but the visitors began to time reliever Gus Thompson’s off-speed pitches and exploded for seven runs in the frame. Despite the bad pitching and poor fielding, Chicago rode their bats (16 hits) to a 13-7 win.

Pittsburgh seemed to have the second game well in hand after they batted Chicago starter Bob Wicker around for five runs in the first inning but the Cubs chipped away throughout the contest. Chicago completed the comeback in the eighth inning when Joe Tinker doubled home Davy Jones to bring the Cubs within one. Later in the inning, Tinker scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Johnny Kling. But, the first-place Pirates would walk-off in the ninth when Fred Clarke singled home Ginger Beaumont for the 7-6 victory in front of close to 15,000 fans. Sam Leever got the win, pitching a complete game for the Pirates while Jack Menefee, who pitched in both games that day, got the loss.

In Cincinnati, the Reds welcomed the last-place St. Louis Cardinals but it was the bottom-dwellers who came away with the victory in the first game, 2-1. Reds starter Ed Poole pitched very effectively but errors by the Reds’ fielders contributed to both Cardinal runs. Cincinnati replied in the second game with 12 hits and a 7-3 victory. The Reds offence was aided by three fielding errors by St. Louis. Bob Ewing received the win while Jack Dunleavy was hit hard and got charged with a loss.

Elsewhere in the American League…

In Washington, the last place Senators dropped both contests to the visiting Philadelphia Athletics. In the morning, A’s starter Eddie Plank held the lowly Senators to only four hits in a 6-0 victory. Senators catcher Malachi Kittridge was ejected for the game for arguing balls and strikes. In the second game, Topsy Hartsel and Harry Davis both had solo home runs to lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 win. Monte Cross drove in the other Philadelphia run on a triple. Weldon Henley recorded the win for the Athletics in the second game.

In St. Louis, a pair of low scoring contests between the Browns and Detroit Tigers were played in front of 15,000 fans. Each team chalked up eight hits in the first game and it was St. Louis who came out on top by a score of 2-1. Both starters went the distance with Ed Sievers picking up the victory and Frank Kitson taking the loss. In the afternoon contest, the Tigers scored the game’s only run in the ninth inning to pick up the win, despite collecting only five hits of Browns’ starter Willie Sudhoff. Rube Kisinger recorded the win for the Tigers, allowing only four hits throughout the contest.

In Cleveland, the hometown Naps won both ends of their doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox. The Naps won the first game 4-1 and blanked Chicago 7-0 in the back end of the doubleheader. Red Donahue was the victor in the first contest while rookie Ed Killian shut down the White Sox bats in the second game, giving up only five hits. Elmer Flick had a brilliant day at the plate for the home side while Naps outfielder Jack Thoney made a couple of outstanding plays in the field.


One Response to “League-Wide Doubleheaders”
  1. Jeff Polman says:

    Nice account. And then you look at the modern age, where six of the thirty teams won’t even play SINGLE games on our upcoming Labor Day. What a joke.

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