A Day In Wrigley Field History: July 15, 1924

Courtesy Mike Bojanowski

This midsummer game didn't reach its final conclusion until nearly a month later. How so, you ask? Read on.

1924 was a pretty ordinary season for the Cubs. They finished over .500 at 81-72, but in fifth place, 12 games behind the pennant-winning Giants. Most of the games, too, were pretty ordinary, but in scanning down the list of results, I came across the game of July 15, which shows the Cubs losing to the Giants 9-4.

The boxscore, though, contains this curious notation:

Game was ruled a no-decision.

Well now, that's pretty interesting. How did that come about? The Cubs filed a protest with the National League, and James Crusinberry has the details from the Tribune:

Cotter was on second, Friberg on first, both on passes and the call on Grigsby was three balls and two strikes. Naturally the men on the bases were on the go with the pitcher's arm on the next delivery. It was a low ball outside and Grigsby started to swing then tried to pull away. Ump. Klem called it ball four. Grigsby started to jog toward first. Cotter pulled up in his dash for third, but Catcher Snyder of the Giants, feeling sure Grigsby had swung at the ball, pegged to third. Groh got the ball and tagged Cotter as he was walking into the base, exactly as Mr. Klem's ruling made it possible for him to do.

The Giants rushed at Klem and protested that Grigsby had swung at the ball and had struck out and that Cotter had been doubled at third. Klem finally appealed to Wilson who ruled that Grigsby had struck out and that Cotter was out stealing.

In their protest, the Cubs claimed that no player can be put out while doing exactly what the umpire's ruling called for and therefore Cotter must have been safe at third when compelled to advance to third on the first ruling. They made that the strong point of the protest and to most experts it seems they have the rules on their side. Regarding the point on whether Grigsby had swung at the ball or not, they will not make so strong a stand but will claim that Klem was the umpire in chief, that he is considered the expert of them all in calling balls and strikes and for that reason always works behind the plate while Wilson is considered weak in such work and always labors on the bases.

Today, we have rules allowing catchers to appeal to base umpires on check swings, so such things wouldn't happen. The Cubs' protest was upheld on August 9, according to the next day's Tribune:

President John A. Heydler of the National League yesterday ordered replayed the Giants-Cubs game of July 15, which ended in a New York victory, but which was protested by the Chicago club. The game will be replayed here August 25.

That also wouldn't happen today; if a protest is upheld in modern baseball -- a fairly rare event (the last upheld protest was in 1986) -- the game is usually ordered continued from the point of the protest. In this long-ago case, the N.L. president simply declared "no-decision" and the game was replayed as part of a split-admission doubleheader (a morning game and an afternoon game).

The Cubs and Giants split that twin bill. Thus, justice was either served, or not, depending on your point of view.

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