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A Game From Cubs History: April 28, 1913

The Cubs had a pitcher in 1913 who wound up being good in later years for other teams. Does this sound familiar?

SDN-056553, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum

In 1917, Fred Toney of the Cincinnati Reds would match up with Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs in a no-hitter for nine innings before the Reds scored off Vaughn in the 10th for the win, and a no-hitter for Toney. I wrote about that game here last offseason.

But in 1913, the Cubs were in transition. Frank Chance was no longer manager; Johnny Evers took over. Evers' double-play partner, Joe Tinker, was gone, swapped to the Reds in an eight-player deal. The Cubs had a new look.

One of those new-look players was Fred Toney, who had pitched for the Cubs briefly in 1911 and 1912, and was being given a chance to make the rotation at age 24 in 1913. On April 28 against the Pirates at West Side Grounds, it looked like he was going to make it; he threw seven strong innings before faltering a bit in the eighth. From I.E. Sanborn in the Tribune:

Up to that time, Fred Toney, the Goat Hill strong man, was on the slab for the Cubs, and it was about the most heroic day of his life.

For seven innings he hurled so effectively that one began thinking the Cubs were going to have another pitcher, after all, to help Larry Cheney this summer. In the eighth, though, Toney blew and took a terrific lacing, six blows delivered with lightning dispatch. The big fellow was left on the slab, however, until he could break that rally, and he did it with only three runs coming in. When the Cubs started a rally in their half Toney gave his place at bat to a militiaman, and Cheney was then called to finish the game.

Toney gained much of his applause from his batting, instead of his hurling. He had belted out a single in the third round and another in the fifth, and when he came up in the sixth two men were on, one on second and one on first. Pittsburgh was leading by one and two men were out. The first pitched ball was a fast one, right over the center of the pan, and Toney swung on it. The ball went on a line to the fence in left center, and by gigantic strides Toney was able to leg it into third base, while the other men jogged home, putting the Cubs one to the good.

I love this kind of writing. Evocative and descriptive. The Cubs won that game 8-5, and their record went to 10-4; they held first place until May 8, when they lost eight out of nine to drop to third, where they finished with a record of 88-65. The Giants lapped the field in 1913, winning the pennant with a 101-51 mark.

Toney's pitching after that game, though, wasn't so good. All told in 1913, he posted a 6.00 ERA in seven appearances (five starts), and on July 1 he was sold to Louisville of the American Association (back when minor-league teams were independent, instead of part of farm systems, these kinds of transactions often happened).

He'd resurface with the Reds two years later, and then no-hit the Cubs in 1917; all told, he pitched through 1923 with the Reds, Giants and Cardinals, winning 139 games in his career with a 2.69 ERA. The Cubs could have used that.