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Cubs Retro Recap: May 2, 1917

Jim "Hippo" Vaughn throws on the sidelines at Weeghman Park in 1917. <em>SDN-061644A, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum. </em>
Jim "Hippo" Vaughn throws on the sidelines at Weeghman Park in 1917. SDN-061644A, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Let's set the BCB Wayback Machine even farther back than yesterday.

1917 wasn't a great year for the Cubs; in fact, it was their third straight losing season, after having been dominant in the National League with four pennants, two World Series titles and 12 winning years in a row from 1903-1914.

Think about that for a while. Our hope is that new management can lead the Cubs to something like that over the next 12 seasons.

Anyway, the somewhat surprising pennant of 1918 was still a year away, and Cubs fans were still getting used to new ownership under Lucky Charlie Weeghman and the ballpark he purchased from the defunct Federal League Chicago Whales and named it after himself. It was still a few years away from being dubbed "Cubs Park" after Weeghman was forced out and it wouldn't be called "Wrigley Field" until 1926. Nevertheless, in the photo above you can clearly see at least one building that still stands on Sheffield Avenue today, almost 95 years after this photo was taken.

And on May 2, 1917, something happened there that had never happened in baseball before -- and hasn't since.

There was a whole lot of nothing at Weeghman Park this afternoon between the Cubs and Reds.

And it was amazingly exciting for the approximately 3,000 fans who showed up on a sunny, but chilly afternoon.

For nine innings, neither the Reds' Fred Toney nor the Cubs' Hippo Vaughn gave up a single hit. It's the first time in the history of the big leagues that has happened. You'd have thought the Cubs would have had a great shot at winning, because the Reds were in the middle of a long run-scoring drought. Including the first nine innings of today's game, they hadn't scored in 34 innings.

Vaughn pitched his heart out. He walked only two batters over the first nine innings, and both were erased on double plays. Unfortunately, he was matched by Toney, who also walked just two Cubs. One Reds batter also reached on an error, but was caught stealing.

The game moved swiftly into the top of the 10th inning. Reds shortstop Larry Kopf led off with a single, the first hit of the game, to audible groans from the crowd. After Greasy Neale made the first out of the inning by flying out to Cy Williams, Hal Chase hit a sinking liner right at Williams. Cy got a late break on it and muffed it for an error. Now there were two runners on with one out, the possible lead run on third.

That brought Jim Thorpe to the plate; he chopped a ball high off the ground right in front of the plate. Vaughn snared it and tried to shovel it to catcher Art Wilson, but the ball hit off Wilson's shoulder and Kopf was safe, giving the Reds a 1-0 lead. The deflated Vaughn retired the side, but you could feel all the air sucked out of the ballpark.

Toney had struck out just one Cub before the bottom of the 10th, but he struck out two of the three he faced in that inning to complete his no-hitter, the first by a Reds pitcher in 17 years, since Noodles Hahn no-hit the Phillies on July 12, 1900. The last time the Cubs were no-hit was by the great Christy Mathewson of the Giants, 12 years ago, on June 13, 1905 at the old West Side Grounds. This one's the first thrown at Weeghman Park.

It probably won't be the last, as this ball yard doesn't seem very good for hitters.