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Baseball history unpacked, May 21

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Thome steals a game, historic wins and losses, umpire abuse, and more

MLB: World Series-Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians
One of my favorite non-Cubs
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, we looked at the sunset walk of Kid K, Bill North’s grudge, and other bullets. Today we have a Cubs-centric peek at historic wins and losses, umpire abuse, and other such anecdotes. Click the links for more details — please enjoy immoderately.

Here’s a handy Cubs timeline.

Today in baseball history:

This was the only year that former MLB third baseman Nash was to umpire. Bill James called him the 49th best third baseman of all time. He played for the Boston Beaneaters and the Phillies, and was also responsible for scouting and bringing up Nap Lajoie, the first second baseman voted into the Hall of Fame. (3)

National League President Nick Young “instructed the two teams to use their own players to call the games.”

Freedman wasn’t very well-liked. According to one team historian, Freedman was “naturally arrogant (with) a bad temper at the end of a very short fuse.” Bill James memorably described him as “George Steinbrenner on Quaaludes with a touch of Al Capone” and “just this side of a madman.” He was affiliated with Tammany Hall and the Giants were just a hobby for him. Rob Neyer has a nice piece on Freedman’s operating procedures.

Also cited: Google books excerpts from Touching Base: Professional Baseball and American Culture in the Progressive Era, by Steven A. Reiss, and Honus Wagner: The Life of Baseball’s “Flying Dutchman” by Arthur D. Hittner.

  • 1907 - After the Giants’ 3-0 loss to the Cubs drops New York out of first place, the players need to form a protective ring around umpires Hank O’Day (HoF) and Bob Emslie. Pinkerton guards fire shots in the air, trying to disperse unruly fans who have spilled onto the field at the Polo Grounds. (1)

Chris Landers (Cut Four): The story of Hank O’Day, the only man to serve as Major League player, scout, ump and manager.

David Cicotello (SABR): Bob Emslie (Wig). This wasn’t the only time Emslie had difficulties officiating the Cubs and Giants. He’s a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Cubs won the World Series that year. Rick Telander had a piece about how there was a conspiracy to stop them from being so good.

  • 1927 - For the second consecutive day, an umpire at Ebbets Field is the target of fan abuse. Arbitrator Frank Wilson needs a police escort after the Robins (Dodgers) drop a twin bill to Cubs. (1)

Box scores (1) (2)

Ty Cobb was once suspended for treading on Wilson’s toes.

  • 1957 - Reaffirming their decision to bar females from the Fenway Park’s male-only press box, Boston baseball writers deny a seat to Doris O’Donnell, a feature writer following the Indians. (1)

O’Donnell was famous for more than that. She was called “Cleveland’s first female superstar reporter.” Kerby Farrell, the Indians’ manager that year, told her to “go home and make babies.” Sam Sheppard would have probably agreed.

Here’s an article she wrote about the Red Sox incident. And there’s a Cubs angle — long before O’Donnell, Jeane Hoffman covered the Los Angeles Angels and continued on to cover the major leagues.

  • 1986 - Rafael Ramirez strokes four doubles in seven trips to the plate. The infielder’s quartet of two-baggers helps the Braves to edge the Cubs in 13 innings at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 9-8. (1)

Box score. I remember seeing that one. Banjo-hitting Ramirez was the last person I expected to see knocking Dennis Eckersley (HoF), George Frazier, and Lee Smith around. Both teams were decent at that time, under .500 but with plenty of star power and dangerous to play.

  • 1997 - Cleveland slugger Jim Thome (HoF), not known for his speed, steals his only base of the season. The Indians’ first baseman’s swipe of home plate in the top of the fourth inning will prove to be the game’s only run in the Tribe’s 1-0 victory over Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. (1)

Box score.

  • 2009 - The letter “I’’ on the Big Mac Land sign at Busch Stadium is knocked out by Albert Pujols’s first-inning blast off Sean Marshall in the Cardinals’ 3-1 victory over Chicago. During any game, if a Cardinal player hits a home run into Big Mac Land, built in the left field stands (section 272) as a tribute to Mark McGwire, everyone at the game is entitled to redeem their ticket for a free Big Mac at all participating restaurants in the fast food chain. (1)

Box score.


Thanks for reading.