The 1930 MLB season was well-known for run-scoring and home run-hitting, largely because of a juiced baseball. The Cubs scored 998 runs that year, which is a post-1900 franchise record. But they weren’t the only team doing that; in fact, the 998 runs was second in the National League to the Cardinals’ 1,004, and two other teams broke the 900 mark. The entire NL batted .303 that year — including pitchers! — and the .300 mark has never been breached since. (For comparison, the NL hit .251 in 2019 and .246 this year.)
This is one of two 1930 games in this series, the only year that produced two such games. The Cubs scored in double figures 28 times in 1930, and at one point did so in five straight games (June 1-6). It’s a mark of how crazy that season was that the Cubs actually lost two of those games. Again, a modern comparison point from a Cubs team that scored 808 runs, second in the NL, the 2016 club: They scored in double figures just 10 times in 162 games.
All of this is preface to this game against the Pirates at Forbes Field. At the time, the Cubs still held first place in the NL, though they had lost seven of their previous 11.
The Cubs raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, but by the end of the second that lead had been trimmed to 6-4. The Bucs (or “Corsairs,” as they were often called in that era) scored four more in the fourth, taking an 8-6 lead, and by the end of the fifth Pittsburgh led 10-7.
Both teams scored a pair in the seventh, so entering the eighth the Cubs trailed in this game 12-9.
That’s when the Cubs teed off on Larry French, who would later become a key part of the Cubs rotation in the pennant years of 1935 and 1938. Three RBI singles and an RBI groundout gave the Cubs a 13-12 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth, and the Cubs put the cherry on top with a six-run ninth that was highlighted by a two-run inside-the-park homer by Hack Wilson, the only home run of this 33-combined-run contest and one of just three inside-the-park homers of Wilson’s 244 career blasts. It was the 47th of Wilson’s then-NL record 56 that he hit that year.
Tribune writer Edward Burns gave no description of Wilson’s homer, which is a shame. His recap did note that Wilson, with four RBI that afternoon, set a new NL record for RBI in a season with 162. The previous record, 159, had been set by Wilson the year before.
The Pirates scored a pair in the ninth off Jesse Petty, who had been purchased from Pittsburgh only a couple of weeks earlier, to make the final score 19-14.
Unfortunately, the Cubs then lost four in a row and five of six to fall out of first place, and despite finishing the season with a six-game winning streak they wound up with a 90-64 record, two games behind the pennant-winning Cardinals. The failure to repeat as NL champions led William Wrigley to fire manager Joe McCarthy with four games left in the season, one of the worst decisions in Cubs franchise history.