I mentioned last week that there would be two games from the offense-crazy 1930 season in this series, and here’s the other one, a goofy 19-15 win over the Phillies in Philadelphia in July, while the Cubs were clinging to a close first-place lead.
This game sums up the 1930 season, and here’s why.
Between 1915 and 1950, when the Phillies won pennants, they were pretty much the worst team in the National League. 1930 was their 13th consecutive losing season, and the fourth in that stretch where they’d lose 100+ games. Only a win on the very last day of the 1932 season prevented them from not having a winning season from 1918 through 1949.
1930, though, was the worst of those in many ways. The Phillies were 52-102 that year, and the game on July 24 was the third loss in what would become a season-worst 11-game losing streak.
Here’s how bad Phillies pitching was that year:
- This was the second consecutive game where the Phillies had scored 15 runs — and lost!
- They allowed 10 or more runs 45 (!) times
- They scored 10 or more runs 26 times — but went only 17-9 in those games. (Comparison point: The Cubs went 26-2 when they scored 10+ runs in 1930.)
- They allowed a league-leading 1,199 (!) runs, which was 271 (!) more than anyone else.
- The team ERA was 6.71. Just two teams have had an ERA over 6 since 1939 — the 1999 Rockies (6.03) and 1996 Tigers (6.38).
So that’s the preface for this crazy game, where a Cubs player named Footsie Blair (yes, he’s real) had four hits and five RBI. Kiki Cuyler (pictured) went 4-for-4 with four runs scored.
The Cubs led 6-3 after one inning, 13-3 after two and 16-5 going into the bottom of the fifth. That would have seemed like more than enough, but the Phillies chipped away with single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh, and the Cubs posted two more in the eighth and you’d think an 18-8 lead with six outs to go would be enough.
But in 1930? Just barely. Guy Bush, who had relieved Bud Teachout in the fifth, ran out of gas in that inning and he and Pat Malone were touched up for seven runs, making the thing sort of close, until the Cubs put one more on the board in the ninth and Malone put the Philadelphia side out 1-2-3 in the ninth for the 19-15 victory. Malone shows up with a retroactive save granted in this game.
About that eighth inning, Tribune scribe Edward Burns noted:
Lest we seem to be praising the talents of the Cubs in the early stages, permit us to pass hastily to the Phillies’ eighth, which not only produced seven runs but a near riot as well. The ordinarily peaceful Chuck Klein, Don Hurst and Manager Burt Shotton were chased from the ball park after the players had threatened to bust Umpire Jorda in the nose. The umpire trouble started when Klein struck out with two on in the big eighth.
Well. They don’t write ‘em like that anymore, and we don’t have that sort of thing in ballgames anymore, good thing, too, in my view.
Also notable, from Burns:
It took 31 minutes to play the entire first inning. And it took 20 minutes to play the first half of the second inning. The game required two hours and 29 minutes.
You can tell, I presume, that Burns thought a 2:29 game was a long time. The Cubs didn’t play a single nine-inning game in 2:29 or less in 2020 and had only five such games in 2019. Tempus fugit.
Lastly, the most remarkable thing about the 34 hits in this game? Not a single home run, and just five extra-base hits (all doubles). The teams did combine for 17 walks, which makes it somewhat surprising that “only” 34 runs were scored, until you note in the boxscore that five double plays were turned and one runner was caught stealing.
We don’t see games like this anymore. A pity, I’d say.