Not only is this game the highest-scoring game in Cubs history (49 total runs), it’s the highest-scoring game in MLB history, going back to the beginnings of the National League in 1876. This game, and the 23-22 game noted in this series yesterday, are the only MLB games in which the teams combined for 40 or more runs.
Both at Wrigley Field, both Cubs vs. Phillies, 57 years apart. What are the odds of that?
The Cubs had faded for a couple of years after their 1918 NL pennant and were coming off two losing seasons entering 1922. Though it would be several more years before they would return to contention, they did finish with an 80-74 mark that year. It was good, though, for just fifth place in the NL, 13 games behind the pennant-winning Giants.
They were in a pretty good stretch of winning since the end of June when this game happened. Just 31-35 on June 30, the Cubs were on a 35-18 run when the Phillies came to town for a weekend series beginning Friday, August 22.
The Phillies actually led this game 3-1 when the Cubs put 10 runs on the board in the second, all 10 unearned, capped by a three-run homer by Bob O’Farrell. All 10 runs were unearned due an error made on a foul popup that would have been the third out of the inning.
The Cubs had an 11-6 lead by the bottom of the fourth when they put up 14 (fourteen!) runs. There were five singles, three doubles, three walks, a hit batter and a home run in the inning, along with another Phillies error. All told, the teams combined for nine errors in this game, making 21 (!) of the 49 total runs unearned. The 14-run inning still stands as the Cubs’ best since 1900, as are the 11 hits they had in that inning.
The Cubs were thus leading 26-9 going into the eighth inning, but some bad pitching and defense led to an eight-run eighth and six-run ninth for the visitors. The Phillies had the bases loaded with two out in the ninth — the tying run actually on base! — when someone named Bevo LeBourveau struck out to end it.
Frank Schreiber of the Tribune, in the colorful prose common in that era, summed things up this way:
Nobody will ever know without many hours with the box score and a record book just how many records of ancient and modern major league baseball were smashed at the north side park yesterday. Cubs and Phillies hooked up in what was advertised as a baseball game, but early proved to be a comic opera arranged to the tune of base hits.
More than 7,000 fans sat through the nightmare wracking their brains as to who was winning, and it was only after hectic figuring at the end of nine hectic rounds that the game was adjudged the property of the Cubs by a 26 to 23 score. In fact, many of the fans who saw the finish of the battle had visions of the opening of the football or basketball seasons, for cries from various parts of the park were imploring for a “touchdown,” while others besought the players to “shoot another basket.”
When the Cubs were renovating the bleachers and planning some historical displays on the concourse, they asked Mike Bojanowski to make up a scorecard from that game, as if he had been scoring it on that day. He’ll tell the story of how that was made here at BCB, tomorrow.