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Baseball history unpacked, September 23

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Cubs, simCubs, and MLB news — Fred Merkle’s big day, the Bostock tragedy, and other stories

Fred Merkle leads off first base September 23, 1908, just before all hell breaks loose
Charles Conlon

... on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Bleed Cubbie Blue brings a you a lighthearted Cubs-centric look at baseball’s past. Here’s a handy Cubs timeline, to help you follow along as we review select scenes from the rich tapestry of Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball history*.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1845 - The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club is formed, and Alexander Cartwright’s 20 rules, presented on September 13th, are adopted. (3)
  • 1907 - In Chicago, the Cubs clinch the pennant by beating the Phillies, 4-1. The game is washed out after 7½ innings with Ed Reulbach winning in relief of Three Finger Brown. Chicago pulls off a triple play in the fifth inning to help seal the win. (3)
  • 1908 - Giants P Christy Mathewson and Cubs P Three Finger Brown battle in the most controversial game ever played. The score is 1-1, with two outs in the last of the ninth when Fred Merkle’s failure to touch second after an apparent game-winning hit by Al Bridwell scoring Moose McCormick from third costs the Giants a 2-1 win; the ump calls Merkle out and rules the game a tie. Merkle’s ‘boner’ will eventually cost the Giants the flag. (1,3)
  • 1915 - In Chicago, Phillies ace Grover Alexander wins his 30th, beating the Cubs, 5-1. (3)
  • 1920 - The Chicago grand jury indictment adds the names of former featherweight boxing champ Abe Attell, Hal Chase, and Bill Burns as go-betweens in the World Series scandal. Confessions, later repudiated, are signed by Ed Cicotte, Joe Jackson, Lefty Williams, and Happy Felsch. (3)
  • 1947 - Before the game against the Giants in a sold-out Ebbets Field, the Dodgers staged Jackie Robinson Day. The Brooklyn rookie, who endured much grief this season as the game’s first black player in modern times, is moved when his teammates crowd around home plate to take part of the ceremony. (1)
  • 1949 - Before the game, Cleveland owner Bill Veeck and a few players holds funeral services to bury the 1948 pennant in center field. The previous day, the Tribe were mathematically eliminated from the American League pennant race. (1,3)
  • 1961 - Ernie Banks voluntarily takes the bench as a sore knee brings his 717 consecutive-games-played streak to an end. (2)
  • 1965 - In an 11-5 complete-game victory at Wrigley Field, Jim Bunning breaks the Phillies’ season record for strikeouts when Cubs shortstop Jimmy Stewart becomes his 242nd victim of the year. The right-hander, who finishes the campaign fanning 268 batters, surpasses the mark established in 1915 by Pete Alexander. (1)
  • 1978 - The Angels’ 27-year-old OF Lyman Bostock, a .311 lifetime hitter, is hit by a shotgun blast while riding in a car in Gary, IN. Bostock is killed by the estranged husband of Barbara Smith, who mistakenly shoots the 27-year-old Angels outfielder in the right temple while attempting to murder his wife. After the first trial results in a hung jury, Leonard Smith, the perpetrator, is found not guilty by reason of insanity and will serve only seven months after the verdict, prompting the Indiana legislature to change the state’s laws regarding insanity. (1,3)
  • 1986 - Houston’s Jim Deshaies strikes out the first eight batters on the way to a two-hit, 4-0, win over the Dodgers. Deshaies breaks the major-league record of seven, last tied by Joe Cowley on May 28th. He finishes with 10 strikeouts. (1,3)
  • 1998 - With his team ahead 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases full of Brewers and two outs, Cubs’ outfielder Brant Brown drops Geoff Jenkins’s routine long fly ball to left field, allowing three runs to score, giving Milwaukee an 8-7 walk-off win at County Stadium. The infamous error will be immortalized by Ron Santo’s radio call when the broadcaster mournfully exclaims, “Nooooooooo!!!!!” as the ball rolls toward the ivy-covered wall. (1)
  • 1998 - In Chicago’s 8-7 loss at Milwaukee, Cubs’ outfielder Sammy Sosa hits his 64th and 65th homers, tying Mark McGwire for the historic home run lead. (1)
  • 2001 - Sammy Sosa sets a major league record with his third three-homer game of the season, hitting dingers 56, 57, and 58 off Astros’ rookie Tim Redding. Slammin’ Sammy also accomplished the feat against the Rockies (August 9) and the Brewers (August 22). The Cubs still lost to the Astros, 7-6. (1)
  • 2001 - Alex Rodriguez’ 48th home run breaks Ernie Banks’ major league record for most in a season by a shortstop, which ‘Mr. Cub’ established in 1957. (1)
  • 2011 - Starlin Castro collects his 200th hit on with a lead-off single off Chris Carpenter in the team’s 5-1 victory over the Cardinals to become only the 10th player to accomplish the feat before the age of 22 and the youngest Cub in franchise history to do so in a single season. Chicago’s 21-year-old shortstop, en route to finishing the season with a league-leading 207, reaches the milestone being two years younger than Billy Herman (1932) and Augie Galan (1935), who were both 23 at the time. (1)
  • Cubs birthdays: Joe Kelly, Mack Stewart, Oscar Zamora, Dennis Lamp, Willie Greene, Chris Volstad, Gonzalez Germen.


X marked the spot where Alec Mills threw the ball that became the game-winning homer. Pinch-hitter Kevin Kramer buried that treasure in the left-field stands not long after Kyle Hendricks surrendered the game-tying clout to Pittsburgh catcher Jacob Stallings, right after Dan Plesac opined that Stallings was ‘no long-ball threat, and he knows it’. So much for punditry. Really crazy given the final of the real Cubs game. Damn, son. Kyle Schwarber hit one into Pittsburgh-area native Ian Happ’s back yard, but it wasn’t enough. The simCubs’ ship was scuttled.

Better luck today! Jon Lester (14-8) will be going for the Cubs against Mitch Keller (5-16) at 1 p.m. CT. Afterward, the simIowa Cubs will face the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the Triple A National Championship. Adbert Alzolay is starting the game. All game video and related material is available commercial-free, 24/7, at the BCB Media Center.


*We vet each item as much as time allows. Please let us know if an item is in error, especially if you have a source. Thanks for reading!