The Great Zim and the 'Split Century,' Part 4

This is a last of 4 parts of a detailed account of an event that is, to my knowledge, unique in the history of baseball: when Heinie Zimmerman of the Cubs was offered $100 gold certificate if he could play for 2 weeks in June and July of 1913 without being thrown out of a game by an umpire.

An anonymous fan provided half of the certificate and promised to give Zimmerman the other half if he remained on good behavior through all 14 days.

I believe that the time spent reading it will be richly rewarded.


Tuesday, July 1, was the 13th day of Zimmerman's quest to win the $100 prize. It was the second day in a row that they hosted the Pirates, and the second day in a row that they beat them.

The line score certainly was unusual. The Cubs scored 3 runs in the first inning; the Pirates, 2 in the ninth. And those were the only runs scored all day.

Zimmerman drove in the Cubs' first 2 runs with a 1-out wallop that left fielder Max Carey could not catch. The ball caromed off the grand stand and by the time Carey retrieved it, Zimmerman was standing on third.

"Following that, Heine [sic] did a daring bit of base running that produced what turned out to be the winning run," Sam Weller wrote in the Chicago Tribune. "[Vic] Saier lifted a short high fly to Carey, who is famed as a pegger, but Heine took a chance anyway and legged it for the plate.

"Carey's throw was too high, going to Coleman, on the fly, and Heine slid safely under the catcher for a score."


Zimmerman singled later on and finished 2 for 4.

"There was one grand opening to start a row with Umpire [Earnest] Quigley," the Tribune's "Handy Andy" wrote in a secondary story," but Heine passed it up without saying a word.

"In the eighth inning, when Heine was taking his last turn at bat, he was called out on strikes. The ball was high and over a foot outside of the plate, but the umpire called strike three just the same. The reason was that Heine started to swing and was unable to stop until in the judgment of the umpire he had swung the bat over the plate. . . .

"For an instant only Heine looked around, then walked to the bench. The amount now earned by the star batter is $92.85 5-7, and barring any mishap, the other $7.14 2-7 will be his tonight."

Zimmerman "feels so sure of victory and his good behavior for the rest of the season that he is willing to take up the same proposition with any other reckless fans who wish to part with their money."



Talk about a batting line! This was Zimmerman's at the end of the Cubs' 6-4 win over the Pirates, on Wednesday, July 2:

1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 sacrifice, 1 stolen base, 1 assist and 1 error. He had 2 at bats and made 0 putouts.

The run came in the eighth, with the Cubs clinging to a 5-4 lead. He walked, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a groundout.

When the next batter hit a bouncer to third, Zimmerman headed for home. The throw was wild, "apparently hitting the great Zim a glancing blow on the top of the head, for it caromed off to the grand stand."

An earlier attempt to score nearly had cost him his $100.


"No day of the fourteen was a harder one for the Bronx clouter to get through than the last one," wrote "Handy Andy.

"Heine actually forgot his good resolutions yesterday and hurled angry words right in the face of Umpire Quigley. It was only for an instant, however, in the heat of battle. Heine suddenly remembered the prize so near his grasp and turned hurriedly away and avoided further trouble."

Zimmerman was on third base, with 2 out, and "had a grand lead, for 'Babe' Adams was taking a risky windup0 and Heine hit the dirt going at top speed. Adams saw him coming in time to keep the ball low, and that was all that beat Heine out of the trick.

"It was close enough for any one to kick and Heine bounced to his feet, scowled at the ump when he heard the decision and screamed 'No!'

"That was all that could be heard for publication. He said something else and Quigley, a new man in the league, started toward the enraged player as if about to wave him to the clubhouse.

"For a moment every one in the grandstand was breathless, for they knew $100 hung on the words the umpire might say. Then they saw Heine turn and walk back to third base and applauded him for getting out of the scrape.

"That was a close call, and if Heine had lost the prize in the last hour of his probation he probably would have had lot more to say about umpires. As it was, he wound up the day with great glory, taking an active hand in winning the game.

"When the last man was out a crowd of several hundred cheering fans followed Heine to the clubhouse. Some of them were waiting outside when Heine came out, thinking he might behind right there to spend the money, but Heine will not get the other of the note until today."

Zimmerman told reporters:

"I knew I could win that money the first day. I wish some one would put up another one right away, and for all I care they can keep handing me half century notes the rest of the season. If they do I'll win them all."


During the 2-week test of his temperament, Zimmerman batted .317/.378/.512, for an OPS of .890. His average on balls in play was .342.

He went to the plate 46 times and was 13 for 41, with 3 triples, 2 doubles and 9 runs batted in. He walked 4 times and struck out 3.

When the fortnight began, his slash line had been .328/.400/.490. When it ended, it was nearly identical: .326/.396/.494.

The Cubs won 5 games and lost 7, going from 31-25 to 36-32 and slipping from third place, 4.5 games behind, to fourth, 7.5 to the rear.



Just before the Cubs took on the Reds on Thursday, July 3, Zimmerman received his prize. The second half of the $100 gold certificate, contained in an envelope, was handed to him at home plate by the umpire, just as had been done when he was presented the first half 2 weeks earlier.

The first half had been delivered by Hank O'Day. The second was delivered by Bill Brennan.

After receiving the Cubs' batting order, Brennan summoned Heine and put the envelope in his hand.

"Zimmy quickly extracted the golden bit of paper, examined it, and passed it to Manager Evers to inspect.

"Then Heine eagerly scanned the folded sheet of paper which the envelope also contained, hoping to learn the identify of his unknown friend [who had put up the $100]. The sheet was blank and there was nothing but Umpire Brennan's 'Good boy, Zimmy. You've earned it," and the voice of the chief user intoning the phrase, 'Heine Zimmerman, receiving the missing half of his $100 bill for gentlemanly deportment on the ball field" to tell Heine whence came the substantial wager that he could behave himself if he tried."


Zimmerman went 0 for 3, robbed twice by shortstop Marty Berghammer, who turned out of the robberies into a double play. He also produced a sacrifice fly, as the Cubs won their fourth game in a row, 6-1.

He finished his big day by throwing out the final batter.



Afterwards, Zimmerman asked the Tribune to publish a statement:

"I want to tell the unknown friend, whoever he may be, that I thank him. It is a good deal of money, I know, but that wasn't what made the hit with me so much as the idea that I could win it if I tried.

"And I want you to say I have learned the lesson and there aren't going to be any more trips to the clubhouse for Heine. They don't get me anything. You know it, and I'm done nagging umpires.

"Tell that unknown [friend] that I appreciate this thing and I'm hoping to send the bill . . . to my mother in New York.

"Will she frame it? I don't know. She can keep it for me or do whatever she pleases with it."

The Tribune's story concluded:

"In that way Heine solved the mystery of what he would do with the century when he won it. No glad raiment or nifty neckware for him. Back to the old mother in the Bronx goes the first coin Zim ever won for good deportment."


But first, Zimmerman had to restore the gold certificate to its original size:

"Heine Zimmerman was busy last night with strips of tissue paper and a mucilage brush, piecing together three section of United States government money which when reassembled entitle him to demand of the national treasurer $100 simoleons in standard gold coin, if he wanted them, in exchange for the dismembered bill."

There were 3 sections, recall, because the half Zimmerman had been given at the start of the 2 weeks had been cut in half itself by ex-teammate and current Reds Manager Joe Tinker when he visited Zimmerman at his hotel in Cincinnati the previous week.



Zimmerman may have resolved the "mystery" of how he would spend the $100 by saying he would send it to his mother -- although whether he did is quite unknown.

But another mystery remained: Who actually put up the $100 in the first place.

Readers of the Tribune learned the answer when they turned to the first page of its sports section on Sunday morning, July 6.

Halfway down the third column, beneath "In the Wake of the News," to the left of the Major League standings, there appeared a simple, boxed headline: THE SPLIT CENTURY.

Beneath it, in bold text, was this:

Certain of "The Tribune's" esteemed contemporaries persist in crediting C. W. Murphy [Charles Murphy, owner of the Cubs] with putting up the $100 offered as a prize to Zimmerman if he would curb his umpire baiting propensities for two weeks.

Mr. Murphy did not put up the $100 or any portion thereof. He did not suggest the scheme, and had nothing whatever to do with it.

Now that Zimmerman has the $100 "The Tribune" does not mind confessing that it furnished the $100 and also desires to thank the other newspapers for the generous way in which they treated this piece of news.


That's right. There was no "Mr. A Split Century," to whom the idea had been attributed at the beginning. It was the brain child of the newspaper, most likely of its famous sports columnist, Ring Lardner, although he never acknowledged his involvement in the matter.

The Tribune almost certainly gained extra revenue from additional readers who bought the paper during the two-week extravaganza -- far more than the $100 that Heine Zimmerman earned for surviving his 14-day ordeal.



The previous day, Zimmerman had failed to finish the Cubs' game against the Reds, injuring himself in a slide at home. He missed 16 of the Cubs' next 18 games, pinch hitting in the 2 others.

When he returned to the starting lineup on July 27, his exemplary behavior continued for 26 games, making it 46 games played since his last ejection by an umpire.

The streak ended on Aug. 23, during a 3-2 loss at New York, the Cubs' fourth in a row and third straight to the Giants.

"At least a dozen times there were kicks on the umpiring," Sam Weller wrote in the Tribune. "In the seventh inning Evers couldn't contain himself any longer and said something that caused him to run to the clubhouse at the command of [Umpire Charles] Rigler.

"Evers was hardly out of sight before Rigler chased Heine Zim, and Heine had a lot to say right in the face of Rigler before starting. Then he strolled and stopped for a long talk with [Giants right fielder] 'Red' Murray, and stopped again to tell the fellows down by the gate all about it. Phelan took Evers' place and Corriden subbed for Heine."



On Sept. 3, a blazing afternoon at St. Louis, Zimmerman was tossed out again -- but by whom wasn't clear at first.

"Perhaps the hot weather caused the hot words," said Weller. "Anyway, in the middle of a lot of weird ball in the first half of the second inning, the great Heine Zim exploded, causing Umpire [Lord] Byron and Manager Evers to explode in rapid succession following.

"Heine said something to the umpire, then the umpire and Evers jumped on Heine simultaneously. Heine was put out of the game, which permitted him to go into the cool clubhouse and have a nice cool shower while the umpire and manager had to toil in the sweltering sun for the balance of the game.

"For some time it wasn't known which one, Evers or the umpire, gave Heine the discharge signal first. Later it was found the umpire fired him, after which Evers added a lot of sunburned words and Heine replied to both with such remarkable force that the crowd had a lot of unexpected fun.

"From the press oven on the roof it looked like Heine, Evers, and the umpire all pulled boners at once, just as if the heat had attacked all of them.

"Heine was running out a ground ball to first base and Evers was going from second to third. The throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and Heine was safe, but apparently didn't know it, for he jogged around toward second.

"When he perceived he was trapped between the bases he heard the manager roasting him from the third corner, to which Heine screamed for the manager to keep his eyes open and he could score. Evers tried to score and was pegged out, then Heine said something terrible to the umpire and both the umpire and Evers attacked him verbally."

Even without Zimmerman, the Cubs won the game, 7-2.



Eight days later, on Thursday, Sept. 11, the Cubs hosted Brooklyn.

In the top of the second inning, the visitors' pitcher, former Cub Ed Reulbach, executed a squeeze bunt to perfection.

"Manager Evers got so angry at Reulbach's success," Weller reported, that "he kicked himself to the clubhouse.

"He found fault with the way Ed stood on the slab, although he had played on the same team with Ed for nearly a decade and never found fault then.

"Ump. Rigler declined to consider Evers' complaint and the Trojan made a run at the ump. from the coaching box to the home plate. This run caused him to be sent to the clubhouse to think it over, but before leaving Manager Jawn went out and with his hands brushed the dust off the pitching slab, thus proving to us that it needed dusting.

"Anytime Evers is put out of the game it's a 2 to 1 bet that Heine Zim will follow him. Zim lingered yesterday until the eighth inning, when Ump. Byron called him out while trying to steal second.

"It did look as if Byron had made his decision about the time Heine hit the dirt and before the ball had been put on him, but it also looked as if he were out and no one knew why he kicked. Heine said something and immediately was chased."



That marked Zimmerman's third ejection in 17 games, raising his count for the season to 8 in 113, or 1 of every 13.

There would be no more, as Zimmerman navigated the Cubs' final 14 games without expulsion.

He finished the season with a rush, going 11 for 21 in the final 5 games, to end the year with slash line of .313/.379/.421, for an OPS of .868.

His OPS+ was 147, which would be the second highest of his 13 big-league years, surpassed only by his 170 the previous year, when he had won the Triple Crown. His next-highest OPS+ would be 124, in both 1911 and 1914.

His WAR in 1913 of 4.6 also would be his third best, behind his 7.1 in 1912 and his 5.3 in 1917, the second of his 4 seasons with the Giants that closed out his career.

Zimmerman led the 1913 Cubs in batting average, OBP, slugging, RBI (95), hits (140) and doubles (28). He was second in triples (12) behind Saier, who had 21, and tied with Schulte for second in homers (9) to Saier's 14.

He also ended the year $100 richer than he could have anticipated on Opening Day.


The Cubs wound up 88-65, earning them third place for the second year in a row. They rose from fourth to third on July 4, the day after Zimmerman received the rest of his $100 certificate, and remained third after all but 4 of their final 85 games.

But their 88 wins were 3 fewer than they had in 1912, when they had gone 91-59. That year, they had finished 11.5 games behind the champion Giants and 1.5 behind the Pirates. In 1913, they trailed New York by 14.5 games and the Phillies by 1, as Philadelphia, at 88-63, had the same number of wins and 2 fewer losses.

The Cubs won 3 and lost 5 of the 8 games from which Zimmerman was ejected by umpires. Had Zimmerman continued to play, they might have turned at least 2 of the defeats into victories, which would have made them 90-63 and lifted them to second place, 1 game ahead of the Phillies.


TOMORROW: A poetic epilogue

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