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3 fun stories about home runs, 1907-10

Home runs come in many ways.

Here are 3 stories about unusual homers hit by the Cubs between 1907 and 1910, en route to winning 3 of 4 National League championship and 2 World Series.

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The Cubs won a record 116 games in 1906, going 110-30 after a 6-6 start.

They remained a juggernaut in 1907, beginning the year 23-4 and never losing 2 games in a row until May 26-27, when a pair of defeats at Cincinnati made them 26-8 and relegated them to second place by half a game.

Then they won 3 in a row, starting a run in which they went 21-4, to open an 11-game lead with a record of 47-12.

They still led by 8 games after 4 losses and a tie to begin a 6-game series at home against the Pirates.

The tie came on June 30. The next day, the Cubs won the series finale. That was the first of 6 straight wins and 8 of 9, which built their cushion to 11 games once more.

They were up by 10 games after a 4-3 win on July 16 in the opener of a 3-game set at Boston.

Their starting pitcher the next day was 24-year-old right hander Ed Reulbach, winner of 18 and 19 games the previous 2 seasons, with earned run averages of 1.42 and 1.65.

In his first 9 games of 1907, he never allowed more than 2 runs of any kind, averaging 1.82 per 9 innings. But in his 2 most recent outings, he had surrendered 6 runs on 13 hits in 7 innings at Brooklyn, then 5 runs on 7 hits in just 4.1 innings at Philadelphia.

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C. W. T. H.

Here is how Charles Dryden of the Chicago Tribune described what happened when Reulbach faced the Doves at Boston's South End Grounds:

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From a local viewpoint, Mr. Reulbach, our great pitcher, was C. W. T. H., which means crazy with the heat.

Else why would Edward, of all men, smite a home run blow and put the Beanies in a pot? . . .

Considering the heat, which was fierce enough to cook beans in the open air, the pastime was fast and furious, Reulbach and [Gus] Dorner fought a duel with the mercury at 95 in the shade, and there was no shade.

The local dry cleaned bunch [i.e., the Doves] got off in front by punching out a single tally in the second. They might have led to the finish but for the queer hot weather conduct of Reulbach. He has been hitting at the phenomenal rate of one single per month since the season opened and the last thing anybody dreamed of was a home run.

Zow! Biff! Bing! Bang!

Yet Edward walked up to the pan in the sixth looking like a gentleman who had been swimming with his clothes on. He landed on an outshoot, and zow! Likewise bing!

The ball crashed over the right field fence, and what makes the feat all the more amazing, Edward is a right handed batter. Athletes often pole 'em over the left wall and into passing express trains.

When the ball sailed over the fence Reulbach tore along like a quarter horse. His pals had to rush out and stop him, as that kind of a swat permits an athlete to proceed on a dignified trot.

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'DEMON DUTCHMAN'

More from Dryden's story:

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[T]he celebrated Reulbach four play jolt over the fence in the sixth round tied the score and inspired great fear in the heart of G. Dorner. He walked our demon Dutchman [i.e., Reulbach] the next time up in the eighth, then passed two more, after which Cap [Frank] Chance whaled a single that counted two runs and won a great game by a score of 3 to 2.

That is what the local patriots get for laughing at a newspaper picture this morning depicting Mr. Chance in the act of creeping out of a large bottle. He made them pay corkage O. K.

...

The Doves' second run came in the bottom of the eighth, on a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly.

In the ninth, they put runners on second and third with 1 out, "but Reulbach was there with all kinds of goods. He was not going to lose the glory of that home run -- not if the Beanies killed him. . . .

"With the infield up, [Patsy] Flaherty, batting for Dorner, flied to [shortstop Johnny] Evers. Then all hands moved back while [Al] Bridwell popped to the same place, and the game was over. The athletes were ready to melt with the heat and fatigue."

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NEVER AGAIN

Reulbach's home run was his only one of the season, in 70 trips to the plate. He also had 10 singles and a double, for a .178 average.

The Cubs hit just 13 homers as a team, in 155 games. Evers and Frank Schulte each hit 2. Besides Reulbach, the 9 players with 1 included fellow pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown.

Brown's homer was the second of his 5-year career. He pitched for 9 more years and never homered again.

Neither did Reulbach. He retired in 1917, at age 34, after 13 seasons, 9 of them with the Cubs, in which his pitching record was 182-106, with a 2.28 ERA and an ERA+ of 123. He threw in 399 games, starting 300 of them. He completed 200, 40 of them shutouts, and finished 80 more, saving 13.

But as a hitter, his slash line was .147/.204/.183, in 985 plate appearances. Among his 127 hits were 16 doubles, 6 triples and that lone home run on a sweltering summer's day in Boston.

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STUCK IN NEUTRAL

The Cubs won the 1907 pennant with ease, finishing 107-45, 17 games ahead of the runnerup Pirates. They quickly disposed of the Tigers in the World Series, tying the first game, then winning 4 in a row.

In 1908, they led by 4 games on June 13, but after a loss on June 29 slipped to second place, half a game in back of Pittsburgh.

Over the next 18 games, they never were ahead by by more than 1 game nor behind by more than 1.5. But a 4-3 loss at home to the Giants on July 16 -- their second straight to New York, following 3 in a row to Philadelphia -- left the Cubs 2 games out of the lead, and in third place.

The fans who mustered at the West Side Grounds for the game against the Giants the next day, Friday the 17th, saw something they likely never had seen before, and likely never would see again.

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'STOPOVER PRIVILEGES'

This is Charles Dryden's account of what happened:

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One home run with stopover privileges counted the only tally in a perfect game of ball the Cubs wrenched from the Giants yesterday by a score of 1 to 0.

Perfection does not lie in the fact the champions won. The artistic character of the combat made it so.

Two master mechanics, [Mordecai] Brown and [Christy] Mathewson, glittered in the center of the arena, but Mr. J. Tinker supplied the thrills both ways. Joe first saved the game for us and then won it with that merry wallop to the remote frontier of the yard.

Not often do the bugs observe a homer with the stopover idea hung onto it, yet the Cub shortstopper figured in such a deal.

Joe had no intention of stopping for feed or water when he started on that important trip in the fifth. H. Zim [Heinie Zimmerman] flagged our special at third base, but Joe broke loose after being checked and faced the other way and still beat the relay to the plate.

To be sure, H. Zim was mortified over his de trop faux pas, and would have been more so had the battle gone into extra rounds.

...

The Giants had lost two chances to splurge with one run or more when Tinker's long blow led the fifth. The hit was a line drive over short. [Cy] Seymour tried to cut across the bows of the runaway ball, but it dodged him and kept on. Tinker was at third base before the outpost caught up with the sphere, which was monkeying around the carriage gate in an effort to quit the premises.

As Tinker weathered the third corner Zimmerman, coaching there, threw the hooks into the sprinter and rammed him toward the bag. Joe thought the ball must be right on top of him, but when he saw the backs of the relay men strung across the sweet clover he dug out for the pan and beat [shortstop Al] Bridwell's heave, which came a bit wide.

When it was all over H. Zim explained his high tackle by saying he lost track of the ball in the sun and didn't know where it was. Very well, H. Zim, you are forgiven this time, but don't use the hook again while the Giants are in our midst.

Furthermore, you might have crabbed that $25 suit of togs, the $5 check, the new hat, shoes, pig's knuckles, and a lot of good things Mr. T. will cop for his mighty knock.

Of course, what H. Zim did was for the best. He meant well, but, hully gee! look at the frightful possibilities of that R. A., which is code for rash act.

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'LAST FAREWELL TOOT'

"Hully gee!," indeed.

The Cubs came close to scoring only one 2 times:

"Mr. Evers nudged a triple to start the second and his stop over went the limit. Technically speaking, John is there yet.

"Again in the third [Del] Howard and the P. L. [Chance] got their wires crossed in a double steal and Howard was potted off third base."

The Giants made only 6 hits off Brown. "Three of them lumped in the second stocked the bags before a hand was out. The bugs were about to utter a last farewell toot, good bye, but a pop foul and a double play wiped away that crisis."

In the fourth, New York had a runner on third with two out. "Tinker raced behind the [second base] bag, scooped Bridwell's bounder in his mitt, and chucked him out."

His homer the next inning was Tinker's third of what would be a career-high 6. But his biggest hit of the year was the last of his 14 triples, also the most in any of his 15 big league seasons.

It also came off Mathewson, when he led off the fourth inning at New York on Oct. 8, in the replay of the "Merkle's Boner" tie at the Polo Grounds on Sept. 23.

Tinker raced home moments later on a single by Johnny Kling, tying the score at 1. With 2 out, Frank Schulte drove in Kling, then Chance delivered a 2-run single, and the Cubs went on to win the game, 4-2, and their third straight pennant.

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HEADS UP!

Frank Schulte gave a new meaning to "hard headed" during a game in September of 1910.

Despite winning 104 games in 1909, the Cubs had been dethroned as champions by the Pirates, winners of 110. The Cubs just 11-11 on May 14, 1910 and were in fifth place, although only 2 games out of first.

Then they won 11 in a row, regained the lead and never relinquished it. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, they began a 21-game, 5-city road trip by splitting a doubleheader at Philadelphia, making their record 86-40 and their lead 11.5 games.

The Phillies stood at 68-64, 21 games to the rear, when the teams met again on Thursday afternoon at Baker Bowl.

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After 5 innings, fourth-place Philadelphia owned a 5-0 advantage, with 4 of the runs having come in the fifth. What's more, the Cubs had been held hitless by 22-year-old right hander Eddie Stack, a native of Chicago.

Stack retired the first 2 batters in the sixth, then Johnny Evers ended the no-hit bid with a single. Jimmy Sheckard singled, too, and Solly Hofman doubled home both runners.

Stack was replaced in the seventh by righty Earl Moore, 10 years his senior and in his 10th big league season.

Harry Steinfeldt welcomed Moore with a single. A hit by Schulte sent Steinfeldt to third and a fly by Tinker sent him home, making the score 5-3.

The Cubs then tied the game in the eighth, on walks to Evers and Sheckard, who scored on an RBI single by Hofman and a groundout by Jimmy Archer, respectively. Hofman, the potential go-ahead run, now stood on second base, with 1 out.

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'WHIFF ROUTE'

I.E. Sanborn of the Tribune described what happened next:

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Steinfeldt struck out and Schulte was on his way to the whiff route, when Moore let a wild curve get away from him. Schulte started to lunge at it, then pulled back, but did not get his bat out of the way.

The ball caromed against the head and knocked him down. Before they could bring water to revive him Schulte was on his feet, and after rubbing the back of his ear for a minute, told Moore to pitch another like that at his peril.

Moore did. Wildfire stepped back and cracked it several hundred feet into the air and so far away that it cleared the tall wall in right field and let him trot around the circuit, pushing Hofman ahead of him with the winning run.

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MISSED MONEY

There were no more runs after that, as the Cubs completed a 7-5, come-from-behind triumph.

Schulte's tie-breaking blast "cost him at least $50," Sanborn explained, as it "cleared an advertisement for hitting which sturdy athletes are paid fifty bones in hard or soft cash as they please.

"But if Schulte had been looking merely for coin and had contented himself with hitting the sign neither of the two winning runs would have counted, while by raising the ball ten feet higher he won the game.

"There is nothing commercial about our right fielder and he would rather cop out a victory than earn $10,000 worth of easy money."

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LUCKY BREAK, BAD PUN

Moore, Sanborn said, should have known "not to make Schulte made by beaning him, especially behind the left ear. . . . Technically, the ball ticked Schulte's bat just before it stung him in the head, and that was fortunate in two ways. It partially softened the blow and also kept Schulte from being allowed to go to first base. Otherwise he could not have swatted the ball over the wall, of course.

"But there was enough force left on the wild pitch to stir Schulte to anger and that is some force, believe us, for Frank is so mild manner he would not catch a fly if it was not part of his business."

...

The homer that beat the Phillies was Schulte's ninth of the season. He hit one more before the season ended, tying Fred Beck of Boston for the league lead, with 10.

A year later, Schulte smacked 21, an NL record since the start of the Modern Era in 1901. He was not hit in the head by a ball before smacking any of them.

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