Some odds and ends from Cubs history:
NEW APPROACH TO HITTING
On July 18, 1888, the Cubs were shut out at Detroit, 0-5, for their third straight loss and slipped to second place.
From the next day's Chicago Tribune:
The big Captain [Anson] summoned his chief advisers to him this morning ans asked their aid in solving a problem that had long troubled him -- how to increase the batting.
Editor [Fred] Pfeffer at once suggested that all the men, when coming to bat, only to meet the ball, and not to drive it out of the lot or over the fielder's head.
The suggestion was at once adopted unanimously, and the colts were instructed to give the new plan a trial for five innings. If it was a failure the old style would be resumed.
Every one of the twelve [players] prophesied good results, and the team rode to the ball park in the best of spirits.
(The White Stockings turned 3 hits into 2 runs in the first inning, added single runs in the third and sixth, then held on to win, 4-3, and regain first place.
(Another victory the next day made the Whites' record 44-24. They then went 33-34 the rest of the season and wound up second, 9 games behind.)
Some of the headlines and start of the story in the Tribune on Aug. 25, 1893:
IS LIKE WATER POLO.
CHICAGO AND NEW YORK PLAY BALL
IN A MAMMOTH LAKE.
The Harlem River Backs Into the Polo
Grounds and the Outfielders Take Baths
NEW YORK, Aug. 24. -- [Special.] -- It was necessary, on account of the encroachment of the Harlem River upon the outfield of the Polo Grounds, to move the diamond up toward the grand stand.
The batsmen stood about where the catcher usually stands when not "up close," and the pitcher's position was just a little east of the regular home plate.
This temporary change was made to let the outfielders play on dry ground.
The ball was hammered out into the water waste half a dozen times, most generally by the Chicago side. "Eddie" Burke in particular had four or five baths. But he never faltered once. The rumor that he is afraid of water, therefore, is disproved.
"Eddie" plunged into the left field breakers are the ball with the dash of a water spaniel and when game ended he had to be wrung out.
"Mike" Tiernan was decoyed once into the lake at right field while [Walt] Wilmot took two plunges.
(The Cubs, then known as the Colts, won the game, 10-4, as they made 20 hits, including 4 by Wilmot.)
In 1899, a rule was added that said a pitcher could not fake a throw to a base occupied by a runner.
During an exhibition game at Kansas City on April 10, the Tribune reported:
"[Clark] Griffith and [Jimmy] Callahan dallied with new balk rule and both were penalized. Their experiments on the balk were not successful and the old habit of bluffing on a throw proved too strong for them.
"[Kansas City's] Eagan, too, forgot to throw and suffered the penalty. The rule seems certain to cause trouble, at least until the pitcher can forget old habits."
In "Notes of the Game," the paper added:
"Griffith is still displeased with the balk rule, which he considers a hobble for pitchers.
" 'Pitching under that rule,' he said tonight, 'is just like trying to write a poem with a man behind you looking to hit you back of the head.' "
Griffith completed the regular season with a record of 22-14 and was called for only 2 balks.
Callahan wound up 21-12 and balked once.
Other pitchers did not adjust as well. There were 61 balks called by season's end, more than 4 times the 15 of a year earlier. Those 61 would be the most in the American and National leagues combined for half a century, until there were 76 in 1950, first year when a pitcher was required to come to a pause before throwing home with a runner on base.
(There were 69 in 1915, including 21 in the Federal League.)
From the Tribune's game notes on Aug. 13, 1911:
The figures under the "P" and "C" following the American League scores on "The Tribune" sign in left field puzzled some of the rooters.
The initials stand for "pitcher" and "catcher" and the figures can be interpreted by consulting the list of battery men under the caption "American League' in the score card.
Although the scores of all games in both leagues are posted at several other parks, this is the first time spectators have been able to learn who is pitching in the out of town games.
Sunday games almost always draw more fans than those on other days.
In 1911, the Cubs' 8 top crowd all were on Sunday, topped by 33,500 on June 18 against the Phillies.
But 4 weeks later, on Aug. 13, only 8,500 saw the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 1-0, to take possession of first place.
The Tribune explained:
[T]he light attendance partially was due to some of the "L" employees, according to President [Charlie] Murphy. He was informed that the report was spread around the loop district that the game had been called off.
Manager [Frank] Chance reported that one of "L" guards told him on the way to the park that the game had been called off. The matter is being investigated.
Part of the fault can be traced to the postponement of Friday's game when conditions were much better than they were yesterday or the day before, thereby making the patrons uncertain as to whether a game would be played yesterday.
The fact there is no telephone at the west side park makes it impossible for anybody to ascertain the plans of the management with any degree of certainty.