FanPost

When Cub walked 6 times in 9-inning game

Six years ago last Sunday, on May 8, 2016, the Cubs completed a 4-game sweep of the Nationals, 4-3, when Javier Baez homered with 1 out in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Washington had left 2 men on base in the top of the inning. In the 12th, it had stranded 3 -- including Bryce Harper, who had been intentionally walked with 2 out and runners on first and second.

That was the 6th walk of the day for Harper, 3 of them intentional. He also was hit by a pitch.

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3 MORE HAD 6 WALKS

No one has walked 6 times in a game since Harper. Only 3 players had 6 walks before him in the Modern Era:

1. Jimmie Foxx of the Reds Sox, on June 16, 1938

2. Andre Thornton of the Indians, on May 2, 1984

3. Jeff Bagwell of the Astros, on Aug. 20, 1999.

Thornton and Bagwell both were walked intentionally twice. Both also made 2 outs. Both games lasted 16 innings.

Foxx, on the other hand, came to the plate only 6 times, and none of the walks were intentional. The Red Sox outlasted the host Browns, 12-8, in 9 innings.

So Foxx's game is unmatched in baseball's Modern Era.

But I recently discovered someone had 6 walks in 6 plate appearances before 1901: Walt Wilmot of the Cubs, on Aug. 22, 1891.

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SMALL IN STATURE

Wilmot was born in Plover, Wis., on Oct. 18, 1863. He played for several semiprofessional teams in 1882-85, then made his pro debut for St. Paul of Northwestern League in 1886, at age 23.

After he batted .344 in 1887, several big league teams coveted the switch-hitting outfielder, who stood 5-foot-9 and weighed 165 pounds.

Wilmot agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals. In his first season with them, he batted only .224/.263/.321, but stole 46 bases, as the team finished last in the league.

The next year, 1889, he improved to .289/.367/.484, with 9 home runs and a league-best 19 triples. His OPS+ was 144.

The Nationals occupied the cellar again and went out of business.

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BIG MONEY

A rival league formed after that season. Wilmot did not want to jump to the Players League, desiring to stay in the National League.

The Cubs, then known as the White Stockings, had lost many of their top players to the new league. Their owner, Albert Spalding, bought Wilmot from the Nationals, then made him one of the highest-paid players in the game, at $4,000 per year for 3 years.

A clause of the contract guaranteed he would not be released if the players who had signed with the new league came back to the Whites.

Wilmot had a fine first season with the Chicago, now known as the Colts. He batted .278/.353/.419, with an OPS+ of 120. Nearly one quarter of his 159 hits, 41, were for extra bases, including 13 home runs, which tied him for the league lead.

The Players League dissolved after 1 season, and many of the players who had jumped to it from the Whites did return to Chicago. But Wilmot kept his job, as promised, and in 1891 his slash line was virtually identical to what it had been the year before: .275/.353/.410, with an OPS+ of 118.

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LONG TIME GONE

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, 1891, the Colts concluded a 4-week, 21-game road trip by winning at Pittsburgh for their fourth straight win. They came home with a record of 59-39, good for first place by 2 games over Boston (55-39) and 3.5 over New York (51-38).

The next day, the Colts routed Cleveland, 14-2, in a game halted by rain after 7 innings. Wilmot, batting second, made 3 hits of the Whites' 14 hits, all of which were singles. They received 6 walks, none to Wilmot.

He walked once, singled and doubled on Friday, as the Colts won again, 9-3.

Then, in the series finale on Saturday, Wilmot made history.

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READ ALL ABOUT IT

This is the start of the Chicago Tribune's account of that game (paragraph breaks added for easier reading):

"Walter Wilmot is the proud possessor of quite a collection of baseball trophies in the shape of long, ugly-looking scars on his figure from not too gentle contact with mother earth, old bats full of memories and base hits, old shoes, old spikes, and a baseball record.

"The scar, spikes, shoes, and bats are the natural accumulation of years of service; the record dates from yesterday.

"It is not often that one attains distinction by doing nothing, unless he has aspirations as being the champion in a sleeping or fasting contest or some such fascinating calling, but Walter secured his record by no greater exertion than statuesque posing at the plate.

"The familiar old malady bearing the homely name of rheumatism is now in undisturbed possession of Walter's left shoulder, and there are more pleasant things to contemplate than swinging a forty ounce club at a flying ball with rheumatic pains playing hide and seek in one's joints.

"This may have caused Walter to stand motionless at the plate while ball after ball sped across his line of vision, or it may have been the exercising in him of rare discrimination in discerning through a labyrinth of curves and shoots the fact that the ball was not cavorting across the centermost portion of the home plate.

"Whatever might have been the cause, the facts remain that Walter went to bat six times on balls during the afternoon, and without having been at the bat at all shows up in the score with two runs and three times left on base.

"This establishes a record that is likely to stand for years, if not for all time."

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'HEROIC EXAMPLE'

Lee Viau, a 24-year-old righthander, was the starting pitcher for Cleveland.

He walked Wilmot in the top of the first inning, but held the Colts scoreless.

He started the the second by walking Colts pitcher Ad Gumbert, then gave up a single. After Jimmy Ryan tripled home the runners, Viau walked Wilmot again. An error made the score 3-0.

Cleveland tied the score with 3 runs in the bottom of the third. The rally began when Gumbert hit Viau on his pitching hand.

Viau "was being hit pretty freely at the time," the Tribune said, "and he may have chosen this heroic method to get out of the game, following the example of the German peasants who cut off a toe to escape army service. One may as well be in the army as within fifty feet of the Colts when they have their batting clothes on."

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'INDIFFERENT SUCCESS'

Viau's replacement in the pitcher's box was another 24-year-old righty, whom the Tribune said "pitched with indifferent success and his customary contortions." His name was Cy Young.

Ryan greeted Young with a booming triple. Wilmot walked, stole second, and followed Ryan across the plate on a single by Bill Dahlen. By the end of the inning, the Colts led, 6-3.

They added a run in the fifth, then were blanked in the sixth and seventh. Wilmot batted at least once in those innings, and may have done so twice. There is no description of his appearances.

Leading off the eighth, "Wilmot, as usual, went to base on balls," the paper said. He advanced to third on a fielding error, then scored when the catcher threw wildly trying to prevent a steal of second.

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WHO NEEDS HITS?

That was the first of 3 runs the Colts tallied in the eighth without making a hit. The last came when Young walked Cliff Carroll with 1 out and the bases empty. When Carroll took off for second, Young turned and heaved the ball into center field. By the time it was retrieved, Carroll had crossed the plate.

There were 5 more batters after Carroll before Wilmot came up again. At least 1 of the 5 would have had to reach base for Wilmot's final walk to have come in the ninth, when the Colts did not score.

Cleveland mustered 1 run in its half, making the final score 10-4.

"The Clevelands will not be back again this season," the Tribune noted. "They never will be missed."

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REST OF SEASON

In the Colts' next game, 2 days later against Brooklyn, Wilmot singled in the first inning and finished 1 for 5, with no walks.

The Colts won, 4-1, to open a 4-game lead in the standings. They led by 6.5 games after a win at Boston on Sept. 15, then stumbled to a 6-9-1 finish, while the Beaneaters went 18-1-1 and claimed the pennant by 3.5 games over the Colts.

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LATER YEARS

Wilmot remained with the Colts through 1895. In his 6 seasons, he batted .284/.347/.408, with an OPS+ of 102. His 554 hits included 111 doubles, 62 triples and 42 home runs.

He walked 265 times and struck out only 139.

In 1896, Wilmot became player-manager of Minneapolis of the Western League, leading the team to the pennant. Unable to duplicate his success in 1897, he was released in July.

Soon thereafter, he signed with the Giants. He played 11 games for them before the season ended, then 35 in 1898 to conclude his big league career.

...

Wilmot continued to play in the minors, primarily for Minneapolis, through 1904, when he was 40 years ago.

In 1901, he was owner/player of a team that began the season in Louisville and ended it in Grand Rapids, Mich. In 1902, he was manager of a pennant-winning team in Butte, Mont.

He also was coach of the University of Minnesota's team for 3 seasons, then turned to pursuits beyond baseball, including running a billiard parlor.

Wilmot was 65 when he died, in Chicago, on Feb. 1, 1929.

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