Cubs pinch hitters, 1876-1900, Part 2

Second of 2 posts about Cubs pinch hitters in 1876-1900.


The only way to find data about Cubs who pinch hit in the 25 seasons of the Modern Era is study box scores of individual games as published in contemporary newspapers.

As the White Stockings, Colts and Orphans, they played 2,914 games during those years. Since National League rules expressly prohibited 1 player for batting for another in 1881-90, I had to examine "only" 1,758 of them.

I checked each to see if the Cubs used more than 9 players. If so, were the additional players non-pitchers?

If they were, I examined game stories and notes to see if they specified when and how non-starters entered the game.

Beginning late in the 1893 season, box scores included an asterisk or a dagger in front of a player who pinch hit, then below the team's batting totals would repeat the special character, followed by "Batted in ninth for Smith" or just "Batted in ninth inning."


75 IN 25 YEARS

After working my way through all the box scores, I documented 75 times that the Cubs used a pinch hitter.

For comparison, last season they used 306, nearly 2 per game. They used at least 1 in 149 games, more than double the number of all years before 1901.

(With the adoption of the designated hitter in the National League, the number of pinch hitters has dropped significantly in 2022. Through their first 24 games, the Cubs used only 30.)



The previous post in this series described the Cubs' first pinch hitter, "Pop" Schriver, who made a controversial bunt single in the bottom of he ninth inning at Cincinnati's League Park on Monday, Sept. 21, 1891. An error and a bunt tied the score, then Schriver raced home from third on a fly ball to win the game, 5-4.

Schriver was the second Cub to pinch hit, too -- but not until 250 games later.

On Aug. 14, 1893, the Cubs trailed visiting Louisville, 5-4, as they came to bat in the top of the ninth. Schriver began the inning by batting for pitcher Bert Abbey and "slammed a ball at Tom Brown in center, who froze to it like a fly to a kitchen ceiling on a cold fall morning," according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Cubs tied the game, thanks to a 2-out throwing error, only to lose, 6-5, in 11 innings.


During the remaining 35 games of the season, player-manager Cap Anson employed pinch hitters 4 times. Then he used only 21 during his final 4 seasons directing the team.

Tom Burns, Anson's immediate successor, used 31 in 1898-99.

Tom Loftus, manager in 1900, used 17.

So, the Cubs used 27 pinch hitters between 1876 and 1897, then 48 in the next 3 years.

Following are some of the more notable of those appearance by pinch hitters.



Anson himself pinch hit only 3 times.

The first time, on Sept. 13, 1893, he was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with 1 out in the eighth inning. The Cubs scored twice before the inning ended, to take a 6-5 lead, and went on to beat Boston, 8-6.


On Sept. 26, the Colts hosted the Giants. They ultimately outhit their guests, 15-3, but trailed 5-2, until they manufactured 3 runs in the seventh. Neither team scored in the eighth or ninth.

"Irwin started the tenth by beating out a grounder," the Tribune wrote, "and Dungan bunted safely. Schriver fouled out.

"Then, through the gathering gloom Old Uncle advanced to the plate [to bat for the pitcher] and, amid frantic cheering, smashed the ball in his ancient style. Two runs came around; Anson stole second, Camp was sent to base, and Wilmot hit to center," driving home 2 more runs. The final score was 9-5.


Anson's final attempt to pinch hitting did not go nearly as well.

On April 18, 1896, with 1 out in the ninth, 2 men on base and the Cubs behind, 5-3, he grounded into a game-ending double play.

The only other pinch hitter before 1901 to hit into a double play was Clark Griffith, when he flied out and a runner on third was thrown out trying to score.



Only once did the Cubs get a walk-off hit from a pinch hitter.

Danny Green turned the trick on Aug. 6, 1900, breaking a 7-7 tie at home against Brooklyn.

This is how the Tribune described the finish:

"[Frank] Chance came to settle the struggle. Three times he spat on his gnarled fingers, and three times he waved his bat slowly at Kennedy. Suddenly Kennedy wound up like an electric fan, Chance's legs bent into a circle, the ball flashed toward the plate, and there was a crack.

"Jones turned and tore towards the fence, Kelly chased madly across from left, and, while the crowd arose with a roar, Chance strained around the bases with a terrific sprint.

"He turned second, going like a suburbanite chasing the morning train, and, twenty feet from third base, threw himself forward in a desperate dive, struck North America with his chest, caromed between the legs of Lafayette Cross, the human croquet wicket, and hugged the bag while the crowd went wild.

"D. Green was called up to bat, vice Cunningham, and the Camden terror administered the coup with a line drive into right, sending Chance home with that gave Chicago victory."


The triple was Chance's only hit in 11 trips to the plate as a pinch hitter. He made 5 outs, was safe on 2 errors, walked twice and hit a sacrifice fly.

Just 1 player pinch hit more times than Chance: Sam Mertes, who went 1 for 11, with 2 walks.



The Cubs trailed Baltimore, 8-5, going to the top of the ninth on June 24, 1894.

"The game seemed hopelessly lost," the Tribune reported, "and many of the crowd had started for home, when Lange was given four balls, and Irwin revived the gloomy prospects by a two-base whack to left.

"Parrott gave Jennings a soft chance for a double play, and the shortstop gathered two handfuls of sand instead of the ball.

"Terry flew to Keeler, and Uncle made the mistake of sending Decker, who had not played for weeks, to bat in place of Kittridge. Decker's eyes were dim from lack of practice, and he promptly struck out."

But Jim Ryan and Bill Dahlen singled, then Walt Wilmot doubled them home and the Cubs were on top, 10-8. The Orioles came back in the bottom of the ninth to win, 11-10.



"Anson made one of the most unlucky mistakes of the season yesterday, when, in the seventh inning, with two runs needed in the game, he took [catcher Malachi] Kittridge out of the batting list and sent [George] Decker to the plate instead," the Tribune said in its account of a game at home to the Reds on Aug. 8, 1894.

Decker singled and came home moments later on a double, tying the score at 6.

"But Kittridge had been throwing well, and the Reds had taken few chances on the bases.

"When Schriver took Kittridge's place they at once became venturesome and took every opportunity for a steal. Twice, at critical moments, the big German was called on for a speed throw, and twice he threw wild and wide, giving six unearned tallies to Comiskey's crew, and practically giving the game away."

The Cubs lost, 14-11.



The Cubs trailed the Giants, 4-3, when they came to bat in the top of the ninth on June 5, 1897.

Pitcher Roger Denzer was supposed to have led off. Clark Griffith batted instead.

Said the Tribune: "He cracked a torrid roller down to Davis, who fumbled, and Anson sent Connor up to bat for Donahue. Jimmie plunked a hit over second.

"Everitt sacrificed neatly, and McCormick caromed a drive off Wilson's shins and sent home two runs.

"Then came a butchery of [pitcher Amos] Rusie. Lange hit a slow bounder and beat it down. A second later he stole and was caught, but while Gleason was running him out McCormick crossed the plate, and 'Bill' slid safe to second when the ball was thrown home.

"Anson slashed out a single. Thornton dumped the ball it front of the plate, beat it out, and took second on Warner's wild throw to first.

"Ryan laced the ball into the left field bleachers to add to Freedman's woe. Pfeffer struck out, Griffith singled, and Connor, the eleventh man up, flew out."

So Griffith and Connor both batted twice in the inning, which ended with the Cubs in front, 10-4.

Griffith stayed in the game to pitch, striking out 2 in a scoreless final inning.



Until that day the Cubs never had used 2 pinch hitters in a game. They did so 5 more times before 1901:

Sept. 9, 1898,: Sam Mertes and Frank Chance, both in ninth; both made outs

Oct. 10, 1898: Mertes (strikeout) and Chance (single), both in ninth

April 28, 1900: Sam Dungan (single) and Chance (sacrifice fly), both in ninth

April 29, 1900: Dungan and Danny Green, both in ninth; both made outs

June 8, 1900: Jack McCarthy (out) and Chance (single), inning(s) unknown



"The whole day was one row of testimonial greetings and gifts for the Colts," the Tribune said of a game at Boston on June 16, 1897. "A huge delegation of admiring friends swooped down on Boston from Fitchburg and showered presents upon their distinguished fellow-townsmen, Callahan and Kittridge, giving them flowers and diamonds.

"Another delegation came down from Danvers and gave Connor a handsome watch, and yet another from Taunton to present Donahue with a jeweled watch when he was called to bat in the ninth, and besides there were flowers for Anson and Lange."

Donahue singled. The Cubs lost, 14-3.



Louisville scored a go-ahead run in the top of the 10th on May 11, 1899.

"In Chicago's half . . . Mertes went to bat for Taylor. The crowd rose up and poured down noise in hopes of another victory in the eleventh hour when Mertes drove a beautiful hit to left.

"An instant later came the play that threw away the game.

"Mertes broke away from first with a running start and would have beaten the ball a block, but Ryan jumped out across the plate, bumped into [catcher] Kittridge, and prevented a throw, whereupon Umpire Burns called Ryan out for interference and sent Mertes back to first.

"Ryan's trick seemed to destroy the little hope remaining, but again Mertes went away and stole second almost without an effort.

"In the supreme moment D. Green, the boy wonder, struck out, and Wolverton, who came up with the crowd screaming for another home run, could only push out a long fly to Hoy, and the Colonels carried away the victory by a score of 5 to 4."



The Cubs' final pinch hitter before the Modern Era was Charlie Dexter, who made an out in an unknown inning of a 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 11, 1900.

The Cubs played 2 more games after that. In the season finale, they led, 7-0, going to the bottom of the eighth inning. Then a bases-loaded triple, a pair of singles and a wild throw made the score 7-5, with 2 outs and a runner on third.

Tom McCreery, up next, "was asked to step aside" in favor of a teammate "who has the reputation of being a timely hitter," said the Pittsburgh Press.

But that hitter grounded to shortstop and was thrown out, ending the game and the season.

The hitter? None other than "Pop" Schriver, who had been the Cubs' first pinch hitter 9 years earlier!



From Schriver, in 1891, through Dexter, in 1900, the Cubs used 23 different pinch hitters before the Modern Era.

Eight of them were called upon exactly once, and 3 more twice.

They combined to make 14 hits -- all singles.

The only player with 2 hits was Tim Donahue. Both came in 1897.


Oddly, Donahue was lifted for a pinch hitter 9 times, the most for any position player. Fellow catcher Malachi Kittridge was next, with 7.

Pitcher Ned Garvin was replaced 14 times. Garvin batted .122 in his 7-year career. He hit .154 for the Cubs in 1899-1900.

The players who batted for him fared even worse: 0 for 10, with 3 walks and a sacrifice fly.

The pinch hitters for Donahue were 2 for 8, plus 1 hit by pitch.

The hitters for Kittridge were 3 for 7, including 1 safe on an error.

In all, the 23 pinch hitters drew 4 walks and were hit twice.


Their 14 hits came in 66 official at bats (49 outs, 3 safe on errors), for a batting average of .212.'s batting split by position begins in 1915. Through 2022, all Cubs pinch hitters had a combined average of .224. They batted .257 last year (70 for 306) but are batting just .125 (3 for 24) through 24 games this year.

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