Cubs' bizarre 6-run 9th-inning rally, 1887

Last Thursday night, the Mets scored 6 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Phillies, 8-7.

A post yesterday described the Cubs' victory at Cincinnati on June 29, 1952, in which they scored 7 runs in the ninth to win, 9-8.

According to the Winning Team Win Expectancy at, that is the greatest ninth-inning comeback in Major League history. After their first 2 batters were retired, the Cubs' chance of winning was 0.01 percent -- 1 in 10,000.

Only 1 other teams ever won after having an expectancy of 0.01: the Phillies, 12-11 winners over the Dodgers on Aug. 21, 1990. But the Phillies stood at 0.01 with 1 out in the seventh inning, when they trailed, 11-1, not in the ninth.

On July 28, 2001, the Pirates were losing to the Astros, 8-2, and were down to their final out, the same as the Cubs had been in 1952. Pittsburgh won, 9-8, with the final 4 runs coming on a grand slam.

But the Pirates' win expectancy bottomed out at 0.02, not 0.01.


FROM 0-5 TO 6-5

The 1952 game at Cincinnati was the first time in the Modern Era when the Cubs came from 6 runs behind in the ninth inning to win.

On April 29, 1979, they were 3 outs away from a 5-0 loss at Atlanta when Dave Kingman singled to start the ninth.

Steve Ontiveros drew a walk, but the next 2 batters flied out.

Ted Sizemore then walked, loading the bases.

Tim Blackwell greeted reliever Gene Garber with a single, scoring Kingman and Ontiveros: 2-5.

Pinch hitter Larry Biitner singled home Sizemore: 3-5.

Bobby Murcer slugged a 3-run homer: 6-5.

In the bottom of the ninth, Bruce Sutter gave up back-to-back singles with 1 out before coaxing a pair of groundouts to complete the astonishing victory.



On May 10, 2000, the Cubs were 5 runs down to the visiting Brewers, 8-3, with 2 out in the ninth. They stormed back to tie the game and won it, 9-8, in 11 innings.

But back in the 19th Century, they had done even better, turning an 11-6, ninth-inning deficit into a 12-11 victory.



The date was Monday, May 30, 1887 -- Memorial Day. The Cubs, then known as the White Stockings, were scheduled to play 2 games against the Giants at New York's Polo Grounds, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

The Whites had won the National League pennant in 1885 and 1886. But they began 1887 by losing 5 of 6, won 4 in a row, then dropped 5 straight, falling to 5-10.

They went into the holiday games at 9-14, in sixth place, 10 games behind first-place Detroit. The Giants (15-10) were third, 5 games back.



New York chose to bat first in the morning game and quickly tallied 2 runs off Whites pitcher Mark Baldwin. Then it added a run in the second.

The Whites broke through against Giants pitcher Bill George in the third, scoring once, and took the lead, 4-3, with 3 runs in the fourth.

The Giants responded with 4 runs in the fifth and 3 more in the sixth, making the score 10-4.

Two runs by the Whites in the seventh and 1 by the Giants in the eighth made it 10-6.

"In the eighth inning [Roger] Connor got his first on calls balls and scored on a hit to left field by Mike Dorgan," the Chicago Tribune said, increasing the Giants' lead to 5 runs. "The side then went out.

"Chicago was retired without a run. In the ninth inning New York got one man on a base, but did not score."



"When the Chicagos went to the bat for the last time the score was 11 to 6 in favor of New-York, and naturally enough every one thought that the game was, figuratively speaking, over," said the New York Times.

"Many left their seats, and in order to avoid the rush in the trains started down town thinking that the New-Yorks had placed another victory to their credit.

"Those who waited, however, were the spectators of an unpleasant surprise party."



Tom Burns, seventh in the Whites' batting order, opened the inning with a double. He advanced to third on a passed ball.

George, rattled, walked Baldwin and Tom Daly, loading the bases.

Billy Sunday "could not get near the wildly thrown curves of George and compromised by striking out," the New York Tribune reported.

But George walked Jimmy Ryan, who already had 4 hits, forcing in Burns: 7-11.

Then he walked Marty Sullivan, too: 8-11.

Catcher Pat Deasley tried to pick Daly off third but threw wildly, allowing Daly to score and moving the other runners to second and third: 9-11.

Next up was Cap Anson. He lifted a long fly to center field, manned by George Gore, who had played the position for the Whites the previous 8 seasons.

Gore dropped the ball, Ryan and Sullivan scored and Anson would up on third: 11-11.



"George was sent to the field in disgrace," the New York Tribune said, "and [Danny] Richardson was brought in to pitch." Richardson had been playing second base, so that's where George went.

"Richardson pitched a few balls" to Dell Darling, said the New York Times, "then Deasley's hand was injured and he was forced to retire."

The Giants shuffled their players again, with third baseman O'Rourke replacing Deasley behind the plate, Patrick Gillespie going from left field to third, George from second to left and Richardson returning to second.

Mickey Welch came off the bench to face Darling and he "sent about ten balls over the plate," according to the New York Tribune.

In 1887, 5 balls were required for a walk; 4, for a strikeout.


On Welch's next pitch, Welch "caught Anson off third," the paper explained, "and the player would have been put out but Gillespie made a wild throw and Anson scored the run that won the game."

None of the newspapers cited specify how Gillespie, the third baseman, threw wildly. It almost has to have been during a rundown that ensued after Gillespie caught the pickoff throw from Welch.



The Whites tallied their 6 runs while making just 1 out -- and just 1 hit, the leadoff double by Burns.

They drew 4 walks and were aided by 2 errors, on the catch by Gore and the throw by Gillespie.

The game had featured 41 hits, 26 of them by the Whites, as every player made at least 2. There also were 15 total walks.

The game lasted 2 hours, 55 minutes.



"As soon as the grounds were cleared after the morning contest crowds formed in front of the ticket offices and clamored for admission" for the afternoon game, according to the New York Times.

"The gates were opened at about 2 o'clock and for over two hours a steady stream of humanity poured into the inclosure. An hour before the game was called [to begin] it was impossible to get a seat or even standing room on the grand stand.

"The spectators formed a line in the shape of a horseshoe around the playing lines. Others clambered on the fence at One Hundred and Twelfth street, and some, in order to get a bird's-eye view of the game, mounted the toboggan slides at the westerly portion of the grounds and watched the work of the players with solid comfort."

The attendance was announced as 15,175, the largest crowd ever for a big league game.

The Whites notched single runs in the second, third and fifth innings and led, 3-1, as the Giants came to bat in the ninth.

With nobody out and runners on first and second, Connor slammed a ball off the fence in deep center field. The lead runner scored easily, but the second runner hesitated after rounding third and was thrown out at home, keeping the score 3-2.

Connor wound up on third, but Whites pitcher John Clarkson coaxed a popup and a fly to preserve the victory.



After the pair of 1-run wins, the Whites were 11-14, in fifth place, 9 games out of first.

They still were 3 games below .500 on June 9, at 14-17, then won 6 in a row to begin a stretch in which they went 11-1-1.

After dropping 2 of their next 3, they won 8 straight and rose to second place.

On Aug. 15, they defeated Detroit at home for the second straight day, tying the Wolverines for first place at 50-32.

But the Whites lost the series finale, beginning a 5-10 slump that left them 7 games behind. An 0-4-1 finish dropped them to third place in the final standings, with a record of 71-50-6.

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