Cubs' wins on strikeout/throwout double plays

Can you remember where you were on Friday, Sept. 11, 1981, at 4:25 p.m. Central Time?

Ivan de Jesus was at second base at Wrigley Field, tagging Wallace Johnson of the Expos, who was trying to steal.

As Tim Raines struck out, catcher Jody Davis rifled the ball to de Jesus, who completed a game-ending, strikeout/throwout double play.

It was the last such finish by the Cubs before Monday night, when Willson Contreras and Nico Hoerner teamed up to turn the trick against the Nationals.

Monday's was just the 6th strikeout/throwout finale by the Cubs since 1915, the first season for which has searchable play-level data.

The first 2 came less than 5 months apart, in 1927, and the third was in mid-May of 1929.

The Cubs duplicated the feat once more in 1944, then had done so only once in 78 years, in 1981, until Monday.


In the wake of the Monday play, I published a FanPost that describe the 5 times that the Cubs had lost games ending in a strikeout/throwout.

To find how many times the Cubs had won games in that fashion, I said, would require going through the 1-out strikeouts in the ninth inning or later by each opposing team, one by one -- a project for the off season, I said.

But I figured out a way to get the desired information with far less effort.

(I no sooner did so than Cubs historian Ed Hartig generously sent me the list of the 6 times that the Cubs did it.)

Following is some of what I found!



Since 1915, all Major League teams have executed 121 game-ending strikeout/throwout double plays.

113 came in the ninth inning and 8 in extra innings: 4 in the 10th, 1 in the 11th, 2 in the 12th and 1 in the 15th.

Of the 113 in the ninth, 63 came in the top of the inning and 50 in the bottom.

All 8 in extras came in the bottom, for a total of 63 in the top and 58 in the bottom.

The Cubs made 5 in the top of the ninth and 1 in the bottom of the 11th, at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1929.



8 teams made more such plays than the Cubs, led by the Orioles, with 10, including 4 when they were the St. Louis Browns.

The Dodgers have made 8; the Braves, Pirates, Rangers and Tigers, 7.

The Expos/Nationals, Giants, Phillies, White Sox and Yankees have 6, the same as the Cubs.

The Angels, Blue Jays and Marlins have 1 each.

The Mariners, Rays and Rockies never have done it.



The White Sox have concluded 10 losses, all in the ninth inning, by striking out and having a runner thrown out.

The Cardinals have done it 8 times; the Expos/Nationals and Guardians, 7; and the Angels, Mets, Reds and Yankees, 6.

2 of the Cardinals' 7 came in extra innings, making them the only team to do that more than once.

The Cubs are among 8 teams with 5.

The Mariners and Rockies have lost just 1 games that featured a game-ending strikeout/throwout double play.

The Diamondbacks, Marlins, Rangers, Rays and Royals never have suffered such a defeat.

The Rangers are 1 of 7 teams that have lost once on a 1-out strikeout and batter's interference call on the final play.

All of those 7, not included in the 121 total, came between 1988 and 2015, the most recent on June 6, 2015, when the Orioles lost at Cleveland.



In 2 of the White Sox losses, Carlos May was thrown out trying to steal.

The first time was May 18, 1969, when he tried to reach third base in the bottom of the ninth against the Senators, with the Sox behind, 2-3. They also had a runner on first.

On June 23, 1972, May was gunned down at second in a 3-4 loss at Texas.


The only other player to be tagged out on the bases twice on strikeouts to end games was Tommy Agee.

He was picked off third base in the ninth inning of a 1-2 loss at Washington on Aug. 28, 1967.

Then he was caught trying to steal third with the Mets down by 3-4 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 25, 1970.

Both times, a teammate was on first.



92 runners were tagged trying for second, 18 for third and 3 for home.

4 were picked off first, 1 off second (Doc Johnston of Cleveland, in 1920) and 1 off third (Agee, as described).

The play-by-play descriptions at lists 2 of the double plays as: "strikeout; runner out advancing bases."


Here are the details of the 5 times that the Cubs turned the trick before Monday, in chronological order:

APRIL 16, 1927

The Cubs broke a 2-2 tie against the Pirates in the bottom of the seventh, on a single, a bunt and an RBI double by Sparky Adams. After an out and a walk, Hack Wilson hit a ball that landed in short right field. Paul Waner skidded in some mud and the ball went past him, as 2 more runs scored and Wilson reached second.

The score remained 5-2 at the start of the ninth. Guy Bush gave up a bloop single to Johnny Gooch, then fanned the next batter.

As former Cub George Grantham struck out, Gooch raced toward second, but the throw from catcher Gabby Hartnett beat him to the bag and he was tagged by shortstop Jimmy Cooney.

Of note: none of a half dozen Chicago or Pittsburgh newspapers that are available online mentions the final play.

It was the 14th strikeout/throwout finish since the start of 1915.


SEPT. 10, 1927

This was the 15th, and the only 1 of the Cubs' 6 that was not on an attempted steal.

Guy Bush gave up a run 3 batters into the game, then blanked the visiting Giants the rest of the way.

The Cubs pulled even in the fourth, when Charlie Grimm singled with 2 out and scored on a double by Gabby Hartnett.

With 2 out and nobody on in the fifth, Woody English singled, went to third on a single by Cliff Heathcote and came home on a single by Riggs Stephenson.

George Harper singled to open the ninth. Jack Cummings bounced back to Bush, who threw to second for a forceout. Bush then struck out pinch hitter Al DeVormer, and on the third strike Hartnett rifled the ball to Grimm at first, who tagged Cummings for the third out.

The Chicago Tribune from the next day is not available online. None of the papers from New York or Brooklyn that are mentioned the play.


MAY 12, 1929

A Sunday afternoon throng estimated at 55,000 turned out at the Polo Grounds in New York and witnessed 5 home runs, 3 of them by the Cubs: solo shots by Kiki Cuyler and Hack Wilson, and a 3-run, pinch-hit blast by Gabby Hartnett.

Hartnett's gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead in the seventh. The Giants tied the score in the bottom half when a run scored on a throwing error on a bid for an inning-ending double play. A single then put the Giants in front again, 6-5.

The Cubs pulled even in the eighth when Wilson doubled, advanced to third on a ground out and came home on a fly ball by Cliff Heathcote.

The Giants left runners on the corners in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs stranded 3 in the 10th and a runner on second in the 11th.

Edd Roush led off the Giants' 11th with a single off Mike Cvengros. The next batter, Shanty Hogan, fouled out. Roush then took off for second as Cvengros notched a third strike on pinch hitter Andy Reese. Shortstop Woody English took the throw from catcher Earl Grace and tagged Roush.

At least, that's what the play-by-play of the game shows.

But the Chicago Tribune tells a different story:

After Roush's single, it said, "Hogan tried to sacrifice and finally lifted a tall foul. Grace bumped the grand stand snaring the ball. Roush immediately dashed for second.

"Grace whirled quick as a flash and whipped the ball to English, who was awaiting the arrival of the runner. That sterling bit of thinking and quick action relieved a most embarrassing situation and no doubt had a heavy bearing upon the ultimate result of the ball game.

"Reese, a substitute batsman for [Carl] Mays, ended the inning by fanning."

No other newspaper that I could find described the play at all.

Moments after the final out, a sudden downpour halted play and it never resumed, ending in a tie after 2 hours and 50 minutes.


JULY 4, 1944

In Game 1 of a holiday doubleheader against the Braves at Wrigley Field, the Cubs tallied an unearned run in the second inning.

Dom Dallessandro cracked a 2-run double in the third, Roy Hughes did the same in the fourth and the Cubs took a 7-1 lead into the ninth.

Boston's only run off Bill Fleming had come on a steal of home in the sixth.

Fleming walked Butch Nieman to start the ninth. The next batter flied out, then Clyde Klutz whiffed and catcher Dewey Williams gunned down Nieman, with shortstop Hughes applying the tag.

The Tribune was silent on the play.

The Cubs won Game 2, as well, 4-2, to move out of last place, 1.5 games ahead of the Braves.


SEPT. 11, 1981

Four singles, 2 walks and an error on a pickoff gave the Cubs 4 runs in the first inning against the Expos.

Back-to-back 2-out triples in the second by Bill Buckner and Leon Durham made the score 5-0.

The Cubs' lead was 6-2 after Ken Reitz homered in the fifth.

But the Expos closed to within 6-4 in the eighth, as they loaded the bases with nobody out, then got 1 run as Andre Dawson grounded into a double play, then another on a single by Gary Carter.

Lee Smith began the ninth on the mound for the Cubs, gave up a single to Larry Parrish, and was replaced by Willie Hernandez.

Pinch hitter Terry Francona greeted him with a single, then Wallace Johnson singled home Parrish: 6-5.

"The dangerous [Warren] Cromartie was next," said the next day's Tribune, "with orders to bunt on the first pitch and swing away on the second.

"Cromartie missed a weak bunt attempt and Francona, caught leaning off second, dashed for third. Ken Reitz had the throw in time, but whirled the way while Francona slid in safely."

Hernandez struck out Cromartie, bringing up switch hitter Tim Raines, who had homered earlier. This time, batting right handed, Raines lined a shot down the right field line that was barely foul, then swung and missed on a 3-2 curve ball.

Johnson was running on the pitch and was tagged out by shortstop Ivan de Jesus, according to the official play-by-play.

The Tribune says it was second baseman Pat Tabler who "soared for a high throw from catcher Jody Davis, slapping a quick tag on the runner to end it with an improbable double play."

And one that the Cubs would not pull off again for almost 41 years, while playing 6,273 games, until Monday night.

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