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Today in Cubs history: The Cubs and Phillies combine for a total runs record that still stands

Dozens of runs crossed the plate on an August afternoon a century ago, and that mark has not been surpassed.

Cubs pitcher Tony Kaufman, the starter that day
Getty Images

The 1922 Cubs got off to a 10-3 start, then fell into the bottom reaches of the National League. A combined 20-30 record in May and June had them in sixth place, 11½ games out of first, entering July.

Then they went on a 33-14 run that brought them up to second place, just 3½ games behind the league-leading Giants entering the action on August 17. Unfortunately, they dropped four of their next six and so, beginning a three-game weekend series at home August 25 at what was then still called “Cubs Park,” they had dropped into third place, six games out.

What the 7,000 fans (approximately; specific attendance figures were often not announced in those days) saw on that Friday afternoon was something not matched before or since in any major league game. Here’s how it all happened.

The Cubs scored a run in the first inning, but starter Tony Kaufman (pictured above) allowed three Phillies runs in the second.

Then the Cubs offense got to work against Jimmy Ring. Ten Cubs runs crossed the plate in the second inning. In part due to a pair of Phillies errors in that inning, all of the runs were unearned.

The Phillies added two in the third and one in the fourth to come to within 11-6, which was as close as they would get... for a while.

Fourteen Cubs crossed the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Hack Miller, who had homered in the 10-run second, went deep again. Miller went 4-for-5 with six RBI on the afternoon. In addition, there were two walks, a hit batter and two more Phillies errors in the inning. The Cubs led by 19 at 25-6.

The Phillies did not quit in this one. They scored three in the fifth to make it 25-9, and the Cubs added one of their own in the bottom of the inning. That turned out to be the last run the Cubs would score on the day, and they thus entered the top of the eighth with a 17-run lead, 26-9.

You would think such a lead would be safe. Dear reader, I am here to tell you that it wasn’t. A 19-year-old pitcher named Uel Eubanks (and per baseball-reference, yes, that is his real given first name) was put into the game to begin the eighth inning, just his second MLB appearance.

It turned out to be his last. Eubanks faced 10 batters, and in sequence, this is what happened: Walk, batter reached on error, single, walk, fly out, single, bunt groundout, walk, batter reached on error, single.

At that point manager Bill Killefer had mercy and replaced Eubanks with Ed Morris, who was making just his fourth MLB appearance. Entering with the bases loaded and two out, Morris promptly allowed a bases-clearing double. Just two of the eight runs that scored in the inning were earned, but now it was 26-17.

Still, a nine-run lead should be enough, right? Well...

Morris faced four batters in the ninth and all of them reached base, via, in order: Single, walk, single, double, the last two scoring runs that made it 26-19.

Killefer, likely awfully frustrated, replaced Morris with Tiny Osborne. (Morris returned to the minor leagues and didn’t pitch in the majors again until 1928 with the Red Sox.)

Osborne didn’t have much better luck. He struck out the first batter he faced, but then allowed a two-run single that made it 26-21. Yikes, it’s getting too close for comfort now. A single and strikeout followed. One out away from victory. But Osborne walked the next hitter, loading the bases, and a single made it 26-22, the bases remaining loaded.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, the Cubs catcher decided it would be a good idea to try to pick the runner off third. A throwing error scored the Phillies’ 23rd run. That catcher was... Gabby Hartnett, who was in his rookie year with the Cubs. In 27 games played and 110 total chances that year, Hartnett made just two errors. That’s pretty good for that era, remember. In all, nine errors were made in this game, two on foul popups, and of the 49 runs scored, just 28 were earned. The weather report for that day, per the Tribune, was sunny and quite windy, perhaps helping lead to all the miscues.

Anyway, Osborne, perhaps rattled, walked the hitter who was batting when the error was made. That re-loaded the bases and now the tying run is on base and the Phillies had the lead run at the plate, the charmingly-named Bevo LeBourveau, who had entered the game in the fifth inning and gone 3-for-3.

Osborne struck LeBourveau out to end the game, and the Cubs had a bizarre 26-23 win.

Of this game, the Tribune’s Frank Schreiber wrote in the next day’s paper:

Nobody will ever know without many hours with the box score and a record book just how many records of ancient and modern baseball were smashed at the north side park yesterday. Cubs and Phillies hooked up in what was advertised as a baseball game, but early on proved to be a comic opera sung to the tune of base hits.

Actually, we do know how many records were “smashed” during that game, and it didn’t take many hours. Here they are, and all but one of them still stand:

  • 49 runs combined is still the record for any game of any length, modern era or before.
  • 51 hits, still the modern (post-1900) record for a nine-inning game. On April 30, 1887, St. Louis and Cleveland of the American Association combined for 53 hits.
  • 14 runs in an inning, the all-time record is still 18 by the Cubs in 1883, a game played where the “Bean” now is in Millennium Park. 14 is no longer the record for the modern era, it’s now 17, set by the Red Sox in 1953. The NL mark is 15 by the Dodgers, set in 1952.
  • Three appearances in one inning by one batter (Marty Callaghan, fourth inning) is still the record. No one has appeared four times, the MLB record for batters faced in an inning by a team is 23. In the Cubs’ 14-run inning in this game, 19 batters came to the plate. The last player to appear three times in an inning was Johnny Damon for the Red Sox against the Marlins, June 27, 2003.

This game is one of only two in MLB history where both teams scored 18 or more runs. The other one, you’re probably quite familiar with. — and it involved the same two franchises, at the same location.

All of this happened 100 years ago today, Friday, August 25, 1922.

Mike Bojanowski created the following scorecard from the play-by-play from this game: