Category Archives: July

July 13 – Ed Delahanty : A Tragic Star

1896 | CHICAGO, ILLINOISPhiladelphia Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty became the second major league player to hit four home runs in one game on this date in 1896. Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters (the current Atlanta Braves) was the first to do it in 1894.

Despite Delahanty’s display of power, the Chicago Cubs beat the Phillies at old West Side Grounds in Chicago, 9 to 8.

Reports indicate Delahanty’s four home runs were all inside-the-park, which was common in those days. While the stands were reachable down the foul lines at 340 feet, centerfield was well over 500 feet – a lot of room for a ball to roll around in, and a chance for a hitter to run all the way home.

Delahanty had a fine career. He hit over .400 three times, finished with a lifetime average of .346, drove in 1,464 runs and scored 1,599 times in a 16-year career.


He met a tragic and mysterious end, however. Exactly what happened is not known, but on July 2, 1903 he fell into Niagara Falls. His mangled body was pulled from the falls seven days later. The story is, while traveling by train through Niagara Falls after playing in Detroit, Delahanty was kicked off the train for being drunk and disorderly. He was last seen walking across the bridge over the falls. Some questioned whether Delahanty fell, suggesting he may have met with foul play.

Regardless of the circumstances of his death, Ed Delahanty lives on in Cooperstown. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
July 13, 1886 game info
Society for American Baseball Research 
Ed Delahanty” Career

July 12-Disco plus baseball equals forfeit

1979 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Rock & Roll and Disco don’t mix, neither, apparently, do Rock & Roll and baseball. The Chicago White Sox and two Chicago radio shock jocks found that out today in baseball – July 12, 1979 – when a promotion got out of control. It forced the Sox to forfeit the second game of a doubleheader.

Chicago radio DJ’s Steve Dahl and Garry Meier and Mike Veeck, the son of Sox owner Bill Veeck, agreed to have a promotion called “Disco Demolition Night.” Rock jocks Dahl and Meier despised Disco music, so they invited thousands of their fans to bring Disco records to the Sox-Detroit Tiger doubleheader in exchange for a free ticket. The records would be blown up in center field between games. The problem was thousands of their fans brought Disco records to the game in exchange for a free ticket. The records were blown up in center field between games.

Once this triumphant disco demolition took place the “fans,” most of who, you could safely bet, were not your average baseball fans, became oblivious to a second game soon having to be played on the field they had just overrun by the thousands.

After more than an hour of trying to clear the field, chief umpire Dave Phillips postponed the game between the Sox and Tigers. American League President Lee McPhail went even further and ruled the game a forfeit win for the Tigers also won the first game 4-1.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
The Chicago Tribune, July 13, 1979
ESPN program on Disco Demolition

JULY 11- Babe Ruth makes his debut

1914 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – 19-yer old George Herman Ruth played in his first major league game today in baseball history – July 11, 1914. Babe Ruth was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Naps (today’s Cleveland  Indians). He won the game 4-3 win. The Red Sox had purchased the Babe from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League two days before.

Ruth didn’t astonish fans that first season. He made 4 appearances as a pitcher, three as a starter. He finished with a record of 2-1 and ERA of 5.67. Ruth came to bat ten times, had two hits for a .200 batting average, two RBI, a run scored and struck out four times.

It didn’t take long for Ruth to show star quality. He won 78 games as a pitcher the next four seasons. His hitting was even more impressive, forcing the Red Sox to put him in the outfield just about every game in 1919 and Ruth didn’t disappoint, hitting 29 home runs and driving in 114 runs in 130 games.

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, its owner needed money to finance a Broadway play, so Ruth was sold to the Yankees after the 1919 season.

And the rest is…

JULY 10-Best player you never heard of

1936 | PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – Ever heard of Chuck Klein? If you’re not a rabid baseball fan, chances are, no. He hit four home runs on this date in 1936 and it was no fluke. His home runs in the first, fifth, seventh and tenth innings helped his Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-6. Klein became, at the time, the fourth player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game.

As of this writing 17 players have hit four homers in a game, three did it in extra innings. No one has ever hit five home runs in a game. Klein almost had a fifth home run in the second inning of July 10, 1936 when he sent Pirates outfielder Paul Waner to the wall in right to haul in a long fly ball.

It’s odd that Chuck Klein is not among the legendary names that roll off the tongue when talking great hitter, but he had one of the best offensive years in baseball history in 1930:

Batting average       .370
Home runs                  40
Runs batted in          170
Runs scored               158

Look at the runs scored and RBI. Klein accounted for a phenomenal 288 runs for the Phillies that year (RBI + runs scored – HRs). It’s difficult to rate the most productive offensive players in a team sport like baseball because someone has to be on base for you to drive them in, and you obviously can’t drive yourself in if you’re on base. However, baseball statistician Bill James came up with a Runs Created (RC) formula. According to James’ RC formula, Klein’s 1930 numbers make it the 11th best Runs Created season ever.

The other ten were accomplished by names fans are more familiar with; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, Jimmy Foxx and Rogers Hornsby, some more than once. Think of all the other great hitters in baseball history; Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, etc.; none of whom had Runs Created years better than Chuck Klein.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Home run records
Individual player records
The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Runs Created
The Uniontown Morning Herald , Uniontown, Pennsylvania , July 11, 1936

 

July 9 – Hero’s Welcome

1946 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – World War II is over. The all-star game is back – after a one-year hiatus – so is Ted Williams.

It was fitting that the mid-summer classic was played in Boston on this date in 1946. Seven Red Sox were on the American League squad, and they did not disappoint the home town crowd, especially Williams.

Like many players, “Teddy Ball-game,” as he was known, was in his first full season back after serving in World War II as a Marine fighter pilot.

Williams went 4 for 4 with two home runs and 5 RBI on this day. The most memorable moment was Williams clobbering Rip Sewell’s eephus pitch into the right-center field bullpen.

The American League crushed the National League on that day 12-0.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
1946 All-star game box score
History of the All-star game