Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

OCTOBER 1, 1932 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – What did or didn’t happen in Wrigley Field on this date is debated to this day. Some believe Babe Ruth called his shot while batting in game-3 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees – that is, pointed toward the bleachers, indicating he was going to hit a home run there, and then hitting one there. So did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Ruth definitely gestured, as film from that day shows, but was he calling his shot? [I don’t have the rights to show a still frame from that film, but you can see it by Google-ing “called shot copyright Kirk Kandle”.]

The Yankees were up 2 games to none against the Cubs in the ’32 series. New York took an early lead in game three on a home run by Ruth, only to be tied by the Cubs.

It was the 5th inning and Ruth came to bat again. He and the Cubs were jawing back and forth at each other. It’s obvious from the film that Ruth was gesturing with the count 2-balls and 2-strikes. On the next pitch, he hit a mammoth home run about 450 feet.

Did Ruth call his shot? Sportswriter Joe Williams of Scripps-Howard newspapers started it with this headline in the next day’s paper:

“Ruth calls shot as he puts home run no. 2 in side pocket”

Cubs pitcher Charlie Root, who gave up the home run, insisted Ruth did not call his shot. “If he had made a gesture like that I’d have put one in his ear and knocked him on his (backside).” Ruth did not initially acknowledge that he called his shot, but embraced the story more and more as time went on.

What may be most definitive is the typed play-by-play from Retrosheet, data gathered by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for virtually every MLB game ever played.

Below is how Ruth’s 5th inning at-bat appears, including the bold type:

YANKEES 5TH: Sewell grounded out (shortstop to first); the Cubs bench players were riding Babe Ruth mercilessly and Ruth yelled and gestured back; Ruth homered;

Whoever wrote that does not believe he called his shot. And if you look at Ruth’s gesture it appears to be straight ahead. When a left-handed batter stands in the box straight ahead is toward the 3rd base dugout, which is the Cubs dugout. My belief is Ruth was gesturing toward the Cubs, not center-field. Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Contributing sources:
October 1, 1932 Box score/play-by-play
Charlie Root quote, USATODAY, September 27, 2007
Sports Illustrated Greatest Teams, by Tim Crothers, 1998

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

MAY 17th-The overly friendly confines

1979 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – On this date in 1979 the Chicago Cubs scored 6 runs in the first, 3 in the fourth, 7 in the fifth, 3 in the sixth, 3 more in the eight and still lost.

There were eleven home runs on this windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, a record at the time.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cubs 23 to 22 in ten innings, but not before the Cubs made a miraculous comeback from a 21-9 deficit in the 5th to tie it 22-22 in the eighth.

There were eleven home runs on this windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, a record at the time. The ‘friendly confines’ were overly friendly on this date. It’s as though former NFL great Gale Sayers sneaked into Wrigley Field, which his Chicago Bears called home during football season, and ran off a few touchdowns.

The Cubs’ Dave Kingman had three home runs. Teammate Bill Buckner had a grand slam and seven runs batted in. The Phillies Mike Schmidt hit two home runs, including the game winner.

_________________

The 45 combined runs by the Cubs and Phillies today in baseball is not even the record. You have to go back to August 25, 1922 when the same two teams combined for 49 runs when the Cubs beat the Phillies 26-23.

The most runs scored in an American League game is 36, done twice. The Boston Red Sox beat the Philadelphia A’s 22-14 on June 29, 1950. On August 12, 2008 the Red Sox beat the Texas Rangers 19-17.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL, May 18, 1979
May 17, 1979 box score/play-by-play
Runs Scored Records
MLB Rare Feats

March 27 in baseball history-HOW THE “CUBS” BECAME THE “CUBS”

1902 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – The identity of Chicago‘s National League team is so ingrained that it’s hard to imagine the franchise not being called the Cubs, but for the first quarter century of the team’s existence it wasn’t. They were known at various times as White Stockings, Colts, even Orphans – more on that in a moment.

The Cubs moniker can be traced to the Chicago Daily News newspaper of this date in 1902. The term for young bears was used by a sportswriter at spring training to describe a team with a bunch of young but promising players. The story’s headline read:

Manager of the Cubs is in Doubt Only on Two Positions

A search of newspaper archives at Chicago’s Newberry Library shows that that March 27, 1902 story is the earliest known use of the term “Cubs” to describe the team. The article mentioned it once more in describing the intentions of the manager:

“Frank Selee will devote his strongest efforts on the team work of the new Cubs this year.”

The name caught on, which wasn’t surprising considering the club was known as Orphans at the time.

Here’s how that came about, as a charter member of the National League in 1876 the team was known as the Chicago White Stockings. A few years later star Cap Anson became player/manager, and sportswriters began referring to the team as Anson’s Colts, and eventually just Colts.

Anson was also known as “Pop.” When he left the team in 1897 the team became known as Orphans. Get it? You knew “Cubs” would stick when rival papers such as the Chicago Tribune (which later owned the team) began to use it.

Interestingly, when the Cubs relinquished the name White Stockings, the new American League franchise grabbed it, shortened it, and have been known as the White Sox ever since.

When the National Football League came to town in the 1920’s, the team chose Bears because they played in the home of Cubs.

More info:
The Chicago Daily News, Thursday, March 27, 1902 (Thanks to Newberry Library, Chicago)
The New York Times, “Nicknames of Baseball Clubs,” by Joseph Curtin Gephart,
Retrosheet has a treasure of information
MLB team histories
More info on team names, wikipedia

 

Dec 29, 1951 – THE BITHORN MYSTERY

EL MANTE, MEXICO • It was a mystery then. It’s a mystery today. A one-time rising star for the Chicago Cubs was shot and killed in El Mante (Ciudad, Mante in Spanish) Mexico on this date in 1951.

Thirty-five year old Hi Bithorn, a native of Puerto Rico, was playing in the Mexican Winter League trying to make a comeback when he was killed.

According to an article written by Jane Allen Quevedo for the Society of American Baseball Research, the Bithorn family believes Officer Cano’s motive for shooting Bithorn was because he wanted to steal his car.

According to several articles in The Chicago Tribune in the days after the shooting, Bithorn was broke and trying to sell a car for cash. El Mante policeman Ambrosio Castillo Cano asked Bithorn for the car’s registration papers. There was an altercation and Bithorn was shot in the stomach. Cano said Bithorn attacked him.

According to an article written by Jane Allen Quevedo for the Society of American Baseball Research, the Bithorn family believes Officer Cano’s motive for shooting Bithorn was because he wanted to steal his car.

For some unknown reason, Bithorn was driven to a hospital more than 80 miles away. He died enroute. Cano was charged with homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Bithorn was a shining star early in his career. He came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1942. He won 18 games in ’43, including a league leading 7 shutouts. It was the midst of World War II and Uncle Sam called. He missed the 1944 and ’45 seasons.

The luster Bithorn showed before entering the military wasn’t there when he got out in 1946. He bounced around the majors for a couple years, pitching two innings for the Chicago White Sox in 1947 until a sore arm put him out of action. He would never pitch in the major leagues again.

Bithorn was trying to make a comeback in the Mexican Winter League when he was killed. The largest baseball stadium in Puerto Rico is named after Bithorn.

Contributing sources:
The Chicago Tribune
, January 1-5, 1952
Hi Bithorn stats