This day in baseball: Shibe’s stance on lively baseballs

On June 5, 1920, in the midst of an explosion in the number of home runs being hit around the league, Philadelphia Athletics vice president Tom Shibe insisted that baseballs were not “livelier” that season and that the increase in round trippers could be attributed to the elimination of the spitball. Shibe also happened to be part owner of the Reach Baseball Company, which manufactured the league’s game balls. The only changes, Shibe would insist, consisted only of “improvements in the method of manufacture.”

Later, others would state that while Shibe may have truly believed his stance, it was those basic improvements to the baseball that likely had the unintended side effect of making it more elastic. In 1936, Jim Nasium would state, “The funny thing about it was that Tom Shibe, working only to improve the quality of the ball and make it more durable, never realized the effect that this would have on the playing of the game.”

Reach Baseball Company sign

This day in baseball: Intentionally walking Nap Lajoie

Going into the ninth inning against the White Sox on May 23, 1901, the Athletics were trailing 11-7, but managed to load the bases with nobody out. White Sox player-manager Clark Griffith put himself into the game and intentionally¬†walked cleanup hitter Napoleon Lajoie, forcing in a run and cutting the lead to three.¬† The strategy proved successful when he induced the next three batters to ground out, thereby completing the 11-9 victory at Chicago’s South Side Park.

South_Side_Park_1907 - Wikipedia
South Side Park, 1907 (Chicago Daily News)

This day in baseball: Athletics win the 1910 Series

On October 23, 1910, before a crowd of 27,374, Philadelphia’s Jack Coombs won his third game of the World Series to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 7-2. The victory sealed the outcome of the Series, as the Athletics took the championship in five games. Eddie Collins had three hits, including two doubles, in that final game for the A’s.

Jack Coombs (Library of Congress)

This day in baseball: Connie Mack retires

Having spent over five decades managing in the major leagues, Connie Mack retired as skipper of the Athletics on October 18, 1950. At the age of 87 years old , Mack left the game with the most wins and losses in the game’s history, compiling a 3731-3948 (.486) record during his 50+ years as a manager. At the time of his retirement, Mack stated, “I’m not quitting because I’m getting old, I’m quitting because I think people want me to.”

connie mack
National Baseball Hall of Fame Library/Major League Baseball/Getty Images

This day in baseball: Reilly hits for the cycle

At the Bank Street Grounds on September 12, 1883, John Reilly of the Red Stockings hit for the cycle, collecting three singles, a double, a triple, and a home run in Cincinnati’s 27-5 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Alleghenys.¬† The following week, the 24 year-old first baseman accomplished the feat once again at the same ballpark when the Red Stockings defeated the first-place Philadelphia Athletics, 12-3.

Long_John_Reilly_baseball_card - LoC
John Reilly (Library of Congress)