The longest game in American League history (up to that point) took place on September 1, 1906. The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Boston Red Sox in 24 innings, 4-1. The starter for both teams went the distance, as A’s hurler Jack Coombs beat Boston’s Joe Harris at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.
Less than two weeks after Larry Doby’s debut with the Indians, Hank Thompson became the second black player to debut in the American League on July 17, 1947. In the game, Thompson went 0-for-4 as the Browns suffered a 16-2 loss to Philadelphia at Sportsman’s Park. Thompson would play in only 27 games for St. Louis because his presence did not significantly raise attendance.
While this is far from a comprehensive collection of “lost” teams in baseball history, this short clip provides an interesting look at the St. Louis Browns, Boston Braves, and Philadelphia Athletics. Being the number two team in your own city is never an easy position to overcome.
Luis Castro made his major league debut on April 23, 1902, making him the first player from Colombia to play in the big leagues. Castro took the field at second base for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia’s A’s in an 8-1 victory over the Orioles at Oriole Park that day. The 25-year-old Medellin native would play in 42 games that year and would also prove to be the last player from Colombia to appear in major league baseball until Orlando Ramirez broke in with the Angels in 1974.
The 1905 World Series was the only World Series in history in which every game ended as a shutout. Game 5 of the Series, played on October 14th, featured Christy Mathewson of New York against Chief Bender of Philadelphia on the mound. Mathewson defeated the A’s 2-0, marking his third victory of the Series to secure the Giants’ World Series victory.
In a game between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Boston Red Stockings on September 14, 1872, the Athletics led 4-1 in the seventh inning with runners on first and second. Fergy Malone popped up to shortstop George Wright, who caught the ball in his hat and then proceeded to throw the ball to third base. The ball was then thrown to second base. Wright claimed a double play has been completed, as a batter cannot be retired with a “hat catch,” and thus runners Cap Anson and Bob Reach should have been forced out. This naturally caused some confusion, and ultimately , the umpire decided to give Malone another at bat, declaring nobody out on the play. The Athletics won this game, 6-4.
On August 13, 1902, the Philadelphia A’s attempted a double steal against the Tigers. Harry Davis took off from first base while Dave Fultz, the runner on third, waited for the Tigers to make the throw. However, Detroit conceded second base to Davis, thus holding Fultz to third.
Not willing to give up the play so easily, Davis returned to first base on the next pitch. He took off for second base again, this time drawing a throw. Fultz managed to score from third on the throw, and Davis was called safe at second.
Davis was credited with just one stolen base out of the ordeal.
Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns homered in his sixth consecutive game on August 2, 1922, setting what was at the time an American League record. However, the Browns still lost to the Athletics, 8-4, at Sportsman’s Park.
At Cleveland’s League Park on July 25, 1930, the Philadelphia Athletics pulled off a rare triple steal in the first inning of a game against the Indians, then proceeded to repeat the feat in the fourth inning. The A’s pounded Cleveland 14-1 in that game.
Nicknamed “The Freshest Man On Earth,” Walter Arlington Latham was born March 15, 1860 in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Latham’s father served as a bugler for the Union Army in the American Civil War, and at the conclusion of the war, young Arlie became interested in baseball when soldiers returning from the battlefield brought the game home with them.
By the time he was fourteen, Latham had become good enough to play with the General Worth nine, a local team in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where the family had moved. Latham started out as a catcher, but later took up playing third base to avoid getting beat up behind the plate. In 1877, Latham played with the Pittsfield, Massachusetts club as their third baseman, and then in 1879, he made his professional debut in minor league baseball with Springfield in the National Association.
Twenty-year-old Latham made his Major League debut on July 5, 1880 with the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, becoming the first man from New Hampshire to play in the majors. He then played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association in 1881, then the Philadelphia Phillies of the League Alliance in 1882.
Latham then joined the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1883. He stayed in St. Louis through the 1889 season, during which time the Browns won four consecutive pennants (1885-1888) in the American Association. Latham led the AA in runs scored with 152 during the 1886 season. He also batted .316 and stole 142 bases, then tacked on another 12 stolen bases in the playoffs. Adding to a reputation as an excellent base stealer, in 1887, Latham stole 129 bases, and he also led the league in stolen bases with 109 during the 1888 season.
In 1890, Latham jumped to the Chicago Pirates of the Players’ League. Later that year, in July, he returned to the NL with the Cincinnati Reds, where he served as a utility player and coach. Latham played for Cincinnati through 1895, then was traded to the Browns after the 1895 season. The Browns then released Latham after the 1896 season. Latham bounced around the minors for a few years before winding up with the Washington Senators in 1899. He later made four appearances for the New York Giants in 1909 at age 49.
Personality-wise, Arlie Latham was considered one of the funniest players in baseball. I’m not sure exactly how he earned the nickname “The Freshest Man on Earth,” but Latham was well-known for playing practical jokes. According to one account, the existence of the third base coach’s box is thanks to Latham. He would taunt opposing players third base coach, taking advantage of the lack of a coach’s box by running up and down the third base line yelling insults at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup.
His tendency to shout and gesticulate, not only as a coach, but also as a player, earned Latham the unofficial title of “the father of ‘chatter’.” The implication, of course, being that the practice of infield chatter that exists to this day had begun with Arlie Latham.
Latham finished his playing career with 742 stolen bases in seventeen professional seasons with a .269 batting average, .334 OBP, and .341 slugging. Latham died on November 29, 1952 at the age of 92 in Garden City, New York. He is buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, New York.