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: The end of the Philadelphia A’s

On October 28, 1954, major league owners voted against the sale of the Philadelphia Athletics to a hometown syndicate. A week later, the Mack family would sell controlling interest for the team to Arnold Johnson, who would then move the A’s to Kansas City.

kansas city athletics logo


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: Mathewson wins Game 1

Christy Mathewson threw a shutout against Philadelphia in Game 1 of the World Series on October 9, 1905, leading New York to a 3-0 victory. The Giants hurler went on to shutout the Athletics twice more during the Series that year.

Christy Mathewson

ESPN.com


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)


This day in baseball: Simmons’s consecutive games record

On July 20, 1926, outfielder Al Simmons of the A’s established an American League record by playing in 394 consecutive games to start his career. The record held until Hideki Matsui played in 518 straight games after signing as a Japanese free agent with the Yankees, surpassing Simmons’s mark in 2005.

Al_Simmons_(1937) - Wikipedia

Al Simmons, 1937 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Haas walks too many

On June 23, 1915, Bruno Haas of the Philadelphia Athletics pitched a complete game against the Yankees at Shibe Park. Haas lost the contest 15-7, however, giving up 16 walks over those 9 innings. It is a post-1900 record for a 9-inning game that stands to this day.

Records for most walks in a game are shown below, courtesy of Baseball Almanac.

Walks records - Baseball Almanac


This day in baseball: Dinneen’s no-hitters

On May 12, 1910, Athletics right-hander Chief Bender threw a 4-0 no-hitter at Shibe Park against the Cleveland Naps (Indians). Bender issued just one walk, spoiling his shot at a perfect game.

The home plate umpire for the game was Bill Dinneen, who tossed a no-hit game of his own against the White Sox while playing with the Pilgrims (Red Sox) on September 27, 1905. This performance by Chief Bender made Dinneen the only person in big league history to both throw a no-hitter and call one as an umpire. Dinneen served as home plate umpire for five total no-hitters in his career as an umpire.

1900_Bill_Dinneen.jpeg

Bill Dinneen (The Sporting News)