This day in baseball: Honus Wagner steals his way around the bases

In the second game of a double header against the Cubs on May 2, 1909, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Honus Wagner stole his way around the bases. After reaching first on a fielder’s choice, Wagner proceeded to steal second, and then third base. On Ed Reulbach’s third pitch to Bill Abstein, Wagner took a long lead off third base. According to Chicago Tribune sportswriter Sy Sanborn, the play unfolded as follows:

Wagner timed his dash splendidly and before Bid Ed could untangle his waving arms and legs, to say nothing of his wits, he was within a jump of the pan. With that final jump he cleared the remaining distance and actually hit the plate before the ball left Reulbach’s hand. It was the cleanest, most unquestioned steal of home … ever yet accomplished.

The Pirates went on to win the game, 6-0.

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Honus Wagner in 1911 (Library of Congress)


Quote of the day

Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.

~Roberto Clemente

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Roberto Clemente (ESPN.com)


This day in baseball: The Alleghenys jump to the National League

The Pittsburgh Alleghenys left the American Association on November 18, 1886 to join the National League as an expansion team. In 1891, the Pittsburgh team would become known as the Pirates, a name derived from an incident involving the franchise accused of being “piratical” for taking players from rival teams in other leagues.

mlb.com

This day in baseball: Bumpus Jones throws a no-hitter

Charles “Bumpus” Jones of the Cincinnati Reds threw a no-hitter in his first major league appearance on October 15, 1892, which also happened to be the last day of the season. Jones’s performance came against the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the Reds were victorious, 7–1. Jones gave up four walks in the outing, and an error led to an unearned run to prevent a shutout. Nevertheless, Jones became the first major league rookie to throw a no-hitter.

Bumpus Jones circa 1897-1898 with the Columbus Senators - SABR

Bumpus Jones, c.1897-1898 with the Columbus Senators (SABR)


Quote of the day

If you don’t play to win, why keep score?

~Vern Law

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Vern Law (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Nick Maddox’s no-hitter

On September 20, 1907 at Exposition Park, Pittsburgh pitcher Nick Maddox tossed a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers) to win, 2-1. At the age of 20 years and ten months, the Pirates hurler was the youngest pitcher and only the second rookie to throw a no-hitter. Maddox’s feat would also be the last no-hitter thrown by a Pittsburgh pitcher until 1951, when Cliff Chambers threw one against the Braves.

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Nick Maddox, 1911 (Library of Congress)


Roberto Clemente Day

Today is Roberto Clemente Day in Major League Baseball. Roberto Clemente was the first player from Latin America inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he is also remembered as a selfless humanitarian. When Clemente passed away on December 31, 1972, he was aboard a cargo plane that crashed on its way to Nicaragua. The plane had been carrying crucial supplies to the survivors of an earthquake in the area.

Roberto Clemente Day coincides with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, and on this day, MLB takes the opportunity to remember both Clemente’s altruism and his prowess as a baseball player. The Roberto Clemente Award, which is awarded annually, recognizes players who exemplify good character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field.

The list of nominees for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award can be found here.

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Roberto Clemente (ESPN.com)


This day in baseball: Waner turns down his 3,000th hit

On June 17, 1942, Braves right fielder Paul Waner stood on first base during the second game of a double-header against the Cincinnati Reds and gestured at the official scorer not to credit him with a hit. Waner had just reached base on a ground ball in the hole that was knocked down by Reds shortstop Eddie Joost.

Waner had entered the game at Braves Field batting just .263 for the year, but he was nearing a major milestone — his 3,000th career hit. When the ground ball knocked down by Joost was initially scored a hit, Waner grew furious. “No, no. Don’t give me a hit on that. I won’t take it,” he yelled. Waner didn’t want a questionable roller to be his historic 3,000th hit.

Jerry Moore, who was acting as official scorer for the game, relented, and he changed the scoring on the play to an error by Joost. (I haven’t been able to find anything depicting Joost’s reaction to this decision, however.)

Two days later, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Waner laced an RBI single off Rip Sewell, his former teammate on the Pirates. In doing so, he became just the seventh player in major league history to hit the 3,000 mark.

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Box score for Waner’s 3,000th hit game (The Sporting News)


This day in baseball: Connie Mack to the Brewers

On September 21, 1896, Connie Mack announced his intention to leave the Pirates in order to manage the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. Mack thus retired as a full-time player to accept his new role, which included a $3,000 a year salary and 25% ownership of the club. He managed the Brewers for four seasons from 1897 to 1900, their best year coming in 1900, when they finished second. 

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Connie Mack baseball card, 1887 (Wikimedia Commons)


This day in baseball: Youngest home run

The youngest player in MLB history to hit a home run was Tommy Brown of the Dodgers, who accomplished the feat on August 20, 1945. Brown was 17 years, eight months, and 14 days old on the day of the blast. The Brooklyn shortstop started his career as a 16-year-old high school student, and his homer proved to be the only run Brooklyn would score that day off the Pirates lefty, Preacher Roe. Roe pitched a complete game in the 11-1 rout of the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.