This day in baseball: Sisler drives home 7 in two innings

On July 11, 1925, St. Louis Browns first basemen George Sisler hit a triple with the bases loaded in the third inning and then followed it up with a grand slam in the fourth. Sisler’s phenomenal offensive performance led the Browns to a 10-5 victory over the Washington Senators in front of 15,000 fans at Sportsman’s Park.

The full box score from the game can be found here.

George Sisler 1924 - LoC
George Sisler, 1924 (Library of Congress)

This day in baseball: Multiple position players pitching

September 28th was the last day of the season in 1902, and in apparent celebration, the Browns and the White Sox decided to use an assortment of seven infielders and outfielders on the mound, rather than relying on their pitching staffs. Chicago outfielder Sam Mertes earned the victory, and the Browns’ left fielder Jesse Burkett suffered the loss in the Sox’s 10-4 victory at Sportsman’s Park. This was the last time the winning and losing pitchers were both position players in the same game until 2012, when Chris Davis of the Orioles and Darnell McDonald of the Red Sox also accomplished the feat in Baltimore’s 17-inning victory at Fenway Park.

sportsmans park
ballparksofbaseball.com

This day in baseball: Thompson’s MLB debut

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.

Hank Thompson
Hank Thompson (nlbm.mlbblogs.com)

Lost Baseball Teams

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.

Arlie Latham

Arlie_Latham
Arlie Latham in 1909 (Library of Congress)

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.