Friday, July 3, 2020

A Correction?

You tell me:

So, in looking up Branch Rickey, I found him listed, sure enough, as holding the AL record for allowing the most consecutive stolen bases in one game as a catcher—13—which happened in a 1907 contest against Washington, while our Branch was a receiver for the Highlanders/Yankees.

The game was a June 28th loss to the 18-37 Senators, 16-5, in New York's awful, Hilltop Park.  Rickey, whose arm was a wreck, did indeed give up 13 stolen bases.

But here's where it starts to get weird:

Three days later, in a doubleheader at Hilltop, the Senators and Yankees are playing again, and for some reason, New York's starting catcher, Red Kleinow, leaves the game after just one at-bat.  Who comes in for him?  Why, one Branch Rickey, of course.

This time, Rickey (or maybe Kleinow) gives up only 3 stolen bases, in a game in which the Yanks fall behind, 13-6, but rally to win, 16-15, with a four-run, ninth-inning rally.

In this one game, by the by, the two teams also had a combined 38 hits, 5 walks, and 8 errors.  Time of the game?  Two hours and forty minutes.

In a game in which the Senators may have had as many as 27 baserunners, in an age when all teams ran like crazy, why would they only try to steal 3 times, against a guy they had run wild on just three days earlier?

Even weirder, while Rickey's pct. of catching baserunners was 23%—well below the league average of 44%—that first Washington game seems to have been far and away his worst game of the year.  Rickey played in 52 games as the back-up catcher, and gave up 23 stolen bases, as opposed to catching 7 men trying to steal.

In other words, take away that one, horrible Washington game, and he threw out 7 of 17 runners.  Not bad—but again, how was it that nobody was running more on this dead-armed catcher?

Another curio for you:

One source I saw said that the post-1900 record for stolen bases in a game by one team is NOT 13, but 15, which was set by the Yankees/Highlanders at Hilltop Park, on Sept. 28, 1911, against the St. Louis Browns.

Now, the Browns played two catchers that day, Jim Stephens and Jay Clarke, so maybe neither one gave up as many as 13 SBs.  And both of them were usually pretty good at catching baserunners, so maybe the fault lay with the 3 Browns pitchers.

But it's true, the Yankees did steal 15 bases that day, without getting caught once.  Hal Chase and Birdie Cree had 4 apiece, while Cozy Dolan and Bert Daniels each swiped 3.

New York won that day, 18-12, in a game that also featured 24 hits, 12 errors, 20 walks, and 1 hit batsman.  There was not a DP turned all day.

So, in a game where 30 runs scored and there were maybe as many as 57 baserunners, what was the total time of play?

Two hours, fifteen minutes.

Hmm, think the game is getting too slow?


TheWinWarblist said...

Birdie Cree and Cozy Dolan? Fuck me, names were great back then.

DickAllen said...

No, the game isn't getting slower.



HoraceClarke66 said...

I know, Warbler.

Birdie Cree looked like he was going to be a star for about five minutes. 1911 was his breakout season, or so it seemed. He hit .348 with 56 extra-base hits, and stole 48 bases. The next season, he batted .332, but broke his wrist and played only 50 games.

In truth, what was also going on were some adjustments. The "deadball era" wasn't really uninterrupted. In 1911, the lords of baseball did something to liven up the hitting—probably a livelier baseball. Runs per game, per team, jumped from 3.6 in 1910 to 4.6 in 1911 in the AL, and from 4.0 to 4.4 in the NL. They stayed up around that range for 1912—then plunged.

So did Birdie. He was down to .272 with little power in 1913, and after that was never a starter again.

But the name is great. Shortly thereafter, the Yanks acquired an outfielder named Hugh High, who also looked like a comer, but never panned out. Bummer!

HoraceClarke66 said...

True, Richie—and also, everybody didn't run up the count every at-bat.

Funny thing, I found this on Baseball Almanac:

On September 28th, several hundred fans witnessed what is considered to be one of the worst contests in American League history as the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns combined to accumulate twenty-nine hits, twenty walks, twelve errors and fifteen stolen bases en route to an 18-12 (NY) final.

Sorry, but nope. In their proud history, the New York Yankees have lost 7,840 regular season games and, by my count, 168 postseason games.

That means there have been AT LEAST 8,008 worse games played in major-league history.

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