Tuesday, August 16, 2005

 

Editor's Note: Today Will Young takes his turn pinch-hitting in the "Annotated This Day" line-up. Will writes a frequently excellent Twins' blog at Will Young's Twins Page and is a member in good-standing of two communities I hold dear. The first is academic, as Will is a 'Colonial' having not only graduated from The George Washington University but also pursuing his advanced degree there. The second is that of the 'Primates' who spend way too much time discussing baseball of today and yesterday at Baseball Think Factory. Today, he discusses an event virtually unknown in the modern game, but one familiar to fans of a different era.





August 16th, 1892

Senators Forfeit Game


I have seen many strange things happen in baseball games throughout my relatively brief life. Some of these things, I have seen in person (a no-hitter), or on television (a perfect game), or delayed (a hidden ball trick). However, one occurrence that I have yet to observe is the time-honored practice of forfeiting a game.

In the early days of baseball, forfeited games were quite common. In fact, thirteen games were forfeited in 1884 alone (my guess would be that most players and managers were disgruntled about the fact Grover Cleveland had a premarital affair while James Blaine was in the back pocket of the railroaders). To simply, however, one team simply refused to continue playing after disagreeing with a decision by the umpire in most instances. My favorite forfeiture from that season occurred when the umpire forgot to appear, and a manager was chosen as the replacement umpire. He promptly made numerous calls in favor of his team before the opponent decided to stop playing.

Flash forward eight years, and, on this date in 1892, the Pittsburg Pirates were awarded a 9-0 forfeit win against the Washington Senators. Right from the start, the game was played under unusual circumstances as both teams seemed to want to play physically. The exact term used in the newspaper the next day referred to the game as a “chewing match.” With approximately 1,500 spectators on hand, the game plodded along tied at two. At this point, the game began to get interesting.

[Washington] attempted a trick which came within an ace of being successful. [Catcher, Deacon] McGuire was told to play off second, while [Tun] Berger was ‘tipped’ to try and steal home if [pitcher Adonis] Terry threw to second to catch McGuire napping. The throw was made, when Berger made a dash for home. Bauer [his name was actually Bierbauer but the Washington Post screwed it up] made a beautiful return of the ball, and by the time [Connie] Mack got the ball on Berger the latter was within an inch of the plate and sliding over the ground as if he was on wheels. It was a close shave, and would be successful oftener than it would miss.

The game continued tied at two runs apiece until the bottom of the tenth inning. Frank Shugart, who just one year later would be traded along with $500 for Jack Glasscock, narrowly beat an errant throw to first base. The Senators complained to the umpire, known only to the records as “Mr. Mitchell”, but he refused to budge because “the rules say give the base runner the benefit of the doubt”. Of course, the next batter, George Frederick “Doggie” Miller was hit in the arm with a pitch that was, in the words of the anonymous Washington Post columnist “a ‘little’ inside”.

Miller promptly dropped his bat and headed towards first base while every member of the Senators began wildly protesting that he had deliberately allowed the ball to hit him. Perched on first base, Miller “maintained with the air of a man arguing for his life that he had tried to get out of the way of the ball, but couldn’t.” Danny Richardson, the Senators player-manager, exclaimed, “Put him on the oath and he will have to admit that he is not entitled to the base.” In fact, there were many in the park, including Pittsburg fans, who felt that he was not entitled to the base.

Despite the protestations, Mr. Mitchell refused to return Doggie Miller to home plate. The Senators continued to kick around the field and ignored a warning from the umpire to return to action. At this point, Mr. Mitchell declared the game forfeited, and the Pirates was awarded a 9-0 win. The Pirates immediately picked up their equipment and scurried off of the field while the Senators slowly made their way towards the dressing-room. The fans suffered worst in the mess as they dispersed “fully convinced that the great American game had been sadly marred by a piece of rank, incompetent umpiring.”

Someday, maybe someday soon with all the craziness happening in baseball (games ending in throws back to the pitcher, for example), another game will be forfeited and I will hopefully be able to take in the scene. As it is, the closest occurrence that I have watched to this one hundred and thirteen year old game happened earlier this year when “Doggie” Crede was not awarded first base and Oakland spectators were not forced to endure “a piece of rank, incompetent umpiring”.

Sources:


The material for this entry came primarily from two sources. First, Retrosheet was used for the basic information on the players and the game. Then, the blanks were filled in with the anonymous article “Forfeited to Pittsburg” on page six of the August 17, 1892 Washington Post accessed via ProQuest. Interestingly enough, the “h” apparently was not yet a part of Pittsburgh’s name, but that seems to be a story for another time and another place.



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