October is perhaps the best time of the year to reflect on the baseball season that was. Taking it a step further, this issue’s ‘3 up 3 down’ turns back the clock on three historically significant (and somewhat unbelievable) baseball seasons:
1885- 130 years ago
In dominating fashion: On July 27, John Clarkson– in the midst of a 53-win season- pitches a no-hitter for the Chicago White Stockings.
One for the record books: In what is arguably the most debated championship in the history of sports, the Chicago White Stockings tie the St. Louis Browns 3–3–1 in a best-of-7 series. After Game 1 ended in a tie (called due to darkness), Game 2 was awarded to Chicago by forfeit after St. Louis refuses to continue after disputing a call. Both teams ultimately dispute the series and claim the championship.
Believe it or not: On June 17, the self-dubbed “Phenomenal” Smith (born John Francis Gammon) loses his first start after his teammates commit 14 errors behind him, including 7 by shortstop Germany Smith. “Phenomenal”‘s boast of being so good that he could win by himself doesn’t sit well with the other Brooklyn players, who are fined $500 for their intentional poor play. In the interests of team chemistry, Smith is immediately released. In eight seasons, Smith would accumulate an overall record of 54-74.
1905- 110 years ago
In dominating fashion: Christy Mathewson 31 wins 1.28 ERA. It is his third season in a row with 30+ wins.
One for the record books: June 29 – Archibald “Moonlight” Graham makes his major league debut in a game that ended with Graham on deck. Years later he would be immortalized in the novel Shoeless Joe and ultimately in the movie Field of Dreams.
Believe it or not: August 9 – Mistaking her husband for a burglar, the mother of minor league outfielder Ty Cobb shoots and kills him, an incident that will be cited as the reason for Cobb’s intense desire to succeed. He will make his major league debut with the Tigers later this month.
In dominating fashion: In the same month, Ernie Banks hits his 400th career home run (on September 2) and Willie Mays hits his 500th career home run (September 13)
Believe it or not: The first Major League draft is held on June 8, with Arizona State’s Rick Monday chosen first overall by the Kansas City Royals. In the 12th round with the 266th overall selection, the New York Mets pick up Nolan Ryan.
One for the record books: As part of a promotion against the California Angels, Kansas City’s Bert Campaneris becomes the first player to play all nine positions in the same game.