-Chicago White Sox spitball pitcher Ed Walsh beat Cubs ace, Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown, known as “Three Fingers Brown,” in Game 3 of the 1906 World Series, It was a series the Cubs were heavily favored to win, having won 116 games that year. Brown was born in Nyesville, Indiana in 1876 (Oct. 19) and died in Terre Haute in 1948 (Feb. 14). He was a two time World Series champion for the Cubs in 1907 and 1908. It would be 108 years later, in 2016, that the Cubs would win another World Series. Brown was also the pitching coach for the 1920 Indiana Hoosiers baseball team. He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1949.
-The Fort Wayne Daisies was a professional baseball team that played from 1945 through 1954, during the war years, in the All-American Girls Baseball League. The Daisies made the playoffs every year from 1947 to 1954, and finished in first from 1951-54, but never won a championship,
-May 4, 1871 the very first Major League game was played in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The Ft. Wayne Kekiongas defeated the Forest Citys (Cleveland) 2-0 in the inaugural game of the National Association (player-organized – that later became the National League). The decision to play the game in Ft. Wayne was the result of a coin flip, and a rain-out of the originally scheduled opener between Boston and D.C. made this game historically first. The game ended early with rain in the top of the 9th. The Kekiongas paid a $10 league franchise fee to be part of baseball history. Bobby Matthews, who’s credited with developing the spitball and was first to have his pitch curve away from batters, pitched the shutout and went on to win 297 games. The Kekiongas did not make it through the season in this their final year since forming just after the Civil War.
The word Kekionga means Blackberry Patch in the language of the Miami Indians who settled at where the St. Joseph River flows into the St. Mary’s River to form the Maumee River. Today the city of Ft. Wayne is known for the “Three Rivers,” Johnny Appleseed, and General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. It’s also known for a sports heritage that includes the Kekiongas, the NBL Champion Zolner Pistons (who moved to Detroit), the Ft. Wayne Daisies All-American girl’s professional baseball team, and the Men’s and Girl’s 1944 World Champion Zolner Pistons softball teams. It’s now home to three minor league sports teams: Fort Wayne Comets hockey of the ECHL, Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, and the Tin Cups of baseball’s Midwest League.
-Eddie Cicotte of the 1906 Indianapolis Indians threw for what is believed to be the first time, a pitch gripped with the knuckles. He then refined it into “The Finger Nail Ball” (Baseball Magazine article in 1908) that was more controllable. He was suspended by the Chicago White Sox late in the 1920 season for his role in the “Black Sox” gambling scandal the year before.
-Albert Von Tilzer – Indianapolis native (434 S. Illinois) composed “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” It was a 1908 Tin Pan Alley song with lyrics written by Jack Norworth. Both had apparently never attended a baseball game. It was played for the first time at a ballpark in 1934 at a Los Angeles High school and later that year in the 4th game of the World Series at Sportsman’s Park, now Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
-Amos Rusie, “The Hoosier Thunderbolt” was born May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, Indiana. His major league debut was on May 9, 1889 with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the National League. He spent the next eight years with the New York Giants from 1890 to 1898, and and his final year with the 1901 Cincinnati Reds. The Giants traded him in 1900 for then unknown Christy Mathewson, who would play for them for 17 years as one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history.
Rusi’s fastball speed, estimated to be in he upper 90s, and inherent wildness eventually led to an 1893 rule that changed the 50 foot pitching distance from the rubber to home plate to the modern day 60 feet. His delivery was so erratic that in 1890 he set a record of walking 289 batters. The rule change came about when he hit Hughie Jennings with a fastball in the head in 1897. Rusie was finally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 by the Veterans Committee.
-Hank Aaron played briefly in Indianapolis for the Clowns before his contract was sold to the Milwaukee Braves in 1952 for $10,000.
-The Hoofeds – Hoosiers of the Federal League – were the 1914 champions of the short-lived rival league that folded just before Major League Baseball was exempted from antitrust laws. Two future Hall of Famers played in Indianapolis that championship season – third baseman William Boyd McKechnie and outfielder Edd Roush.
The 1884 Hoosiers, for instance, hosted a Toledo Blue Stockings team with two African-American players – brothers Moses Fleetwood Walker and Weldy Walker – more than 50 years before Jackie Robinson broke the modern baseball color barrier.
The earliest-known African-American player in organized baseball, John “Bud” Fowler, whose playing days date to 1878, later played for teams in Indiana.
-The Indianapolis Blues of the three-year-old National League called the city home in 1878. The Indianapolis Hoosiers played in the precursor to the American League in 1884, and another Hoosiers team was fielded in the National League from 1887 to 1889.
-In 1967, Satchel Paige appeared with the Globetrotters in Chicago and played with the Indianapolis Clowns for $1,000 a month.
More from Scott Tartar article: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/little-known-indiana-baseball-roots-rediscovered-in-lawyers-exhibit/PARAMS/article/35211
I just bought this book from author Chad Gramling:
Historical Baseball Blunders:
For every hero,
It’s a shame.
There’s a goat,
To take the blame.
In 1961, Tracy Stallard surrendered Roger Maris’ 61st Home Run. He played for the Lafayette, Indiana Red Sox, also members of the Midwest League. Being a goat in this case, means never being forgotten. He claims to not have grooved the pitch.
Guy Bush gave up Babe Ruth’s last two home runs. He hit Babe himself in Game 4 of the 1932 World Series, then gave up two hits and one earned run in a Cubs loss to the Yankees. His goat-like stats in that series: 0-1 record, 14.29 ERA, and gave up nine earned runs in less than six innings of work.
“Rookie Fred Merkle’s “Boner” on September 23 1908 resulted in a one game playoff on October 8, 1908 for the NL Penant. That rematch was won by Hoosier native Mordecai Brown, who then went on to win the World Series against the Tigers.
Merkle had singled, putting a runner on third. When Al Bridwell hit the apparent winner into Center, Merkle failed to touch second base as the fans rushed the field thinking the Giants had won. Instead the Cubs’ Johnny Evers retrieved the ball and claimed the Merkle force-out, a decision enforced several days later and the game ruled a tie. “Merkle’s Boner” was arguably the most controversial decision in the history of the game.
Another boner belongs to Boston’s Bill Buckner, who’s ground ball fielding error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Met’s. It was the 10th inning with two outs, after three singles and a wild pitch put Mookie Wilson in position to win the game. His slow dribbler down the first base line went between the legs of Buckner, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run from second base. Perhaps the greater boner was made by Boston manager, John McNamara, who chose not to relieve the ailing Buckner with the defensive replacement Stapleton as he had in games one, two, and five. Boston was one out away from winning the Series for the first time since 1918, with a three games to two advantage before that ugly sequence led to a game 7. Boston the went on to lead the decisive 7th Game 3-0 until the bottom of the 6th when the Mets scored three runs off Bruce Hurst, already named World Series MVP before that improbable comeback in Game 6. Just another example of how the game of baseball turns a hero into a goat in just a blink of an eye.
In the 1988 World Series, Oakland Athletics pitching ace, Dennis Eckersley, made a hero of Dodger pinch-hitter Kirk Gibson. On the other hand, maybe it was Gibson who made a goat out of Eckersley as they faced each other in the bottom of the 9th of Game One? Gibson, who was not expected to play due to injuries in both legs, limped to the plate with two outs and in dramatic fashion hit the game winning homer on a full count. He would not make another appearance in the series, but his Dodgers claimed the World Series title four games to one. Eckersley would redeem himself in the 1989 World Series by winning Game 2 and getting the save in a Game 4 sweep of the Giants. Then, he would go on to win the Cy Young and MVP in 1992 by posting 51 saves.
It was Eckersley who coined the phrase, “walk-off homer,” when describing the Gibson blast of 1988, but perhaps the most famous World Series “walk-off” occurred in 1960 when Bill Mazeroski won it for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Yankees. To this date, it is the only time that a Game 7 has ended on a homer, and in this case the goat was Ralph Tracy. It was also the only series in history where the MVP did not go to a member of the winning team. Instead, Bobby Richardson, of the losing New York Yankees received the award. Ralph Terry, ironically, went on to become the MVP of the 1962 World Series, after giving up a two-run homer to Cincinnati’s Gordy Coleman in Game 2, plus a 3-run homer to Frank Robinson in Game 5 of the 1961 World Series.
Known as the “Shot heard round the world,” Brooklyn Dodger’s pitcher, Ralph Branca, gave up another historic “walk-off” to New York Giants outfielder, Bobby Thomson, to win the National League Pennant in 1951. It was the decisive blow in this three-game tie-breaker playoff series to determine who would eventually lose to the “third” New York baseball team, the Yankees in the 1951 World Series. Thomson had also homered against Branca in Game 1, In retrospect, maybe the goat was Dodger’s coach, Clyde Sukeforth, who apparently instructed manager Charlie Dressen to go with Branca? Or was the true hero of the game a “cheater” who admittedly relayed stolen signs from Branca to Thomson? Or is that just smart baseball?
With this in mind, other “cheaters” have taken a seat on the outside of baseball’s Hall of Fame. Two of the best known examples are “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and Pete Rose, who turned heroic careers into goat stew. Not to mention those who cheated through the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
Perhaps the greatest “boner,” the goat of all goats in baseball, occurred off the playing field. On April 6, 1987, Al Campanis, the Los Angeles Dodgers VP and GM, was invited to appear on the ABC Network news show, “Nightline” with Ted Koppel. The appearance was to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of when Jackie Robinson broke Baseball’s color barrier. Companis was also a friend, teammate, and roommate of Jackie Robinson, having come up together with the Dodger’s minor league team, the Montreal Royals.
Koppel’s question to Campanis was as to why there had been few black managers and no black general managers in Major League Baseball. Campanis answered: “I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager. ” He then went on uncomfortably, digging an even bigger hole in race relations. Needless to say, he conveniently resigned from the Dodger’s organization two days later, as civil rights groups showed their outrage. Campanis’ comments literally set baseball relations back forty years, mimicking the exact same ridiculous attitudes that prevailed pre-Robinson about the baseball abilities of black attitudes. In defense of Campanis, many of his peers have suggested was known for butchering his words, and that what he really meant was “lack of experience” instead of “necessities.” However, unlike many of the players who had “a goat moment” usually got a second chance – Campanis never did.
Ralph Branca, who was the goat to Bobby Thomson’s heroic homer, was at least one time a hero on the field himself. It was Branca who lined up beside Jackie Robinson on Opening Day of 1947. Other teammates refused. Al Campanis agreed to be Robinson’s roommate – the very first interracial roommates in all of baseball. Does that make Campanis less of a goat?
The game’s greatest hero, the Bambino, had his own curse that lasted from 1918 until 2004. That’s only 86 years, compared with the Chicago Cubs “Curse of the Billy Goat,” that kept them from winning the World Series for 108 years. Now granted, both curses didn’t really get started with each team’s last World Series victory. The Red Sox curse supposedly started in 1920 when Ruth was traded to the Yankees, while the Cubs curse allegedly began in 1945 by Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis. The point is that both curses lasted a really long time, and thankfully both have finally ended. Ironically, the Cubs lost that 1918 series to the Red Sox, but did manage to break Ruth’s 29 1/3 scoreless inning streak that stood for 43 years – another really long time.
I love a really good “goat” story and there are many surrounding Major League Baseball. I’ve tried to highlight a few throughout this particular article. I would also be remiss if I did not bring up the name of Steve Bartman, who in my opinion has been unfairly judged as a goat in this long, painful process of making our Chicago Cubs heroes again, at last. Finally, I would also like to take credit for ending the “Billy Goat Curse” by sitting in the top row of Wrigley Field for the game 5 victory, and then having lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern the next day. I could literallyu feel the curse lift as we left the tavern in a giddy state.