This season is the 100th anniversary of arguably the most thrilling pennant chases in baseball history. Both the American League and, more famously, the National League, engaged in multi-team thrillers until the last days of the season. The National League had to be decided in a postseason game that resulted from Merkle’s Boner.
Actually, there was a very important game 100 years ago today…
On September 4, 1908, the Pirates beat the Cubs and Mordecai Brown in a ten-inning thriller, 1-0, to move within a half game of the league-leading Giants. However, the Pirate baserunner on first base, Warren Gill, failed to touch second on the winning base hit. Cub second baseman Johnny Evers noticed this, called for the ball and touched second. However, umpire Hank O’Day was running off the field and didn’t see what happened. In those days, there was only one umpire on the field.
The Cubs protested, but for naught. The winning run stood and the Pirates kept the victory. However, this episode set the groundwork for a critical game against the Giants a couple of weeks later, when Giant Fred Merkle also failed to touch second base on a game-winning hit. The opposing second baseman that day was Evers, and the umpire was O’Day. Evers was on the alert again, and O’Day was sure to not make the same mistake twice.
You probably never would have heard of Merkle’s Boner if not for the Pirate/Cub joust, 100 years ago today.