30,000 days ago, one of the greatest games in baseball history occurred. For much of the day it looked like anything but an all-time classic, but that early lack of drama simply set up an incredible surprise later on.
Oct. 12, 1929: Game Four in the 1929 World Series between the A’s and Cubs. Philadelphia led the Series two games to one, but Chicago had won the last game and a victory today would tie up the Series.
Chicago certainly had the edge in pitching on the day as they trotted out Charlie Root, whose 19-6 record led the league in winning percentage. Against him, the A’s called on ancient wonder of the world Jack Quinn. At age 46, the wily spitballer was still effective, but not as good as Root.
Early on, both pitchers held the batters at bay, but in the middle innings the Cubs broke through. First Charlie Grimm connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Then in the sixth, the Cubs launched a five run rally that chased Quinn from the game and gave them a seemingly insurmountable 7-0 lead. An insurance run in the top of the seventh seemed to ice it that much further.
And that’s how the score stood heading into the bottom of the seventh, with Chicago leading 8-0. So far on the day Root had held the A’s to a mere three singles, but leading off the seventh he threw a fat pitch to Philadelphia star Al Simmons. BOOM – home run to end the shutout. Eh, no big deal, the Cubs still led 8-1 and had the game well in hand.
Next up was super-slugger Jimmie Foxx, who promptly singled. For that matter, the next batter Bing Miller also singled. As did the next batter, Jimmie Dykes, and on that hit Foxx came home to make it 8-2. Shortstop Joe Boley came up, and kept the rally going with the inning’s fourth consecutive single. There were still nobody out and the A’s trailed only 8-3. Chicago still had the advantage, but suddenly they looked rather vulnerable.
Up to the plate strode veteran George Burns, coming in to pinch-hit for the Philadelphia pitcher. Root made him harmlessly pop up to short. One away. However, that wasn’t the start of something good for Root, as the next batter lashed out yet another RBI-single. It was 8-4 and the tying run was on deck.
Chicago manager Joe McCarthy had seen enough of Root. He was through and in came veteran hurler Art Nehf. A mainstay from John McGraw’s four-peat pennant winning Giants from 1921-24, Nehf should know how to handle big game pressure.
Mule Haas, the eighth hitter of the inning came up and banged one to center field. Star Cub slugger Hack Wilson should be able to catch it – but there’s a problem. Wilson forgot to bring his sunglasses out with him and he couldn’t follow the ball in the afternoon sun. It lands behind him, and it’s off to the races for Haas. By the time Wilson tracks it down and throws it to the infield, Haas has scored on an improbably three-run inside-the-park home run. Cubs 8, A’s 7.
Coming to the plate as the tying run is star catcher Mickey Cochrane. Nehf walks him, putting the tying run on. That’s all for Nehf, as Joe McCarthy goes back to his bullpen for talented young pitcher Sheriff Blake.
Al Simmons, the man who began this crazy inning, hits what looks like an inning-ending double play ball, but it takes a hop over the shortstop and into left field. Cochrane advances to second and the winning run is on first. Foxx steps up and connects for the seventh single and ninth hit of the inning, an RBI shot that ties the score at 8-8.
And there’s still just one out.
McCarthy figured if he can go through enough pitchers, he’d have to find someone capable of getting someone out. Into the game enters Pat Malone, who led the NL wit 22 wins this season.
Malone first pitch hits the batter to load the bases. Uh-oh. With the bases loaded, Jimmy Dykes steps up and crashes a double to left. Simmons scores the winning run, and Foxx adds on an insurance run. The last runner holds up at third, but it’s now A’s 10, Cubs 8. The impossible has happened: an eight run lead has disappeared.
Oh—and there’s still just one out—and with runners on second and third.
Actually, at this point Malone settled down, and struck out Boley and Burns to end the inning. But it’s just closing the barn doors after the cows have already gone out.
A deflated Cubs team has to face Lefty Grove, called on to pitch in relief to seal it up. He’s awesome and the Cubs are completely deflated. They go down easily, as Grove retries all six men he faces, four by strikeout. Philadelphia now has a three games to one lead, and it should come to no one’s surprise that they win the next one.
There’s a bit of fun trivia in that comeback as two players make their final big league appearance in that inning. Art Nehf, the man who gave up the inside-the-park homer when Hack Wilson couldn’t see the ball, never pitches again. His 15-year, 184-win career comes to an end in ignoble fashion.
Also ending his career is pinch hitter George Burns. He played for 16 years and banged out over 2,000 hits, but in his last game he provided two of the three outs in one of the greatest rallies in baseball history.
Regardless, it was one of the greatest games of all-time and still holds the record for biggest comeback in a postseason game.
Aside from that, plenty of other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you just feel like skimming.
1,000 days since the A’s sign former shortstop Nomar Garicaparra, and current shortstop Orlando Cabrera.
2,000 days since the big league debut of Jon Lester.
2,000 days since Moe Drawbosky dies.
3,000 days since Tony LaRussa wins his 2,000th game as manager. His record: 2,000-1,784.
3,000 days since Vladimir Guerrero hits for the cycle.
6,000 days since Paul Molitor belts his 200th career home run.
6,000 days since Colorado pulls off the hidden ball trick against the Giants. They tag out Darren Lewis at third base in the first inning with Barry Bonds batting. Colorado goes on to win, 2-1 in 11 innings.
6,000 days since the Cubs pull off one of their more successful trades in recent decades, sending catcher Rick Wilkins to the Astros for catcher Scott Servais and leftfielder Luis Gonzalez. It turns out that Wilkins is injured, and Houston cries foul, but the league upholds it because the Cub front office can credibly argue they were too clueless to notice Wilkins’ injury. Servais and Gonzalez both start for the Cubs for several years.
7,000 days since Tim Raines, just 15 days after his 33rd birthday, connects for two triples in one game.
1882 Ed Reulbach, underrated pitcher for the Tinker-Evers-Chance Cubs, is born.
1896 Amos Rusie, after holding out for more money all season, announces he’ll play for the Giants next year.
1898 The Giants renew their lease on the Polo Grounds for another 10 seasons.
1902 Fred Dunlap, star 1880s second baseman, dies at age 42.
1911 Calvin Griffith, longtime Twins owner, is born.
1911 Walter Alston, Hall of Fame Dodger manager, is born.
1914 The Braves buy the Allston Golf Club, and will use the grounds to build Braves Field.
1917 Marty Marion, defensive whiz, is born.
1927 The Dodger release longtime star Zack Wheat.
1928 NL president John Heydler proposes a designated hitter. With John McGraw supporting the idea, the NL votes for it but the AL blocks it.
1931 The Cardinals trade Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes for Hall of Fame hitter Hack Wilson and another player.
1941 Fat Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons conducts a demonstration with a set of three poles to show that a baseball really does curve.
1948 George Foster, Big Red Machine star slugger, is born.
1952 The Pirates claim reliever Roy Face from Brooklyn in the Rule 5 draft.
1954 The Orioles and Yankees complete a 17-player deal, the largest in baseball history.
1959 The Cubs trade former Giants star Bobby Thomson to the Red Sox.
1961 Houston trades Toothpick Sam Jones to the Tigers.
1962 Organized baseball engages in a complete overhaul of the minor league classification system.
1964 The Houston Colt .45s change their name to the Houston Astros.
1965 The Indians trade prospect Joe Rudi to the A’s.
1966 The Dodgers trade Maury Wills to the Pirates.
1966 Larry Walker, star right fielder, is born.
1967 Pacific Northwest Sports Inc. is awarded one of the two new AL expansion franchises for 1971.
1967 NL owners vote to add two more teams by 1971. The towns under consideration are: Milwaukee, Dallas, Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo, and San Diego.
1969 Oakland claims Manny Trillo from the Phillies in a Rule 5 draft.
1970 Kirk Reuter, Giants pitcher, is born.
1971 The Cubs release Ernie Banks.
1975 Nellie Fox, Hall of Fame second baseman, dies at age 47.
1976 George Earnshaw, star A’s pitcher back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, dies.
1982 Atlanta signs portly free agent Terry Forster.
1982 The Yankees sign free agent and former MVP winner Don Baylor.
1982 Pittsburgh signs free agent Gene Tenace for what’ll turn out to be the last season of his major league career.
1987 The Angels sign free agent Chili Davis.
1987 The Giants sign Free agent Brett Butler.
1989 California signs free agent Mark Langston.
1990 The Royals signs free agent Kirk Gibson.
1992 Houston signs free agent and former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. This turns out to be a bust, as Drabek leads the NL in losses in his first campaign with Houston.
1998 Baltimore signs free agent Albert Belle.
1998 Cleveland signs free agent Roberto Alomar.
1998 The Mets sign free agent Robin Ventura.
1998 The Mets trade a minor leaguer and their starting catcher Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for their starting catcher Charles Johnson as well as Roger Cedeno. The Mets then immediately flip Johnson in another trade, sending him to Baltimore for reliever Armando Benitez.
1999 The Yankees release Chili Davis, ending his career.
2000 Turk Wendell, uniform number 99, agrees to a three-year deal with the Mets for $9,999,999.99. Yeah, he’s a flake.
2002 Former Baltimore ace Dave McNally dies at age 60 of lung cancer.
2007 St. Louis signs free agent slugger Ryan Ludwick, who didn’t play in the big leagues at all in 2006.
2008 Houston signs free agent Mike Hampton.
2009 Atlanta signs star closer Billy Wagner.
2009 The Phillies sign free agent Brian Schneider.
2009 “Old Reliable” Tommy Henrich dies at age 96.