MEMORABLE BASEBALL MOMENTS- SEPTEMBER 23, 1908- MERKLE’S BONER

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Memorable Baseball Moments- The 1908 baseball season was one of the most memorable ones in history. Three teams the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates were all in the pennant race until the end. On September 23, 1908 at the Polo Grounds in New York- the Cubs took on the Giants. The Cubs and Giants were tied for first place going into the game.

Fred Merkle was 19 years old, the youngest player in the National League. The Giants starting first baseman Fred Tenney woke up that morning with a case of lumbago and Giants manager turned to Merkle to fill in. In the bottom of the 9th with runners on first and third – Merkle was the runner on first- and the score tied at 1- shortstop Al Bridwell singled to center field- which would drive in the winning run ending the game. Giant fans mobbed the field. Merkle who was heading to second saw the mob running onto the field and turned back to the dugout failing to touch second base. Official rule 4.09 states: “A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made… by any runner being forced out”. The Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers who was always on top of things saw that Merkle had failed to touch second. He yelled for the ball from center fielder Solly Hofman. All hell was breaking loose on the field with the fans- and no one will ever know if the ball that Evers ended up touching second base with was the real ball or a substitute. There were of course no lights in that day and the umpire ruled the game over because the field couldn’t be cleared of fans in time to resume play. In the end the league ruled the game a 1-1 tie. At the end of the season the Cubs and Giants were tied for first- the game which ended in the 1-1 tie had to be replayed and the Cubs won the game 4-2 and with it the National League pennant. The Cubs would go on to win the World Series against the Detroit Tigers [ their next World Championship wouldn’t come until 2016.] Fred Merkle would go on to play sixteen seasons in the major leagues but for the rest of his life- he would be remembered for the boner which cost the Giants the 1908 pennant.

3 responses to “MEMORABLE BASEBALL MOMENTS- SEPTEMBER 23, 1908- MERKLE’S BONER

  1. If I ever pitied a player…it was Fred Merkle. The poor guy would never live it down…Just like Mr. Buckner… two good ballplayers who would be mostly remembered by their mistake.

    I did read where McGraw gave Merkle a raise after that. McGraw would have another player to make a bad mistake…Snodgrass?

    • Snodgrass- tomorrow.. from all I’ve read Merkle was supposedly a smart ballplayer… mistakes happen. He was a 19 year old rookie at the time…sad how it haunted him until the end.

    • Yes it was sad…and it shouldn’t have been. As tough as McGraw could be he understood things like that.

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