One of the best things about the game and being a fan of the history of the game is seeing the acts of years ago pop up in the “This day in history” column in the paper, these always make me do a little more digging and often I find little items that teach me about the game and the way it was in past.
This tid-bit from 100 years ago today drew my attention and actually pushed me towards the keyboard, an act that seems to have been more dormant than usual lately. Of course when we look at the game 100 years ago we are looking at a dinosaur almost in comparison to the game we see today on our plasma screen tv’s and smart phones, but in essence it’s the same animal, obtain bases, score runs, avoid outs. Thus we are thrown into 1910.
In an era that was marked by putting the ball in play Reds outfielders Dode Paskert and Bob Beschler were noted for their ability to take a walk, with both men placing in the top three of walks received during the second decade of the 20th century.
1 Dode Paskert 584
2 Miller Huggins 572
3 Bob Bescher 537
4 Gavvy Cravath 494
5 Larry Doyle 491
6 Johnny Evers 486
7 Max Carey 482
8 Sherry Magee 481
9 George Burns 475
10 Ed Konetchy 446
As well as stolen bases
STOLEN BASES SB
1 Max Carey 392
2 Bob Bescher 360
3 George Burns 293
4 Buck Herzog 286
5 Fred Merkle 260
6 Larry Doyle 236
T7 George Cutshaw 227
T7 Dode Paskert 227
9 Fred Snodgrass 204
10 Sherry Magee 203
Which brings us to 100 years ago 5-23-1910
The Reds were a team with little power, the game then was a game that depended on other things aside from power, one of them was the stolen base, and in 1910 no team in all of professional ball stole more bags than the Cincinnati Reds, who swiped 310 a number that still stands at the modern day team record.
The top ten that year.
STOLEN BASES SB
1 Bob Bescher 70
2 Dode Paskert 51
T3 Hans Lobert 41
T3 Dick Egan 41
5 Mike Mitchell 35
6 Doc Hoblitzell 28
7 Tom Downey 12
8 Ward Miller 10
9 Tommy McMillan 7
10 Art Phelan 5
With large numbers of steals you get moments of pure action, defining moments that can still be recalled 100 years later.
5-5 tie Boston at Cincinnati, the Doves as they were called then were battling the Superbas for last place. Meanwhile the Reds were a half a game out of first and one of the surprises of the early part of the season. Rooters Row was likely filled with the many single men who favored a drink on a Monday afternoon while at a game, and with the drink came a barrage of opinions that were hurled with candor through a veneer of chicken wire that separated the patrons form the playing field.
The thing about baseball is sometimes you wait hours to see something you’ve never seen, or days, or weeks. Ina one game sometimes it occurs before you’ve even gotten to your seat. In this case it occurs in the first inning.
Dode Paskert who at age 23 ( Dode was really 28 and had shaved 5 years off his birth when he entered pro ball) had finally etched himself into the lineup as a full timer gets on base. What he does next before many of the local streetcars had dropped off the local bugs, likely all clad in the black wool of the day, or dressed more casually with a straw boater and a glint in their eye for some first place baseball. Paskert lead off first as the pitcher Sam Frock looked into the catchers eyes, what he preceded to do next is a pure act of dead ball inventiveness, guile and awareness of a larger margin of error in the game than we can even imagine today.
In short Paskert stole 2nd, 3rd and then home to tie the game. Of course the games box score doesn’t indicate who was at the dish for each theft, or if it was just Doc Hoblitzell (1st Red to steal 4 bags in a game) or if Mike Mitchell (1st Red to hit for the cycle) was up, these things are lost in the clouds.
And like that it was over, the fans settled in for a game that was won in the last inning by the local team and everyone went home happy, Dode Paskert unbeknownst to him had logged an odd record, however he was not the first Red to do it, nor the last. Teammate Hans Lobert was the first and the last would be Pro Football Hall of Famer Greasy Neale.
I’ve never seen anyone steal their way around the bases, but Jason Werth accomplished the feat last year. It’s been done 24 times in the American League, 4 times by Ty Cobb and the last time it was done by Chris Stynes in 1996. In the NL it’s been done 25 times with Honus Wagner also logging 4 occurrences.
Back to the Reds, two instances of the occurrence stand out the most in the NL’s records, 68% of the 3 steals in one inning feat took place prior to 1929, between 1929 and 1979 no player in the NL achieved the feat (in the AL only 3 times did they have it occur in the same time span)
Most of baseball agreed that it looked to be an event that needed a speedster assigned to it if anyone wanted to see it in a modern day game, but then again the game is always throwing us curves and the man to kick the record book open to get in the 3 steals in one inning book got in on 5-11-1980 when Pete Rose of the Phillies did it against the Reds, a day after Tom Seaver and Steve Carleton squared off. In short it was a good series to catch some history.
PHILLIES 7TH: Rose walked; Rose stole second; McBride grounded
out (shortstop to first); Rose stole third; Schmidt walked; Rose
stole home and Schmidt stole second; Luzinski was walked
intentionally; Boone lined to left; Gross grounded out (first to
pitcher); 1 R, 0 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Phillies 6, Reds 1.
The next time a player did it was also against the Reds in 1984, this one I remember.
GIANTS 3RD: Gladden singled; LeMaster singled [Gladden to
second]; Oliver singled [Gladden scored, LeMaster scored (error
by Parker) (no RBI), Oliver to third]; Leonard grounded out
(shortstop to first); Baker singled [Oliver scored]; Baker stole
second; Youngblood grounded out (shortstop to first); Brenly
walked; OWCHINKO REPLACED PASTORE (PITCHING); Baker stole third
and Brenly stole second; Baker stole home; Wellman struck out; 4
R (3 ER), 4 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Reds 0, Giants 5.
Kinda makes you smile eh?