Friday, April 17, 2009
PLAY BALL - DUBLIN HOSTS MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Frank "Home Run"
Dublin Hosts Major League Baseball
In the early years of 20th century, professional baseball teams made extra money by playing on their off days while traveling through the country by train. Dublin was a booming city in 1917. Our best ball field was located at the 12th District Fairgrounds on the Telfair Road between Troup Street and the National Guard Headquarters. Major League baseball was not followed by most Laurens Countians. The idea to have an exhibition game was proposed to two teams returning home for the start of the season. An arrangement was made to have the New York Yankees and the Boston Braves to stop in Dublin on April 1, 1917 for an exhibition game. From 1914 to 1915, the Braves held their spring training in Macon and Jones County, the home of their manager, George Stallings, and were the local favorites in those days, just like today. The Yankees trained in Macon from 1916 through 1918.
The long awaited day was here. Something went terribly wrong. It rained, and rained, and rained some more. The teams arrived around noon and sat in the train. After a few hours, the game was called. The players could not stay, they had to get on the train for a game the next day. What a cruel April Fools joke! The people of Dublin would not be denied. They again contracted with the Braves and Yankees to play an April Fool's Day game in Dublin in 1918. On the morning of the game, the teams arrived in Dublin for the first game of an eleven game exhibition series in ten southern cities, with the final game in Newark, New Jersey on the eve of opening day.
The field was ready - declared by the Yankee groundskeeper as one of the best in the South. The Braves were managed by George "The Miracle Man" Stallings, who guided them through their miracle season of 1914. That year they vaulted from last place to sweep the powerful Athletics in the World Series. For some undisclosed reason, Stallings was detained at his home and could not make the game in Dublin. 1918 was the first season that Miller "The Mighty Mite" Huggins managed the New York Yankees. Huggins managed the Yankees to three World Championships in 1923, 1927, and 1928. Huggins's Yanks also won the American League in 1921, 1922, and 1926. His 1927 Yankee team has been called the greatest ever, sporting a record of 110 wins and 44 losses. Before managing the Yankees, Huggins was a second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and managed the team from 1913 to 1917. His determination and drive led to the penning of his other nickname, "Little Mr. Everywhere". He was one of the top stolen base leaders of the first decade of the century and was one of the all time walks leaders. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964 for his managerial success.
On the day of the exhibition game in Dublin, the Yankees were led by the power hitters Wally Pipp and Frank Baker, supported by the slick fielding Roger Peckinpaugh. Pipp, the American League Home Run champ in 1916 and 1917, is best known as the man Lou Gehrig replaced to begin his streak of consecutive games layed. He was one of the last of the power hitters in what was known as "The Dead Ball Era." Another Yankee power hitter was Frank "Home Run" Baker. Baker hit mo e home runs during the second decade of this century than any other American Leaguer. His nickname came from two famous home runs during the World Series of 1911. Baker, a slick fielding third baseman, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. Peckinpaugh, the hustling and slick fielding shortstop, was the Most Valuable Player in the American League in 1925. Peckingpaugh is the answer to a most often asked trivia question. At the age of 23, he was the youngest manager in the history of baseball.
The Braves did not have many well known players. Maranville and Evers did not play in 1918. The best players on the team were the pitchers from the World Championship team of 1914. Tom Hughes led the National League in winning percentage in 1916. He pitched a no hitter against the Pirates in 1916, striking out the legendary Honus Wagner for the final out. Arthur Neft had a fabulous rookie season for the Braves in 1917. His record for that year was 17 and 8 with a 2.16 E.R.A., ending the season with 40 consecutive scoreless innings.
The game was set for 2:00 o'clock. A crowd of nearly two thousand came out to see the first major league game in Dublin. Veteran umpires Tom Corcoran and Jack McBride traveled with the teams and took their positions on the field. The Braves took the field first with rookie pitcher Hugh Canavan on the mound. Canavan shut out the Yanks with no base hits, but he did hit Gilhooley twice and Wally Pipp, once. Allen Russell was the starting pitcher for the Yankees giving up only three hits in his five inning stint.
The only runs of the game were scored in the top of the fifth inning. Ping Bodie singled and Roger Peckingpaugh reached first base on an error. With two on and two out, catcher Muddy Ruel, stepped to the plate. He launched a deep drive to right field, Bodie and Peckingpaugh scored. Ruel wound up on third with a triple. Ruel dashed home with the final run when Red Smith fumbled a slow roller off the bat of
George Mogridge took over in the sixth and finished the game for the Yankees allowing no hits by the Braves. Tom Hughes, the veteran Brave hurler, relieved Canavan in the sixth for the Braves, shutting out the Yankees by allowing only 2 hits.
Some fans were disappointed with the lack of offensive action, but they were thrilled by long running catches by Elmer Miller of the Yankees and Joe Kelley of the Braves. Wally Pipp excited the crowd with a one handed stab of a hard hit ball. The ball game ended in just over two hours with the score Yankees 3, Braves 0.
The teams left for Macon where they spent the night in the Dempsey Hotel. The next day the Yankees defeated the Braves again, this time 2 to 1. The Yankees finished the war shortened season with a just under .500 record. The Braves finished next to last, while the cross-town Boston Red Sox with Babe Ruth pitching defeated the Cubs in the World Series. Fifteen of the game's players left baseball to serve in the our armed forces in World War I.
NEW YORK AB R H PO A E
Frank Gilhooley, rf 2 0 0 0 0 0
Elmer Miller, cf 3 0 0 2 0 0
Aaron Ward, 2b 4 0 1 2 1 0
Wally Pipp, 1b 3 0 0 12 0 0
Frank Baker, 3b 4 0 1 2 1 0
Roger Peckinpaugh, ss 4 1 0 2 3 0
Muddy Ruel, c 2 1 1 2 0 0
Truck Hannah, c 1 0 0 3 0 0
Allan Russell, p 2 0 0 0 4 0
George Mogridge, p 1 0 0 0 3 0
Totals 30 3 4 27 15 0
BOSTON AB R H PO A E
Roy Massey, lf 3 0 0 4 0 0
Ray Powell, cf 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fred Bailey, cf 1 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Kelley, cf 2 0 0 1 0 0
Al Wickland, rf 3 0 1 3 0 0
Sam Covington, 1b 3 0 1 5 0 2
* Art Wilson, ph 1 0 0 0 0 0
Red Smith, 3b 4 0 0 3 0 2
Johnny Rawlings, ss 2 0 0 6 2 2
Rip Conway, 2b 3 0 1 1 1 0
John Henry, c 3 0 0 4 3 0
Hugh Canavan, p 2 0 0 0 5 0
Tom Hughes, p 1 0 0 0 1 0
Totals 28 0 3 27 12 4
* Batted for Covington in ninth inning.
Score by innings:
New York ............... 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 - 3
Boston ................. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
Summary - Three base hits, Ruel; Stolen bases, Gilhooley, Pipp; Sacrifice Hits,
Miller; Double Plays, Peckinpaugh, Ward, and Pipp; Bases on Balls, of Russell, 3;
Left on Bases, New York 4, Boston 5; Hit by Pitched Balls, by Mogridge (Rawlings),
by Canavan, 3 (Gilhooley 2, Pipp); hits off of Russell 3 in 5 innings, off Mogridge 0
in 4; of Canavan 2 in 5; of Hughes 2 in 4; Struck out, by Russel 1, by Mogridge 2, by
Canavan, 1; by Hughes 1. Time of game, 2:04. Umpires, Corcoran and McBride.