Merkle’s Boner

Merkle

Merkle’s Boner. Major League Debut. Rules that Were Obscure. All contr ibute to the famous Merkle’s Boner story.

Merkle

In 1908, there was fight for the National League pennant among three teams. The Giants, Pirates and the Cubs. The standings were tight with the Cubs leading the league. The Pirates always stayed within 2.5 games behind or less while the Giants stayed  near 4.5 games behind.

On September 3, 1908, the Cubs and Giants were playing for first place with six games left to play. The game was at the Polo Grounds in New York. Fred Merkle, 19 years old, was playing first base in place of regular Fred Tenney.  It was the first game ever in the major leagues at first base for the young Merkle. He had been out in July and August with a blood  infection in both feet and almost had one amputated but two surgeries attempted to take care of it.  .

The Giants had their ace pitcher, Christy Mathewson on the mound for this important game and Jack Pfeister toed the rubber for the Cubs.  The umpire are important to this boner so Bob Emslie was doing the bases while veteran Hank O’Day eyed the plate.

The New York Giants were the home team and neither pitcher allowed a run through the first few innings. In the fourth inning. Joe Tinker, Cubs shortstop, hit a ball to right field that Mike Donlin couldn’t track down and it rolled into the deep part of the Polo Grounds for an inside-the park home run. The Giants tied the game in the fifth inning. The game is tied going into the bottom of the ninth inning.

Merkle Pulls Boner

With one out, Art Devlin singled, putting the winning run on first base with one out.A sharply hit grounder by Moose McCormck forced Devlin out at second bu McCormick reached first base. Fred Merkle strolls to the plate for his 48th plate appearance of his career and promptly singles down the right field line. McCormick gets to third base.

Al Bridwell, the shortstop is at-bat with two outs and runners at the corners. He smacks a single to center field. McCormick races home and is mobbed on the field.by fans.  Merkle saw the chaos ai home plate and headed back to the dugout and never touched 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”.

Cubs second baseman, Johnny Evers saw this happen and  got the ball back and second base was touched by shortstop Evers, According to one account, Joe McGinnity, a Giants pitcher who was coaching first base that day, intercepted the ball and threw it away into the crowd of fans. Evers apparently retrieved the ball and touched second base, although some reports stated that he substituted a different ball.

The umpires consulted and Merkle was ruled out at second base and the run did not score . Police officers had to protect home plate umpire Hank O’Day

There is some reports that the Cubs players physically kept Merkle from reaching second base. There are tons of variations stories on this play but it still remains Merkle’s Boner (and it was a big one).

According to one source:

Unable to quickly clear the field of fans, O’Day ruled the game over on account of darkness. The game ended in a 1–1 tie. National League president Harry Pulliam upheld the ruling. On October 2, Pulliam rejected the Giants’ appeal of O’Day’s ruling and the Cubs’ call for a forfeit victory and again upheld the umpires, declaring the force play on Merkle valid and the game a tie. The Cubs-Giants-Pirates pennant race continued to the final days. Due to rainouts during the season, in the last week of the pennant race the Giants were forced to play 10 games.  After Merkle’s boner, the Giants won 11 of their last 16 games to finish 98–55. The Cubs won eight of their last 10 after the Merkle game to also finish 98–55. The Pirates, who beat the Dodgers 2–1 on September 23 to gain a half game on their rivals, won nine of their last 10 to force a makeup game with the Cubs on October 4. The Cubs beat the Pirates 5–2, leaving themselves tied with the Giants, and with the Pirates a half-game back of both teams at 98–56, they were thus eliminated.

 

 

 

About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup.

 

About Tom Knuppel 92 Articles
I am a lover of ALL sports- big or small- some even obscure. I am a retired High School English teacher/coach that loves to write. and do book reviews of many sports. I want to write a book. Some around here call me “Dad” I am a St.Louis Cardinals fan from birth.Check out my History of Cardinals do com site Advice: Remember to always have a solid plan!

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