Merkle's Boner refers to the notorious base-running mistake committed by rookie Fred Merkle of the New York Giants in a game against the Chicago Cubs on September 23, 1908. Merkle's failure to advance to second base on what should have been a game-winning hit led instead to a forceout at second and a tie game. The Cubs later won the makeup game, which proved decisive as they beat the Giants by one game to win the National League (NL) pennant for 1908. It has been described as "the most controversial game in baseball history".
The NL pennant race of 1908 was a three-team fight among the teams that dominated the league in the first decade of the modern era: the Pittsburgh Pirates (pennant winners in 1901, 1902, and 1903), the Giants (winners in 1904 and 1905), and the Cubs (winners in 1906 and 1907). The teams were clustered in the standings all year, with Pittsburgh never more than 2.5 games up or 5 back, the Giants never more than 4.5 up or 6.5 back, and the Cubs never more than 4 games up or 6 games back. When play began at the Polo Grounds in New York City on September 23, 1908, the Cubs and Giants were tied for first place (although the Giants had six more games to play, with an 87–50 record as opposed to the Cubs' 90–53), and the Pirates were 1.5 games back with an 88–54 record.
Merkle was 19 years old in 1908, the youngest player in the National League. He played in only 38 games all year, 11 of which were at first base as the backup for regular Giants first baseman Fred Tenney. Merkle was recovering from two foot surgeries in July following a blood infection that nearly caused his foot to be amputated and was unable to play for most of July and August. On the morning of September 23, Tenney woke up with a case of lumbago, and Giants manager John McGraw penciled Merkle in at first base. It was the first big-league game Merkle had ever started.
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CHC: Joe Tinker
Attendance: 20,000 (Time: 1:30)
Future Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson started for the Giants; Jack Pfiester started for the Cubs. As was customary at the time, the game had only two umpires: Bob Emslie on the basepaths and Hank O'Day behind the plate.
The Giants were the home team. Neither Mathewson nor Pfiester allowed a run through three innings. In the fourth, Cubs shortstop Joe Tinker hit the ball into the outfield, and when right fielder Mike Donlin could not stop it from going past him deep into the cavernous outfield of the Polo Grounds, Tinker circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run that gave Chicago a 1–0 lead. It was the first homer hit off Mathewson since a homer by Tinker on July 17. The Giants tied the score in the fifth when Buck Herzog singled, advanced to second on an error, advanced to third on a sacrifice by Roger Bresnahan, and scored on a single by Donlin. The game was still tied 1–1 when the Giants came to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
Pfiester remained on the mound for Chicago. Cy Seymour led off with a groundout to second. Art Devlin singled, putting the winning run on first base with one out. Moose McCormick grounded sharply to second, but Devlin's aggressive slide prevented a double play and allowed McCormick to reach first base safely on a fielder's choice. With two outs and McCormick on first, Fred Merkle came up to bat. Merkle, who only had 47 plate appearances in the entire 1908 season, singled down the right-field line. McCormick, the potential winning run, advanced to third base.
Shortstop Al Bridwell came up to bat next with two outs and runners at the corners. Bridwell swung at the first pitch from Pfiester, a fastball, and drilled an apparent single into center field. McCormick ran home from third, and the game appeared to be over, a 2–1 Giants victory. Giants fans poured out of the stands and mobbed the field; fans sitting behind home plate customarily crossed the field to exit the ballpark via the outfield in this era. Merkle, advancing from first base, saw the fans swarming onto the playing field. He turned back to the dugout without ever touching second. Official rule 4.09 states that "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 an opportunity to have the rule enforced. He shouted to center fielder Solly Hofman, who, though the field was filled with fans, retrieved the ball and threw it to 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. Umpires Emslie and O'Day hurriedly consulted and O'Day, who saw the play from home plate, ruled that Merkle had not touched second base, and on that basis Emslie ruled him out on a force, and O'Day ruled that the run did not score.
Newspapers told different stories of who had gotten the ball to Evers and how. One newspaper claimed that Cub players physically restrained Merkle from advancing to second. Retelling the story in 1944, Evers insisted that after McGinnity (who was not playing in the game) had thrown the ball away, Cubs pitcher Rube Kroh (who also was not in the game) retrieved it from a fan and threw it to shortstop Tinker, who threw it to Evers (by rule, after a fan or a player who was not in the game touches the ball, it becomes dead). A contemporary account from the Chicago Tribune supports this version. However, eight years prior to that, Evers claimed to have gotten the ball directly from Hofman. Five years after the play, Merkle admitted that he had left the field without touching second, but only after umpire Emslie assured them that they had won the game. In 1914, O'Day said that Evers' tag was irrelevant: he had called the third out after McGinnity interfered with the throw from center field. Future Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem said Merkle's boner was "the rottenest decision in the history of baseball"; Klem believed that the force rule was meant to apply to infield hits, not balls hit to the outfield.
Unable to quickly clear the field of fans, O'Day ruled the game over on account of darkness. The game ended 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. The Giants were forced to end the season by playing 10 games in a week due to rainouts. 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.
On October 6, the National League board of directors agreed with its umpires and with Hank Pulliam, making a final ruling that Merkle had failed to touch second base and that the force rule was correctly applied. This left the Cubs and Giants tied at 98–55 and required a makeup game to decide the NL pennant. To decide the pennant (and a spot in the World Series), the teams had to replay the tie game on October 8. Mathewson, scheduled to start the game, said, "I'm not fit to pitch today. I'm dog tired." The crowd was estimated at 40,000, the biggest in baseball history at that time. Pfiester pitched for the Cubs again in the rematch, but was removed from the game in the first inning after hitting Tenney, walking Herzog (who was promptly picked off), giving up an RBI double to Donlin, and walking Seymour. Future Hall of Famer Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown entered the game in relief and got out of the jam without allowing another run. In the Cubs' half of the third inning, Tinker led off with a triple and scored on a single by Johnny Kling. Evers walked, Frank Schulte followed with an RBI double to give the Cubs the lead, and Frank Chance followed with a two-run double. From there, Chicago cruised to a 4–2 victory, becoming champions of the NL for the third straight year.
The Cubs went on to win the 1908 World Series, beating the Detroit Tigers four games to one. This was the Cubs' last world championship for more than a century; the next came in the 2016 World Series. The Pirates won the 1909 World Series, also against the Tigers. The Giants then returned to the World Series for three straight years, 1911–1913, only to lose each year—to the first of Connie Mack's two Philadelphia Athletics dynasties in 1911 and 1913, and to the Boston Red Sox in 1912. John McGraw's club did not win another championship until 1921, when they defeated the emerging New York Yankees, featuring Babe Ruth, two consecutive years in the Yankees' first World Series appearances.
The New York Times game story for September 23, 1908, blamed the loss on "censurable stupidity on the part of player Merkle". For the rest of his life, he lived with the nickname of "Bonehead". Merkle replaced Tenney as the full-time Giants first baseman in 1910 and was a regular for the Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs for another 10 years. He played in five World Series, all for the losing team. Bitter over the events of the Merkle's boner game, Merkle avoided baseball after his playing career finally ended in 1926. When he finally appeared at a Giants old-timers' game in 1950, he got a loud ovation from the fans.
Merkle's Bar and Grill, a popular Wrigleyville bar just one block south of Wrigley Field in Chicago, is named after Fred Merkle, and features his image prominently in the bar's logo and interior. The bar's website recounts the story of Merkle's infamous baserunning gaffe, and its email list is titled "The Bonehead".
On July 1, 2013, a minor league game between the Lansing Lugnuts and Great Lakes Loons featured a very similar play, in which an apparent game-winning single for the Lugnuts was nullified when the runner at first joined the celebration instead of advancing to second. The Lugnuts lost in extra innings.
The 1908 Chicago Cubs season was the 37th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 33rd in the National League and the 16th at West Side Park. It involved the Cubs winning their third consecutive National League pennant, as well as the World Series.
This team included four future Hall of Famers: manager / first baseman Frank Chance, second baseman Johnny Evers, shortstop Joe Tinker, and pitcher Mordecai Brown. In 1908, Brown finished second in the NL in wins and ERA. This would be the last World Series victory for the Cubs until the 2016 World Series.1908 New York Giants season
The 1908 New York Giants season was the franchise's 26th season. The team finished in second place in the National League with a 98–56 record, one game behind the Chicago Cubs.
Paced by Turkey Mike Donlin, the offense scored the most runs in the league. Donlin led the team in nearly all batting categories and was second in batting to Honus Wagner.
Future Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson earned the pitching triple crown with 37 wins, 259 strikeouts, and a 1.43 ERA. However, he lost the last game of the season to Three Finger Brown of the Chicago Cubs, and the Giants finished one game back in the pennant race.
That one-game playoff became necessary after Giants rookie Fred Merkle failed to touch second base at the end of a previous contest, costing them a win. In addition, they were beaten by another rookie, Phillies pitcher Harry Coveleski, three times in five days late in the season. Coveleski was subsequently nicknamed "The Giant Killer".1908 World Series
The 1908 World Series matched the defending champion Chicago Cubs against the Detroit Tigers in a rematch of the 1907 Series. In this first-ever rematch of this young event, the Cubs won in five games for their second consecutive World Series title.
The 1908 World Series was significant for being the last World Series championship the Cubs would win until the 2016 World Series (108 years later). Before the 2016 series, the team would go on to appear in seven World Series; in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, losing each time. The Cubs had been one of baseball's most dominant teams in the early 1900s. This was the year of the infamous "Merkle's Boner" play that allowed the Chicago Cubs to reach the World Series after beating the New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants) in a one-game "playoff", actually the makeup game for the tie that the Merkle play had caused.
The Series was anti-climactic after tight pennant races in both leagues. Ty Cobb had a much better World Series than in the previous year, as did the rest of his team. The final two games, held in Detroit, were shutouts. This was also the most poorly attended World Series in history, with the final game drawing a record-low 6,210 fans. Attendance in Chicago was harmed by a ticket-scalping scheme that fans accused the club's owner of participating in, and the World Series was boycotted to some degree.
For the first time, four umpires were used in the series, in alternating two-man teams.1908 in baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1908 throughout the world.1944 in baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1944 throughout the world.Al Bridwell
Albert Henry Bridwell (January 4, 1884 – January 23, 1969) was an American shortstop in Major League Baseball who played for a number of teams in the early 20th century, most notably the New York Giants, when the team was managed by John McGraw. Bridwell hit the (apparent) single which led to the crucial Merkle's Boner running error of the 1908 season against the Chicago Cubs. The error ended up costing the Giants the pennant (the apparent winning run was nullified, the game was thus declared a tie, and the Cubs won the makeup of that game).
Bridwell never played in a World Series. Midway through the 1911 season, he was traded by the Giants, who would go on to play in the 1911 World Series, to the Boston Rustlers. He played his final two years in the Federal League.
In 1,252 career games, Bridwell batted .255 with 348 RBIs. He had 1,064 hits, with 95 doubles and 32 triples in 4,169 at bats.
Bridwell had this to say about the reason why John McGraw was a great manager: "He knew how to handle men, some players he rode and others he didn't. He got the most out of each man." Bridwell's pugnaciousness fit right in with McGraw's style of play. He once punched McGraw in the nose, earning a two-game suspension. However, in The Glory of their Times, Bridwell said he was suspended for two weeks.Bridwell was interviewed for Lawrence Ritter's 1966 book The Glory of their Times. He died at age 85 and had one daughter.Baseball's Sad Lexicon
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon," also known as "Tinker to Evers to Chance" after its refrain, is a 1910 baseball poem by Franklin Pierce Adams. The eight-line poem is presented as a single, rueful stanza from the point of view of a New York Giants fan watching the Chicago Cubs infield of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance complete a double play. These three players helped the Cubs win four National League championships and two World Series from 1906 to 1910.
"Baseball's Sad Lexicon" became popular across the United States among sportswriters, who wrote their own verses along the same vein. The poem only enhanced the reputations of Tinker, Evers, and Chance over the succeeding decades as the phrase became a synonymous with a feat of smooth and ruthless efficiency. It has been credited with their elections to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.Bob Emslie
Robert Daniel Emslie (January 27, 1859 – April 26, 1943) was a Canadian pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) who went on to set numerous records for longevity as an umpire. Born in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Emslie had a brief professional playing career with the Baltimore and Philadelphia clubs in the American Association.
His professional umpiring career began in 1888, and after spending a couple of seasons in the minor leagues, he was promoted to the major leagues as an umpire in 1890. Emslie was nicknamed "Wig" due to his premature receding hairline, which was a result of the stress of umpiring games single-handedly in the rough-and-tumble 1890s; he was derisively called "Blind Bob" by the New York Giants following his role in the infamous "Merkle's Boner" play during the 1908 National League pennant race. The play involved a force out when a Giants player stopped running to second base upon seeing that the game's winning run would score.
When "Merkle's boner" occurred, Emslie had already worked more major league games than any umpire in MLB history, then later served as the National League's chief of umpires upon retiring from active umpiring. He retired to St. Thomas, Ontario and died there on Monday, April 26, 1943. In 1986 he was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.Coogan's Bluff
Coogan's Bluff is a promontory near the western shore of the Harlem River in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City. Its boundaries extend approximately from 155th Street to 160th Street, and from Edgecombe Avenue to the river. A deep escarpment descends 175 feet from Edgecombe Avenue to the river, creating a sheltered area between the bluff and river known as Coogan's Hollow. For 73 years, the hollow was home to the Polo Grounds sports stadium.Ed Abbaticchio
Edward James Abbaticchio (April 15, 1877 – January 6, 1957) was the first Major League Baseball player and first professional football player of Italian ancestry.Fred Merkle
Carl Frederick Rudolf Merkle (December 20, 1888 – March 2, 1956), also documented as "Frederick Charles Merkle," and nicknamed "Bonehead", was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball from 1907 to 1926. Although he had a lengthy career, he is best remembered for a controversial base-running mistake he made while still a teenager.Hank O'Day
Henry Martin Francis O'Day (July 8, 1859 – July 2, 1935), nicknamed "The Reverend", was an American right-handed pitcher and later an umpire and manager in Major League Baseball. After a seven-year major league playing career, he worked as a National League (NL) umpire for 30 seasons between 1895 and 1927.
O'Day umpired in ten World Series – second only to Bill Klem's total of 18 – including five of the first seven played, and was behind the plate for the first modern World Series game in 1903. Retiring at age 68 years, 2 months, he remains the oldest umpire in major league history – a fact which was not known until recently, as he routinely shaved five to seven years from his true age throughout his career. His 3,986 total games as an umpire ranked third in major league history when he retired, and his 2,710 games as the plate umpire still rank second in major league history to Klem's total of 3,544. He is largely known for his controversial decision in a pivotal 1908 game, a ruling that still causes debate today. O'Day interrupted his umpiring career twice for single seasons as a manager, leading the Cincinnati Reds in 1912 and the Chicago Cubs in 1914. He remains the only person ever to serve full seasons in the NL as a player, manager and umpire. O'Day was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2013.Harry Coveleski
Harry Frank Coveleski (April 23, 1886 – August 4, 1950) was a Major League Baseball pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, and Detroit Tigers.History of the Chicago Cubs
The following is a franchise history of the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball, a charter member of the National League who started play in the National Association in 1870 as the Chicago White Stockings. The Chicago National League Ball Club is the only franchise to play continuously in the same city since the formation of the National League in 1876. They are the earliest formed active professional sports club in North America. In their history, they have also been known as the White Stockings, Orphans, Colts, Panamas, Rainmakers, Spuds, Trojans, Microbes, and Zephyrs.International League Hall of Fame
The International League Hall of Fame is an American baseball hall of fame which honors players, managers, and executives of the International League (IL). It was created by the International League Baseball Writers' Association in 1947 to honor those individuals who made significant contributions to the league. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class of nine former players, managers, and league officials in 1947. A plaque was unveiled at the IL's New York City offices located in the Ruppert Building at 535 Fifth Avenue. Today, the plaque has no permanent home, but exists as a traveling display which visits a number of the league's ballparks each season.From 1949 through 1960, the league inducted up to three new members each year. Only one member was inducted annually from 1961 to 1963. After the cessation of the league's Baseball Writers' Association, the Hall of Fame became dormant from 1964 to 2006. The Hall was reestablished in 2007 to commemorate the League's 125th season of play in 2008. Two new members were inducted in 2007, and plans were made to elect up to 28, 14, and 7 inductees, respectively, over the next three years. Since 2011, up to three inductees have been voted into the Hall annually. As of 2019, 126 individuals have been inducted into the International League Hall of Fame.Johnny Evers
John Joseph Evers (July 21, 1881 – March 28, 1947) was an American professional baseball second baseman and manager. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1902 through 1917 for the Chicago Cubs, Boston Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies. He also appeared in one game apiece for the Chicago White Sox and Braves while coaching them in 1922 and 1929, respectively.
Evers was born in Troy, New York. After playing for the local minor league baseball team for one season, Frank Selee, manager of the Cubs, purchased Evers's contract and soon made him his starting second baseman. Evers helped lead the Cubs to four National League pennants, including two World Series championships. The Cubs traded Evers to the Braves in 1914; that season, Evers led the Braves to victory in the World Series, and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Evers continued to play for the Braves and Phillies through 1917. He then became a coach, scout, manager, and general manager in his later career.
Known as one of the smartest ballplayers in MLB, Evers also had a surly temper that he took out on umpires. Evers was a part of a great double-play combination with Joe Tinker and Frank Chance, which was immortalized as "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" in the poem "Baseball's Sad Lexicon". Evers was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1946.Merkle
Merkle and Merckle are surnames of German origin. They may refer to:
PeopleAdolf Merckle (1934–2009), German entrepreneur
Ed Merkle (1917–87), American football player
Fred Merkle (1888–1956), American baseball player
Merkle's Boner, a baserunning mistake committed by Fred Merkle in 1908
Hans Lutz Merkle (1913–2000), German industrial manager
Hans Merkle (born 1918), German football trainer
Ludwig Merckle (born 1965), German businessman.
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle (born 1977), German game designer
Philipp Daniel Merckle (born 1966), German entrepreneur
Ralph Merkle (born 1952), American computer scientist, public key cryptography pioneer, and nanotechnology advocate
Uwe Merkle (born 1982)South African born Property Professional
Merkle–Damgård construction, a method of building collision-resistant cryptographic hash functions devised by Ralph Merkle and by Ivan Damgård
Merkle–Hellman knapsack cryptosystem, an early public key cryptosystem, invented by Ralph Merkle and Martin Hellman
Merkle's Puzzles, an early construction for a public-key cryptosystem, a protocol devised by Ralph Merkle
Merkle tree, a computer hash tree, named after Ralph Merkle
Judith Merkle Riley (1942–2010), American writer, teacher and academicOther usesMerkle, a pioneer motorcycle manufacturer
Merkle Inc., an American customer relationship marketing (CRM) agencyRube Kroh
Floyd Myron "Rube" Kroh (August 25, 1886 in Friendship, New York – March 17, 1944 in New Orleans, Louisiana), was a professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1906 to 1912. He played for the Boston Braves, Boston Americans, and Chicago Cubs. He is generally credited as the player who got the ball into the hands of Johnny Evers in the famous Merkle's Boner game.Specs Toporcer
George Toporcer (born Toporczer; February 9, 1899 – May 17, 1989) was a professional baseball player and executive. He served primarily as a utility infielder during his eight seasons in Major League Baseball, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1921 through 1928. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed and was listed as 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and 165 pounds (75 kg). Toporcer is widely considered as the first major league baseball position player to wear eyeglasses on the playing field. The distinction gained Toporcer his nickname, "Specs".
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