Sam Rice

Edgar Charles "Sam" Rice (February 20, 1890 – October 13, 1974) was an American pitcher and right fielder in Major League Baseball. Although Rice made his debut as a relief pitcher, he is best known as an outfielder. Playing for the Washington Senators from 1915 until 1933, he was regularly among the American League leaders in runs scored, hits, stolen bases and batting average. He led the Senators to three postseasons and a World Series championship in 1924. He batted left-handed but threw right-handed. Rice played his final year, 1934, for the Cleveland Indians. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963.

Rice was best known for making a controversial catch in the 1925 World Series which carried him over the fence and into the stands. While he was alive, Rice maintained a sense of mystery around the catch, which had been ruled an out. He wrote a letter that was opened after his 1974 death which claimed that he had maintained possession of the ball the entire time.

Sam Rice
Sam Rice
Rice in 1924
Born: February 20, 1890
Morocco, Indiana
Died: October 13, 1974 (aged 84)
Rossmoor, Maryland
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 7, 1915, for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
September 18, 1934, for the Cleveland Indians
MLB statistics
Batting average.322
Home runs34
Runs batted in1,078
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeteran's Committee

Early life

Rice was the first of six children born to Charles Rice and Louisa Newmeyer. Charles and Louisa married about two months after his birth. He grew up in various towns near Morocco, Indiana, on the Indiana-Illinois border, and considered Morocco his hometown.[1] He was known as "Eddie" during his childhood. In 1908, Rice married 16-year-old Beulah Stam.[2] They lived in Watseka, Illinois, where Rice ran the family farm, worked at several jobs in the area, and attended tryouts for various professional baseball teams.[3]

By April 1912, Rice and his wife had two children, aged eighteen months and three years. While Rice's wife cared for the children, Rice traveled to Galesburg, Illinois, to play for a spot on a minor league baseball team, the Galesburg Pavers of the Central Association.[4] Rice spent about a week with the team, appearing in three exhibition games. In an appearance on April 21, Rice entered the game as a relief pitcher and finished the last three innings of a Pavers victory, giving up one run in a game marked by forceful winds.[5]

That same day, Rice's wife took their children on a day trip to the homestead of Rice's parents in Morocco, about 20 miles from Watseka. A storm arose and a tornado swept across the homestead, destroying the house and most of the outbuildings. The tornado killed Rice's wife, his two children, his mother, his two younger sisters and a farmhand. Rice's father survived for another week before also succumbing to his injuries. Rice had to attend two funerals: one for his parents and sisters, and a second for his wife and children.[6]

Early baseball career

Probably wracked with grief, Rice spent the next year wandering the area and working at several jobs. In 1913 he joined the United States Navy and served on the USS New Hampshire, a 16,000-ton battleship that was large enough to field a baseball team. Rice played on that team during one season.[7] He was on the ship when it took part in the United States occupation of Veracruz, Mexico.

In 1914, Rice joined the Petersburg Goobers of the Virginia League as a pitcher. He compiled a 9–2 record with a 1.54 earned run average (ERA) that year, then returned in 1915, earning an 11-12 record with a 1.82 ERA.[8] Team owner "Doc" Lee owed a $300 debt to Clark Griffith, who owned the major-league Washington Senators at the time, and he offered Rice's contract to Griffith in payment of the debt. Lee is credited with two acts which influenced Rice's subsequent career: he changed the player's name from "Edgar" to "Sam", and he convinced the Senators to let Rice play in the outfield instead of pitching.

Major league career

First MLB seasons

Sam Rice portrait
Sam Rice, Washington Senators, 1916

Rice played 19 of his 20 seasons with the Washington Senators. He appeared in only 62 total major league games in 1915 and 1916. He played 155 games in 1917, registering a .302 batting average in 656 plate appearances.[9] Rice was recalled up to the army in 1918.[10] He joined the 68th Coast Artillery Regiment and was stationed at Fort Terry in New York. He appeared with the Senators in a few games during two furloughs.[11] By September, his company was sent to France and they prepared for combat, but the men did not see any action before the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918.[12]

In 1919, Rice played in 141 games and hit .321, one of 13 seasons in which he hit at least .300. He hit .338 in 1920, recorded a league-leading and career-high 63 stolen bases and was caught stealing a league-high 30 times. In 1921, he hit 13 triples, the first of ten consecutive seasons in which he finished in double digits in that category. He collected a league-high 216 hits in 1924,[13] which culminated in Rice and the Senators winning the 1924 World Series in a dramatic 7 game series against the New York Giants.[14] Though not the league leader in 1925, Rice recorded a career-high 227 hits, 87 RBI, and a .350 batting average, career highs among his full seasons.

The catch

The most famous moment in Rice's career came on defense. During game three of the 1925 World Series with the Senators playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Senators were leading the Pirates 4–3. In the middle of the 8th inning, Sam Rice was moved from center field to right field. With two outs in the top of the inning[15], Pirates catcher Earl Smith drove a ball to right-center field. Rice ran down the ball and appeared to catch the ball at the fence, potentially robbing Smith of a home run that would have tied the game. After the catch, Rice toppled over the top of the fence and into the stands, disappearing out of sight. When Rice reappeared, he had the ball in his glove and the umpire called the batter out. The umpire's explanation was that as soon as the catch was made the play was over, and so it did not matter where Rice ended up. His team lost the Series in seven games.

Controversy persisted over whether Rice actually caught the ball and whether he kept possession of it. Some Pittsburgh fans sent signed and notarized documents claiming that they saw a fan pick up the ball and put it back in Rice's glove. Rice himself would not tell, only answering: "The umpire said I caught it.", when asked. Magazines offered to pay him for the story, but Rice turned them down, saying: "I don't need the money. The mystery is more fun." He would not even tell his wife or his daughter. The controversy became so great that Rice wrote a letter when he was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, to be opened upon his death.[16]

Later career

Leading the league in hits again in 1926, Rice finished fourth in the Most Valuable Player Award voting.[9] His batting average dipped to .297 in 1927, but he hit .328, .323 and .349 from, respectively, the 1928 through 1930 seasons.[9] Though Rice hit .310 in 1931 across 120 games, Dave Harris got significant playing time when the team was facing lefthanded pitchers. The Senators also began to explore younger players for their outfield spots.[9][17]

The Senators held "Sam Rice Day" in late 1932, where the team presented him with several gifts, including a check for more than $2200 and a new Studebaker automobile. He played only 106 games that year, often appearing as a pinch hitter. In 1933, the team returned to the World Series. Though the team lost, Rice batted once in the second game, picking up a pinch hit single.[18] The Senators released him after the season.[19]

He played in 1934 with the Cleveland Indians, then retired at the age of 44. Cleveland manager Walter Johnson talked to Rice about returning in 1935, but Rice refused.[19] Rice retired with a .322 career average. He stood erect at the plate and used quick wrists to slash pitches to all fields. He never swung at the first pitch and seldom struck out, once completing a 616-at-bat season with nine strikeouts. As the ultimate contact man with the picture-perfect swing, Rice was never a home run threat, but his speed often turned singles into doubles, and his 1920 stolen base total of 63 earned him the timely nickname "Man o' War".

With 2,987 hits, Rice has the most of any player not to reach 3,000. Rice later said, "The truth of the matter is I did not even know how many hits I had. A couple of years after I quit, [Senators owner] Clark Griffith told me about it, and asked me if I'd care to have a comeback with the Senators and pick up those 13 hits. But I was out of shape, and didn't want to go through all that would have been necessary to make the effort. Nowadays, with radio and television announcers spouting records every time a player comes to bat, I would have known about my hits and probably would have stayed to make 3,000 of them."[20] In postseason play, Rice produced 19 hits and a .302 batting average.[21]

Career statistics

See:Career Statistics for a complete explanation.

2,404 9,269 2,987 498 184 34 1,514 1,078 708 275 .322 .374 .427


Rice accumulated 7 five-hit games and 52 four-hit games in his career.

Later life

By the 1940s, Rice had become a poultry farmer. His farm was located in Maryland next to that of Harold L. Ickes, the United States Secretary of the Interior. Rice and Ickes employed several workers of Japanese descent who were displaced from the West Coast by order of the U.S. Army after the outbreak of World War II.[23]

Rice was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963. He and three other players – John Clarkson, Elmer Flick and Eppa Rixey – were elected unanimously that year by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee, which considered players who had been inactive for 20 or more years. Rice said that he was glad to be inducted and said that he thought he would probably be elected if he survived long enough.[24]

Rice remarried twice, first to Edith and at age 69 to Mary Kendall Adams. Mary had two daughters by a prior marriage, Margaret and Christine.[25] In 1965 Rice and his family were interviewed in advance of a program to honor his career. The interviewer asked Rice about the tornado, and as he told of the storm and its destruction, his wife and children learned for the first time of the existence of his previous family.[26]

Rice made one of his last public appearances at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies honoring Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle in August 1974. He died of cancer that year on October 13.[16] He was buried in Woodside Cemetery in Brinklow, Maryland. After Rice's death, officials could not immediately locate the letter describing his World Series play. However, in an interview, his wife Mary said, "He did catch it. You don't have to worry about that anymore."[16] When the letter was located, its conclusion stated, "At no time did I lose possession of the ball."[27]

See also


  1. ^ Carroll, p. 9.
  2. ^ Carroll, pp. 9-10.
  3. ^ Paul Niemann, Red, White & True Mysteries, Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, 10 November 2011
  4. ^ Carroll, p. 11.
  5. ^ Carroll, pp. 11-12.
  6. ^ Carroll, pp. 12-15.
  7. ^ Red, White & True
  8. ^ "Sam Rice Minor League Statistics & History". Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "Sam Rice Statistics and History". Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Carroll, p. 40.
  11. ^ Carroll, pp. 43-44.
  12. ^ Carroll, p. 47.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c "Baseball Hall of Famer Sam Rice is dead at 84". Bangor Daily News. October 15, 1974. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  17. ^ Vosburgh, Ted (August 17, 1931). "Johnson leads in tribute to A's great club". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b Fleitz, David L. (April 3, 2007). More Ghosts in the Gallery: Another Sixteen Little-Known Greats at Cooperstown. McFarland. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-7864-8062-3. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  20. ^ The 3,000 Hit Club. Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Sam Rice Stats at
  23. ^ Eads, Jane (January 31, 1945). "200 Japanese-Americans work in important government jobs". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  24. ^ "Rixey, Sam Rice in Baseball Hall of Fame". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 28, 1963. Retrieved December 21, 2014.
  25. ^ Sports Illustrated, August 23, 1993, Letters- Margaret Adams Robinson.
  26. ^ "There is one thing about Edgar 'Sam' Rice that no one could dispute: He sure could keep a secret." Red, White & True
  27. ^ "Rice claims he never lost ball". Ellensburg Daily Record. November 5, 1974. Retrieved December 21, 2014.


External links

1915 Washington Senators season

The 1915 Washington Senators won 85 games, lost 68, and finished in fourth place in the American League. They were managed by Clark Griffith and played home games at National Park.

1920 Washington Senators season

The 1920 Washington Senators won 68 games, lost 84, and finished in sixth place in the American League. They were managed by Clark Griffith and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1923 Washington Senators season

The 1923 Washington Senators won 75 games, lost 78, and finished in fourth place in the American League. They were managed by Donie Bush and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1924 Washington Senators season

The 1924 Washington Senators won 92 games, lost 62, and finished in first place in the American League. Fueled by the excitement of winning their first AL pennant, the Senators won the World Series in dramatic fashion, a 12-inning game 7 victory.

1925 Washington Senators season

The 1925 Washington Senators won 96 games, lost 55, and finished in first place in the American League. Fueled by the excitement of winning their second AL pennant, the Senators led 3 games to 1 in the World Series before succumbing to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1925 World Series

In the 1925 World Series, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the defending champion Washington Senators in seven games.

In a reversal of fortune on all counts from the previous 1924 World Series, when Washington's Walter Johnson had come back from two losses to win the seventh and deciding game, Johnson dominated in Games 1 and 4, but lost Game 7.

The Senators built up a 3–1 Series lead. After Pittsburgh won the next two games, Johnson again took the mound for Game 7, and carried a 6–4 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning. But errors by shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh in both the seventh and eighth innings led to four unearned runs, and the Pirates become the first team in a best-of-seven Series to overcome a 3–1 Series deficit to win the championship. Peckinpaugh, the Senators' regular shortstop and the 1925 American League Most Valuable Player, had a tough Series in the field, committing a record eight errors.

Playing conditions were of no help. The 1925 Series was postponed twice due to poor weather, and Game 7 was played in what soon became a steady downpour, described as "probably the worst conditions ever for a World Series game." Senators outfielder Goose Goslin reported that the fog prevented him from clearly seeing the infield during the last three innings of the game, and claimed that the Series-winning hit was actually a foul ball. In the next day's The New York Times, James Harrison wrote "In a grave of mud was buried Walter Johnson's ambition to join the select panel of pitchers who have won three victories in one World Series. With mud shackling his ankles and water running down his neck, the grand old man of baseball succumbed to weariness, a sore leg, wretched support and the most miserable weather conditions that ever confronted a pitcher."Twice in Game 7 the visiting Senators held leads of at least three runs over the Pirates but failed to hold them. In fact, after the top of the first inning, Washington led 4-0. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh eventually won the game, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to turn a 6-7 deficit into a 9-7 lead. To date, the four-run deficit is the largest ever overcome in the seventh game of the World Series.

A memorable play occurred during the eighth inning of Game 3. The Senators' Sam Rice ran after an Earl Smith line drive hit into right center field. Rice made a diving "catch" into the temporary stands, but did not emerge with the ball for approximately fifteen seconds. The Pirates contested the play, saying a fan probably stuffed the ball into Rice's glove. The call stood and Rice parried questions about the incident for the rest of his life—never explicitly saying whether he had or had not really made the catch. His typical answer (including to Commissioner Landis, who said it was a good answer) was always "The umpire said I caught it." Rice left a sealed letter at the Hall of Fame to be opened after his death. In it, he had written: "At no time did I lose possession of the ball."

Writer Lamont Buchanan wrote, "In 1925, the Senators hopped the Big Train once too often... earning Bucky [Harris] the criticism of many fans and American League head [Ban] Johnson who dispatched an irate wire to the Senators manager." In his telegram, Ban Johnson accused the manager of failing to relieve Walter Johnson "for sentimental reasons." Despite the second-guessing, Harris always said, 'If I had it to do over again, I'd still pitch Johnson.'" Contrary to what Ron Darling claimed, this was Walter Johnson's last World Series. By the time the original Washington Senators next reached the Fall Classic in 1933---their last before they became the Minnesota Twins---Johnson had retired.

1927 Washington Senators season

The 1927 Washington Senators won 85 games, lost 69, and finished in third place in the American League. They were managed by Bucky Harris and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1928 Washington Senators season

The 1928 Washington Senators won 75 games, lost 79, and finished in fourth place in the American League. They were managed by Bucky Harris and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1929 Washington Senators season

The 1929 Washington Senators won 71 games, lost 81, and finished in fifth place in the American League. They were managed by Walter Johnson and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1932 Washington Senators season

The 1932 Washington Senators won 93 games, lost 61, and finished in third place in the American League. They were managed by Walter Johnson and played home games at Griffith Stadium.

1933 World Series

The 1933 World Series featured the New York Giants and the Washington Senators. The Giants won in five games for their first championship since 1922 and their fourth overall. The Giants easily defeated the Senators behind pitching aces "King" Carl Hubbell and "Prince" Hal Schumacher.

Majority owner John McGraw retired as manager in 1932 after 30 years at the helm, naming his protégé, young star first baseman Bill Terry, recently the last .400 hitter in the National League, as his player-manager successor. Somewhat similarly, former superstar hurler Walter Johnson also retired in 1932 as Senator manager in favor of young star shortstop Joe Cronin as their new player-manager. (McGraw watched the Series from the stands, and died four months later.)

The Senators were the surprise team of 1933, breaking a seven-year monopoly on the AL title jointly held by the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Athletics from 1926 to 1932. But this could also be called a joint 13-year monopoly by all three, since the Senators had also won in 1924 and 1925 and the Yankees won from 1921 to 1923. 43 year old future Hall of Famer Sam Rice, in his last year with the Senators, had only one at bat during the series, picking up a pinch hit single in the second game.

1934 Cleveland Indians season

The 1934 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 85–69, 16 games behind the Detroit Tigers.

1963 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1963 followed a system established for odd-number years after the 1956 election.

Namely, the baseball writers were voting on recent players only in even-number years.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players. It selected four people: 19th-century 300-game winner John Clarkson, turn-of-the-century outfielder Elmer Flick, 266-game winner Eppa Rixey, and outfielder Sam Rice, who had 2987 career hits.

Following the death of J. G. Taylor Spink in December, the Baseball Writers' Association of America inaugurated the Spink Award honoring a baseball writer. It would be conferred as part of the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, which would help ensure at least one living, honored guest. Spink was the first recipient, deceased.

History of the Washington Senators (1901–1960)

The Washington Senators baseball team was one of the American League's eight charter franchises. Now known as the Minnesota Twins, the club was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1901 as the Washington Senators. In 1905, the team changed its official name to the Washington Nationals. The name "Nationals" appeared on the uniforms for only two seasons, and was then replaced with the "W" logo for the next 52 years. However, the names "Senators", "Nationals" and shorter "Nats" were used interchangeably by fans and media for the next sixty years; in 2005, the latter two names were revived for the current National League franchise that had previously played in Montreal. For a time, from 1911 to 1933, the Senators were one of the more successful franchises in Major League Baseball. The team's rosters included Baseball Hall of Fame members Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, Joe Cronin, Bucky Harris, Heinie Manush and one of the greatest players and pitchers of all time, Walter Johnson. But the Senators are remembered more for their many years of mediocrity and futility, including six last-place finishes in the 1940s and 1950s. Joe Judge, Cecil Travis, Buddy Myer, Roy Sievers and Eddie Yost were other notable Senators players whose careers were spent in obscurity due to the team's lack of success.

Hitting streak

In baseball, a hitting streak is the number of consecutive official games in which a player appears and gets at least one base hit. According to the Official Baseball Rules, such a streak is not necessarily ended when a player has at least 1 plate appearance and no hits. A streak shall not be terminated if all official plate appearances result in a base on balls, hit by pitch, defensive interference or a sacrifice bunt. The streak shall terminate if the player has a sacrifice fly and no hit.Joe DiMaggio holds the Major League Baseball record with a streak of 56 consecutive games in 1941 which began on May 15 and ended July 17. DiMaggio hit .408 during his streak (91-for-223), with 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in.

List of Major League Baseball hit records

This is a list of Major League Baseball hit records.

Bolded names mean the player is still active and playing.

List of Minnesota Twins team records

This is a listing of statistical records and milestone achievements of the Minnesota Twins franchise.

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville Speedway is an International Speedway Corporation-owned NASCAR stock car racing short track located in Henry County, Ridgeway, Virginia, just to the south of Martinsville. At 0.526 miles (847 m) in length, it is the shortest track in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The track was also one of the first paved oval tracks in NASCAR, being built in 1947 by partners H. Clay Earles, Henry Lawrence and Sam Rice per Virginia House Joint Resolution No. 76 on the death of H. Clay Earles. (Whereas Clay Earles and his partners, Sam Rice and Henry Lawrence, opened the Martinsville Speedway in 1947 on a 30-acre site, one of the first of its kind in the nation ...) It is also the only race track that has been on the NASCAR circuit from its beginning in 1948. Along with this, Martinsville is the only NASCAR oval track on the entire NASCAR track circuit to have asphalt surfaces on the straightaways, then concrete to cover the turns.

Right fielder

A right fielder, abbreviated RF, is the outfielder in baseball or softball who plays defense in right field. Right field is the area of the outfield to the right of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the right fielder is assigned the number 9.

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