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Random Game Callback, July 20, 1906
2006-07-20 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

Harry Steinfeldt, a man who would live on in baseball lore as "the other guy", had a big 2-run triple in the eighth inning as the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the New York Giants, 6-3, before a crowd of about 12,000 at the West Side Grounds in Chicago.

Steinfeldt was the third baseman for the Cubs for much of the time when the shorstop, second baseman, and first baseman were Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance. Tom Simon has a biography of Steinfeldt's life.

The first place Cubs, five up on the Giants, were managed by Chance, who had taken over for Frank Selee in 1905. Chance started what amounted to his #5 starter (or at least the pitcher with the fifth most starts), Jack Taylor. The Giants, led by the famous John McGraw, had Christy Mathewson on the hill.

Taylor got off to a bad start, hitting leadoff man and right fielder Roger Bresnahan with a pitch. (Bresnahan is better known as a catcher, but he played all over the diamond and pitched as well). Left fielder Spike Shannon hit into a force play. Center fielder Cy Seymour singled and first baseman Dan McGann walked to load the bases. Third baseman Art Devlin singled in Shannon and Seymour. Shortstop Bill Dahlen walked to load the bases and second baseman Sammy Strang hit a scoring fly ball and the Giants were up 3-0 before the Cubs got a chance at bat.

Chicago benefited from a hit batter to score its first run. Steinfeldt was hit by a Mathewson offering to lead off the inning. Tinker hit a grounder to Dahlen that he couldn't handle and two were on with no outs. Evers sacrificed and catcher Johnny Kling hit a scoring fly ball of his own to make it 3-1 New York.

Left fielder Jimmy Sheckard provided Chicago's next run. He drew a walk from Mathewson, stole second and came around to score on a single by Chance. Meanwhile, Taylor had shut down the Giants after the first.

In the top of the eighth, the Giants got runners to second and third with no outs, but failed to score. Two runners were thrown out at the plate on ground balls to the infield.

Center fielder Jimmy Slagle led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and Sheckard sacrificed. Right fielder Frank Schulte lined one back to the box that Mathewson was able to snare for the first out. Chance drew a walk to set the stage for Steinfeldt.

Steinfeldt got ahead in the count against Mathewson and drilled a 3-1 pitch from Mathewson up the gap in right-center. Seymour and Bresnahan desperately tried to cut the ball off, but it rolled all the way to the seats and Slagle and Chance scored while Steinfeldt chugged into third. Tinker and Evers followed with singles combined with an error by New York catcher Frank Bowerman to let two more runs come in to make the score 6-3. Taylor retired the Giants in the ninth for the win and the Cubs had stretched their lead to six games.

There wouldn't be many tough games for the Cubs in 1906. They won the National League pennant by 20 games over the Giants with an otherworldly 116-36 record, a .763 winning percentage. Last place Boston finished 66 1/2 games out of first, the worst mark of the 20th century. No other National League has ever come within five games of that total. (The 1909 Pirates won 110 games.) Only the 2001 Seattle Mariners matched that total and they played in 10 extra games.

The Cubs had a staff ERA of 1.75 in 1906 with Hall of Famer Mordecai Brown going 26-6 with a 1.04 ERA. Taylor pitched in just 17 games, but he had a 12-3 record with a 1.83 ERA. The Cubs lead the league in scoring with 705 runs and gave up just 381. From August 1 until the end of the season, the Cubs were 52-8. Steinfeldt led the league in hits with 176 and RBI with 83 (tied with Jim Nealon of Pittsburgh). Steinfeldt finished 12 points behind Honus Wagner in the batting race with a .327 mark.

The Giants had won the World Series in 1905, but they were no match for the Cubs this season. Mathewson had what was a subpar season for him with a 22-12 record and a 2.97 ERA. The league ERA was 2.62. Seymour, who had one of the greatest seasons of the decade with Cincinnati in 1905, had just been acquired a week before this game after falling into disfavor there as his numbers declined. Seymour played well for the Giants in 1906, but not well enough this season.

It would have been fitting if the team with the best winning percentage of the 20th Century wrapped up their season with a win in the World Series. But that didn't happen. The Cubs faced their crosstown rivals, the White Sox, a team dubbed "the Hitless Wonders" because of its .230 team batting average and seven home runs. But the White Sox took the series in six games. After getting just 11 hits in the first four games, the White Sox had 26 of them in the last two games. A fill-in third baseman, George Rohe, was the surprise hero for the White Sox with 7 hits in 21 at bats, including a double and two triples.

The Cubs would go on to win the pennant again in 1907, 1908, and 1910 and win the World Series over Detroit in 1907 and 1908, but lose to Philadelphia in 1910. The 1906-08 Cubs hold the major league record for most games won in a 3-year span, 322.

Sources: Chicago Tribune,, Retrosheet, SABR Bioproject.

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