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2008-05-09 06:00
by Bob Timmermann

Today is the 92nd anniversary of the walkingest game in major league history. At Shibe Park, the Tigers and Athletics got together for a game where pitches missed the strike zone at a record rate. Just how many walks were there in the game? You'll have to read after the jump.


In a 16-2 win by the Tigers, the two teams combined for a mind-numbing 30 walks. A trio of Philadelphia pitchers walked 18 and two Tigers pitchers walked 12. In addition to the 18 walks, the Tigers got 12 hits and the Athletics committed five errors. The Athletics tossed in a wild pitch for good measure.

The 1916 Athletics were one of the worst teams of the 20th Century. They may have been the worst. Athletics owner/manager/old coot Connie Mack (he was born an old coot, apparently his family had a genetic predisposition to old cootism) had gutted his roster after losing the 1914 World Series to the Braves. The 1915 A's turned in a 43-109 season. The 1916 team was even worse and would finish 36-117. The A's ended up 54 1/2 games out of first place.

Jack Nabors got the start for Philadelphia. Nabors gave up four hits, walked three, committed two errors and gave up four earned runs before Mack pulled him (supposedly Mack just whistled to tell his pitchers to leave) in favor of Harry Weaver, who walked three more, gave up two hits, threw a wild pitch, and gave up four earned runs to finish up the inning. The Tigers had an unearned run somewhere in the mix as they lead 9-0 after two innings.

Detroit manager Hughie Jennings started 21-year old George Cunningham. Despite getting a 9-run lead, Cunningham couldn't stick around as he walked six in just 2 1/3 innings of work. Despite Cunningham not giving up a hit, Jennings pulled his starter and brought in Bernie Boland who pitched the rest of the game, giving up three hits but walking six more. Reserve outfielder Bill Stellbauer had two of the hits, which were a double and a triple. Stellbauer would be out of the majors in a month.

Carl Ray was Mack's choice to finish out the rest of the game. In what would be his last major league appearance, Ray hung around to walk 12 Tigers hitters as well as giving up six hits and seven runs (five earned).

The Athletics got 15 runners on base, but somehow left just 2, while scoring 2 runs. The Tigers got 33 runners on base, scored 16 of them, left 13. The Tigers hit into two double plays and obviously had to have some runners thrown out on the bases. I'm really afraid to find out what happened to the other Athletics runners who reached base. (It could be a typo in the New York Times box score.)

There has been one other game in the majors to have a total of 30 walks, but it took 20 innings spread over a week and two different cities to pick up that many. The Washington Senators (11) and the Cleveland Indians (19) did the trick on September 14, 1971 (in Cleveland) and September 20 (in D.C.). That game took 6:35 of game time to play.

Back in 1916, how long did a game with 18 runs and 30 walks take? 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The only other team to walk 18 batters in a 9-inning game was the Boston Red Sox on May 20, 1948. Mickey Harris (7 in 1 1/3 innings) and Mickey McDermott (11 in 6 2/3 innings) in a 13-4 loss at Cleveland. Indians starter Bob Lemon walked just five. That game took just 2:33 to play.

In recent memory, Cardinals pitchers walked 16 Rockies batters in a game at Mile High Stadium on July 16, 1994.



2008-05-09 08:18:56
1.   Woden325
By an interesting coincidence, one of my favorite photo-blogs, Shorpy, has a lovely picture of the A's dugout prior to the first game of the 1914 World Series.
2008-05-09 09:25:21
2.   Sushirabbit
1, were bats community property back then? Seems like it would be a pain to pickout your own bat out of that collection in front of the dugout.
2008-05-09 11:04:09
3.   bobsbrother
I'd be a bit hesitant to chase a pop fly in front of the A's dugout in that picture.
2008-05-09 11:24:34
4.   Chyll Will
3 Tanglefoot!

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