Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fit to be Tied

Earlier this year, Sophie, our four year old granddaughter, was regaling us with the story of how her parents bought her three books at a local bookstore.  Demonstrating she heard the message which accompanied the purchase, she observed "That's a lot of books."  How many books constitutes "a lot" may be debatable, but there is no question there are "a lot" of baseball games in a major league season.  In 2016, 30 major league teams played some 2,430 regular season games assuming every game was played.  Even back in the days of 16 teams there still over 1,200 games played in the course of the 154 game schedule.  Given that number of games, there has to be something special about any one game to make it stand out, especially years later.  Usually that means games which were crucial in the pennant race or record setting performances like no-hitters and perfect games.  It was interesting, therefore, that in looking through the Spalding Guide for 1918 I found an entire page devoted to a game played eight years earlier in August of 1910.  Not only did the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Brooklyn Superbas (as they were called then) not matter in the pennant race or see a record setting performance, there was no winner or loser.  Rather the game, which was the second half of a doubleheader, ended as an 8-8 tie, called on account of darkness, an all too frequent occurrence in the days before lights.  

What made the game so special?  Below is the box score as it appeared the next day in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the box score reflects what made game unique, but because the Eagle box scores included more information than most, the answer is somewhat obscure, but it's there.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle - 8-14-1910

The next box score from the Pittsburgh Press gives a clearer picture of the answer, but there is one difference from what appeared in the Spalding Guide which still hides to some degree the unique feature of this otherwise more than a little insignificant game.

Pittsburgh Press - August 14, 1910

Finally, there is the below box score from the Pittsburgh Post which hopefully shows why this was a game worth remembering even though there was no winner or loser.  According to this version not only did the two teams score the same number of runs, they also had the same number of at bats, hits, assists and errors. 

Pittsburgh Post - August 14, 1910

Interestingly the box score which appeared in the Spalding Guide is slightly different from the above, reporting each team with one less assist, but still an equal number.  In addition the account in the Guide also mentioned that each team used 10 players, including two pitchers, who had the same number of strike outs, walks, passed balls and hit batsman.  Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, none of the three newspapers seems to have picked up on the statistical oddity both in the game account or in the next few days.   But someone was paying attention even if it was years later otherwise this quite unique game, in spite of there being no result, would have been lost to history.

Spalding Guide - 1918 

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