"I was doing fine until they started bunting."
April 20, 2015 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Philadelphia — 1912. In a matter of hours, college student Allan Travers, 20, went from having never pitched a game in his life to starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.

A few days earlier, Ty Cobb took to the stands to beat a heckler missing a hand and three additional fingers. Cobb was suspended and his fellow teammates took up a strike, baseball’s first, to protest.
Detroit manager Hughie Jennings arranged for Travers and eight other recruits off the street to play in their place.
Travers earned $50, a career 15.75 ERA, and one strikeout (box).
Father Travers — priest, high school teacher, dean, died April 19, 1968.
posted by starman (29 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
And to this day, the Tigers remain the one team in the Majors that would end up in that kind of a mess.
posted by Naberius at 1:10 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Haha, I love that they got completely destroyed.
posted by resurrexit at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


As always, a reminder that Cobb was a fantastic player and a total piece of shit.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:22 PM on April 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


Hell, it's not so impressive that he pitched 24 runs, it's that he pitched one strikeout!
posted by codacorolla at 1:43 PM on April 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


they should have given him a tab of acid first, but I guess it was too early in the century for that
posted by thelonius at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Scabs!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:10 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was the year Detroit moved into shiny new Navin Field, later renamed Tiger Stadium. Of all the times to worry about your franchise.

(Also that year, the Red Sox opened Fenway Park.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2015




As always, a reminder that Cobb was a fantastic player and a total piece of shit.

"Cobb is a prick. But, God, can that man hit." -Babe Ruth
posted by jonmc at 2:51 PM on April 20, 2015


it's a pity no one had a time machine - the 2003 tigers could have used them
posted by pyramid termite at 2:59 PM on April 20, 2015



Here's the perfect mascot for the walk-on team.

Then they would have an AWESOME mascot.


I think people sometimes say "worst" when they actually mean "best."
posted by louche mustachio at 3:07 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can anyone recommend a good book with similar baseball stories? I love stuff like this!
posted by Fizz at 3:10 PM on April 20, 2015


One of the greatest things about baseball is that there is no end of stories like this.

I've been following baseball for 25 years and never heard this one in such detail. Great find!

Cobb's retort brought back memories of hearing Bob Feller exclaim, "I won't sign anymore, not even for kids with cancer," at an autograph session I attended. Somewhere in my parents' house, there's a picture of me and Bob Feller, I speechless and terrified, he unbelievably grouchy.
posted by paulcole at 3:14 PM on April 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the sabr.org link, they reference a book with an irresistible title. The Baseball Necrology. (with a home url of "baseballundertaker.org" -- also a great title)

This book contains a list of and brief biography about every (or nearly every) deceased Major League player, including Travers. Amazing. I do love baseball obsessiveness.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:26 PM on April 20, 2015


I love the old-timey viewpoint of the reporter writing that article about Cobb's assault and how much it feels like it's written by an enthusiastic blogger: "heaped abuse and vilification on Ty Cobb until the outraged player was provoked into administering a well-deserved beating"
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:43 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's the perfect mascot for the walk-on team.

That thing had to be copied from Fiend Folio (AD&D 1st Ed). Had to be.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:09 PM on April 20, 2015


As always, a reminder that Cobb was a fantastic player and a total piece of shit.

Not total. When I visited the Ty Cobb Museum in northeast Georgia last summer I learned that after leaving baseball he donated $100,000 (equivalent to almost $1 million today) of his Coca-Cola stock so the area could have a decent hospital. Today the entire healthcare system in that part of the state is named for him.

Also, many of the worst things people believe about Cobb — including that he once murdered somebody — were made up by his biographer, Al Stump, who at the very least was a bad choice to do the job.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:56 PM on April 20, 2015


The Al Stump stories are legend. The Baseball Hall o' Fame has a Cobb "diary" that Stump forged. Stump would also do things like go to yard sales, buy stuff and put Cobb's name on it, then sell it as 'Cobb Memorobilia'.

But beating the fan in the stands, and other non-Stump stories still paint Cobb as a flaming asshole.
posted by dfm500 at 8:27 PM on April 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


One other thing (I couldn't edit my comment in time):

Stump was a source for this article:

"Stump, Al. Cobb. Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1994."
posted by dfm500 at 8:33 PM on April 20, 2015


From the sabr.org link, they reference a book with an irresistible title. The Baseball Necrology. (with a home url of "baseballundertaker.org" -- also a great title)

Which should clearly be shelved next to Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-Related Fatalities, 1862-2007.

Side note: the bio of the authors for The Baseball Necrology is kind of adorable.
posted by zamboni at 6:04 AM on April 21, 2015


An intriguing bit from the Wikipedia article: "Travers does not, as is often reported, hold the major league record for most hits or runs allowed in a game, although he does hold the major league record for earned runs in a single major league game. The Cleveland Blues' Dave Rowe, who was primarily an outfielder, gave up 35 runs (12 earned) on 29 hits in a game played on July 24, 1882." That must have been quite a game; I wonder what the story was?
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Languagehat, John Thorn (official historian of MLB, co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball, etc.) is on Twitter, and will answer these types of questions. You may want to tweet it at him.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:35 AM on April 21, 2015


The Glory of Their Times has some excellent old time baseball stories by the men who played the game for the love of it.
posted by any major dude at 7:54 AM on April 21, 2015


The Cleveland Blues' Dave Rowe, who was primarily an outfielder, gave up 35 runs (12 earned) on 29 hits in a game played on July 24, 1882." That must have been quite a game; I wonder what the story was?

The folklore (unconfirmed as there isn't a box score) is that both of Cleveland's actual pitchers needed the day off and effectively everyone wrote the game off when they started Rowe (and several bench guys.) In addition to the hits, the Blues made 9 positional errors in 9 innings and lost 35-4.

It wasn't totally uncommon for teams to burn games back then when their pitchers were toast.
posted by buoys in the hood at 9:15 AM on April 21, 2015


My favorite Tiger's baseball story (from wikipedia):

When Leo Durocher, then an infielder with the Yankees, saw [the Tiger's 256 lb Outfielder Bob "Fats"] Fothergill at bat for the first time he called time and protested to the plate umpire that Fothergill was "illegal!" Everybody stopped, baffled at Durocher's words. He continued, "Both those men can't bat at once!" The umpires ordered Durocher to return to his position and stop delaying the game. But Fothergill was so angry he glared at Durocher and struck out on three pitches, chasing Durocher into the dugout at the end of the inning.
posted by creade at 11:19 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


> The Glory of Their Times has some excellent old time baseball stories by the men who played the game for the love of it.

It's wonderful, and I highly recommend the audio version, where you can here the old-time voices telling the stories.
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on April 21, 2015


I was talking to a friend about this, and he reminded me of one of the strangest baseball stories I've ever heard: Eddie Gaedel, the three foot seven pinch hitter. Very much exploitative, but a bold move by the manager none-the-less. You don't see much baseball as spectacle these days, which is probably for the best.
posted by codacorolla at 6:18 PM on April 21, 2015


James Thurber took the Eddie Gaedel story and twisted the reality into a fictional masterpiece. You could look it up.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:41 PM on April 21, 2015


Wait a minute. It looks like Thurber's story was published 10 years before Gaedel's famous pinch hit appearance. I always thought it was the other way around.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:45 PM on April 21, 2015


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