On June 4, 1925, the Pittsburgh Pirates took on the Philadelphia Phillies at Forbes Field in a Thursday day game. The day prior, the Pirates played an exhibition game against a team from Beaver Falls and won 7-0. Pie Traynor homered and Max Carey had three hits, but their future fellow Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler was held without a hit. Cuyler would make up for that on June 4th against Philadelphia.
The Pirates won their second World Series title in 1925. However, they didn’t get off to a great start that season. Going into this particular game, they had a 21-18 record. That was just barely ahead of their cross-state rivals, who were coming into the day with a 20-20 record. One constant in the early part of the season was pitcher Lee Meadows, who had a 6-2 record through the end of May. He was on the mound for the Pirates in this contest, going up against Jack Knight, who was also doing well early with a 4-1 record.
Meadows breezed through the first, getting two grounders to shortstop and a strikeout. Knight started off the same with two ground outs, but Kiki Cuyler got into the hit column right away with an inside-the-park home run, taking advantage of the spacious center field at Forbes.
Meadows got into a little trouble in the second, but some poor base running helped him out. Nelson “Chicken” Hawks doubled, then got thrown out at third base on a fielder’s choice. Meadows hit the next batter to put two men on, but got out of the inning without a run.
The Pirates struck again in the second frame. Carson Bigbee and George Grantham started the inning off with back-to-back singles. Earl Smith brought them both in with a double to left field. The next three batters all made outs, so the Pirates were unable to break the game open.
The Phillies got on the board in the third with three straight singles to make it 4-1. It looked like it could get worse, but Cuyler made a great grab on a line drive to deep right field, then doubled off the runner on second base to end the inning.
The Pirates couldn’t pile on in the second, but they only had to wait one inning to give Meadows a comfortable lead. Cuyler walked to start the inning. Glenn Wright reached on an error, then Pie Traynor bunted them both into scoring position. A wild pitch got away from the Phillies catcher and allowed both runners to score. Bigbee doubled, moved to third on a Grantham single, then scored on a ground out by Earl Smith. It was 7-1 at that point and Jack Knight was chased from the game early.
After a 1-2-3 fourth, the Pirates went back on the offensive. Walks to Max Carey and Glenn Wright, along with an Eddie Moore single, loaded the bases. Pie Traynor cleared them with a double to right field, though the third run scored on a throwing error, so Traynor got credit for two RBIs. It was 10-1 at that point.
Meadows had a rough fifth inning, yet managed to limit the damage to one run. He started the inning off with two singles, then two walks brought in the run. He worked out of a one-out, bases loaded situation to keep it a 10-2 game. The Pirates were held scoreless for the first time in the fifth.
After the Phillies went down in the sixth, the Pittsburgh bats woke up from their one-inning slumber. Cuyler singled, stole second and scored on a Bigbee single. Grantham tripled to make it a 12-2 game. The Phillies scored a run in the seventh in an inning that went single, strikeout, single, strikeout, single.
This was already a comfortable lead for Meadows, even if he wasn’t exactly cruising through the start. The bottom of the seventh inning proved to be the dagger in the heart of the Phillies. Facing the third Philadelphia pitcher of the day, the Pirates started the inning with a Meadows single, Carey walk and an RBI single from Eddie Moore. Cuyler collected his third hit of the day, scoring Carey and Moore with a two-run triple. Pie Traynor would make it 16-3 with a single that scored Cuyler.
At this point, the scoring was done. The only thing to watch was whether or not Cuyler would get a chance to hit again and go for the cycle. With the Pirates up big at home, he needed at least one runner to get on ahead of him in the eighth inning to get to the plate. Max Carey provided that hope with a one-out single. Cuyler came through with a double to right field to complete the feat. It was the eighth cycle in team history. The last cycle for the Pirates came two years earlier when Pie Traynor did it against the Phillies.
The local paper mentioned all of the components of the cycle, but never actually used the word cycle in the story. Cuyler of course got the headline, which read “Pirates Gardener Gets Homer, Triple, Double, Single to Help Down Quakers”.
The Pirates recorded 18 hits in the game. Cuyler not only had the four hits, he also walked, stole a base and picked up an outfield assist. George Grantham and Carson Bigbee each had three hits. Pie Traynor and Earl Smith drove in three runs each. Max Carey had three walks and a single. Meadows went the distance for his seventh win, on his way to 19 wins on the year.
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Retrosheet.