The Pittsburgh Pirates took on the St Louis Cardinals in a doubleheader on September 29, 1921 at Sportsman’s Park. The Cardinals won game one in ten innings on a walk-off home run from former Pirate, Joe Schultz. Game two had a slight change to the Pirates lineup, which marked the start of a great career.
If you could go back in time to watch this game, you would get to see six future Hall of Famers on the field. Two were umpiring the contest, Bill Klem and former Alleghenys pitcher Hank O’Day. Two were veterans batting 2-3 in the Pirates lineup, center fielder Max Carey and shortstop Rabbit Maranville. The man batting fourth for the Cardinals that day was the man who is perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter of all-time, Rogers Hornsby. The sixth future Hall of Famer is the reason I’m posting this article today. In right field that day for the Pirates was Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler, a 23-year-old batting fourth and making his Major League debut.
One important thing to know at this time is that the stadiums didn’t have lights, it was starting to get darker earlier due to the time of year, and they didn’t compensate for those two things by starting the games earlier. The first game only took an hour and 55 minutes to play. The breaks between doubleheaders were shorter back then than they are now, but that still had the two teams racing against the clock to get a second game in on time. At lot of times during late-season doubleheaders in the early years of baseball, they just wanted to make sure they got an official game in and didn’t worry about playing a full nine innings. So you will see a bunch of six-seven-eight inning games in the old results late in the year.
This game started off with a single by lead-off hitter Carson Bigbee. He was quickly erased on a double play ball off of the bat of Max Carey. Rabbit Manranville fouled out to first base to end the top of the first.
Pirates pitcher Johnny Morrison had a rough start to the first inning. He allowed a single, steal, walk, RBI single and a walk, to the first four hitters. He settled down with a double play ball, but hit the next batter, before getting a ground out to end the inning. Morrison was able to limit the damage to one run, despite allowing five base runners in the inning.
Kiki Cuyler led off the second inning and it wasn’t a memorable first at-bat. He popped out to the catcher for the first out. Possum Whitted collected a two-out single, but that was it for the Pirates in the second.
The bottom of the second and top of the third saw both teams send their 8-9-1 hitters to the plate, and both sides went down in order. The Cardinals had two infield pop ups and a fly out, while the Pirates bottom two both struck out, before Bigbee grounded out to third base to end the inning.
The Cardinals got the lead-off man on in the third when Carson Bigbee dropped a fly ball. However, a sacrifice bunt, fielder’s choice and a strikeout, ended the inning without damage.
In the fourth, the Pirates had a promising start. Carey singled and stole second base. Maranville flew out to left field, Cuyler whiffed in his second at-bat, and George Cutshaw grounded out. Carey never moved from second base.
Morrison allowed a lead-off single in the fourth and the Cardinals played small ball again, moving the runner up on a sacrifice. It worked this time, as pitcher Bill Sherdel singled to center field to make it 2-0. If you’re keeping track, that was the eighth place hitter bunting a runner up for the pitcher and it worked.
The fifth inning for the Pirates saw a two-out single by Tony Brottem, before Morrison ended the inning with a ball hit right back to his mound opponent.
Small ball worked great for the Cardinals, especially when the lead-off batter is walked. In the fifth, Morrison gave a free pass to Jack Fournier, who moved to second base on a bunt, then scored on a two-out single from Heinie Mueller to make it 3-0.
It was starting to get dark at this point, so the Pirates needed to rally, and they had the top of their order coming up. Carson Bigbee doubled to start the inning. Max Carey hit a deep drive to left field, which was caught, but it allowed Bigbee to move up a base. Maranville lined out to center field, deep enough to get the Pirates on the board. Cuyler came up for the third time and grounded to third base, which looked like it would end the inning, but the third baseman booted it for an error. George Cutshaw had a chance to tie the game, but he grounded out for the final out.
When the half inning ended, home plate umpire Bill Klem declared that it was too dark to continue on and the game was called. St Louis had won 3-1 in a game that was played in just 59 minutes. Kiki Cuyler’s first MLB game lasted a mere 5 1/2 innings. He finished 0-for-3 at the plate and had just one chance in the field, a second inning fly ball off of the bat of Jack Smith. Except for reaching on the error to give the Pirates a chance to tie the game with darkness setting in, it was a rather uneventful debut. Cuyler would have plenty of big games in the future, but this ended up being his only game for the Pirates during the 1921 season.
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.