Game Rewind: Pirates vs Cardinals, May 31, 1905

On May 31, 1905, the Pittsburgh Pirates played their 40th game of the season. They were playing at home for just the 13th time that year, recently returning from their East Coast road trip. The Pirates had a 22-17 record, while their opponents, the St Louis Cardinals, had a 15-22 record. This was originally an off-day and the game they played was a makeup of a rain out on April 20th.

A crowd of 1,540 showed up on a Wednesday afternoon to watch the Pirates and Cardinals battle at Exposition Park. Patsy Flaherty was the starter for the Pirates, while Win Kellum was unknowingly making one of his final career starts for St Louis. The Cardinals had former Pirates first baseman and current Hall of Famer Jake Beckley batting cleanup. The Pirates had their own Hall of Famer in the four spot. Honus Wagner was at shortstop that day, while Hall of Fame left fielder Fred Clarke was batting second. The sixth place hitter was second baseman Claude Ritchey, who had a big day at the plate and a busy day in the field.

This game went on for two hours, which is a bit long by 1905 standards. It started out going quick, with neither team crossing the plate in the first three innings. The Pirates got on the board in the fourth inning when Tommy Leach drove a ball to center field that nearly rolled all of the way to the flagpole, 450 feet from home plate. Since this was the deadball era and Leach wasn’t much of a power hitter, the center fielder was playing him shallow. Leach could also scoot around the bases well and he recorded an inside-the-park home run. It was the first home run of the year and it ended up being a rewarding accomplishment (see photo below).

The Pirates took a 3-0 lead at that point and would expand upon that before this because a real shootout. Kellum was knocked out of the game and Wish Egan took his place. Pittsburgh added a run in the fifth, then two more in the sixth, after the Cardinals pushed their first run across the plate. The seventh inning was scoreless, sending this game to the eighth with a 6-1. It was said that Flaherty was pitching a brilliant game through seven innings, then everything fell apart.

The Cardinals had a total of four hits through the first seven innings. They then proceeded in the eighth inning to collect three singles, a double by Jake Beckley and a triple by Jack Dunleavy, which cleared the bases and made it a 6-5 game. The Pirates failed to add any insurance runs in the eighth and manager Fred Clarke stuck with Flaherty after his rough inning. That proved to be a bad decision.

Flaherty walked eighth place hitter Jack Warner to start the ninth, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Warner had 181 walks during his 14-year career. The Cardinals tried to play for the tie by having relief pitcher Wish Egan lay down a sacrifice bunt. However, Flaherty tried for the play at second base and threw the ball away. Lead-off hitter Danny Shay singled to load the bases and then Spike Shannon singled to tie the game. It was now a 6-6 tie and Clarke removed Flaherty in favor of star pitcher Deacon Phillippe. He inherited a tie score, with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth.

Phillippe allowed a fly ball from Dave Brain into center field, which was deep enough to bring home Egan with the go-ahead run. Beckley then came up and smacked a two-run triple to make it a 9-6 game. Phillippe managed to retire the next two batters, stranding Beckley at third and sending it to the bottom of the ninth.

The Pirates refused to go down without a fight. Bill Clancy singled to start the inning, then Claude Ritchey picked up his fourth hit of the game to put two men on. Tommy Leach walked and the Pirates had the tying run on base and no outs. The next two batters both made outs, but a sacrifice by Fred Carisch scored Clancy with the seventh run and a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Del Howard (batting for Phillippe) brought home Ritchey, making it a 9-8 game. Leach also moved up a base on each play and then he would score the tying run when Otis Clymer beat out a two-out bunt for a single. Clymer had three hits in the game and never got the ball out of the infield. That brought up Clarke, who sent the home fans home happy with a game-winning triple.

Honus Wagner appeared to have a quiet day according to this recap, but he was heavily involved in the win. He had a triple and a walk, scoring two runs. He also had seven chances in the field and put on quite a fielding exhibition according to the local press. Ritchey went 4-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. He had eight chances in the field and handled them all. The only Pittsburgh error was on the wild throw by Flaherty in the ninth.

This game provided something that you don’t see today. According to the old rules, if more than one pitcher was used, the official scorer had the discretion to award the pitching win. Obviously in today’s game, Phillippe would get the win, he came in with a 6-6 tie and all nine runs were Flaherty’s responsibility. However, Flaherty was awarded the win. That doesn’t explain how Phillippe got credited with a save (see boxscore below), which was not an official stat at the time, so it had to be retroactively awarded. Phillippe also got charged with three runs according to the boxscore, which wasn’t the case and needs to be updated. The paper from the day reported otherwise in the decision for the win, so I’m not exactly sure when it changed, but the press obviously didn’t have any final say in the decision, so it may have just been an assumption on their part.

Here’s the boxscore from Baseball-Reference.