Game Rewind: Pirates vs Phillies, May 24, 1922

On May 24, 1922, the Pittsburgh Pirates were hosting the Philadelphia Phillies at Forbes Field. The two teams were playing the final game of a three-game series. The Pirates won game one 5-0, with Wilbur Cooper throwing a complete game shutout. Pittsburgh won the second contest 10-3, as Max Carey reached base in all five plate appearances and scored three runs. Game three on Wednesday the 24th saw Hal Carlson take the mound for the 18-12 Pirates. He had a 5-2 record coming into the day. The Phillies were sending out right-hander Jimmy Ring, who had a 4-3 record for a team that sat in seventh place with an 11-18 record. He got knocked out of his last start in Cincinnati five days earlier in the first inning.

Approximately 5,000 fans showed up for the series finale, including what was described as about 1,800 members of the State Bankers Association. They saw a game with some offense and a crazy finish by today’s standards. The Pirates lineup that day had Hall of Famers Rabbit Maranville and Max Carey in the top two spots and another Hall of Famer, Pie Traynor, in the fifth spot. The play-by-play below comes from a few sources from the following day’s papers, though The Gazette Times out of Pittsburgh provided much of the detail, as they posted a full play-by-play of the game, along with a separate detailed recap and a large section of game notes.

In the top of the first, lead-off hitter Bevo LeBourveau reached on a hard single that hit off of Pie Traynor at third base. Russ Wrightstone followed with another hard hit ball, which was caught by Carson Bigbee in deep left. Carlson got a ground out to second base and a fly ball to left field to end the inning.

In the bottom of the frame, Rabbit Maranville led off with a double, then he scored from second base on a wild pitch from Ring. The rest of the inning went quickly with the next three batters going down in order, including Max Carey.

The final out was made on a grounder to shortstop Art Fletcher by Jewel Ens. There are two interesting notes there. Fletcher is one of the greatest defensive players of all-time. He put up 28.5 dWAR over his final ten seasons in the majors. His first two years were partial seasons and resulted in -0.2 dWAR. That 28.3 total is the 12th highest total in baseball history and everyone ahead of him put in much more MLB time. The second interesting note is that Jewel Ens was batting cleanup that day. He was a 32-year-old rookie who finished with one career homer in the majors. This was his 16th big league start and he batted fourth in all of those games. Not your typical cleanup man.

Back to the game and we pick up the action in the second inning. The Phillies got two men on base in the inning, but couldn’t score a run. Fletcher reached on a walk, then moved to second base on an error by Carlson that allowed Roy Leslie to reach first with one out. Carlson got a fly ball to center and then struck out his mound opponent to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Pie Traynor grounded out to second base to start the inning. Walter Mueller and Charlie Grimm hit back-to-back singles, which brought up catcher Johnny Gooch. He hit a ball towards second base that took a fortuitous bounce for the Pirates and went for a double that brought in two runs, on what appeared to be a double play ball that would have ended the inning. After Carlson grounded out, the right-handed hitting Maranville came up and tripled down the right field line to make it 4-0. His double in the first inning was a liner down the left field line. Max Carey walked to put runners on the corners, but Carson Bigbee couldn’t extend the lead, lifting a fly ball to center field.

In the third frame, lead-off hitter LaBourveau reached base again, but this time it resulted in a run. He tripled and scored on a Wrightstone single. Carlson quickly settled down and retired the final three hitters. The Pirates got a bit of a break here in that center fielder Cy Williams left the game for a pinch-hitter. He was one of the premier sluggers of the day, a four-time National League home run champ. He was dealing with a bad back this day and had to leave early.

In the bottom of the third, the Pirates got another run on a two-out single from Mueller, followed by a triple from Grimm. They held a 5-1 lead going into the fourth. Both teams put runners on in the inning, with Carlson allowing a single to Leslie and Maranville reaching on an error, but neither team could score a run. The Phillies went down in order in the fifth, as Carlson was able to keep LaBourveau off base for the first time.

The Pirates extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth, which started on a ground out by Traynor. Mueller and Grimm got things going on back-to-back singles. The Phillies tried to throw Mueller out at third, but he was safe and Grimm moved up to second on the throw. With a base open, Johnny Gooch was intentionally walked to get to Carlson. He grounded out to third base, but the only play for the Phillies was at first base, so Mueller scored and two men were in scoring position. The Pirates got another gift from Ring, whose wild pitch brought in their seventh run. Maranville and Carey walked to load the bases, which ended the day for Ring and brought on lefty Lerton Pinto, who made his big league debut the day before and threw two shutout innings. Pinto walked Bigbee to make it 8-1, then got Jewel Ens to fly to center field to end the inning.

In the sixth, Carlson allowed a two-out single to Fletcher, but nothing more. The combo of Mueller and Grimm once again came through for the Pirates after Traynor made the first out of the inning. Mueller singled for his fourth hit of the game. He came all of the way around from first base on a double by Grimm, who also collected his fourth hit.

In the seventh, the Phillies put two runners on and couldn’t get a run home. Carlson wasn’t strong in this game, but he got the key outs. He allowed back-to-back singles to Pinto and LaBourveau with one out, then got a grounder back to the box, followed by a fly ball to center field to end the inning and keep it 9-1. In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates were limited to a single by Bigbee, but there was an interesting play as Carey hit a shot to second base that was fielded barehanded by Frank Parkinson for the out.

The game moved to the eighth and the first two batters went down without a fight. Fletcher then tripled and scored when the relay throw from Charlie Grimm bounced away from Pie Traynor. Roy Leslie followed with a single, then catcher Butch Henline committed the cardinal sin of hitting a home run, which of course killed the rally. The Phillies scored three runs to make it a 9-4 game.

In the bottom of the eighth, Pinto retired the first two batters. Jim Mattox went behind the plate for Johnny Gooch in the seventh with the one-sided score. He got his first at-bat in the eighth and connected on his first career triple. Carlson gave himself some extra breathing room with an RBI single. After a walk to Maranville, Carey singled to left field to bring in Carlson to make it 11-4. Bigbee grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

If you’re wondering about the exciting conclusion to this game, there was none. The final play of the game was a ground out to shortstop by the Pirates. In most instances, that would mean a loss. There was no issue with the weather this day, or with darkness, which would cause many games during those days to be cut short. Instead, the Pirates had a train to catch to St Louis for a game the next afternoon, so they just called the contest as final after eight innings. That happened on occasion back in the day as well, but the interesting part here is that the game time was an hour and 43 minutes, so it’s not like they were running long. It was a win for the Pirates though and they moved to 19-12 at that point, just one game out of first place at the time.

The Pirates got some production from their top two hitters in the lineup, but the other Hall of Famer had a rough day, including the two plays in the field that he couldn’t complete. Maranville went 2-for-4 with two walks, a run scored and an RBI. Carey was 1-for-3 with two walks and a sacrifice hit. Pie Traynor had an 0-for-5 day at the plate. He had 5+ at-bats in a game 31 times in 1922 and this was the first of two 0-for-5 days he had all season.