Friday, May 17, 2013

Comical Deadball Moments (Concluded)

            Called up from the South Atlantic League in June of 1919, first baseman Dick Burrus became confused with directions given by Manager Connie Mack to Shibe Park. Lost in Trenton, Burrus was late showing up at the ballpark. By the time he dressed and reported for duty, the game was already underway. He entered the Philly dugout in time to see one of his new teammates smash a majestic homer. “What a hit!” Burrus said to Connie Mack. “Who was that player?” “That was George Burns,” Mack said soberly, “The fellow you are going to replace.” 

            Following a spring training game at Fresno, members of the Cubs attended a professional boxing match along with several of their minor league opponents.  The crowd grew restless when one of the combatants failed to show and, looking to avoid an unpleasant scene, the promoter began combing the audience for potential challengers. Orvie Overall, who had pitched for Tacoma that day and was listed at six-foot-two, 214 pounds, agreed to trade blows, but despite his imposing size, he was paid no respect. “I’ll give you two rounds,” the experienced fighter said dubiously. To everyone's surprise, Overall literally knocked the man out of the ring. He would later demonstrate his pitching prowess by winning at least 15 games every year for the Reds and Cubs from 1905 through 1909.  

In the spring of 1911, the Cubs played an exhibition game in Hattiesburg, Kentucky. Only a few star players were used and Lew Richie was doubling as a pitcher/manager. The local fans wanted to see Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown pitch and began clamoring from the stands. A crowd of two thousand went wild when he finally took the hill in the ninth. Before the first offering was made, outfielders Jimmy Sheckard and Solly Hofman began singing an improvised tune, using their hats as banjos. “Brownie’s going to fan this man, yes, Brownie’s going to fan this man!” They serenaded the crowd through the entire frame as the marquee hurler retired the side on strikes.

 During a 1917 contest between the Reds and Giants, umpire Bill Byron ejected a total of six players from the proceedings. Cincinnati catcher Ivy Wingo was among the first to go after spouting a stream of verbal abuse from the bench. When back-up receiver Tommy Clark stepped out of line and got tossed several innings later, the Reds again found themselves in need of a backstop. With Byron still engaged in a heated debate, Wingo donned his equipment and snuck back onto the field. Pitcher Clarence Mitchell got in a few warm-up tosses before the man in blue realized what was going on. “I put you out of this game an hour ago and here you are again!” Byron shouted angrily. “Get out of this game and out of this park!” Wingo was grinning from ear to ear as he headed toward the clubhouse.

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