Ready for Opening Day? It won't be as remarkable as the first one when Detroit had a 10-run rally in the ninth inning to win

Detroit had not been the home to a major-league baseball team since 1888, when the Detroit Wolverines played in the National League. It became a major-league city again in 1901 when baseball added a second major league to the National League. It was the American League, and the Detroit Tigers were a charter member.

The season was supposed to begin on April 24, but inclement weather postponed three of the four scheduled games, including the game at Detroit. It was rescheduled for the following day, and on Thursday afternoon, April 25, 1901, the Detroit Tigers played as a major-league team for the first time.

The opponents were the Milwaukee Brewers, but they are not the same Milwaukee Brewers who are playing today. Those Milwaukee Brewers became the St. Louis Browns in 1902. The franchise left St. Louis after the 1953 season and became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, and the franchise has remained in Baltimore.

The game was played at Bennett Park. It was located on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull – the same site as Tiger Stadium. However, at Bennett Park, home plate was where the right-field corner was at Tiger Stadium. Bennett Park was named for former Detroit Wolverines catcher Charlie Bennett, who lost a leg after he slipped trying to board a train that was departing a station in Kansas. Bennett’s leg landed over the track, and the train ran over it.

Bennett had been one of the most popular players with the Wolverines and was a fine player who some feel deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. He took part in the first-pitcher ceremonies to open the season in Detroit every year until 1927, the year of his death.

The Opening Day festivities started in the morning with a street parade, featuring the Tigers decked out in red coats accompanied by city officials and various invited guests.

The first casualty was a fan. During practice, Tiger shortstop Kid Elberfeld overthrew Pop Dillon at first base, and the ball hit one of the spectators who was on the field. He was taken away bleeding from the mouth.

The Tigers’ mascot, “Oom Paul,” a dog owned by J.B. Beattie, was brought out and placed at home plate. The dog was considered a good-luck charm for the Tigers, who were 21-1 in 1900 as members of the then minor-league American League when “Oom Paul” was present.

Former Judge Byron S. Waite made a speech and presented a cup to owner Jimmy Burns and manager George Stallings, who owned a share of the club. Jacob J. Haarar, president of the common council, threw out the first pitch Bennett.

Finally, it was time for baseball.

An overflow crowd of 10,023 jammed Bennett Park for the first major-league game in Tigers history. But many of them were not around for one of the most incredible ninth-inning comebacks in baseball history.

Milwaukee jumped on Tigers rookie starting pitcher Roscoe Miller, scoring seven runs off him in two and one-third innings before Emil Frisk came on in relief. Although Miller gave up six hits and walked one, he didn’t get any help from the defense. Elberfeld made three errors in the first three innings, including one on a ground ball by rookie center fielder Irv Waldron in the first at-bat of the game.

The Tigers went into the bottom of the fourth trailing 7-0 but got two of them back on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Dillon and Elberfeld. Kid Gleason, who later would be known as the manager of the 1919 Chicago White Sox – the team made famous in the Black Sox Scandal for throwing the World Series, added a run-scoring double in the fifth as the Tigers cut Milwaukee’s lead to 7-3. The Brewers seemingly put the game away with three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to build a 13-3 lead.

Kid Nance singled in Dillon, who had doubled, in the bottom of the eighth to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 13-4, and Bennett Park begin to empty.

What happened next defied logic.

Trailing 13-4, the Tigers opened the ninth inning with six consecutive hits: A double by Doc Casey, a single by Jimmy Barrett, a run-scoring single by Gleason made it 13-5. A run-scoring double by Ducky Holmes made it 13-6, and a two-run double by Dillon made it 13-8. Elberfeld added a run-scoring double, and it was 13-9 and maybe a little interesting.

Milwaukee player-manager Hugh Duffy decided to pull left-handed relief pitcher Pete Dowling and replace him with right-handed reliever Bert Husting. The Brewers still led by four runs, and the Tigers had Elberfeld on second with nobody out.

Husting uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Elberfeld to advance to third, and retired Nance on a grounder as Elberfeld remained at third. At that point, the crowd that circled behind the outfielders (there was no outfield wall at Bennett Park and fans were allowed to stand a reasonable distance behind the outfielders) began to inch closer, and the game was delayed as some of the Tigers players had to urge the fans to retreat.

Husting then walked catcher Fritz Buelow, and Frisk, the Tigers’ pitcher, drove home Elberfeld with a single to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 13-10, still with just one out. The Detroit Free Press reported that at this point of the game the fans were throwing hats and coats onto the field as they cheered the rally.

Casey, who had started the inning with a base hit, beat out a bunt to load the bases, but Barrett was called out on strikes. The bases remained loaded, but the Tigers trailed 13-10 with two out. Gleason then hit a hard grounder to Brewers third baseman Jimmy Burke, who made an error that allowed a run to score and slice Milwaukee’s lead to 13-11. If Burke had made that play, the game would have been over.

Holmes followed with a slow roller to Burke and beat it out for a hit as Frisk crossed the plate to bring the Tigers within one run at 13-12. Dillon, who already had collected three doubles in the game, came to bat. He delivered again, smashing the ball over the head of left-fielder Bill Hallman for a double, scoring Casey with the tying run and Gleason with the game-winning run.

The Detroit Free Press described the scene like this: “Dillon was the hero of the day and pandemonium broke loose when he made his last hit. The crowd surged out onto the field, and everybody wanted to pat the hero on the back. The big first baseman was almost torn to pieces by the fans, and finally he was picked up and carried around on the shoulders of some of the excited spectators.”

Dillon finished the game with four doubles, a franchise record that was tied by Billy Bruton on May 19, 1963. Dillon was 4-for-6 with three runs scored and five RBIs. Frisk was the winning pitcher in relief.

Overlooked in the game was the Tigers’ defense. The Tigers made seven errors as Elberfeld had three, while Gleason, Holmes, Dillon and Nance had one apiece. But game-winning rallies of 10 runs in the bottom of the ninth have a way of making people forget about errors, even seven of them.

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Chuck Hostetler, a 40-year-old rookie who made a costly blunder for the Tigers in Game 6 of the 1945 World Series

Chuck Hostetler, the epitome of a war-time major-league baseball player, was a 40-year-old rookie for the Tigers in 1944. He had not played professional baseball since 1937.

Hostetler, who mainly played right field and pinch-hit for the Tigers in 1944-45, spent 10 years in the minor leagues from 1928-37. He was with the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Senators, but none of them called him up.

During Hostetler’s 10 years in the minors, he hit .300 or better five times with his best season in 1931 when he hit .358 in 119 games for the Class A Topeka Senators. He hit .338 for the Wichita Aviators of the same league the following year and finished with 1,466 base-hits for a .307 average with 30 home runs in the minors.

After the 1937 season, Hostetler quit baseball. He was 34 and married and took a job on a mooring boat and played semi-pro baseball in Bayton, Texas. He moved to Wichita, Kansas, and worked at Boeing at the start of World War II.

“I gave up the idea of playing in the majors a few years ago,” Hostetler said in The Associated Press in the summer of 1944.

Hostetler continued to play for the Boeing team, and former Tigers pitcher Red Phillips, who umpired some of those games, saw him and recommended him to the Tigers, who were searching for big-league talent like the rest of the league with the rosters ravaged by World War II.

Hostetler was 40, but he was listed as 38 when he reported to spring training in 1944, and he made the team. He became the oldest player to make his major-league debut in history, and since then he has been surpassed by two pitchers. He remained the oldest position player to make his major-league debut as of 2019.

A hot start kept Hostetler in the Tigers’ plans. He had a pinch-hit single in his major-league debut. He was hitting .429 (9-for-21) at the end of April, and his average never dropped below .300 until August 21. He finished at .298 with 42 runs scored, no home runs, 20 RBIs and four stolen bases, and earned a return trip to the Tigers.

Hostetler did not duplicate his rookie season, and his playing time suffered. He went from 265 at-bats to 44 and hit just .159 with three runs scored and two RBIs

 However, the Tigers won the American League pennant, and Hostetler was on the roster. He appeared in three World Series games and was 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter.

With his lack of playing time and many players returning to baseball after the end of World War II, Hostetler was not offered a contract by the Tigers, and he left baseball. He worked as a sports announcer at KHOX in Arkansas and became a farmer, but those did not last long. He went back to work for Boeing, and he went back to baseball as he was one of four managers for the Chanute Giants in the Class D Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri League in 1950.

Hostetler became ill with mesothelioma in 1970 and died the following year at age 67.

“D” TALES:” Chuck Hostetler had just turned 42 years old a month before the start of the 1945 World Series. Although he was on the Tigers’ roster, he didn’t expect to see much game action, and he didn’t.

However, Hostetler could not have expected or hoped to commit a blunder on baseball’s biggest stage.

It was Game 6 of the World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and the Tigers had won three of the first five games. One more victory would secure the second World Series title in franchise history, but they trailed the Chicago Cubs 5-1 going into the top of the seventh inning.

Hostetler led off the inning as a pinch-hitter for Skeeter Webb. Hostetler reached first on an error by Cubs third baseman Stan Hack. Hostetler took second on an infield out, and Doc Cramer followed with a single to left field. As Hostetler charged around third base and had made it about two-third of the way to home when he sprawled face first onto the ground. He scrambled to his feet, but by then Cubs catcher Mickey Livingston had the ball. Hostetler tried to get back to third, but Livingston threw to third baseman Hack, who tagged Hostetler.

Tigers manager Steve O’Neill, in the third-base box, did not give Hostetler the signal to keep running.

“We would have won if Chuck Hostetler had only caught my signal to hold up when he was rounding third after Eddie Mayo had singled,” O’Neill said in the Detroit Free Press, “but Chuck didn’t see it until he was past third. I shouted at him and Chuck, trying to pull up short, fell down and was tagged out. Later in that inning, we scored two runs, and for Chuck’s faux pas, we would now have been headed home.”

O’Neill also reasoned that because Hostetler was a fast base runner, he understood why Hostetler might not have been expecting to be held up at third base and did not see the sign.

Detroit trailed 5-3 with runners on first and second when the third out was made in the inning, so Hostetler’s flop – it became known as “Hostetler’s Flop” – might have cost the Tigers more runs. The Tigers did finally tie the game, but they lost 8-7 in 12 innings.

It was Hostetler’s final moment on the field during a major-league game, but two days later, it didn’t matter. The Tigers won Game 7 to secure the World Series, and Hostetler was a world champion. On June 15, 1946, the Tigers welcomed back Hostetler and the other members of the 1945 team to witness the raising of the World Series and American League banners. They also were presented with gold rings.

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NFL needs another Tony Dungy to serve as pipeline and mentor for potential black head coaches and coordinators

The NFL misses Tony Dungy.

Or maybe it is more fair to say that minority coaches miss Dungy.

Five head coaches were fired after the season, and four of the five positions have been filled with white coaches. The fifth was Ron Rivera, an Hispanic fired by the Carolina Panthers and hired by the Washington Redskins. The Rooney Rule? It’s nothing but a formality. NFL owners are going to hire who they want to hire, and for some reason the black candidates are not landing jobs.

Many years ago, before Dungy was a head coach, he tried to explain how it happened that there were no head coaches at that time. He said that when an owner prepareed to hire a head coach, he had a certain type of person in mind. He sees Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh. Those were the stereotype head coaches.

That was 20-30 years ago. Now, the owners don’t necessarily visualize the old, white veteran head coaches. They like the young, white assistant coaches who have trendy offensives minds. A year ago, the Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, who had been fired the previous November by Texas Tech and had accepted a position as offensive coordinator at USC.

Instead, he became a head coach in the NFL, and in its press release, the Cardinals listed one of the key things about Kingsbury was that he was friends with Rams head coach Todd McVay, then the stereotype for head coaches of the present. It doesn’t seem like a qualification to be a head coach.

So how does all this relate to Dungy? Well, probably more than anyone else, Dungy hired and developed black coaches into NFL coaches. He was a pipeline for them, and he brought them in from college and mentored them. And not just black coaches, either, he developed plenty of white coaches, too.

Six of Dungy’s assistant coaches became head coaches in the NFL, and five of them were black:

Herm Edwards: He was on Dungy’s first coaching staff at Tampa Bay in 1996, and five years later became head coach of the New York Jets. He currently is the head coach at Arizona State University.

Lovie Smith: Smith was Dungy’s linebackers coach at Tampa Bay in 1996, and he became head coach of the Chicago Bears. In Super Bowl XLI, Dungy’s Colts defeated Smith’s Bears.

Jim Caldwell: He actually started with Dungy as quarterbacks coach at Tampa Bay in 2001. He was on Dungy’s staff at Indianapolis, and when Dungy retired, Caldwell became the head coach. Caldwell also spent two seasons as head coach of the Detroit Lions.

Mike Tomlin: Tomlin’s first NFL job was as a defensive back coach for Dungy’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001. Tomlin became head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 and remains the Steelers head coach.

Leslie Frazier: In 2005, Dungy hired Frazier as a defensive assistant with the Indianapolis Colts. Frazier became interim head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 and became the full-time head coach from 2011-13. He spent the season as the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, who made the playoffs and lost in the wild-card round.

Rod Marinelli: The lone white assistant coach who became a head coach, Marinelli received his first NFL job from Dungy on the Tampa Bay staff in 1996. He was head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2006-08 and spent last season as defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.

Today, there are three minority head coaches in the NFL: Tomlin, Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Rivera, the new coach of the Redskins.

Obviously, there are qualified candidates, black, white and Hispanic, just waiting for the call. At the top of the list is Eric Bieniemy, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in college and offensive coordinator for the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs. If Todd McVay was seen as an offensive mind, Bieniemy should be in the same classification.

Two of Dungy’s former assistants-turned-head coaches also are strong candidates. When last we saw Caldwell, he had back-to-back 9-7 seasons with the Lions. That alone should get him a job. Since then, the Lions have fallen on hard times despite hiring two former New England Patriots in Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia. Caldwell deserved better.

The other is Frazier, who has helped transform the Buffalo defense into a strong unit.

Both Caldwell and Frazier have experience as a head coach, and neither sniffed a job.

If Dungy were still coaching, he would be adding to his coaching tree. He wants to win as much as anyone, but he wants to do more than win. When he took over the Indianapolis Colts, he told the team that if it won the Super Bowl and that was all it did, it would not be a total success. He wanted his players to become involved in the community and become positive role models. He achieved both goals.

Dungy also feels strongly about minority coaches. Back in his days growing up in Jackson, he idolized Michigan State quarterback Jimmy Raye, who was black. For the first time, it seemed real to him that maybe he could be a quarterback, and it happened in high school and at the University of Minnesota.

He knew the roadblocks then, too. He felt he could have been an NFL quarterback. Instead, he was slotted into the defensive secondary. He felt he could become an NFL head coach, but he was passed over more than once before he finally landed the job and probably should have been hired earlier.

Dungy made it part of his mission to give opportunities to deserving coaches. Note the word deserving. Dungy wasn’t going to give out any gift jobs, and if he felt a white coach was more deserving of a job than a black applicant, he would hire the white coach.

However, he always left the door open for the minorities, and he recruited and groomed them when he could.

Now, Dungy is on TV doing the NBC network show prior to Sunday Night Football. His influence still reaches far, but he can’t do as much in that role as he can as a hands-on head coach.

So, yes, the door is still open for black head coaches in the NFL. It just isn’t wide open, and the NFL does not have a Tony Dungy to serve as a mentor to those trying to still break the barrier and beef up the numbers of minority head coaches in the NFL.

Dungy’s legacy is as the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl. It was a big reason why he made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I’d bet he doesn’t feel it’s his greatest contribution. That would be men like Herm Edwards, Jim Caldwell, Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier, and many others.

Just like Dungy wanted his Colts to do, he didn’t just win a Super Bowl. He made a difference in the sport. And the void of black head coaches in the NFL shows that he is missed.

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Herm Merritt has record nobody would want: Only former Tigers player to die before he reached 27 years old

There is one record that no member of the Detroit Tigers would ever want to own, and it belongs to Herm Merritt. He is the only person to play for the Detroit Tigers and die before his 27th birthday.

Merritt was playing in an amateur league in Grey Bull, Montana, when the Tigers discovered him. He joined the Tigers in late August of 1921. He was 1-for-4 in his first six games – all as a defensive replacement at shortstop or as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Finally, on September 5, the Merritt got his chance in a doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox at Navin Field in Detroit. Merritt got a hit in the first game after entering as a defensive replacement, and he was 1-for-3 in the second game as he made his first major-league start. He made two errors, but they did not keep the Tigers from winning the game 4-3.

Merritt began to get more playing time, and he had a five-game hitting streak in the middle of September. It included three consecutive two-hit games and a four-game streak with one RBI in each game.

Merritt opened some eyes as he hit .370 (17-for-46) with a double, two triples and six RBIs. The Tigers sent Merritt to the Augusta Tourists of the South Atlantic League in 1922. Tigers player/manager Ty Cobb held stock in the August team and hoped Merrite would develop into a player who could help the Tigers in the future. But he never got the chance to put in another season of baseball.

On April 23, 1922, Merritt and four teammates were involved in an automobile accident outside of Greenville, South Carolina. The car Merritt was driving flipped, and everyone inside was injured. The Detroit Free Press reported that Merritt said he was driving at a safe speed but the steering gear failed.

Merritt was thrown from the car and ended up pinned under the vehicle. He suffered a fractured spine at the base and was temporarily paralyzed. His baseball career was likely over, and doctors feared his life was in danger.

Surgeons operated on Merritt and saved his life. A touchy surgery that The Sporting News reported, “The operation is said to have been one of the most difficult and unprecedented in the history of surgery at Greenville.”

Merritt lived another five years, but on April 26, 1927, he died of acute nephritis, a result of the fracture.

“D” TALES: The fine late-season run by Herm Merritt in 1921 left him near the top of one list of Tigers achievements. His .370 batting average in 46 at-bats is the fourth-best in franchise history for players with at least 40 at-bats.

Phil Clark, who played in 1992, holds the record with a .407 batting average in 54 at-bats. Timo Perez, who hit .389 in 90 at-bats in 2007, is second, and Tom Hughes, who had a .373 mark in 59 at-bats in 1930, is third, Merritt, who was 20 at the time of his appearance in the majors, was the youngest of those four players.

 

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Believe it! Hank Greenberg was a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera, and it isn't as close as you might think

While it is generally concluded that Ty Cobb was the greatest hitter in Tigers history, and Al Kaline might have been the most complete player, there is a lot of debate about the greatest slugger.

All Tigers fans have seen Miguel Cabrera, and very few saw Hank Greenberg. As great as Cabrera was in his prime, it seems impossible that Greenberg could have been better. But he was.

Statistics are nice, but they often don’t tell the whole story. When one points out the great home-run and RBI totals put up by Greenberg, Cabrera backers scream that it was easier to put up those stats back in those days.

Really? Well, during Cabrera’s 12 years with the Tigers, he hit a home run once per every 18.45 at-bats. The major-league average during those 12 years was once in every 32.71 at-bats. Greenberg hit a home run once every 15.66 at-bats with a peak of 9.59 in 1938. During his time with Detroit, the major-league average was 65.66. Obviously, it was much easier to hit a home run during Cabrera’s time than Greenberg’s, and it isn’t even close.

One of the recent stats, WAR, is a controversial stat. But it is a nice stat that tries to put a player’s career into one single number. In 1,269 games for the Tigers, Greenberg has a 54.2 WAR. In 1,680 games for the Tigers, Cabrera is at 51.3 – a lesser total in more than 400 games than Greenberg.

However, there is a number where Cabrera compares favorably with Greenberg, and it is another metric stat: OPS+. This one is easy as an average OPS+ is 100. Cabrera has a career OPS+ of 150 with the Tigers, while Greenberg is 161. However, Greenberg’s best season of OPS+ was 172, which Cabrera topped three times with a peak of 190.

Finally, the core stats. For his Tigers career, Greenberg had 306 home runs, 1,200 RBIs, a .319 batting average and an OPS of 1.028. Cabrera checks in with 339 home runs, 1,171 RBIs, a .315 batting average and an OPS of .937. The MLB average OPS during Cabrera’s time was .732. During Greenberg’s time it was .727. Cabrera only wins home runs, and he had just 33 more in 400 more games.

And here’s the kicker: Greenberg lost nearly four full seasons and half of another because of his time in World War II. He was coming off a 41-home run season with 150 RBIs when he went into the service, and in his first full season after he returned to the Tigers, he hit 44 home runs with 127 RBIs.

If you want peak stats, well, Greenberg’s top five home-run seasons total 219, while Cabrera’s is 201. When it comes to RBIs in the five best seasons, Greenberg has the edge 788-648.

It is not out of the question that Greenberg would have hit 150 or more more home runs without time in the service, and that would have given him pushing 500 career home runs for the Tigers. Nobody has hit 400 in franchise history.

So, next time the debate comes up over who should be the first baseman on the all-time Tigers team, give Greenberg serious consideration. He deserves it.He is the greatest slugger in franchise history. And, yes, Miggy still should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

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When White Sox didn't want to get the Tigers out in 1901, umpire Tommy Connolly forfeited game to Detroit

When the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox had their memorable “Disco Demolition Night” in 1978, it was not the first time a Tigers-White Sox game resulted in a forfeit in the Windy City.

It happened on May 2, 1901, and it was just the eighth game of the Tigers’ charter season i the major leagues and the final game of a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox at South Side Park in Chicago. Tigers pitcher Emil Frisk was matched up with White Sox pitcher/manager Clark Griffith, who had won more than 20 games in six of his previous seven seasons and would go 24-7 in 1901.

Griffith, a right-hander, was sharp and held the Tigers to just three hits through eight innings. He gave up a lead-off single to Pop Dillon in the top of the ninth but retired the next two batters. Tigers catcher Fritz Buelow grounded to third baseman Fred Hartman, who fielded the ball but overthrew first baseman Frank Isbell. Frisk followed with a run-scoring double, and Doc Casey walked to load the bases before Jimmy Barrett drilled a triple to make it 6-5.

Darkness was moving in at South Side Park, and it was raining. Griffith began to stall, hoping umpire Tommy Connolly would call the game. If that happened, the score would revert to the last complete inning, and Chicago would have a 5-2 victory. Connolly ordered Griffith to play ball, and Griffith, not wanting the inning to end, walked Kid Gleason. Griffith then attempted to walk Ducky Holmes, but Holmes reached out and drove the ball to center field, where Dummy Hoy let the ball drop. Holmes, wanting the inning to end, kept running and intentionally was caught between second and third base. When the White Sox refused to tag Holmes, Connolly called the game a forfeit and awarded the Tigers a 9-0 victory.

The crowd rushed the field in the rain, and Connolly had to seek cover in the batting cage. One fan threw a punch but missed. Charlie Comiskey, president of the White Sox, went into the crowd and convinced the irate fans to disperse. Two White Sox players, Pat Dillard and Dave Brain, were released the following day.

The following day, The Chicago Tribune put more blame on Hartman for his throwing error, which would have ended the game if he had executed the play: “If  the crowd had gone onto the field with the intention of lynching Hartman, there would have been some method to its madness. Connolly was in no way responsible for the defeat, but it was altogether Hartman’s fault.”

It was the first forfeit in the history of the American League.

 

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Marc Hall: A Tigers record in 1914 that has stood for more than 100 years, and a tragic death a year later

Marc Hall’s story with the Tigers is marked by a record and a tragedy.

On July 5, 1914, Hall established a team record that likely will never be broken. He pitched 13 innings in relief against the St. Louis Browns in Navin Field in Detroit. It is a record that has been approached but not broken in more than 100 years.

Tragically, he was dead less than eight months later.

Hall appeared in just six games after his 13-inning relief effort before his season was ended when he was diagnosed with diabetes. It was determined his season was over with a 2.69 ERA.

The Tigers released him that summer, but Hall was determined to make it back to the game. He reported to the Tigers’ spring camp in Gulfport, Miss., even though he was no longer with the team. Hall knew he wasn’t in shape to make a major-league roster, but he hoped to show enough to land in the minors, according to The Sporting News.

Hall became ill again in the spring and returned to his home in Joplin, Mo., where he died on February 24, 1915, at the age of 27.

Hall came to the Tigers in 1913 with much promise after two fine seasons with the Omaha Rourkes of the Class A Western League. His short major-league resume wasn’t as promising. He began his professional career in 1909 at age 21. The following season, he joined his hometown ballclub, the Joplin Miners of the Class C Western Association, and posted a 21-9 record for a combined 41-21 mark in two seasons in that league. It earned him a spot with the St. Louis Browns that season.

Hall’s debut season was less than stellar. He was 1-7 with a 4.27 ERA. He walked 31 batter in 46 and one-third innings, leading to an unsightly 1.748 WHIP, and he returned to the minors for the 1911 season. He spent two seasons with the Rourkes. After going 17-17 in 1911, Hall broke through with a 25-9 mark in 1912, setting the stage for him to join Detroit in 1913.

Hall made his Tigers debut in the second game of the season. He allowed one hit in two scoreless relief innings against the Browns, his former team, earning a start six days later at home, again against the Browns. Hall went the distance, allowing three runs (two earned) as Detroit edged St. Louis 4-3.

It was the beginning of a fine year for Hall, who rotated between the rotation and the bullpen but made more starts than relief appearances. He finished 10-12 with a 3.27 ERA in 30 games (21 starts). His control was somewhat improved as he walked 79 in 165 innings – not great but much better than in 1910.

Hall’s 1913 highlight came on June 1, when he tossed a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. He also collected a hit in the game. The following month, Hall struck out 10 batters in a game against the Washington Senators at Navin Field in Detroit.

Hall’s season came to an end when he broke a foot fielding a bunt in the middle of August and missed the rest of the season. With a decent rookie season under his belt, Hall came to camp in 1914 with a lot of promise. The Tigers kept him in the bullpen for the most part as he made just eight starts in 25 games. He improved his control for the second year in a row, walking just 27 in 90 and one-third innings.

He entered the franchise record book on July 5, 1914, when he pitched 13 innings in relief against the Cleveland Indians at Navin Field in Detroit.

“He is proving to be the right man for Manager Jennings to send in to finish games and to use when he hasn’t one of his other regular men available,” The Sporting News reported in its July 23, 1914, edition. “Hall is likely to stick with the club for a long time as just that sort of pitcher. He hasn’t enough stuff to become a star, but he is a steady plugger.”

Unfortunately, Hall never got the chance.

“D” TALES: In early July of 1914, the Tigers had back-to-back doubleheaders and were forced to use Marc Hall for a total of 17 and two-third innings in two days.

In the first game of a Fourth of July doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians at Navin Field, Hall relieved starter Jean Dubuc in the fourth inning and tossed four and two-third innings in Detroit’s 10-8 loss. Hall allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with three walks and no strikeouts.

The next day, the St. Louis Browns were in Detroit for a doubleheader. Starter George Boehler lasted one inning before Hall entered the game with Detroit trailing 3-2. Hall pitched 13 innings and gave up three earned runs on 13 hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The Browns scored in the top of the 14th inning and won 6-5. Hall was tagged with the loss.

Just eight pitchers have thrown more than 13 relief innings since 1913, and the record belongs to Cubs pitcher Zip Zabel, who pitched 18 and one-third innings on June 17, 1915, at West Side Grounds in Chicago.

 

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