Golden Baseball Magazine
Bits of Baseball Lore
The articles in this series present interesting stories and incidents from baseball history.
Rules Can Be Cruel

Sometimes application of a rule in a rare situation makes a big difference in the outcome of a game.

It's Game 4 of the 1928 World Series between the Cardinals and Yankees.

  • The National League had a more lenient rule concerning "quick pitches" than the American League. So before the Series began, the leagues agreed that there would be no "quick returns" - pitches thrown by the hurler as soon as he received the ball from the catcher without taking a windup or stretch.
  • The score was tied 1-1 in the top of the 7th with Babe Ruth at bat and Bill Sherdel on the hill for St. Louis. Sherdel slipped a pitch past the Babe that everyone in Sportsman's Park thought was strike three. But plate umpire Cy Pfirmin ruled "no pitch" because of the agreement between the leagues.
  • Given new life, the Bambino clouted a home run, and Lou Gehrig followed with another roundtripper to give the Yanks a 3-1 victory and a Series sweep.

Rule 5.02 says that "Time" may be called by any umpire at any point, thus nullifying any action that occurs after that.

  • The Milwaukee Brewers had the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th trailing the Yankees 9-6 in a 1976 game.
  • Don Money stepped to the plate and smashed a pitch from P Dave Pagan into the LF stands.
  • The fans went wild as Money began circling the bases, and his teammates headed to the clubhouse.
  • However, 1B umpire Jim McKean ran in waving his arms to get everyone's attention. Just as Pagan began his motion on the fateful pitch, 1B Chris Chambliss noticed that his manager, Billy Martin, was signaling from the dugout to reposition his outfielders. So Chris asked for time just before Pagan released the ball, and McKean granted the request.
  • Returning to the batter's box, Money hit a sacrifice fly, but the Brewers could get no more and lost 9-7.

The Pelicans, in their first year as a farm club of the Red Sox, were led by first-year player-manage Johnny Peacock, a 10-year major league C with the Red Sox, Phillies, and Dodgers.

  • Peacock said, I wasn't here last year, but I gather from the players that our club is somewhat better this year. Last year, the Pels were fourth in the league. Because of the general improvement everywhere in baseball, we will have to be at least a third better than we were last year to hold our own. I think we will.
  • The pitching staff, one of the best in the Southern Association in 1945, included five veterans - George Turbeville, Roy Sanner, Jesse Danna, Pete Hader, and Fred Wells.
  • The infield consisted of Paul Fugit at 1B, bespectacled Vernon Thoele, acquired from Toronto, at the keystone sack; Mel Rue at SS, and Bobby Richards, recently out of the service, at the hot corner.
  • Outfielders included base-stealing Tom Astbury, Paul Bruno, and Chuck Holly between them in center.
  • Marcus Carrola would catch with Manager Peacock providing relief.
  • The Pelicans warmed up for the Yankees by pounding out 16 hits against the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association Thursday night to win 9-5.

The Yankees arrived by air late Friday evening for the weekend games, both of which started at 3 PM.

  • One of the first arrivals was the one and only DiMaggio, who told reporters that the training in Panama and Florida proved beneficial and that the time he spent in the service did not affect his game. He didn't mention the fact that he spent much of his enlistment playing baseball.
  • Earlier in the day, Pelican GM Charlie Hurth announced that a capacity crowd was assured for Sunday's contest but tickets remained for the Saturday clash.
  • 39-year-old Bill Dickey would not play in either game because he had departed for his home in Little Rock to nurse the shattered big right toe he sustained the week before in Florida.
  • McCarthy would start Joe Page, beginning his third season with the Yanks as both a starter and reliever.
    The 6'3" 200 pound southpaw had nearly lost a leg in a car accident at age 18. The compound fracture of his left fibula required multiple surgeries that kept him in the hospital for five months. He worked in the mines in Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh and played semi-pro ball until he attracted the attention of Yankees scout Bill Haddock. Joe's leg injury resulted in a 4-F classification that kept him out of the military.

Pelican Stadium c. 1950s
Yankees-Pelicans Starting Lineups March 30, 1946
New York Yankees   New Orleans Pelicans
Phil Rizzuto SS   Mel Rue SS
Tommy Henrich RF   Chuck Holly CF
Charlie Keller LF   Paul Bruno RF
Joe DiMaggio CF   Tom Astbury LF
Nick Etten 1B   Paul Fugit 1B
George Stirnweiss 3B   Vernon Thoele 2B
Oscar Grimes 2B   Robert Richards 3B
Gus Niarhas C   Mark Carrola C
Joe Page P   George Turbeville P

George Turbeville


Roy Sanner


Jesse Danna


Bill Wight

First Game: Saturday, March 30, 1946

Bill Keefe started his Picayune article on the game this way:

Though kept from getting many hits for the simple reason that two Pelican pitchers weren't able to get the ball close enough to the plate to be hit by anything short of a wagon tongue, the New York Yankees did combine a few healthy swats with bases on balls Saturday afternoon and downed the locals 10 to 1 before a capacity crowd at Pel Stadium.

  • If the 9,819 fans - the largest crowd to see the Yankees throughout spring training - came to see DiMaggio hit one out of the park, they were disappointed. However, he did smash two singles and walk twice against Turbeville, a former Philadelphia Athletic, Pete Hader, Jim Shea, and Vernon "Trader" Horn.
  • Tommy Henrich, who played for the Pelicans from 1935-36 when they were part of the Cleveland organization, swatted a double and a single. The two-bagger bounced off the wall into the overflow crowd in RF. Nick Etten also had a double but the biggest hit honors went to Phil Rizzuto for his triple.
  • The other former Pel (1937), Oscar Grimes, went 0-for-3 with two of the 15 free passes Pelican pitchers issued.
  • Meanwhile, Joe Page pitched seven scoreless innings, yielding just one hit, a single by Mel Rue in the 6th. Ken Holcombe finished up and allowed an unearned run in the 9th. James Dawson wrote in the New York Times that Page's spring performance meant that McCarthy's dream of a workable, dependable left-hander is about to be fulfilled.
  • When talking to reporters afterward, McCarthy referred to Henrich playing in New Orleans. You people will find Henrich much bigger than when he played with your Pelicans, and he gets more power now. Local reporters also asked Marse Joe about Tulanian Brown, who was with the Yankees "B" squad. Bob Brown can't miss. He's a good boy and a good ball player. Plenty savvy. He's plenty smart. He can hit for distance, and he'll soon be hitting even better. Since Joe was known to believe that a young player could learn more playing minor league ball than sitting on a major league bench, he was asked if Brown would be sent down. Not necessarily, Joe replied. I won't decide on my ball club until later in the practice seasons, and fellows we've brought with us here on the "A" squad do not necessarily rate above players on the "B" or Brandenton team.
  • That night, McCarthy hosted a feast at Arnaud's Restaurant for the New York writers who had been with the club through its training in Panama and Florida. The idea came from new GM Larry MacPhail, who hadn't made the trip to the Big Easy.

Second Game: Sunday, March 31, 1946

An even bigger crowd - 13,201 - watched a much closer game.

  • Roy Sanner, a former Dodger who worked the first four innings, and Jesse Danna, an ex-Giant who threw the next three, held the Bombers to four runs after the Pels hit lefty Bill Wight for two in the first. Three successive singles, the last a freak bunt that eluded C Ken Silvestri, preceded two infield outs that sent runners home.
    Danna graduated from Jesuit High School in his native New Orleans. He also attended LSU.
  • Fred Wells, who took the hill for the last two innings, made the mistake of giving DiMaggio a fat one that he deposited over the LCF fence to increase the lead to 6-2. Joe had actually been nicked by Wells's first pitch, and umpire Tiny Tessereau from the Ohio State League waved Joe to 1st. But Joe elected to stay at the plate, to the delight of the crowd. The roundtripper was his 14th of the spring. Wells explained afterward, He golfed that pitch when it was just about a foot off the ground. But what difference does it make where you pitch to guys who are like that?
  • That allowed the Yanks to survive the two runs the home team plated off Cuddles Marshall in the bottom of the inning.
  • Joltin' Joe also delivered a single and a ground rule double in four at-bats. Rizzuto, Grimes, and C Ken Silvestri had two hits apiece. Snuffy Stirnweiss had the odd line of 3 runs scored without a hit in three at-bats. On Silvestri's 5th-inning double into the crowd, a spectator was injured when Juan Sanchez crashed into him trying for a catch. The game was delayed while the fan was assisted off the field.
  • The umpire at 1B, Charley Berry of the American League, set off the fans down the RF line in the 5th when he called Stirnweiss safe at 1st on what looked like a completed DP. When Berry turned to argue back with the fans, several local scribes expressed fear for his safety.
  • When DiMaggio almost into the overflow crowd to pull down Tom Astbury's long fly that ended the game, Joe had to race for the clubhouse to elude a swarm of autograph seekers who chased him across the field.
    Many locals remembered Joe's last appearance in New Orleans March 30, 1940, when he clouted two doubles and a triple in four trips.
  • Joe Trimble of the New York News was asked whether the Yankees would be back in 1947. Sure, we'll be back next year. Don't see how the Yanks can afford to pass up this town when it outdraws any place on the spring tour.
  • The Yankees left for Beaumont TX for a clash with the Texas League club managed by Jim Turner, who would become the Yanks' pitching coach a few years later.

The Pelicans would play the Cardinals the following Saturday, then the Dodgers the next day.

The '46 Yankees finished 3rd, 17 games behind the Red Sox and five behind the Tigers. Joe McCarthy lasted only 35 games before alcoholism exacerbated by the pressure of working for MacPhail caused the demanding GM to fire him. Bill Dickey reluctantly took over and led the club to a 57-48 record. Then Johnny Neun took the helm for the last 14 games. The Yanks topped the league in attendance (2,265,512 - by far the most in team history) thanks in large measure to MacPhail's installing lights at Yankee Stadium just as he had pioneered night baseball at Cincinnati and Brooklyn.
The '46 Pelicans made a late push to take 4th place in the Southern Association with a 75-77 record and earn a spot in the Shaughnessy Playoffs against Atlanta. The Crackers prevailed in seven hard-fought games.

xxx

Return to Baseball Magazine

Bits of Baseball Lore - I
Harmon's First HR | Feller's Debut | Heads-Up Triple Play | Game Stopped by a Fight | Old Horse Helps Old Hoss | Infield Fly Confusion | Tiger Farewell to Mickey | Germany Calls His Story | I'm Not Just Your Manager Now | What a Way to Lose

Bits of Baseball Lore - II
Where'd Everybody Go? | Strange Steal of Home | "Dilatory Tactics Lose for Mackmen"
Strange Injuries - I | Unassisted Triple Play "The Wildest Afternoon" | Nice Story But It Didn't Happen | Earthquake Opened the Door for Doerr | Cal and Rex | Don't Let the Fire Stop You

Bits of Baseball Lore - III
Left-Handed Catcher | Ugly Uniforms But Illegal? | 18-inning Shutout | Traded for an Announcer | Last Browns Game | Nothing But Slow Curves | Score That 1-2-7-6-7 | Zeke Steals Home | Steve Bartman: Cub Enemy #1 | Even the Greats Lost Money

Bits of Baseball Lore - IV
Gates Gets Caught | An Unusual Doubleheader | Terry's Side of the Story | Lineup Shenanigans | Baseball's Anthem | Braves' Dissension | Ruth Starts Fast | Babe's First Season | How Catfish Got His Name | Wanted: Catcher
Strange Contracts | K Almost Becomes HR

Bits of Baseball Lore - V
Sutcliffe Steals Second | Babe Brains Ty
Manager Incites Riot | Two More Babe Stories | Punish Rowdy Richard | "Kelly Now Catching for Boston" | Notable Nicknames | "The Meal Ticket" Joins the Giants | McGraw Admired His "Beauty" | 34+ Run Games | Rogell Didn't Dare Leave the Lineup | Did You See It, Bill?

Bits of Baseball Lore - VI
"The Brat" Screws Up | Ballplayers And Their Bats | Red Sox Rally | Fatal Attraction | Blame It on Early | Know the Rules! | Shield Your Eyes, Dear | Batting Order Oddities | Historic Day at Polo Grounds | In LF, What's His Name

Bits of Baseball Lore - VII
Odd Contract Request | Fastest Game Ever | Don't Throw Your Glove at Ball | Bug Invasions | Rapid Robert Returns | Dom vs Joe Connie Mack - Thief? | Row on a Ball Field | Astrodome Oddities | Ducky Is Shot Down

Bits of Baseball Lore - VIII
You're Blaming Wrong Man | Spitter Sign Enos's Mad Dash | "Kill the Ump!" | Costly Clouts | Unusual Plays | Rookie Outcast | Red Was Too Honest

Bits of Baseball Lore - IX
Fell Asleep Leading Off 2B | Surprise Series At-Bat | McGraw's Big Blunder | He Should Eat Barbecue Every Night | Yankee-Red Sox Clashes | Lou's Lost Hits | Two HRs and They Pinch-Hit for Me! | If All Else Fails, Try Humor 58 Innings in Three Days

Bits of Baseball Lore - X
Special Song | Hold the Baby! | It Took 90 Years to Duplicate It | Boy's First World Series Game | No Sleep? No Problem | It Was Magic! | Rapid Robert and Babe | Gehrig's Disease Infects Yankees? | Stan's Still the Man | Billy Herman, Joe Tepsic, & '46 Dodgers

Bits of Baseball Lore - XI
Be Careful What You Write | Be Careful What You Say in Wateca | Baseball Chicanery - I | Chicanery - II | Hidden Ball Tricks I & II
World War II's Impact on the Game