A Brief History
On June 23, 1917, Boston Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth pitched to only one batter, walking him, before he was ejected from the game for punching the umpire. Pitcher Ernie Shore was brought in to complete the game against the Senators. The base runner was thrown out trying to steal second base, and Shore retired the next 26 batters, completing a no-hitter between himself and Ruth, probably the most bizarre no-hitter in baseball history. Here we list 10 bizarre baseball incidents.
10. Bill Buckner Error, 1986.
Buckner was a good baseball player, slugging 2700 hits in his career and winning the 1980 batting title. He was also an All Star and drove in over 100 runs in 1985 and 1986, helping the 1986 Red Sox into the World Series. The Sox had not won a World Series since trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919, and the fans were champing at the bit, with the Sox favored over the Mets. In game 6 of the Series with Boston leading 3 games to 2, Buckner misfielded a slow roller that went right through his legs near first base, allowing the Mets game winning run to score. Boston then lost the seventh game and the No Championship streak continued. Despite the usual death threats, Boston fans later took Buckner back into their hearts.
9. Game Called Because of Bees, 2005.
Colorado Rockies were playing the Diamondbacks in Arizona when their pitcher, Darren Oliver, was besieged by bees trying to swarm on his coconut hair gel. So many bees were on the field the game had to be called after the fifth inning.
8. Steve Bartman Incident, 2003.
Ah, the long suffering Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans. No World Series appearance since 1945, and playing in the 2003 National League Championship Series, the winner of which would go to the World Series. Only 4 outs away from winning game 6 and taking the National League Pennant, Luis Castillo of the Marlins popped up toward the stands. Cubs outfielder Moises Alou cruised over and seemed ready to make the catch, putting the Cubs only 3 outs from the World Series. It was not to be, as Cubs fan Steve Bartman reached over to catch the ball, interfering with Alou and causing the ball not to be caught. As this happened in Chicago, Bartman was lucky to escape alive. The Cubs were winning at the time, 3-0, but ended up losing the game and then the series. Bartman required police protection as fans had threatened his life, with his name and address posted all over major league blogs.
7. Ted Williams Eephus Pitch Homer, 1946.
An “eephus” pitch is a high arcing lob, kind of like an underhand softball unlimited arc pitch. When a major league pitcher is sizzling balls at batters in the 80-100 mph range, this sort of pitch can make a batter look silly. Pirates pitcher Rip Sewell was noted for his “eephus” pitch, and in the 1946 All Star Game Ted Williams, the greatest hitter of his time, dared Sewell to throw him one. Williams promptly hit the ball out of the park. It was later noticed that Williams had actually run out of the batters box at the pitch before slugging it out and should have been called out. Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee threw “eephus” pitches to Reds batter Tony Perez, a power hitter, during the 1975 World Series in game 7, resulting in a monster 2 run blast, costing the Red Sox yet another World Series. Many other pitchers have dabbled with the pitch, often calling it by their own pet name.
6. Indians Win Game With Help of Bugs, 2007.
In a playoff series against the Yankees, the Indians won an 11 inning game amid an enormous swarm of bugs, probably what Northern Ohioans call “Canadian Soldiers,” a type of midge, a harmless gnat like bug. Yankees complained that they had a hard time seeing what they were doing and were gagging on the clouds of flies. Entomologists said the bugs were in a mating swarm, but the Yankees did not find that amusing. Indians players shook off the bugs and took them in stride, later saying they pretended not to be bothered because of the Yankees’ protests. In 1946 a game between the Dodgers and Cubs was actually called in the fifth inning because of gnats. Cracked fact: In the old days, baseball fans were referred to as “bugs,” per the 1923 Literary Digest.
5. Ray Chapman Killed in Game, 1920.
A career Cleveland Indian, Chapman was beaned by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays, collapsed at the plate, and then collapsed again when revived and was helped walking off the field. He died in a hospital 12 hours later. The crack of ball versus skull was so loud players in the field though the ball had hit the bat, with Mays fielding the ball and throwing it to first base. The ball was routinely thrown around the infield before they realized what had happened. This incident was a major reason spitballs, rubbing dirt and scuffing the ball was disallowed afterwards. After the incident, anytime an umpire noticed a dirty ball he would replace it, with or without the request of the pitcher or catcher. Incredibly, it took another 30 years for players to start wearing batting helmets.
4. Dave Winfield/Randy Johnson Bye-Bye Birdie, 1983, 2001.
Winfield was one of baseball’s biggest stars when a warm up throw from him struck and killed a seagull in the Toronto Blue Jays stadium in 1983. Fans pelted him with a variety of objects, and he was charged with cruelty to animals by the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) but the charge was quickly dropped as he assured fans and officials it had been unintentional. In 2001, Randy Johnson, one of baseballs hardest throwing pitchers let loose with a fastball just in time for a dove to swoop into its path, resulting in what appeared to be an explosion of feathers. The pitch was ruled “no pitch” and Johnson at least was not charged with a crime. Other ballplayers have accidentally killed birds with batted balls, and one, “Gavvy” Cravath earned his nickname from the Spanish word for seagull, gaviota, when he killed one with a batted ball early in his career (1908-1920).
3. George Brett Pine Tar Home Run, 1983.
In the top of the ninth inning, Royals losing to the Yankees by only 1 run, George Brett comes up and hits a 2 run homer, giving the Royals the lead. But wait! Yankees manager Billy Martin ran out to the umpire complaining that Brett’s bat has pine tar on the handle too far up the bat. The umpire inspected the bat and ruled Brett “out,” which was the 3rd and final out of the game, leaving the Yankees winners. But wait! The Royals appealed to the league president and won the appeal. The game was resumed a month later with Brett’s home run counting. The Royals ended up winning the game after all.
2. 10 Cent Beer Night, 1974.
Back on June 4th we told you about the infamous “10 Cent Beer Night Riot” that took place in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium (since torn down). Indians management ignored the recent bad blood between the Indians and Rangers and held the event anyway, with the only limitation on beer drinkers being one person could buy “only” 6 beers at a time. Who would have guessed there would be a problem? This game was living proof that baseball can be fun!
1. Babe Ruth-Ernie Shore No-Hitter, 1917.
As detailed in the introduction, these 2 pitchers shared a no-hitter in the oddest fashion imaginable. Ruth was the best left handed pitcher of his era, and Shore had only a few warm up pitches, never expecting to pitch that day. Not only that, but Babe Ruth hitting an umpire? Did you even know that ever happened? All part of the bigger than life legend of the Mighty Babe.
Question for students (and subscribers): Which ones would you add? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Poulton, J. Alexander. Weird Facts About Baseball. OverTime, 2009.