By: Scott A. Horstmeier
In honor of Halloween, a spooky holiday when adults can get away with being silly, here are some strange, silly, and sometimes spooky true stories from the annals of baseball:
Billy Herman: On August 29, 1931, Hall of Famer Billy Herman made his big league debut playing second base for the Chicago Cubs against the Cincinnati Reds. Si Johnson, the Reds pitcher, threw a pitch that Herman swung on and fouled straight back. The pitch hit behind home plate and with a reverse English spin, bounced back and hit Herman in the head. Poor Herman had to be carried off of the field in a stretcher because his own foul knocked him out.
Dave Winfield: On August 4, 1983, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was playing in the outfield for the New York Yankees at the Toronto Blue Jay Exhibition Stadium. At the end of the fifth-inning warmup, Winfield threw a ball in to the ball boy that hit a seagull and killed it. Winfield said it was an accident, but that did not matter to fans who chanted, “Winfield sucks.” for the rest of the game. Winfield was actually taken in after the game to 14 Division and charged with causing, “unnecessary suffering to an animal.” The charges were later dropped.
Cleveland Indians: On June 4, 1974, the Indians sponsored a crazy promotion night at their old Municipal Stadium as they played the Texas Rangers. The Indians were selling beer for 10 cents a cup. This led to many drunken fans. During the game some fans were throwing firecrackers and beer at the Rangers bullpen and dugout. In the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied, fans streamed onto the field. A group of fans surrounded Ranger right fielder, Jeff Burroughs, and took his hat and tried to pull his glove off of his hand. His teammates and the Indians came to his defense. The crowd was too unruly and the Indians had to forfeit the game.
Chicago White Sox: On August 8, 1976, the White Sox scared the other team, the fans, and perhaps themselves with the uniforms owner Bill Veeck had them wear during the first game of a doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals. The team wore blue Bermuda shorts with knee high socks and white shirts with blue collars. The White Sox won the game while Royal first baseman John Mayberry was quoted as saying, “You guys are the sweetest team we’ve seen yet.” When the second game of the doubleheader started the White Sox came out in their regular uniforms.
John McGraw: As a player or a manager, Hall of Famer John McGraw, was known as a tough mean, sometimes dirty player. As a player for the Baltimore Orioles he once sent two players to the hospital when he was running around the bases. His Orioles were playing the New York Giants and McGraw was running into second and dug his cleats into second baseman Monte Ward and while sliding into home threw his cleats into catcher Duke Farrell’s belly while jamming his arm into Farrell’s face. Giants’ fans will be happy to know Farrell held onto the ball and McGraw was out. As the manager of the same Giants McGraw was known to hit umpires and insult players with ruthless vicious words. While his Giants were playing the Philadelphia Phillies McGraw was riding Phillies pitcher, Ad Brennan, pretty hard. Brennan, having heard enough, called timeout. He walked over to the Giants’ dugout and decked McGraw with one punch.
Ed Delahanty: Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty may have the scariest baseball story of all-time. His Washington Senators were on a train from Detroit to New York on July 2, 1903. While on the train, Delahanty got drunk. He pulled out a straight razor and threatened passengers. The conductor kicked Delahanty off of the train at Bridgeburg, Ontario, which is on the Niagara River on the border with America. Delahanty crossed International Bridge on foot to get back to America. On that bridge crossing Delahanty fell into the water and died going over Niagara Falls. It is not clear if he accidently fell off of the bridge in a drunken stupor, committed suicide, or was the victim of a robbery-murder.
Baseball is full of scary, strange, and silly stories. Just another reason this beautiful game amuses us and gives us so much pleasure.