The Official Decision on Merkle’s Boner

In early October 1908, the National League board of directors took two days to reach a decision on what Fred Merkle of the New York Giants did at the end of the game vs. the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 22, 1908. It came to a decision that made the game a tie and ordered it played again at the Polo Grounds to decide if the Cubs or Giants would win the pennant. Here’s what it said:

“Merkle should have had only one thing on his mind–viz: to reach second base in safety, by a hit, error, or in any other way. The evidence clearly shows the following:

After Bridwell hit the ball safely he ran to and over first base; McCormick started for home and crossed the plate: Merkle started for second, and when about half way to the base, turned and ran in the direction of the clubhouse, without having reached second base. [Robert] Emslie was officiating as umpire, back of the pitcher, [Henry] O’Day back of the catcher. When the hit was made Emslie fell to the ground to escape being hit by the ball; he got up and watched the play at first base and saw that the batter had run out his hit. In the meantime, the ball was fielded in by Hofman and eventually fielded to second base to Evers for a putout on Merkles. Tinker notified Emslie that Merkle did not run to second base. Emslie stated he did not see the play, and then went to his colleague, O’Day, and asked him whether he had seen the play. O’Day answered in the affirmative, and then Emslie asked him whether Merkle had run to second, and being informed that he had not, Emslie declared Merkle out, which, under the rule quoted above, he not only had a right to do, but was required to do.”

The N.L. directors added: “While [the rule requiring a baserunner to touch the next base to avoid a putout] may not have been complied with in many other games; while other clubs may not have taken advantage of the provisions in the past under other circumstances; yet it did not deprive the Chicago club of the right to do so if they so desired, notwithstanding that it might be termed as taking advantage of winning or losing a game upon a technicality.”

The Cubs had petitioned for the game to be forfeited to them, but their owner, Charles W. Murphy, was very confident of victory in the replayed game: “We will play them on Thursday, and we’ll lick them, too. We’ll make it so decisive this time that no boneheaded base running can cast a shadow of doubt on the contest. . . . Manager Chance and his players are all in good condition and will have no excuse if we fail to bring the third successive National league pennant to Chicago. . . . I feel sure that the Cubs again will prove that they are the greatest team of ball players in the world.”

About these ads

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: http://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/the-official-decision-on-merkles-boner/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. my understanding is that Merkle did not proceed to 2nd base because he saw the crowd storming the field and got scared so he ran away in fear for his safety.

  2. The shame of it all is that Merkle only did what was a common practice, especially in a hostle environment. Was the play accurate…?the ball remains in question…but, the decision was made and the consequences should never have been attributed to Merkle. That was trumped up by sports writers! Why they have so much influence (Hall of Fame elections come to mind) is beyond me. McGraw or his players never blamed Merkle, and I am quite sure neither did the Cubs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers