April 28, 1905: Youngsters Ty Cobb, Eddie Cicotte, and Clyde Engle excel in Augusta’s South Atlantic League win over Macon

This article was written by Stephen V. Rice

Ty Cobb, Eddie Cicotte, Clyde Engle (Trading Card DB)

In 1904, the South Atlantic League (aka the “Sally” League) was a new Class C minor league with six teams: three in Georgia (Macon, Augusta, and Savannah), two in South Carolina (Charleston and Columbia), and one in Florida (Jacksonville).1 Under the leadership of manager Billy Smith, the Macon Highlanders won the pennant. He returned to lead the team, renamed the Macon Champions, in 1905.2

The Augusta Tourists finished last in 1904. Catcher Andy Roth became the Augusta manager in 1905, and after working with the team at spring training, he exuded confidence. “I have a great team,” he said. “I see no reason why we should trail this campaign.”3

The 1905 Tourists featured several promising youngsters, including 18-year-old outfielder Ty Cobb, 20-year-old pitcher Eddie Cicotte, and 21-year-old second baseman Clyde Engle. Cobb and Engle had played for the Tourists the year before, and Engle was named a league “all-star.”4

To balance and guide the youth, Roth brought in an old friend and former teammate, George Leidy, an experienced outfielder in his late 30s.5 Leidy was “a fleet runner, a sure fielder, a good hitter, a scrappy player, [who] knows the game from A to Z, [and] never gets rattled.”6

The Tourists got off to a good start, winning five of their first eight games. In the ninth game, on Friday, April 28, 1905, they met the defending champion Champions in the first game of a four-game series at Macon’s Central City Park. The Champions had started slowly, winning only two of eight games, and sat unexpectedly in last place.7

Roth tabbed Cicotte to pitch the series opener. The Detroit Tigers of the American League had trained at Augusta that spring, and Cicotte pitched for them in exhibition games. He was deemed unready for major-league competition and transferred to the Tourists for the 1905 season.8 Cicotte won his first two starts for Augusta in impressive fashion. On April 19 he hurled a one-hitter in the season opener at Savannah,9 and five days later he delivered a three-hitter against Charleston in Augusta’s home opener. His “mystifying” spitball baffled the Charleston batters.10

For the Champions, Smith chose Curtis George, a 24-year-old pitcher who had posted a 14-5 record in 1904 for the Knoxville, Tennessee, team of the Tennessee-Alabama League.11 His best pitch was his “underhand rise ball.”12 He was “hit freely” on April 22, in Macon’s 4-2 loss at Jacksonville.13

The sole umpire was the inimitable Arlie Latham, a colorful figure known throughout baseball for more than 20 years, including 17 seasons of major-league play, most of it in the nineteenth century. At Central City Park on this blustery day, the attendance was modest, 630 or 648, depending on the source. One hundred twenty miles away, fans gathered at an Augusta establishment called the Metropole and paid 15 cents each to follow the play-by-play reported by telegraph ticker.

For the first six innings, it was a pitchers’ duel. Two Augusta home runs produced the only runs. Engle drilled a solo home run over the left-field fence in the first inning. In the fifth frame, with Cobb on base, Leidy homered over the same fence. The Augusta Herald opined that these home runs were aided by the wind and noted that the game had to be halted at one point “on account of the gale and dust.”14

In the top of the seventh inning, Jack Evers’ double to right field drove in the first Macon run. The Tourists came right back with two more runs in the bottom half. Cobb led off with a triple to left field; Leidy drew a walk and stole second base; and Engle sent both men home with a sharp single up the middle. The visitors led, 5-1.

Cicotte had been cruising, but the Champions rallied in the top of the eighth. With one out, Perry Lipe and Paul Sentell singled. A bobble by shortstop Rabbit Meehan allowed Bob Spade to reach base and Lipe to score. Cicotte fanned George Stinson but surrendered a two-run double to Jim Fox. Ely Kaphan drew a walk, and Evers stroked his second double of the game.15 Fox tallied, and on a wild throw home, Kaphan also scored.

The home team now led 6-5, but the Tourists evened the score in the bottom of the eighth. Meehan got aboard with an infield single, moved to second base on Roth’s sacrifice, and came home on Cobb’s rousing double.

Cicotte retired the Champions in order in the top of the ninth. Leading off in the bottom of the ninth, Engle drove the ball over the left-field fence. It was his second home run of the game and the game-winner. The final score was Augusta 7, Macon 6.

Afterward, a Macon newspaper suggested that the left-field fence be raised:

Engle’s “two homers, and the many others that have been hit over the same fence by visitors have caused many enterprising Macon merchants to think of erecting a large ‘ad’ just over the planks. The ‘ad’ would knock off home runs and bring trade too. A great scheme and the sooner it is put into operation the more runs it may save.”16

It seems that the fence also needed “lowering.” On June 5, 1905, Meehan hit a home run “of the freak variety”; the ball went through “a hole under the left field fence where the small boys had burrowed to see the games.”17


Years later, Cobb recalled the 1905 Augusta Tourists: “That club managed by Andy Roth developed a great spirit. Every man on the team was proud of it, and all of us worked together like a machine.”18

Leidy mentored Cobb throughout the season and had a profound influence on him. “I owe George Leidy more than any other man in baseball for training given me when I needed it most,” said Cobb.19

Cobb’s .326 batting average led the South Atlantic League and far outpaced the league average of .225.20 He made his major-league debut with the Tigers on August 30, 1905.

Cicotte compiled a 15-9 record for Augusta, which earned him a brief trial with the Tigers in September 1905. He spent the next two years in the minors before returning to the majors in 1908 with the Boston Red Sox.

Engle hit .265 for Augusta, the second highest average on the team after Cobb. Engle played for Newark in the Eastern League from 1906 to 1908, and made his major-league debut with the New York Highlanders in 1909.

The Macon Champions began the 1905 season with a 2-7 record but repeated as league champions with an impressive 75-45 mark. The Augusta Tourists finished in fourth place with a 56-71 record.21



This article was fact-checked by Ray Danner and copy-edited by Len Levin.



Game coverage in the April 29, 1905, issues of the Augusta Chronicle, Augusta Herald, and Macon Telegraph.

Baseball-reference.com, accessed February 2023.

The images of Cobb, Cicotte, and Engle are from 1910-11 Sporting Life baseball cards.



1 At that time, Class C was the third-highest of baseball’s four levels of minor-league play.

2 “Baseball Talk,” Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, February 11, 1905: 8. Some period newspapers referred to the 1905 Macon team as the “Brigands,” but the team’s official name was “Champions.”

3 “In the World of Sport,” Augusta (Georgia) Herald, April 8, 1905: 6.

4 “Best Individual Ball Players,” Savannah (Georgia) Morning News, September 11, 1904: 8.

5 “A Man of Many Leagues Been Signed,” Augusta Herald, February 19, 1905: 8. George Leidy was born in 1866 or 1867; in the spring of 1905 he was 37 to 39 years old.

6 “Notes of the Players,” Augusta Herald, April 27, 1905: 6.

7 “Standings of the Teams,” Augusta Herald, April 28, 1905: 6.

8 “Cicotte Transferred to the Augusta Club,” Pittsburgh Press, April 4, 1905: 14.

9 “Hear That Doleful Sound down the Valley,” Augusta Herald, April 20, 1905: 6.

10 “Augusta Won from Charleston in Hot Game,” Augusta Herald, April 25, 1905: 6. The spitball became the pitch du jour in baseball after Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders threw it during his phenomenal 41-win season of 1904.

11 “Baseball Notes,” Knoxville (Tennessee) Journal and Tribune, February 3, 1905: 3.

12 “Last Exhibition Game This Afternoon,” Macon Telegraph, April 17, 1905: 3.

13 “Jays Outplay Macon’s Bunch,” Macon Telegraph, April 23, 1905: 8.

14 “Three Home Runs in Yesterday’s Slug-fest,” Augusta Herald, April 29, 1905: 6.

15 The published box scores give Jack Evers credit for only one double, but newspaper accounts indicate that he twice hit for two bases.

16 “Engel’s [sic] Home Run Won Game from Macon,” Macon Telegraph, April 29, 1905: 5.

17 “Smith’s Champs Trim Tourists,” Macon (Georgia) News, June 6, 1905: 2.

18 Ty Cobb, My Twenty Years in Baseball, William R. Cobb, ed. (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2009), 22.

19 John B. Sheridan, “Back of the Home Plate: Observations of a Veteran Scribe,” The Sporting News, August 25, 1921: 4.

20 Francis C. Richter, ed., The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide for 1906 (Philadelphia: A.J. Reach Co., 1906), 254.

21 Richter, Reach Guide for 1906, 253.

Additional Stats

Augusta Tourists 7
Macon Champions 6

Central City Park
Macon, GA

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