On July 21, 1925, the Chicago White Sox (47-43) hosted the Boston Red Sox (27-61) in a doubleheader that closed out a five-game series. The first game of the twin bill was rescheduled from a rainout on July 19 and featured a matchup between Roy Carlyle, a rookie batter who hit for the cycle, and Chief Bender, a retired star pitcher who was activated for this one game.
Carlyle had made his major-league debut three months earlier, on April 16, as a pinch-hitter with the Washington Senators. In his one at-bat in that game, he struck out looking against the New York Yankees’ Waite Hoyt, leaving two runners on base. Less than two weeks later, Carlyle was unceremoniously traded to the Boston Red Sox.1 As Bill Nowlin writes in his SABR biography of Carlyle, “Was that strikeout so unforgiveable?”2 The Senators won the 1925 American League pennant and went on to play in the World Series, while the Red Sox held the other end of the standings, finishing the season 49½ games back.
Boston and Chicago had also played a doubleheader the previous day (July 20) at Comiskey Park. The home team won that matinee game, 3-1, while the visitors took the second contest, 10-7. The Red Sox had been playing on the road since July 8. Even with their win in the second game of the July 20 doubleheader, they had won just three of 14 games. The third-place White Sox, meanwhile, were concluding a 17-game homestand, so far having won seven of the first 15 games.
Red Faber started for Chicago. The tall right-hander was in his 12th season pitching for the White Sox. He had led the league in complete games and earned-run average in both 1921 and 1922. From 1920 through 1922, he won 69 games.3 Since then, Faber’s performance had been characterized by fewer starts and higher ERAs (4.12 going into this start, his 20th of the season). His batterymate was Ray Schalk. In this game, Schalk broke the all-time record for games caught, with “1,576 big time engagements in his book.”4 Fellow righty Paul Zahniser got the nod for the Red Sox. Making his 10th start for Boston, Zahniser brought a whopping 5.69 earned-run average and a 1-6 record with him.
Boston notched a run in the first inning, as Ike Boone drew a two-out walk and Carlyle drove the ball into deep left field for an RBI triple. It was the first triple of his career.
Although the White Sox loaded the bases in the third on two walks and a single, they came away empty. An inning later, however, they took the lead and came close to blowing the game open. Kamm led off with a single. Schalk’s groundout advanced Kamm to second. Faber singled into right field, but Kamm held up at third. Johnny Mostil lined a double that drove in Kamm for a 2-1 Chicago lead. Ike Davis then grounded a ball to first baseman Phil Todt, who stepped on the bag to get Davis and then fired home in time for his catcher, Al Stokes, to apply the tag on Faber. The double play killed the rally, just as the heart of the Chicago order was due to bat.
Boston’s bats woke up in the sixth. Boone walked again. Carlyle, who had popped out to short in his previous at-bat, now laced a double to right. Todt singled, with Boone scoring the tying run and Carlyle going to third. Bill Wambsganss lofted a sacrifice fly into left, and Carlyle’s tally gave Boston a 3-2 lead.
Dud Lee and Stokes then hit back-to-back singles and the bases were loaded with still only one out. Chicago’s player-manager Eddie Collins called for a pitching change. Sarge Connally relieved Faber, making his 20th appearance of the season. The first batter he faced was his mound opponent Zahniser, who promptly grounded into a first-to-home-to-first inning-ending double play.
Zahniser was still struggling with his control in the bottom of the sixth, walking Kamm (who was then caught stealing) and Schalk. That gave him six walks in the game. He also allowed a single to Connally, but again the White Sox did not score.
Boston strung together three consecutive singles in the top of the seventh (by Homer Ezzell, Boone, and Carlyle) for their fourth run, but Chicago answered in the bottom of the eighth. Falk singled to start the inning but was forced at second by Hooper’s grounder to first. Kamm blooped a single to center, and the White Sox had runners at the corners. Rookie Spencer Harris entered the game, pinch-hitting for Schalk.5 The speedy Harris hit a weak grounder up the middle for an infield hit. Hooper scored and Kamm was safe at second.
Buck Crouse was the second pinch-hitter of the inning (for the pitcher Connally). Crouse grounded a ball deep into the hole at short. It was fielded by Lee, but his throw to first was late. Kamm rounded third and tried to score. Boston’s first baseman Todt threw home and Kamm was called out at the plate. Another rally was snuffed out with a play at home. Boston carried its 4-3 lead into the ninth.
The crowd erupted as Connally was replaced by Chief Bender. The 41-year-old Bender, who was employed as a pitching coach for the White Sox, had last pitched in the majors on September 30, 1917, when he earned the 212th (and final) victory of his Hall of Fame career. Before this game, as a favor (or perhaps a gimmick) to player-manager Collins, Bender had been transferred to the active list and, according to the Chicago Tribune, “was ushered to the slab midst loud shouting from the multitude”6 to assume relief duties against the Red Sox, the same club against which he had made his ML debut in 1903.7
Amid the excitement, fans still knew that Boston had a one-run lead. Bender walked the first batter he faced, Ira Flagstead. Ezzell sacrificed his teammate to second with a bunt. Boone flied out, bringing up Carlyle, who was 3-for-4 to this point. Carlyle “showed no respect for the old master by spanking the pill so hard that it landed in the top row of the right field bleachers”8 for his sixth home run of the season, adding two insurance runs to the Red Sox lead. When Todt fouled out, Bender had retired the side, and although he did not get a decision, his final appearance in the majors gave him an 18.00 earned-run average for his 1925 “season.”
The White Sox put the leadoff runner on in their half of the ninth, but a double play and fly out ensued, and Boston had won the opener, 6-3. This win marked only the fifth time all season that the Red Sox had won two games in succession.9 Chicago rebounded to win the second game, 8-3, curtailing Boston’s short-lived winning streak.
With his home run, Carlyle had hit for the cycle. He had collected four of Boston’s 12 hits. He raised his batting average to .365 and his OPS jumped 64 points to .964.10 Both stats led the last-place Red Sox. Zahniser earned the complete-game victory (his second win of the season), allowing three runs on nine hits. He had issued six bases on balls, but his ERA still stood at 5.44.
Carlyle’s rare feat marked the third (and final) time in 1925 that a batter had hit for the cycle, following two Pittsburgh Pirates hitters: Kiki Cuyler (June 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies) and Max Carey (June 20 against the Brooklyn Robins). In addition, Carlyle’s accomplishment, which came in only his 48th game in the big leagues, was the fourth time in the Boston American League franchise history that a batter had hit for the cycle.11
In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, MLB.com, Retrosheet.org, and SABR.org.
1 Carlyle was traded with Paul Zahniser from the Senators to the Red Sox on April 29, 1925, in exchange for Joe Harris. Carlyle started 67 of 93 games in 1925 as an outfielder for Boston. In the other 26 games, he was used as a pinch-hitter.
3 Faber pitched for the White Sox for 20 seasons, amassing 254 career wins, plus three more in the 1917 World Series. He made 25 appearances (with 20 starts and nine complete games) for the 1919 Black Sox, but he did not appear on Chicago’s World Series roster. Faber had been “weakened by illness and then hampered by arm and ankle injuries” in 1919. See Jacob Pomrenke, “1919 White Sox: The Pitching Depth Dilemma,” found online at sabr.org/journal/article/1919-white-sox-the-pitching-depth-dilemma/. Accessed October 2020. In a personal conversation (email on October 26, 2020), Black Sox historian Jacob Pomrenke informed me that “If Faber had been healthy and productive all season in 1919, it would have completely changed the trajectory of the Black Sox Scandal.”
4 Irving Vaughan, “Sox Split Twin Bill as Schalk Cracks Record,” Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1925: 17. Schalk finished his 18-year career with 1,727 games as a backstop. At the end of the 2020 season, that ranked as 18th-best. Everyone ahead of him on the list began playing in the majors after Schalk, and most played longer and in 162-game seasons.
5 Harris appeared in 56 games in 1925 for the White Sox, and in roughly half (29), he was used as a pinch-hitter. He spent 26 seasons in the minor leagues, playing in the “big leagues” for parts of 1925, 1926, 1929, and 1930.
7 Bender made his major-league debut on April 20, 1903, against the Boston Americans.
9 The Red Sox had a three-game win streak from May 21-26. The also won the final three games of the season (September 30-October 2) for their only other win streak longer than two games.
10 According to Baseball-Reference.com, Carlyle’s average was .362, and his OPS was .958.
11 Carlyle’s cycle followed Boston players Buck Freeman (June 21, 1903, against the Cleveland Naps), Patsy Dougherty (July 29, 1903, against the New York Highlanders), and Tris Speaker (June 9, 1912, against the St. Louis Browns).