July 26, 1928: Yankees’ Bob Meusel becomes first AL player to hit for cycle three times

This article was written by Mike Huber


New York’s Bob Meusel hit for the cycle — for the record third time in his career — but that was not even mentioned in the newspaper accounts, as he and his Yankees teammates pounded the Detroit Tigers in the 12th inning of the first game of a scheduled doubleheader, posting a 12-1 destruction of the Tigers. Their 11-run outburst produced a record for the most runs scored in an extra inning in major league history.1

The defending World Series champions were making their second visit of the season to Detroit. Although they had lost the two previous games in this four-game series, the New Yorkers were 7-4 against the Tigers so far this season. The 67-27 Yankees were nine games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, cruising to their third consecutive American League pennant, and the 37-55 Tigers stood 29 games back, in last place. The Tigers had beaten the Yankees twice in a row, but before that they had lost seven of nine games. Still, a crowd of about 10,000 showed up to Detroit’s Navin Field on a Thursday afternoon for the doubleheader.

Yankees manager Miller Huggins “made a drastic rearrangement of his batting order”2 by moving Meusel into the second spot and dropping Tony Lazzeri and Mark Koenig to fifth and sixth, respectively. The day before, in a 3-2 loss to Detroit, Huggins had batted Koenig second, Meusel fifth, and Lazzeri sixth. Huggins called on veteran right-hander Waite Hoyt to start on the mound. The future Hall of Famer owned a record of 12-2, with an earned-run average of 4.21 (the AL average for ERA in 1928 was 4.04). In three previous starts against the Tigers, Hoyt had earned three victories, even though he had allowed 15 earned runs (his Yankees had scored 25 times).

Hoyt was opposed by Detroit rookie righty Vic Sorrell (2-4, 4.11). Sorrell had lasted only 4⅓ innings in his last start, six days earlier against the Washington Senators, allowing two runs in a no-decision outing. (The Tigers lost to the Nats, 7-4.)

Both pitchers seemed to have their stuff this day. Hoyt gave up a one-out double to Marty McManus in the bottom of the first and then set down 11 Detroit batters in a row before Al Wingo led off the fifth inning with a single to right field. Jack Warner singled in the sixth, and through the first eight innings, Hoyt had allowed only those three hits.

For the first 5⅔ innings, Sorrell was just as effective as Hoyt and “did not allow anything that even remotely resembled a hit.”3 Then the ice was broken in the sixth with a Meusel blast over the scoreboard for a 1-0 New York advantage, his eighth round-tripper of the season. The Yankees right fielder had struck out in each of his first two at-bats. He came to bat again in the ninth, leading off with a double. Babe Ruth followed with a long sacrifice fly to right, advancing Meusel to third, but he could advance no more.

Detroit still trailed coming into its last regulation at-bat. Tigers skipper George Moriarty sent Pinky Hargrave to pinch-hit for Warner. This move paid off, as the 5-foot, 8½-inch righty “clouted the longest home run of the year at Navin Field. The ball took flight over the right field fence and dropped into Trumbull avenue,”4 knotting the score. An out later, Charlie Gehringer “selected a pitch and flogged it to the center field bleachers for three bases.”5 However, neither Harry Rice (ground out to third) nor Wingo (fly out to center) could bring the winning run home. Meusel’s blow for New York and Hargrave’s solo shot for Detroit were the only tallies through nine innings, so the game went into overtime.

Each team got a runner to third base in the 10th frame, but neither could bring him home. Koenig singled for the Yankees and advanced to third on a sacrifice and groundout. With one out, Jackie Tavener tripled in the bottom of the 10th, but he was gunned down at the plate when Larry Woodall hit a groundball to New York’s third baseman, Gene Robertson, who fired home in time. The game continued to the 11th. With one out in the top half, Meusel launched a single to center, but he was erased when Ruth grounded into a 1-6-3 double play.

Both starters were locked in an epic pitcher’s duel, going the distance. The New York Times reported that in the top of the 12th, Sorrell “crumbled to dust and the Yankees scored eleven runs on ten hits.”6 According to the Detroit Free Press, Sorrell “broke under the strain and before the third man had been retired in the twelfth, 11 runs had crossed the plate.”7 Gehrig started with a base on balls and was forced at second by Lazzeri’s grounder to first baseman Bill Sweeney. The next nine batters reached safely. Koenig singled, Robertson doubled to right (1 RBI), Johnny Grabowski drew an intentional walk, Hoyt singled (2 RBIs), Earle Combs singled (1 RBI), Meusel tripled (2 RBIs), Ruth doubled (1 RBI), Lou Gehrig singled (1 RBI), and Lazzeri doubled 1 RBI). Leo Durocher came in to run for Lazzeri. Koenig struck out, Robertson singled (1 more RBI), and Grabowski doubled (1 RBI). Hoyt ended the explosion by grounding out to Sorrell. Fifteen batters had taken their hacks in the batter’s box. Robertson and Grabowski had collected two hits apiece.

Wingo singled to left to start the Tigers’ 12th and advanced to second on defensive indifference, but Hoyt shut down the next three batters to secure the 12-1 New York victory.

The Yankees set a record for most runs in an extra inning with the 11-run eruption. It took 41 seasons for it to be tied, when the Minnesota Twins scored 11 times in the 10th inning against the Oakland Athletics (June 21, 1969), and the Texas Rangers broke the record on July 3, 1983, when they scored 12 runs in the 15th inning against the A’s. The Yankees’ mark remained (as of 2018) the most runs ever scored by a team in the 12th inning of a game.

With the extra-inning base hits (single in the 11th and triple in the 12th), Meusel became the first player since the creation of the American League to hit for the cycle three times, equaling the mark set by nineteenth-century player John Reilly of the Cincinnati Reds (September 12, 1883, September 19, 1883, and August 6, 1890). Since Meusel’s record tri-cycle, Babe Herman and Adrian Beltre have each hit for the cycle three times.

Meusel’s 4-for-6 performance, with two runs scored and three batted in, raised his slugging percentage from .453 to .479. This event was the second cycle of the 1928 campaign, taking place two months after the New York Giants’ Bill Terry accomplished the feat against the Brooklyn Robins (May 29). This was also just the fourth cycle in Yankees history. Bert Daniels hit for the cycle on July 25, 1912, and the next three cycles were all hit by Meusel (May 7, 1921, against the Washington Senators; July 3, 1922, against the Philadelphia Athletics; and this one). The next Yankees player (after Meusel) to hit for the cycle was Tony Lazzeri (June 3, 1932), who collected the single, double, triple and home run in the same game that Lou Gehrig belted four home runs.

There was still another game to be played, and the fans were treated to two high-scoring games, as in the second match New York was “spanked to the melodious tune of 13-10.”8 This allowed Detroit to escape a double defeat. Harry Heilmann knocked in eight runs, by tripling and homering with the bases loaded and driving an RBI single late in the game, which gave him a share of the league lead in runs batted in, tied with teammate Rice and opponent Babe Ruth.

Postscript

Before the game, Tigers third baseman Chick Galloway was hit above the left temple by a wild pitched ball in batting practice. He was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull and remained “unconscious for some time.”9 The 10-year veteran was in his first year with Detroit (after nine seasons with the Athletics) and never returned to play baseball.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted baseball-reference.com, mlb.com, sabr.org, and retrosheet.org. 

Grifith, Nancy Snell. “Chick Galloway,” sabr.org/bioproj/person/86f57b31. Accessed September 2018.

baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET192807261.shtml.

retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1928/B07261DET1928.htm.

 

Notes

1 Craig Porter, ed., The Sporting News Complete Baseball Record Book (St. Louis: Sporting News Publishing Company, 1995).

2 James R. Harrison, “Yankees Win, 12-1; Then Yield, 13-10,” New York Times, July 27, 1928: 15.

3 “Tigers Split Two Games With Yanks,” Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1928: 17.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Harrison.

7 Detroit Free Press.

8 Harrison.

9 Ibid.

Additional Stats

New York Yankees 12 
Detroit Tigers 1


Navin Field
Detroit, MI

 

Box Score + PBP:

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