Solly Hofman (TRADING CARD DB)

July 29, 1914: Circus Solly Hofman bests ex-teammate Brown with walk-off single in 18th

This article was written by Paul Hofmann

Solly Hofman (TRADING CARD DB)The Wednesday afternoon matinee between the Brooklyn Tip-Tops and St. Louis Terriers was an epic 18-inning battle. It was both the longest game ever played at Washington Park and the longest game in the short history of the Federal League.1 The game lasted 4 hours and 1 minute and was contested under a wide range of weather conditions as unsettled weather passed through Brooklyn. The game featured strong winds, thunderstorms, rain, and wild temperature fluctuations that went from hot to cold.2

The Tip-Tops entered the game with a record of 44-38, four games behind the first-place Chicago Chi-Feds. The Terriers were mired in last place at 38-52, 14 games off the pace.

Rookie right-hander Rube Marion started the game for the Tip-Tops. He came into the game with a record of 3-1 and a 4.64 ERA. He was opposed by another rookie, right-hander Dave Davenport. The latter, who had started the season with the National League’s Cincinnati Reds, had a record of 1-4 with two saves for the Terriers and a 4.87 ERA. Overall he was 3-6 with four saves and a 3.75 ERA.

Marion started the game in fine fashion, striking out Jack Tobin, Ward Miller, and Delos Drake. Inexplicably, he came unglued in the top of the second. Hughie Miller beat out a bunt to lead off the inning, then Marion walked Al Boucher and Al Bridwell to load the bases, and then walked John Misse to force in the game’s first run. Sensing that Marion was unable to recover his control, manager Bill Bradley quickly summoned right-hander Byron Houck to stem the tide. Houck induced Terriers catcher Harry Chapman to hit into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring Boucher, then fanned Davenport to end the inning. Given how the frame started, Bradley and the Tip-Tops were pleased to be down only two runs.

The game remained 2-0 until the Terriers added a run in the top of sixth. Ward Miller was issued a leadoff walk by Houck and was sacrificed to second by Drake. Hughie Miller followed with a single that put runners on the corners before Boucher followed with a run-scoring single to push the Terriers’ lead to 3-0. Houck escaped further damage when he retired Bridwell and Misse on popups.

The Tip-Tops were unable to break through against Davenport until the bottom of the seventh. With two down and no one on, Davenport hit catcher Grover Land with a pitch. Veteran journeyman Jim Delahanty pinch-hit for Houck and drew a walk to move Land into scoring position. Left fielder Claude Cooper followed with single to left that plated Land with Brooklyn’s first run. 

With the Tip-Tops down 3-1 going into the top of the eighth, Bradley turned the pitching duties over to rookie John McGraw.3 The 23-year-old right-hander was a semipro pitcher from Louisville who was doing some work in the area and persuaded Bradley to give him a look.4 Despite not giving up a hit, McGraw struggled a bit with his control. He hit a batter, walked two, and relied on a pair of “fast double plays” to get out of the eighth and ninth innings unscored upon and keep the Tip-Tops within striking distance.5 The brief outing was McGraw’s only appearance in a major-league game. 

The Terriers’ lead was cut in half in the bottom of the eighth when right fielder Steve Evans, who would lead the Federal League in slugging percentage in 1914, launched a Davenport offering over the right-field wall for his eighth home run. The left-handed-hitting Evans was the Terriers’ most reliable hitter this season. He hit .348 with 41 doubles, a league-leading 15 triples, and 12 home runs. He also drove in a team-leading 96 RBIs.

Davenport returned to the mound for the bottom of the ninth to try to finish off the Tip-Tops. The inning started well enough for the Terriers. Veteran outfielder Danny Murphy, pinch-hitting for McGraw, struck out to lead off. However, things went south from there. With the Terriers down to their final two outs, Cooper singled to start a game-tying rally and raced to third when first baseman Art Griggs, who had replaced Hap Myers earlier in the game, singled to center. Rookie center fielder George Anderson tied the game when he lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Cooper.

With the game going into extra innings, Terriers player-manager Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, a six-time 20-game winner with the Chicago Cubs, inserted himself in relief of Davenport. Brown, who had started the season slowly, entered the game having won six of his last seven decisions. His record stood at 9-4 with a 3.30 ERA. Seldom-used right-hander Rube Peters assumed the hurling duties for the pitching-depleted Tip-Tops. Peters was 1-1 with an inflated ERA of 5.49. Both men would pitch the remainder of the distance. 

Inning after inning, Brown and Peters navigated their ways out of trouble throughout the extra frames. The Terriers left runners on base in the 12th, 13th, and 16th innings before leaving the bases loaded in the 17th. Meanwhile the Tip-Tops collected 10 hits off Brown in the six innings from the 12th to 17th, yet were unable to push the winning run across the plate. 

In the top of the 18th inning, the Terriers had a runner on second with two down when Bridwell laced a seed toward third base that appeared to be a certain tiebreaking double. Third baseman Tex Wisterzil made a phenomenal stop and nailed Bridwell by a step at first to preserve the tie.6

With darkness quickly descending over Washington Park, the Tip-Tops came to the plate in the bottom on the 18th. Brown started the inning by striking out Cooper. Griggs followed with a single to left and was forced at second when Anderson grounded into a fielder’s choice. Anderson stole second on Brown’s next pitch and moved to third when Evans beat out an infield single. This brought second baseman Solly Hofman, Brown’s teammate on the Chicago Cubs from 1904 to 1912, to the plate to face the aging right-handed Brown. “Circus Solly” ended the game when he sent a bullet through the box and into center field to drive in Anderson with the winning run. Hofman’s walk-off single initiated a mad rush onto the field of Brooklyn fans who attempted to mob the Tip-Tops’ second baseman. Hofman successfully eluded his well-wishers as he quickly dashed into the clubhouse.

Despite the challenging weather conditions, both teams played flawlessly in the field. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 139 chances were handled without an error being committed by either team. “It was by far the most sensational game seen thus far this season,” with the entire crowd staying until Andersen had crossed the plate, the Eagle wrote.7

After a 7-4 loss to the Baltimore Terrapins on August 21, the Terriers were sitting in seventh place with a 50-63 record. Brown, who had taken the loss to drop his record to 12-8, was fired.8 Less than two weeks later he signed with the Tip-Tops. He went 2-5 in nine outings with the Brooklyn club, finishing the year with a 14-13 record.9 The future Hall of Famer would have one more productive season with the Chicago Chi-Feds in 1915 before finishing his career with the Chicago Cubs in 1916.

After Brown was fired, the Terriers went 12-26 and finished the inaugural Federal League season in last place. The Tip-Tops finished in fifth place with a 77-77 record, 11½ games behind the league champion Indianapolis Hoosiers.  

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also relied on Baseball-reference.com and Retrosheet.org.

 

Notes

1 Robert Peyton Wiggins, The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2008), 114.

2 “Brooklyn Feds Win in 18 Innings; Superbas Lose in 16.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 30, 1914: 10.

3 This particular John McGraw was born Roy Elmer Hoar. He later took the name John McGraw.

4 “Notes of the Game,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 30, 1914: 10.

5 “Brooklyn Feds Win in 18 Innings; Superbas Lose in 16.” It is not entirely clear whether McGraw pitched one or two innings. The box score shows the right-hander as throwing two innings but also shows him as facing only four batters. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle account of the game mentions a “pair of passes” that also do not appear in the box score or in McGraw’s career totals. Robert Peyton Wiggins, in his book The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs: The History of an Outlaw Major League, 1914-1915, has McGraw throwing a single inning.

6 “Brooklyn Feds Win in 18 Innings; Superbas Lose in 16.”

7 Ibid.

8 Baseball-reference.com and Retrosheet.org give Brown’s 1914 record with the St. Louis Terriers as 12-6. However, individual game logs on both sides show Brown’s record as 12-8. 

9 See endnote 8.

Additional Stats

Brooklyn Tip-Tops 4
St. Louis Terriers 3

18 Innings


Washington Park 
Brooklyn, NY

 

Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

If you can help us improve this game story, contact us.

Tags

© SABR. All Rights Reserved