June 21, 1901: Reds’ Doc Parker allows record 26 hits to Superbas in first game after 5-year absence

This article was written by Larry DeFillipo

Doc Parker (TRADING CARD DB)When Cincinnati Reds pitcher Dr. Harley “Doc” Parker stepped onto the mound at Brooklyn’s Washington Park on June 21, 1901, it’d been five years since he last pitched in a National League game. Opportunities created by the American League’s transformation to major-league status paved the way for Parker’s return. Unfortunately for him, it was one historically bad return.

The fledgling AL’s decision to compete head-to-head with the NL in 1901 instantly raised the number of major-league players needed to fill rosters. As part of American League founder and President Ban Johnson’s plan to decimate the NL, the AL allowed its clubs to roster 18 players each, versus the NL limit of 14 players.1 Collectively, this increased the number of major-league roster slots by 129 percent from the previous year, from 112 to 256. The need for so many players triggered a free-for-all across both leagues. Clubs bid against each other to secure front-line talent, and filling rosters meant courting players they might’ve otherwise looked past.

One of those players was Doc Parker. A Chicago physician who’d pitched 17 games for the NL’s Chicago Colts between 1893 and 1896, he’d toiled in the minor leagues ever since. Despite a rocky 12-15 record with a 5.45 ERA in 1900 with the Minneapolis Millers of the then-still-minor-league AL, Parker garnered a preseason offer from the AL’s Boston Americans.

He spurned the chance to play alongside Cy Young (who had jumped from the NL’s St. Louis Cardinals just weeks earlier),2 and instead agreed to sign with the AL’s Cleveland Blues a few weeks later. While en route to Cleveland from his home in Chicago, however, Parker changed his mind again and decided to join the Louisville Colonels of the Western Association.3 After a few starts, Parker came up with a sore arm and was sent home to rest.

Four days later, on June 14, his 29th birthday, an apparently restless Parker signed a contract with the Reds.4 A week after signing, Doc was facing the two-time defending NL champions Brooklyn Superbas.

The 1901 Reds, a seventh-place team a season earlier, were led by first-year manager Bid McPhee, who’d spent 18 years with the franchise, dating back to the year after the club’s founding in the American Association.5 The Reds relied on a pitching rotation of ace Noodles Hahn, Bill Phillips, and lefty Doc Newton, with occasional starts from rookie Barney McFadden and future Hall of Famer Amos Rusie, nearing the end of his career.

Cincinnati got off to a solid start and was in and out of first place up until June 8. Then the Reds unraveled. On June 9 the Giants pummeled Phillips, Rusie, and McFadden, 25-13, bashing an NL-record 31 hits, a total unmatched through the 2021 season.6 His arm shot despite spending two years out of baseball in hopes of restoring it, Rusie was dispatched to the Muncie Athletics of the Indiana State League, never to return to the major leagues.

Now on a “toboggan slide,”7 the Reds committed six errors in a loss to the Boston Beaneaters the next day. A week later, the Reds had lost seven of eight games (with one tie) and fell into sixth place. A brutal 17-game road trip was next, the first stop Brooklyn.

The Superbas had won the 1899 and 1900 pennants on the strength of players transferred from the Baltimore Orioles by brewery magnate Harry von Horst, who owned both clubs, but were mediocre in 1901. The competitor league factored significantly into their decline: Brooklyn was specifically targeted in a strategy to hamstring the NL by degrading its flagship team.8 By Opening Day, AL teams had spirited away Brooklyn ace Joe McGinnity, center fielder Fielder Jones, third baseman Lave Cross and jack-of-all-trades Harry Howell.9 The Superbas also lost first baseman Hughie Jennings, who refused to sign a contract, then insisted on being traded.

Brooklyn was 22-22 at the start of its series with Cincinnati,10 five games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.11 Jimmy Sheckard, who’d been escorted off the field by police in their last series with the Reds,12 and two-time batting champ Willie Keeler paced the offense, hitting .344 and .332, respectively. Wild Bill Donovan, rarely used the previous two seasons with Brooklyn and Baltimore, emerged to carry the pitching load, his record 11-4 with a 2.98 ERA.

The “Champions,” as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle unfailingly called the Brooklyn nine, won the June 19 opener of their three-game series with Cincinnati, 10-6, highlighted by four hits from Deacon McGuire, including two triples. Donovan navigated around 10 Reds hits and seven walks to win the next game, 8-1,13 helping himself with “the longest hit of the season at Washington Park,” a two-run homer. 14

Fair skies with temperatures in the upper 70s greeted a crowd of 1,900 at Washington Park for the series finale on June 21. Brooklyn Manager Ned Hanlon tabbed little-used Brickyard Kennedy as his starter. The one-time Bridegrooms ace had earned 20-plus wins the last two seasons, first pitching behind Jay Hughes, then McGinnity. With Donovan’s emergence, Hughes’s return from the California League,15 and Frank Kitson rediscovering the magic he had with the 1899 Orioles,16 Brickyard was reduced to spot starts and mop-up assignments.

Due to start next for the Reds was Newton, who’d allowed 29 runs (17 earned) and 36 hits in his last three starts. McPhee elected to skip Newton’s turn and go with another Doc,17 newly acquired Doc Parker, in an audition to assume Rusie’s role.

The Superbas welcomed Parker back into the NL with a run in the first inning, Keeler scoring on Tom Daly’s18 fly ball after he’d doubled and stolen third. Cincinnati returned the favor in the second, with Harry Steinfeldt scoring on Heinie Peitz’s fly. McGuire’s “corking double to left” scored Duke Farrell in the second after he’d advanced on a wild pitch and a sacrifice, putting Brooklyn up 2-1.19

The Reds took the lead in the third, sparked by the Reds’ other Harley, left fielder Dick Harley. His single and stolen base, followed by Sam Crawford’s20 walk and stolen base set the table. George Magoon drove both runners in with a single to center, giving Cincinnati a 3-2 lead.

It hardly lasted a New York minute. Brooklyn scored four runs in the bottom of the third on singles from Keeler, Sheckard, and Daly, followed by Bill Dahlen’s two-bagger, a Tom McCreery fly ball and a single from Farrell. In the fourth, Dahlen plated Keeler, the man who’d broken his consecutive-game hitting streak record four years earlier.21 Brooklyn led, 7-3.

A dozen Superbas batted in the fifth, scoring seven runs on seven hits, helped along by two errors each by shortstop Magoon and second baseman Steinfeldt. Magoon earned some redemption when he snared a liner off McGuire’s bat to end the inning. Meanwhile, Kennedy was mowing the Reds down in order, inning after inning. With his team trailing 14-3, McPhee elected to leave Parker in the game, letting him take one for the team.22

In the sixth, Keeler crushed a home run to deep center field, and “deciding he had done enough execution for the day,” withdrew.23 He’d gone a perfect 5-for-5, with five runs scored.24 The Brooklyn Daily Standard Union quipped that Keeler left out of exhaustion.25

The onslaught reached its zenith in the seventh when 10 Superbas came to bat, scoring six runs on six hits. “The whole Brooklyn team went to bat each time and the men piled up hits and runs until the scorers became tired of scoring,” quipped the Brooklyn Times.26 The score was now a football-esque 21-3.

Brooklyn took a knee in the eighth. Cincinnati obligingly went down one-two-three, bringing the debacle to an end. Kennedy had retired the last 20 Reds in a row for his first win of the season, the Superbas had pulled another game closer to the Pirates, and the Reds had been trampled.27

Brooklyn scored in every inning they’d tried. Every Superba batter had a hit, with RBIs from eight starters. Parker allowed 21 runs on 26 hits, setting a modern major-league record for hits allowed and a modern National League record for runs allowed in a nine-inning game, both of which still stood as of the 2021 season.28

Sad to see the Reds leave the City of Churches, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle broke into song:29

We are sorry, very sorry,
You have flown, Gentle Reds.
Would that you could every tarry
In our zone, Gentle Reds.
But the mem’ry of the clatter of the
Festive Brooklyn batter
Will abide till you return, Gentle Reds.

As if it were all a bad dream, Parker woke the next day no longer a Red.30 The Reds woke the next day in Philadelphia and ended their nightmarish winless streak at 11.

Parker bounced around the minor leagues for a few more years, then went on to become one of the most sought-after medical specialists among major leaguers,31 a pennant-winning minor-league manager,32 and owner of a failed minor-league franchise.33 And, for one month in 1911, Parker was an AL umpire, hired, and then fired,34 by Ban Johnson, whose determination to make the AL into a major league led to Parker suffering one of the worst days in major-league history.



This article was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin and copyedited by Len Levin.



In addition to the Sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted the Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org websites for pertinent material and the box scores noted below; and SABR Baseball Biography Project biographies of several players who participated in the game and other related figures, including the author’s biography of Doc Parker, Charles F. Faber’s biography of Amos Rusie, and David Nemec’s biography of Brickyard Kennedy.





1 Both leagues consisted of eight teams in the 1901 season. Due to the lack of adequate talent and financial limitations, the AL reduced its maximum roster size to 14 in May. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/baseball_rosters.shtml, accessed December 31, 2021.

2 “Cy Young Signs with Boston,” Boston Globe, March 20, 1901: 5; “Dr. Harley Parker,” Minneapolis Journal, May 13, 1901: 9.

3 Parker preferred the Colonels, managed by former Millers manager and close friend Walt Wilmot. “Reitz Out for Good,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, May 17, 1901: 8; “At Toledo,” Dayton Daily News, May 21, 1901: 3.

4 “Parker Signs with Cincinnati,” Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1901: 7.

5 McPhee is considered the greatest second baseman of the nineteenth century, and remains, through 2021, the all-time leader in putouts by a second baseman (6,552). He took over the manager’s job from Bob Allen, another first-year manager who’d guided the Reds to a seventh-place finish in 1900.

6 The Giants’ Kip Selbach contributed six hits, tying a team record held by Danny Richardson (1887), Jack Glasscock (1890), and George Davis (1895). The game was officially forfeited to the Giants in the bottom of the ninth by umpire Bob Emslie, when fans at Cincinnati’s League Park overran the field. http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/rare_feats/index.jsp?feature=most_hits_game.

7 “Champions Win by Hard Hitting,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 20, 1901: 13.

8 The American League reconfigured the location of its franchises in its first few seasons in order to compete head-to-head with the National League in the nation’s largest cities. In 1901 the AL had franchises in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston, ranked second, third and fifth in US population at the time. In 1902 the Milwaukee Brewers franchise was relocated to St. Louis, the fourth largest city in the United States. The league lacked a franchise in the nation’s largest city, New York, until Bill Devery and Frank Farrell purchased the Baltimore franchise and relocated it to New York for the 1903 season. https://www2.census.gov/library/working-papers/1998/demo/pop-twps0027/tab13.txt; https://www.si.com/mlb/dodgers/news/dodgers-history-the-brief-reign-of-the-brooklyn-superbas.

9 Howell pitched and played the infield and the outfield. During the 1901 season he played every position for the Baltimore Orioles except catcher and third base, including pitching 32 complete games.

10 The Brooklyn record here differs from that reported by Baseball-Reference.com. That website identifies a May 13 contest with the New York Giants as a tie; however, the umpire forfeited that game to the Giants with the score tied, 7-7. The 22-22 record is consistent with retrosheet.com, and four New York newspapers published on June 19, 1901 (New York Times, New York Tribune, Brooklyn Eagle, and Brooklyn Citizen). Paul Doherty, “The Why and Wherefore of Forfeit Games,” https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-why-and-wherefore-of-forfeit-games/.

11 Between 1890 and 1911, US government regulations required that the names of all cities and towns ending with “burgh” be spelled without the final “h.” Accordingly, the city of Pittsburgh was known as “Pittsburg” during this period. “Pittsburgh with the ‘H’ Please: Geographic Board Reconsiders Dropping Final Letter,” Pittsburgh Post, July 22, 1911: 1. This article uses the current “Pittsburgh” spelling, except in reference to publication titles or direct quotations using “Pittsburg.”

12 On June 4, irate at having been called out on a play at second base, Sheckard threw a handful of dirt at umpire Elmer Cunningham and spit in his face. Cunningham summoned the police, who escorted Sheckard out of the park. “Revolting Rowdyism by Brooklyn Player,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 5, 1901: 13; The 2020 Umpire Media Guide, http://www.stevetheump.com/reports/2020%20Umpire%20Media%20Guide.pdf, accessed January 1, 2022.

13 Off the field on this day, June 20, Hughie Jennings agreed to a negotiated settlement that ended his holdout, as well as his time with Brooklyn. Once Jennings had announced his holdout, Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics and John McGraw of the Baltimore Orioles had each laid claim to the rights to sign him. A tug of war ensued between the two over Jennings, with Ban Johnson ruling in Mack’s favor. Frustrated at being stuck in the middle, Jennings took matters into his own hands. He made an agreement with Superbas manager Ned Hanlon that resulted in his trade to the NL Philadelphia Phillies for the rights to speedy third baseman Billy Lauder. Brooklyn was unable to sign Lauder, and so maintained a merry-go-round at the hot corner throughout the season. “Jennings Will Play for Athletics or Return to the National League,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 17, 1901: 7; “Mugsy M’Graw Bluffing Hard to Win Jennings,” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 18, 1901: 7; After signing a contract with Brooklyn, “Daly Is President of Players’ Union,” New York Sun, June 24, 1901: 8.

14 “Yesterday’s Baseball Games,” New York Times, June 21, 1901: 8.

15 One of the talented players transferred to Brooklyn from the Baltimore Orioles after the 1898 season, Hughes elected to play in 1900 for his hometown Sacramento Brewers. The willingness of the Brewers’ owner to match his Brooklyn salary, a preference for California weather, local business prospects, and a pregnant wife all contributed to his decision to stay near home. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/jay-hughes/.

16 Kitson led the National League in wins (28) during the 1899 season, and was the ace of an Orioles four-man rotation that included Kennedy.

17 Newton started six more games for Cincinnati, going 1-5, before being released on July 13. He was signed by the Superbas three days later, despite his 0-3, 5.68 ERA record against them that season.

18 A few days after the Reds series, on June 23, Daly was elected the second president of the Protective Association of Professional Baseball Players after founding president Chief Zimmer resigned. The Association was the second in a long line of professional player unions, following the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players founded by John Montgomery Ward in 1885, and a precursor to the Players Fraternity, founded in 1912. “Ball Players’ Meeting: Zimmer, Vindicated by Election, Resigns, and T. Daly Succeeds Him,” New York Times, June 24, 1901: 5.

19 “Locals Slaughtered Reds in Final Contest,” Brooklyn Times, June 22, 1901: 6.

20 Crawford, the major-league lifetime leader in triples through the 2021 season (309), collected 16 triples during the 1901 season.

21 Dahlen held the NL record for the longest consecutive-game hitting streak (42, set while he was a member of the 1894 Chicago Colts) until it was broken by Keeler on June 16, 1897. Keeler’s streak reached 44, which remains the NL record as of the end of the 2021 season.

22 For a brief period before the start of the 1901 season, NL owners had agreed to not reward players taking one for the team while in the batter’s box. A rule change by which a hit batsman was to be awarded a ball rather than first base (as was the case prior to 1884) was approved, but then reversed days before the start of the season after objections from players and “others.” “Change in Playing Rules,” Cincinnati Enquirer, April 21, 1901: 25; “History of the Hit Batsman,” http://www.19cbaseball.com/rules-4.html, accessed November 19, 2021.

23 Keeler’s replacement, Cozy Dolan, recently signed after his release by the Chicago Orphans, singled the next inning in his debut for Brooklyn. “Base Hits Galore for the Champions,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 22, 1901: 8.

24 Keeler went 12-for-15 (.800) during the Reds series, raising his batting average from .332 to .366, third in the NL.

25 “Willie Keeler Was Tired Out,” Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, June 22, 1901: 5.

26 “Locals Slaughtered Reds in Final Contest.”

27 The Lexington (Kentucky) Herald, comparing the match to a horse race easily won, curtly observed that “Brooklyn had a batting picnic today and won in a canter.” “Brooklyn Won in a Canter,” Lexington Herald, June 22, 1901: 4.

28 Prior to 1901 (the start of the modern era), the major-league record for the most hits (and runs) allowed in a nine-inning game was held by Jack Wadsworth of the NL Louisville Colonels, who surrendered 36 hits to the Philadelphia Phillies on August 17, 1894. Parker’s 26-hit modern record has been equaled twice. On May 18, 1912, college student and future priest Allan Travers, pitching in a baseball game for the first time in his life, allowed 26 hits to the defending World’s Champion Philadelphia Athletics as an emergency fill-in for striking Detroit Tigers players. (Deacon McGuire, Brooklyn’s catcher in the 1901 rout of Cincinnati discussed in this article and a Tigers coach in 1912, came out of retirement at age 48 to serve as Travers’ catcher against the Athletics.) On September 11, 1936, Philadelphia A’s pitcher Hod Lisenbee gave up 26 hits to the Chicago White Sox. Charlie White, “One for the Book,” Richmond (Virginia) Times Dispatch, December 24, 1932: 15.

29 Listed by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle as “to the tune of ‘Good-by, Dolly Gray,’” the first of three stanzas are included here. Goodbye, Dolly Gray was a music-hall song written during the Spanish-American War and popularized as a Boer War anthem. “Base Hits Galore for the Champions”

30 McPhee signed eight more starting pitchers after releasing Parker. On September 23, 1901, one of those eight, 28-year old rookie Archie Stimmel, allowed 20 hits in yet another thrashing by the Superbas, 25-6. Through the 2021 season, the 1901 Reds remain the only major-league team in the modern era to have allowed 25 or more runs more than once in a season.

31 A graduate of Hering Medical College in Chicago, Parker considered himself a “nerve specialist.” He treated Ginger Beaumont, Frank Chance, Wild Bill Donovan, Johnny Evers, Nick Altrock, Frank Schulte, Hughie Jennings, Three Finger Brown, and many others. “Lively Day of Practice for the White Sox,” Chicago Inter-Ocean, April 12, 1905: 4; “Rain Keeps Both Ball Clubs Idle,” Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1905: 6; “Brown in Condition Next Week,” Moline Dispatch, October 4, 1906: 6; “Donovan’s Salary Arm,” Sporting Life, February 26, 1910: 5; “‘Bonesetter’ Reese Is Not the Only Man That Repairs Ball Players,” Dayton Herald, March 1, 1910: 6.

32 In 1903 player-manager Parker led the Sycamore (Indiana) Sycamores team to first place in the inaugural season of the Interstate League. James Langland, Compiler, Final Interstate League standings – The Chicago Daily News Almanac and Year-Book for 1904 (Chicago: Chicago Daily News Co., 1904), 230.

33 Parker purchased the Central League’s Grand Rapids franchise in January 1911, in a deal that excluded all 14 players on the team’s reserve list, who were transferred to former owner Bert Ennis’s South Bend team. Financial losses from poor attendance forced Parker to twice take on partners to raise operating funds. By the end of June, Parker’s resources were exhausted and he turned the club back to the league, which subsequently relocated the franchise to Newark, Ohio. “Parker May Get Stag Franchise,” Fort Wayne Sentinel, December 15, 1910: 8; “Dr. Harley Parker Buys Grand Rapids,” Evansville Courier and Press, January 6, 1911: 7; Fort Wayne Sentinel, April 7, 1911: 8; “Baseball Gossip of the Central League Teams,” Louisville Courier-Journal, July 2, 1911: 29.

34 Parker was hired in July 1911 by Johnson as a temporary umpire to replace Jack Sheridan, who’d gone missing and was presumed “retired.” He worked a total of 24 games, including an August 4 contest in which the Washington Senators’ Germany Schaefer stole first base after having already stolen second base, in a failed attempt to execute a double steal. Once Sheridan returned from his walkabout and senior umpire Tommy Connolly returned from a brief summer vacation, Johnson terminated Parker’s contract. “Bits of Baseball,” Washington Herald, July 31, 1911: 7; “Dashes in Sports,” South Bend Tribune, August 22, 1911: 8.

Additional Stats

Brooklyn Superbas 21
Cincinnati Reds 3

Washington Park
Brooklyn, NY


Box Score + PBP:

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