Heinie Peitz (Trading Card DB)

June 28, 1899: Five Senators tagged out at home plate in narrow loss to Reds

This article was written by Stephen V. Rice

Heinie Peitz (Trading Card DB)The Washington Senators are “nonentities,” said the Washington Times on June 27, 1899.1 The team had lost 14 of its last 15 games and sat in 11th place in the 12-team National League. On Wednesday, June 28, the Senators began a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at League Park in Cincinnati. Dick Padden, the Senators’ 28-year-old captain, was put in charge while manager Arthur Irwin was away on a scouting trip.2

Thirty-nine-year-old Buck Ewing, a renowned former catcher, was in his fifth season managing the Reds. With a .500 record, his team was in seventh place. The third-place finish of 1898 had fans expecting better. “The rallying cry of 90 percent of the enthusiasts of Cincinnati is, ‘Get rid of Ewing!’” reported the Cincinnati Post. He “has outlived his usefulness.”3 Reds catcher Heinie Peitz defended his skipper. Ewing has endured our “bad luck and bad ball” this year yet “hasn’t faltered or got rattled,” said Peitz. He does “everything in his power to win.”4

On June 28 Ewing put only veterans in his lineup with one exception: Harry Steinfeldt, a 23-year-old second-year player, was at second base instead of venerable 39-year-old Bid McPhee. The starting battery was Peitz and Bill Phillips, a 30-year-old right-hander.

Peitz, at 28, was in his eighth major-league season and fourth in Cincinnati. In the 1890s “there were few better catchers in the major leagues” than Peitz, observed Alfred H. Spink, founder of The Sporting News. Peitz “was the mainstay of the Cincinnati Reds behind the bat, and he established the reputation there of being one of the best and wisest catchers who ever wore a mitt.”5

The visiting lineup included Padden at shortstop and five rookies. The “many new faces” on the Senators “required papers of identification,” said Cincinnati sportswriter Ren Mulford Jr.6 Rookie backstop Dick Butler was paired with Win Mercer, a 25-year-old right-hander in his sixth season with the team.

It was Ladies’ Day at League Park.7 The paid attendance was 1,982, plus about 500 ladies.8 The weather was fair and the temperature about 90.9 The umpires were Ed Swartwood behind home plate and Al Warner at first base.

The Senators scored first. With one out in the top of the second inning, Buck Freeman singled up the middle and Padden ripped a triple past Dusty Miller in right field. Freeman came home for a 1-0 Washington lead.

The afternoon’s recurring storyline began with Washington’s next batter. Rookie Jack Barry grounded to Steinfeldt, who made a fine throw home, and Peitz tagged Padden out at the plate. The Senators appeared to have another scoring chance when Butler’s single to right field pushed Barry to third, but Butler was caught in a rundown between first and second, and Barry headed home. Shortstop Tommy Corcoran fired the ball to Peitz, who tagged Barry for the third out.

Mercer, one of the best-hitting pitchers in the league, had batted .321 in 1898. He led off the top of the third inning by sending a long fly to right field; the wind carried it beyond Miller’s reach for a triple. Next up was Jimmy Slagle, a rookie center fielder. At 5-feet-6 and 144 pounds, he was dubbed “Keeler No. 2” for his resemblance to Wee Willie Keeler.10 Slagle slapped a single past Steinfeldt, and Mercer tallied, making it 2-0.

The next two batters were also rookies. Jack O’Brien laid down a sacrifice. Phillips fielded it but threw wildly to second base, as Slagle rounded second and advanced to third. Charlie Atherton rapped a grounder that was snared by Charlie Irwin, the third baseman. Irwin threw home, and Slagle – like Padden and Barry an inning earlier – was tagged out at the plate.

With Atherton on first base and O’Brien on third, Atherton took off for second and was quickly in a rundown. O’Brien headed home; the fielders turned their attention to him and got him in a rundown. It was Harry “Farmer” Vaughn, Cincinnati’s first baseman, who tagged O’Brien out at the plate. Incredibly, in a span of two innings, four Senators had been put out at home plate.

The Reds scored their first run in the bottom of the third inning on a single, two bases on balls, and a fly ball. Phillips departed after three innings with a sore shoulder and was replaced by Theodore Breitenstein, a 30-year-old left-hander.

In the fifth inning, the Reds rallied for four runs to take the lead. Peitz led off with a double to right field. After Breitenstein flied out, Elmer Smith drew a walk. Kip Selbach’s drive bounded over the head of O’Brien in left field for a two-run triple. Miller’s double down the right-field line scored Selbach, and Miller raced home on Corcoran’s single to left, giving Cincinnati a 5-2 lead.

In the top of the sixth, the Senators again ran themselves out of an inning. With one out, Freeman singled to left field. Padden singled to right, sending Freeman to third base. On Miller’s throw there, Padden tried to reach second, but Irwin relayed to Corcoran, who tagged Padden out. Freeman tried to score, but he was thrown out at the plate, the fifth Senator to die there. “Five Senators laid out at the plate made Peitz look like the superintendent of the morgue,” quipped the Washington Times.11 Peitz was “a stone wall at that home plate,” said the Cincinnati Enquirer.12

The Reds added a run in the bottom of the sixth on Peitz’s second double of the game – he was given an ovation by the crowd – and Breitenstein’s single to center. After six innings, the home team led 6-2.

Washington rallied against Breitenstein in the seventh. With one out, Butler tripled to left center and scored on Mercer’s double to right. Slagle singled to center, scoring Mercer, and went to second base on the throw in. The rally ended, however, when Steinfeldt caught O’Brien’s liner and threw to Corcoran at second to double up Slagle. The Senators scored again in the eighth inning on Atherton’s single to left and Padden’s double to center; it was the captain’s fourth hit of the game.

The Senators came to bat in the ninth inning, trailing by a run. Breitenstein fanned Butler for the first out. Mercer got aboard with a single to left field and represented the tying run. Slagle lashed a line drive to center field, but it was caught by Smith, who threw to first base in time to double up Mercer. The game was over; the final score was Cincinnati Reds 6, Washington Senators 5.

The Senators outhit the Reds, 14 to 8, but the advantage was negated by baserunning follies. Five Washington baserunners were thrown out at the plate, one was out trying to take second, and two others were doubled off base. With better “judgment on the bases, they would have doubtless won the game,” said the Enquirer.

The Reds went on to sweep the four-game series. After they finished the season in sixth place, manager Ewing was let go. The Senators finished in 11th place and were disbanded as the National League contracted from 12 to 8 teams for the 1900 season.



This article was fact-checked by Kurt Blumenau and copy-edited by Len Levin.



Game coverage in the June 29, 1899, issues of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post, and Washington Times.

Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org, accessed March 2024.

Image: 1904 Sporting Life cabinet card of Henry “Heinie” Peitz.



1 “Louisville Again Wins,” Washington Times, June 27, 1899: 6.

2 “Is After Players,” Washington Star, June 29, 1899: 7.

3 “The Rally for Ewing’s Scalp,” Cincinnati Post, June 24, 1899: 3.

4 “Baseball Gossip,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 24, 1899: 3.

5 Alfred H. Spink, The National Game, Second Edition (St. Louis: National Game Pub. Co., 1911), 111.

6 Ren Mulford Jr., “Nailed a Nice One,” Cincinnati Post, June 29, 1899: 8.

7 “After a Two-Days’ Lay Off,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 28, 1899: 4.

8 “Baseball Gossip,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 29, 1899: 4.

9 Cincinnati Post, Fifth Edition, June 28, 1899: 1.

10 “Diamond Dust,” Washington Times, May 21, 1899: 12. Slagle’s height is from his SABR biography.

11 “The Reds Are Victorious,” Washington Times, June 29, 1899: 6.

12 “Fought Down to the End,” Cincinnati Enquirer, June 29, 1899: 4.

Additional Stats

Cincinnati Reds 6
Washington Senators 5

League Park
Cincinnati, OH

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