"Seattle" Bill James (Trading Card DB)

May 12, 1915: Boston Braves, aiming for miracle repeat, beat Cardinals at Fenway Park

This article was written by Kurt Blumenau

"Seattle" Bill James (Trading Card DB)Entering the 1915 season, one of baseball’s biggest questions involved the Boston Braves. George Stallings’ team, in last place on the Fourth of July in 1914, had mounted an improbable charge to claim the National League pennant and sweep the favored Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. Could Boston’s NL entry duplicate this performance, or had it merely caught lightning in a bottle?

Heading into their game of May 12 against the St. Louis Cardinals, a repeat seemed possible. The Braves entered the day in third place in the early going; their 12-9 record put them two games behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies. Boston moved a game closer to the top after Bill James, who had emerged from relative obscurity to win 26 games for the “Miracle Braves,” won his second straight start in a complete-game, 6-2 victory over the Cardinals. While a second straight pennant for the Braves was not to be, the 3,500 fans who attended the windy1 Wednesday afternoon game in Boston must have been encouraged.

The game took place at Fenway Park, home since 1912 to the American League’s Red Sox and temporary home for the Braves for some 1913 and 1914 regular-season games and much of 1915. The Braves had borrowed Fenway for home games during the 1914 pennant race and during the World Series, as Fenway had a greater seating capacity than the Braves’ home park at the time, the South End Grounds.2 Braves Field, the Braves’ grandiose future home along Commonwealth Avenue, had seen ground broken in March 1915 and opened on August 18 of that year.3

Umpires for the day were Ernie Quigley behind the plate and Mal Eason on the bases.4 Eason had pitched for the Braves, then known as the Beaneaters, in 1902 as part of a knockabout six-season playing career.

The Cardinals, managed by second baseman Miller Huggins, entered in sixth place with an 11-14 record, five games out of first. They’d finished in third place the season before with an 81-72 record.5 The Cardinals had beaten the Braves the previous day, 5-1, in the opener of a three-game series, snapping a five-game losing streak.

The Cardinals’ mound starter, Hub Perdue, had briefly been a member of the Miracle Braves, making nine starts (with a 2-5 record) before being traded to St. Louis on June 28, 1914.6 The righty from Tennessee was in his fifth and final major-league season in 1915, entering the game with a 2-2 record and a 2.33 ERA in five starts. He was shifted to the bullpen in early June and made 18 of his 31 appearances in relief, closing with a 6-12 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Opposing him was James, who had reported late to spring training because of a salary holdout. Stallings said in mid-April that James and moundmate George Tyler were “not quite up to the form that I would like to have them,” and the Boston Globe reported on April 30 that “Bill James evidently is not yet ‘right.’”7 Eventually, chronic arm fatigue limited James to 13 pitching appearances and 5 wins in 1915.8 But in his previous start, on May 5, James had held the Brooklyn Robins to six hits in a complete-game 6-1 win, giving Braves fans hope for the future. He entered with a 1-0 record and a 3.21 ERA in three games.

Each team moved a runner to second base early on – the Cardinals in the first inning, the Braves in the second – but couldn’t bring him home. It fell to pitcher Perdue, a .167 hitter entering the game and a .111 hitter for the full season, to start the first scoring rally.

Perdue led off the third inning with a line single that leaping second baseman Dick Egan – in the lineup because Johnny Evers had broken his ankle on April 189 –  knocked down but could not catch.10 (The Boston Globe quipped that Perdue “made his annual hit.”11) Huggins bunted Perdue to second and Zinn Beck scored him with a single to right field, though Beck was subsequently tagged out in a rundown between first and second. The Cardinals led, 1-0.

The Braves indulged in their own baserunning follies in the bottom half, as Hank Gowdy hit a leadoff single and was picked off first. The next 16 batters were retired until the Cardinals’ Dots Miller doubled with two out in the sixth. Tom Long’s fly stranded him.

Gowdy again led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, but this time, his hit formed the basis of a scoring rally. Beck bobbled James’s bunt for an error and Gowdy and James were safe.12 Herbie Moran grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Eason ruled that Gowdy beat the throw to third and all were safe, loading the bases.13

Larry Gilbert, batting for Egan, laced a single down the right-field line14 to score Gowdy and James. Joe Connolly’s grounder forced Gilbert at second, putting runners at the corners with one out. Sherry Magee’s fly to right scored Moran. Butch Schmidt singled to left field15 and Red Smith’s double to left, misplayed by Cozy Dolan, scored Connolly and Schmidt for a 5-1 Boston lead.16

Rookie Ed Fitzpatrick came in to play second for the Braves and figured into a run-scoring mishap in the top of the seventh. Owen Wilson and Art Butler led off with singles. One out later, Ham Hyatt, hitting for Perdue, grounded to Fitzpatrick. The rookie made the force at second base but threw wildly to first, allowing Wilson to score and making it 5-2.

The Cardinals’ baserunning adventures took them out of the eighth inning. With two out, Miller and Long singled. As the Braves caught Long in a rundown between first and second, Miller tried to score. First baseman Schmidt fired to catcher Gowdy to retire Miller and end the inning.

The Braves notched a final run off rookie reliever Lee Meadows in the bottom half. Fitzpatrick hit a leadoff single to center field and took third on a single by Connolly. Magee’s windblown fly to short center was caught by Huggins, who was in poor position to throw home, so Fitzpatrick tagged and scored to give Boston a 6-2 lead.17

In the top of the ninth, James worked around a one-out walk to shut down the visitors. The game’s final batter was Harry Glenn, pinch-hitting for Meadows and making the last of his six major-league appearances. Glenn grounded to Fitzpatrick at second to end the game in 1 hour and 58 minutes.

The next day’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid the blame for the loss on shortstop Butler, whose throw to third in the sixth failed to retire Gowdy. “Butler does not often do the wrong thing, but he did it yesterday,” the paper said, reasoning that Butler should have thrown to second for a potential double play instead. The paper also reported that the Cardinals accused James several times of doctoring the ball, but that umpire Quigley found no proof.18 Meanwhile, Dent McSkimming of the St. Louis Star blamed Perdue: “He has won games through the hitting of the club behind him – not through any virtue of his own.”19 The 1915 Cardinals finished sixth with a 72-81 record.20

Although the 1915 Braves contended early on, they never held first place at any point in the season, and a miracle repeat proved too much to expect. Between June 1 and July 15, they went 15-25, falling all the way from third place to eighth. They clawed their way back into the race, coming as close as 2½ games out of first after winning a September 8 doubleheader. Then they backslid again, and at season’s end, they stood in second place with an 83-69 record,21 seven games behind the Phillies. The Braves and their fans didn’t win another NL pennant until 1948 or another World Series until 1957, by which time the team was playing in Milwaukee.


Acknowledgments and author’s note

This story was fact-checked by Bruce Slutsky and copy-edited by Len Levin. It is part of a project by the author to write stories on all eight American, National, and Federal League games played on May 12, 1915.

Photo credit: “Seattle” Bill James, Trading Card Database.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author used the Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org websites for general player, team, and season data and the box scores for this game.





1 The Boston Evening Transcript reported that a stiff wind figured into several key fielding plays. “Fraternal Baseball Spirit,” Boston Evening Transcript, May 13, 1915: 4.

2 Bill Nowlin, “September 26, 1914: Braves’ Rabbit Maranville Hits the First Grand Slam at Fenway Park,” SABR Games Project, accessed May 2024.

3 Ray Miller, “Braves Field,” SABR Biography Project, accessed February 2024. The Red Sox, in turn, borrowed Braves Field for home games during the 1915 and 1916 World Series because it was larger than Fenway Park.

4 Two-man umpiring crews were the norm in 1912. Three-man crews began being used in the 1920s and four-man crews for regular-season games were introduced in 1952. “Umpiring Timeline,” MLB.com, accessed May 2024. https://www.mlb.com/official-information/umpires/timeline.

5 And four ties.

6 Terms of the trade: Perdue to St. Louis; Possum Whitted and Ted Cather to Boston.

7 “Great Day for the Braves to Start at Fenway Park,” Boston Evening Globe, April 14, 1915: 1; “Baseball Notes,” Boston Globe, April 30, 1915: 9.

8 David Jones, “Bill James,” SABR Biography Project, accessed February 2024.

9 Walter A. Hapgood, “Weak Ankle to Keep Evers Out Another Month,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 13, 1915: 22. Hapgood is credited as the sports editor of the Boston Herald.

10 “Fraternal Baseball Spirit.”

11 J.C. O’Leary, “Good Old Gallatin Squash Hits a Mine,” Boston Globe, May 13, 1915: 7. “The Gallatin Squash” was Perdue’s nickname.

12 O’Leary.

13 “Fraternal Baseball Spirit.” In the Boston Globe, O’Leary reported that Beck had been playing in for another potential bunt and was unable to return quickly enough to the third-base bag.

14 O’Leary, in the Boston Globe, said Gilbert’s hit passed “between the first baseman and the bag.”

15 Some sources refer to the player as Charles Schmidt.

16 In “Fraternal Baseball Spirit,” the hit was described as a “fluke double.”

17 O’Leary, “Good Old Gallatin Squash Hits a Mine”; “Braves Smash Perdue,” St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, May 13, 1915: 10.

18 Hapgood, “Weak Ankle to Keep Evers Out Another Month.”

19 Dent McSkimming, “Perdue Pitches as Usual and Braves Defeat Cardinals,” St. Louis Star, May 13, 1915: 12.

20 And four ties.

21 And five ties.

Additional Stats

Boston Braves 6
St. Louis Cardinals 2

Fenway Park
Boston, MA


Box Score + PBP:

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