May 31, 1915: Newark, Brooklyn split a home-and-away doubleheader

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

The Federal League magnates experimented with a number of innovations during their brief two years on the major-league-baseball scene. One such was the pair of home-and-home (and, perhaps more accurately, home-and-away) doubleheaders played on Memorial Day and Labor Day between the Newark Peppers and the Brooklyn Tip-Tops.  

The first twin bill saw some remarkable symmetry. The two teams played a morning game in Harrison (across the Passaic River from Newark) with the home team winning, 5-3. Then the two teams played an afternoon game in Brooklyn with the home team winning, 5-3.

It’s not as though this was a split-squad game, as teams sometimes play in spring training. Pitchers aside, the two Newark starting lineups were identical in both games. For Brooklyn, six of the eight position players were the same in each game. The only differences were at first base, where Claude Cooper started the first game and was replaced by Hap Myers, while in the second game Myers started and was replaced by Cooper. And at catcher, where Larry Pratt caught the first game, and Grover Land the second — though Pratt took over for Land during that second game.

Newark’s Harry Moran started the first game for Peppers manager Bill Phillips, and Brooklyn’s Dan Marion threw for the Tip-Tops and manager Lee Magee. Neither manager was still with his team by the end of the season.

The Wards, owners of the Brookfeds, refused to permit their club to play baseball on Sundays, whatever the location. Newark, on the other hand, would have loved to host Brooklyn for Sunday games. It wasn’t to be.1 Brooklyn was the only team to take this stance. Their opposition resulted in some odd scheduling, a number of “one-day jumps” by various teams.2 For instance, Newark hosted a three-game series against visiting Brooklyn starting on July 2, but since July 4 happened to be on a Sunday, and the Brookfeds were unwilling to play on the Sabbath, while the Newark team still wanted the Sunday gate, Brooklyn played games on July 2, 3, and 5 — and on July 4 the Baltimore Terrapins interrupted their own schedule (hosting Buffalo for four games) to come to Newark for one game, and then return. Brooklyn and Newark matched up again the next day. Buffalo sacrificed its share of Sunday visiting-team revenues in this instance. 

Newark had a 20,000-seat ballpark under construction, ready to open just across the river in Harrison in April. When the schedule for the league was announced in Chicago on April 1, several conflicts with National League and American League games — such as had obtained in 1914 — had been eliminated. It was also noted, “The closeness of Newark and Brooklyn permits the holiday double-headers to be played in both cities. Memorial Day, this year on Monday, Brooklyn plays in the morning at Newark and Newark in the afternoon at Brooklyn.”3

Neither team had played on the Sunday, as it happened, and due to weather and scheduling, Newark hadn’t played for the prior five days. They were returning from a nine-game road trip on which they’d won the first five games, then lost four in a row. Their last game had been in Kansas City on May 25. Brooklyn had played a doubleheader in St. Louis on May 29, losing 11-0 in the first game and seeing a 10-inning second game end in a 4-4 tie. They had then traveled back east.

Sweeping the doubleheader could have catapulted Brooklyn over Newark in the standings. Before the games, Newark was in fourth place (19-16, 2½ games out of first place) and Brooklyn was in fifth place (17-17, 4 games out.) A Brookfeds sweep would have had them 19-17 to Newark’s 19-18.

Once Newark took the first game, that possibility no longer obtained.

The first game began at 11:00 A.M. with Moran retiring the Brooklyn side in the top of the first. Newark then scored two unearned runs. Vin Campbell led off with an infield single to short. Marion pounced on a sacrifice by Jimmy Esmond but threw the ball so far over Cooper’s head at first base that Campbell was able to run all the way home, with Esmond reaching third base. Bill McKechnie’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Esmond. Marion got the next two batters.

Newark added a run in the bottom of the third. Esmond singled past third base. Shortstop Al Halt looked to have caught him off first base but his throw also sailed over Cooper’s head and Esmond once more ran all the way to third base; he scored when McKechnie singled to right field.

The score bumped up one more run, to 4-0, in the fourth, when Cooper committed a fielding error allowing Al Scheer to reach safely. Scheer took second on Frank LaPorte’s sacrifice, then scored on Emil Huhn’s hit to center.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hap Myers took over for Cooper at first base. After one out, Bill Rariden singled to shortstop. Pitcher Moran laid down a bunt toward Myers at first, who snagged the ball and threw to Marion, covering the bag. Marion dropped the ball, for his second error of the game. Moran was safe and so was Rariden — on third base. After a popup to third base, Esmond singled through the shortstop hole and Newark took a 5-0 lead.

Every one of the five runs had scored after a Brooklyn error had paved the way.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Moran had allowed only two scratch hits, a bunt single in the third and once through third base in the fourth. But Brooklyn rallied in the ninth. Danny Murphy, pinch-hitting for George Anderson, singled to start things off. Magee grounded into a force play, Murphy out at second base. And then Benny Kauff hit into a force play, with Magee out. But the speedy Kauff stole second. And then he stole third. Steve Evans singled to left field and spoiled the shutout. Myers homered to center field, and it was 5-3. Tex Wisterzil singled to right field and the tying run was at the plate, but Halt fouled out to the catcher, Rariden, and the game was over.

The teams then made their way to Brooklyn. This entailed leaving the state of New Jersey and traveling to the state of New York for the 3:00 P.M. game scheduled at Brooklyn’s Washington Park.

How had they done it? We were unable to find any newspaper that troubled itself to explain. Baseball historian Bob Golon speculated: “The ‘Hudson Tubes’ (now PATH) station in Harrison, connecting Harrison with downtown NYC, was virtually right across the street from Harrison Field. It takes about 30 minutes to take the trip. From there, there was already ample subway service to Brooklyn. Washington Park was much closer to downtown Brooklyn than Ebbets Field was. It would not have been that bad of a trip.”4 

 

The Second Game

Trip completed, the second game of the day got underway before the second largest crowd of the season at Washington Park. It looked for most of the game that Newark would win again. Starting for Newark was left-hander Charlie Whitehouse and starting for Brooklyn was righty Ed Lafitte.

Both pitchers performed well, neither allowing a run through five innings. Newark got two hits in the top of the first and two in the third. Brooklyn got one each in the first and third, two in the fourth, and one more in the fifth. But nary a run for either team. Newark drew six bases on balls, Brooklyn but one. Each team committed just one error.

In the sixth inning, Newark put some runs on the board. Jimmy Esmond singled to left for his third hit of the game. Bill McKechnie drew a base on balls. Al Scheer bunted toward third base and everyone was safe. Frank LaPorte hit Lafitte’s pitch into left field, scoring two. Two outs followed, but then Lafitte walked Bill Rariden on four pitches, reloading the bases. Whitehouse “stepped up and took two vicious swings at the first two offerings,”5 but then Lafitte threw four balls in a row, forcing in Scheer with a third run. Vin Campbell put a scare into the Brooklyn fans with a long fly ball to center field but it was hauled in by Benny Kauff. Nonetheless, it was 3-0 in favor of the Peppers.

Brooklyn failed to score in the sixth or seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, Grover Land singled to left field. Manager Lee Magee put Larry Pratt in to run for Land and Art Griggs to bat for Lafitte. Griggs singled to center. With runners on first and second, Magee replace Griggs with pinch-runner Dave Howard. George Anderson topped a little roller between first base and the mound. Whitehouse scooped it up and threw him out at first. It was Magee’s turn to bat and he swung at the first pitch, driving it into center field and scoring two runs. He took second base on a muffed throw-in. Benny Kauff was walked intentionally. Steve Evans then doubled in two, Kauff just barely beating the throw to the plate. Brooklyn was up, 4-3. Evans took third on the play at the plate. Earl Moseley relieved Whitehouse. Hap Myers hit Moseley’s first pitch into center field, scoring Evans with the fifth run of the rally. That was all the scoring.

Bill Upham pitched the ninth and set down Newark 1-2-3. There was no need to play the bottom of the ninth.

The game lasted 1:38. The day was over and each team had a 5-3 win in its home ballpark.

From the June 1 Syracuse Herald: “Brooklyn’s fielding was ragged in the morning and put Marion in a hole. Moran, the Newark left-hander, was steady and never in trouble.”6 

On Labor Day, September 6, the two teams did it again, both under different managers. That time, Brooklyn swept the pair, 5-1 in Brooklyn in the morning and 1-0 in the afternoon game at Harrison.

And 85 years later, after the advent of interleague play, two major-league teams arranged the same sort of thing, but they were both in the same state. For that matter, they were in the same city, albeit in different boroughs.

A rainout on June 11, 2000, the need to make up that game, and some imaginative scheduling had prompted the unusual arrangement on July 8. Once done, two-borough “home-and-home” doubleheaders were scheduled, in 2003 and 2008. The latter two doubleheaders were also occasioned by makeups. The scores:

July 8, 2000: Yankees 4, Mets 2, at Shea Stadium (first game); Yankees 4, Mets 2, at Yankee Stadium (second game).

June 28, 2003: Yankees 7, Mets 1, at Yankee Stadium (first game): Yankees 9, Mets 8, at Shea Stadium (second game).

June 27, 2008: Mets 15, Yankees 6, at Yankee Stadium (first game); Yankees 9, Mets 0, at Shea Stadium (second game).

In 2000, the first Yankees-Mets game was at 1:15 P.M. at Shea, and the second was under the lights — something the Federal League didn’t have — at 8:05 P.M. at Yankee Stadium. There was all sort of discussion among partisans of the two teams as to how to take in both games.7 Some did drive the roughly 10-mile distance, though a traffic accident caused delays. Nonetheless one patron was able to drive the distance and arrive two hours early. For a true subway doubleheader, one could take the 7 train from Willets Point, Flushing, to Grand Central and then switch over to the 4 train to the Bronx. The teams themselves went by bus, with a police escort and the stopping of traffic for them that cut their trip to 14 minutes.8

The first Yankees-Mets game ended at 4:37 P.M. Perhaps a third of the patrons had tickets to both games. “Me, personally, I like it,” said Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. “I’m a fan of the game. … If we were playing three or four games today, I’d be OK with that.”9

Information about the New York Giants-Brooklyn Superbas games of September 7, 1903, was dredged up. As with these 1915 games, the newspapers of the day seemed to not find it all that remarkable that two teams had matched up in major-league games played on the same day in two different ballparks. The New York Times story reported the event in four paragraphs describing the game but neither the novelty of it nor how the two teams traveled from the Brooklyn grounds in to the morning to the Polo Grounds for the afternoon game.10

 

Sources

Game details courtesy of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle issues of May 31 and June 1, 1915. The author also relied on Retrosheet.org.

 

Notes

1 “Wards Refuse to Budge,” New York Times, March 1, 1915: 7.

2 Ward’s Opposition to Sunday Games Affects Schedule,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 7, 1915: 16.

3 “Federal League Schedule,” New York Times, April 2, 1915: 12.

4 Bob Golon email to author, March 28, 2018. He added, “Another option, after the Tubes ride would have been ferry service to Brooklyn, as that was also very ample at that time.” Bob subsequently found a letter to the editor in the April 26 Newark Evening News that posed a question from J.S.: “How can I get to the Brooklyn Federal League grounds?” The response: “Take the Hudson tubes to Fulton street, New York, and walk to the Brooklyn Bridge. There board a Fifth Avenue ‘L’ train and get off at Third street, which is one block from the grounds.”

5 “Magee, He Starts Winning Rally,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 1, 1915: 20.

6 “Tip Tops-Newfeds Divide,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 7, 1915: 14.

7 Alan Feuer, “Take Me Out to the Ballgames (By Subway, Car or Canoe),” New York Times, July 7, 2000: B1.

8 Murray Chass, “New York’s Double Dose of Hardball Heaven,” New York Times, July 9, 2000: 1.

9 Ibid.

10 See “National League,” New York Times, September 8, 1903: 10.

Additional Stats

Newark Peppers 5
Brooklyn Tip-Tops 3 


Harrison Park
Harrison, NJ

Box Score + PBP:

 

Brooklyn Tip-Tops 5
Newark Peppers 3 


Washington Park
Brooklyn, NY

Box Score + PBP:

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