September 29, 1915: Rip Williams delivers career performance during Senators’ slugfest

This article was written by Gordon J. Gattie

Rip Williams (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)As October 1915 approached in the nation’s capital, 20,000 Civil War veterans were marching through Washington city streets as veterans and residents alike reflected upon events from 50 years earlier.1 Across the city, the Washington Senators and Philadelphia Athletics were nearly finished with their disappointing 1915 seasons. The fourth-place Senators (81-65) were 18½ games behind the eventual pennant-winning Boston Red Sox with one week remaining. Washington had finished third in the American League the previous season, and second in 1912 and 1913. The Senators finished the 1915 season strong; but though they earned a 21-9 September record, they never overcame their rough May and early July swoon.2

Washington’s best player was future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, now finishing his ninth season. The veteran staff ace led the AL in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and shutouts the previous two seasons. He was complemented by pitchers Bert Gallia and Doc Ayers, third baseman Eddie Foster, and outfielder Clyde Milan. When the season opened, Clark Griffith, Washington’s manager, planned on returning his entire infield: first baseman Chick Gandil, second baseman Ray Morgan, shortstop George McBride, and Foster; however, concerns existed about their low offensive production.3 The 1916 Reach Guide labeled the 1915 Washington squad as the “chief disappointment of the season” based on its slow start, lackluster pitching, and little offensive prowess from the Senators’ outfield.4

By comparison, Philadelphia was faring even worse. From 1909 through 1914 the Athletics won three World Series titles and at least 90 games each season. Though Philadelphia won the pennant by 8½ games over the Red Sox in 1914, the Athletics were swept by the Boston “Miracle Braves” during the 1914 World Series. The famed “$100,000 Infield,” which consisted of Hall of Famers second baseman Eddie Collins and third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker, perennial Chalmers Award vote-getter first baseman Stuffy McInnis, and stalwart veteran shortstop Jack Berry,5 and identified as the top infield in baseball history, according to Bill James’s Win Shares methodology,6 played together from 1911 to 1914 while forming the nucleus of Philadelphia’s championship teams. After the 1914 season, part-owner and manager Connie Mack disassembled his first Athletics dynasty,7 including the $100,000 Infield. Though Mack retained McInnis another three seasons, he sold 1914 Chalmers Award winner Collins to the Chicago White Sox in December and Barry to the Red Sox the following summer; Baker was sold to the Yankees in February 1916. Mack also gutted his pitching staff, releasing Hall of Fame hurlers Chief Bender and Eddie Plank. Mounting financial pressures, combined with the threat of players jumping to the Federal League, had forced Mack to dismantle his ballclub.8 Expectations were extremely low for the 1915 season,9 and the Athletics were solidly occupying the cellar by July. Philadelphia had compiled a dreadful 4-25 September record entering the doubleheader.

Earlier that afternoon, the Nationals10 defeated the Athletics 10-2 in the first game. Philadelphia scored first when Amos Strunk and Rube Oldring came home on Napoleon Lajoie’s two-run double. Washington responded with three first-inning runs and scored seven unanswered runs to easily defeat the Mackmen. Washington right fielder Turner Barber enjoyed a career day, scoring three runs and delivering five hits in six plate appearances.11

For the nightcap, Griffith tapped Bert Gallia for the start. Gallia was concluding his first full year with Washington and was arguably the staff’s second-best starter behind Johnson. He compiled a 16-11 record and 2.39 ERA over 248⅔ innings. Gallia expected to join the rotation as a backline starter, though during spring training one writer noted, “Gallia, the former ‘firecracker,’ seems to have developed into a 42-centimeter Krupp cannon now.”12

Rookie Tom Sheehan started for Philadelphia. The 21-year-old joined the Athletics in July, debuting against Chicago by pitching three scoreless innings.13 Sheehan had initially faced Washington three weeks earlier and allowed five runs on 11 hits in a complete-game loss. The Senators had quickly jumped on Sheehan, scoring one run each in the first and second innings.14 Since his Washington outing, Sheehan had shut out Boston but lost his next two starts. Still, one writer noted that Sheehan was “probably the most promising of Mack’s young twirlers.”15

Gallia walked Philadelphia leadoff hitter Wally Schang to start the second game. Schang stole second base and scored the game’s first run when Washington center fielder Clyde Milan’s throw to the plate sailed over catcher Rip Williams’s head. The Senators evened the score in the bottom half when Foster and Milan singled, rookie Joe Judge – playing in just the sixth game of a 20-year, 2,171-game career – walked to load the bases, and Barber’s sacrifice fly scored Foster. In the next inning the Senators inched ahead when Williams tripled and Tom Connolly singled, providing Washington with the lead it never relinquished. Neither team scored in the third inning so Philadelphia led 2-1 after three innings.

Gallia maintained his effectiveness during the middle innings, but Sheehan was ineffective and didn’t receive the same defensive support. In the fourth the Senators extended their lead when two doubles, Foster’s triple, a single, and a sacrifice fly, plus some poor fielding by the Athletics gave the Senators five runs and increased their lead to 7-1. The Senators’ fifth was scoreless as Washington runners took a quick breather from the basepaths.

In the sixth inning a mixture of three singles, a double, a walk, and multiple errors resulted in Washington’s second five-run inning. Their third came in the next inning on four singles, a double, and errors, making the score  a laughable 17-1.

After the errant throw that gave Philadelphia the initial lead, the Athletics were scoreless until they rallied for four eighth-inning runs. While one Washington sportswriter suggested that the four runs were due to Washington errors,16 another observed that that Washington “took advantage of everything until late in the second encounter, when ‘Bert’ Gallia started to toss them over to stir up a little enthusiasm. As a result, the visitors were handed four runs.”17 Philadelphia scored those four runs on a walk, two errors, and two hits, and the score was a slightly more respectable 17-5.

The Nationals scored their final three runs in the eighth inning on two walks, two hits, and an error. Mercifully blanking Philadelphia in the ninth and ending the slugfest, Washington won 20-5. Gallia pitched the complete game, allowing only five hits; all five Philadelphia runs were unearned.

Although the Senators scored 20 runs, only 12 were earned.18 One sportswriter commented, “[Mack’s fielders] … played in a half-hearted manner typical of a team that is hopelessly last, with nothing to gain in battle. They ran circles around fly balls, stepped on their own feet in going after grounders, and never exerted themselves on the base paths.”19 Washington’s 20 runs and 23 hits represented the highest offensive output in the major leagues that season, topping the 20 runs and 22 hits set by the Boston Braves when they walloped the St. Louis Cardinals 20-1 on September 18.20 Washington’s team record for 20 runs scored in a single game lasted until August 5, 1929, when the Senators defeated the Detroit Tigers 21-5 at Griffith Stadium. Joe Judge, the only Senator who played in both the 1915 and 1929 slugfests, hit in the leadoff spot in the latter game and went 1-for-2 with two runs, two RBIs, and two sacrifice hits.

Rip Williams recorded a career-high four runs and five consecutive hits in six plate appearances, including a triple and double; he popped out to the catcher for his lone recorded out.21 Light-hitting Washington rookie leadoff hitter Charlie Jamieson, who was hitting a miserable .143 entering the game, went 3-for-5 and scored three times. Jamieson hit safely over the next five games, raising his average to .288 entering the season’s final game. Washington shortstop Tom Connolly, who played only one major-league season, also enjoyed the finest offensive day of his career, 3-for-5 with a double and two stolen bases.

Adding salt to the Athletics’ wounds was the success of the crosstown Philadelphia Phillies. The same day the Athletics dropped the doubleheader by a combined 30-7 score, the Phillies defeated the 1914 World Series champion Braves 5-0 to capture the NL flag.22 Pete Alexander fired a one-hitter, striking out four batters and walking one, to earn his 31st victory in dramatic fashion. Phillies manager Pat Moran, in his rookie managerial season, was supported by nearly 3,000 friends in attendance from his nearby hometown of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.23 The Phillies had moved into first place on July 13 and held off the surging Braves with a 21-10 September.

Washington finished fourth with an 85-68 record, 39 games behind pennant-winning Boston and 7½ games behind third-place Chicago. Gallia finished 17-11 with a 2.29 ERA in 259⅔ innings pitched and remained with the ballclub for another two seasons. The 34-year-old Williams was Washington’s backup catcher another season, joining the International League’s Baltimore Orioles and ending his career in 1918 with the Cleveland Indians.



Besides the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted,,, and the following books:

James, Bill. The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers from 1870 to Today (New York: Scribner, 1997).

James, Bill, and Jim Henzler. Win Shares (Morton Grove, Illinois: STATS, Inc., 2002).

Macht, Norman. Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007).

Mack, Connie. My 66 Years in the Big Leagues (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1950).

Neyer, Rob, and Eddie Epstein. Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time (New York: W.W. Horton & Company, 2000).

Thorn, John, and Pete Palmer, et al. Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball (New York: Viking Press, 2004).



1 “Twenty Thousand Veterans, Remnants of Grant’s Victorious Army, Retread Triumphal Way of Half Century Ago, in Review Before President Wilson,” Washington Post, September 30, 1915: 1.

2 A.G. Spalding & Bros. Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide (Chicago: A.G. Spalding & Bros., 1915), 161. Accessed at

3 Louis Dougher, “Dougher Grows in Dubiousness Daily,” The Sporting News, April 15, 1915: 3.

4 B.B. Johnson, “American League’s 1915 Race,” In Francis C. Richter, ed., The Reach Official American League Base Ball Guide 1916. (Philadelphia: A.J. Reach Company, 1916), 63.

5 Leonard Koppett, The Man in the Dugout: Baseball’s Top Managers and How They Got That Way (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), 68-83.

6 Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 548–553.

7 Lew Freedman, Connie Mack’s First Dynasty: The Philadelphia Athletics, 1910-1914 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company), 170-195. Jack Barry benefited from joining another World Series champion with Boston in 1915, his fourth championship team in six years.

8 Bryan Soderholm-Difatte, “Connie Mack’s Second Great Athletics Team: Eclipsed by the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, but Even Better,” in Morris Levin, ed., The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly, SABR, 2013; Connie Mack, “‘I Broke Up the Athletics to Prevent Baseball Ruin,’ Declares Connie Mack,” Philadelphia Evening Ledger, July 5, 1915: 1.

9 Weart, William, “Eve of Season Finds Unusual Base Ball Situation in Philly,” The Sporting News, April 15, 1915: 1.

10 Washington Nationals 2018 Official Media Guide (Washington: Washington Nationals Baseball Club, 2018), 260-261. The Washington team was known as both the Senators and Nationals from 1905 to 1955. When Washington joined the AL at its inception in 1901, the team was named the Senators. In 1905 the nickname was changed to the Nationals. In 1956 the nickname reverted to the Senators. However, from 1905 through 1955 Senators and Nationals were used interchangeably by fans and sportswriters.

11 William Peet, “Mackmen Badly Beaten; Nationals Sting the Ball,” Washington Herald, September 30, 1915: 8. A discrepancy exists as to whether Barber hit one or two doubles in the first game of the doubleheader. The game account in the September 30 editions of the Washington Post and the Washington Herald differ; the Post reported one double for Barber while the Herald listed two doubles in its box score and game description. Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference credit Barber with one double.

12 Louis A. Dougher, “Rondeau and Hopper Are Promising Looking Lads,” Washington Times, March 10, 1915: 8.

13 “Athletics Stall but Lose Again,” Camden (New Jersey) Courier-Post, July 15, 1915: 8.

14 Jim Nasium, “Macks Drop Two Without a Murmur,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 7, 1915: 13.

15 Stanley T. Milliken, “Pair of Farcical Games to Nationals,” Washington Post, September 30, 1915: 8.

16 Peet.

17 Milliken.

18 A discrepancy exists regarding the number of errors committed by Philadelphia in the game. The box score in the Evening Star reported the Athletics were charged with 10 errors, the Washington Herald noted eight errors, and the Washington Post stated seven errors. Today’s box scores listed on Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference show eight errors on their box scores. The number of Washington hits fluctuates by slightly different numbers.

19 Milliken.

20 W.J. O’Connor, “Bescher Lands on Pitcher Rudolph; Cards Lose Twice,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 19, 1915: 31.

21 J. Ed. Grillo, “Dumont and Johnson Listed to Face the Red Sox Here,” Washington Evening Star, September 30, 1915: 22.

22 “Phillies, Beating Braves, Capture National’s Flag,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 30, 1915: 1.

23 J.C. O’Leary, “Phils Win Pennant,” Boston Globe, September 30, 1915: 1.

Additional Stats

Washington Senators 20
Philadelphia Athletics 5
Game 2, DH

Griffith Stadium
Washington, DC


Box Score + PBP:

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