April 14, 1925: The Grove-Cochrane Debut

This article was written by Bill Loughman

This article was published in the 1977 Baseball Research Journal


April 14, 1925 was a typical opening day of the baseball season. At least it seemed that way at the time. A quarter of a million fan watched the opening games. This included the 45,000 who watched the Yankees, led by Babe Ruth’s stand-in Ben Paschal, beat the Senators 5-1. Babe was hospitalized suffering from the aftereffects of his famous spring training tummyache.

The National League celebrated its 50th season with opening ceremonies in their parks marked by the appearance of NL President Heydler at Boston and Commissioner Landis at Chicago. Judge Landis and 40,000 others, the second largest crowd in Chicago history, saw Grover Cleveland Alexander hit a home run and two singles to lead the Cubs to an 8-2 win over the eventual League champions, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Thirty-five runs and 39 hits highlighted the Browns’ opener at St. Louis as Cleveland won 2 1-14. Tris Speaker hit a home run for the Indians while the usually sure-fingered George Sisler made four errors for the Browns at first base. Five future Hall of Famers appeared in Boston as the Braves beat the Giants 5-4. Two of them appeared at first base for the Giants in that game, George Kelly and Bill Terry.

Six players made their first big league appearance at Philadelphia as the A’s faced the Red Sox. For Boston, Ewell Gross hit a triple in his first game while his teammate, Billy Rogell (the only player to have an expressway named after him) handled ten chances errorlessly at second base in his initial contest. Philadelphia rookie Marvin Smith batted unsuccessfully for Stan Baumgartner, future member of the BBWAA, and Jim Poole, Connie Mack’s new first baseman from Portland, Oregon, helped his team win with a home run.

The 22,000 spectators at Shibe Park also had the rare treat of watching two future Hall of Famers appear in their first Major League game. Mickey Cochrane shared the catching duties for the A’s with Cy Perkins and contributed a single in his two at bats. Lefty Grove (known as Groves in those days) started rather inauspiciously, walking four batters and hitting one. The victim was Ewell Gross, in his first big league time at bat (“Welcome to the Big Leagues, Mr. Gross”). Grove was knocked out of the box in the fourth and didn’t strike out a batter. In his first time at bat, Lefty struck out. As a matter of fact, he fanned 10 times in his first 13 times at bat in the Majors.

Connie Mack didn’t worry much about Lefty’s hitting prowess as a couple of weeks later, on May 1, another future Hall of Famer hit a pinch hit single in his big league debut and went on to hit 534 home runs in a 20-year career. He was 17 years old during the 1925 season and his name was Jimmie Foxx.

The double debut of Cochrane and Grove was not a planned event; in fact, Mickey was a substitute catcher in the game. They had a certain renown as minor league players, particularly Grove. However, the hard throwing southpaw was known to have control problems, both with his fast ball and his temper. Maybe he might have had trouble in the majors with a manager less patient than Connie Mack. As for Cochrane, he was regarded as having good potential, but, according to one newspaper report, he was expected to be sent back to Portland for another year of seasoning. It didn’t turn out that way. Grove and Cochrane became baseball’s greatest battery as well as top-rank individual stars. They were the only players of Hall of Fame caliber to make their major league debuts in the same game. See box below.

 

BOSTON

AB

R

H

 

PHILADELPHIA

AB

R

H

                 

Flagstead CF

5

1

4

 

Bishop 2B

4

2

2

Prothro 3B

5

1

1

 

Dykes 3B

3

0

0

Boone RF

5

0

2

 

Lamar LF

5

1

2

Veach LF

5

0

1

 

Simmons CF

5

0

0

Harris lB

5

2

1

 

Miller RF

5

1

1

Gross SS

3

2

1

 

Poole 1B

4

2

3

Rogell 2B

3

0

0

 

Galloway SS

3

0

0

Picinich C

4

1

2

 

Perkins C

3

0

0

Ferguson P

3

1

0

 

Groves P

1

0

0

Ross P

0

0

0

 

Harriss P

0

0

0

Wingfield P

1

0

0

 

1-French

1

0

1

Kailio P

0

0

0

 

Walberg P

0

0

0

         

2-Hale 3B

3

2

2

         

3-Welch

1

1

1

         

4-Cochrane C

2

0

1

         

Baumgartner P

0

0

0

         

4-Smith

0

0

0

         

Rommel P

0

0

0

           

40

9

13

 

39

8

12

 

40

9

1

 

One out when winning run scored                  1 Batted for Harriss in 6th

2 Batted for Walberg in 8th                            3 Batted for Dykes in 8th

4 Batted for Perkins in 8th                              5 Batted for Baumgartner in 9th

Boston .                                   0 2 0 3 1 0 0 1 1  0   -8

Philadelphia .                          0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 1  1   -9

  Errors-Gross, Bishop 2, Poole. Two-base hits-Picinich 2, Boone, Lamar. Three-base hits-Gross. Home runs–Miller, Poole, Flagstead, Welch, Harris. Struck out-Ferguson 1, Harriss 2, Walberg 2, Rommel 2. Bases on Balls-Groves 4, Ferguson 1, Harriss 1, Ross 1. Sacrifice hits-Rogell, Flagstead, Smith Galloway. Hit by pitcher- Groves, Gross.

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