Ed Reulbach’s Shutout Doubleheader

This article was written by Art Ahrens

This article was published in the Road Trips: SABR Convention Journal Articles


This article was originally published in “Baseball in Chicago,” the 1986 SABR convention journal.

 

Pitchers winning two complete games in one day, extinct since Emil Levsen of Cleveland last turned the trick on August 28, 1926, were a rare breed of men even in their heyday. From the time Candy Cummings set the precedent on September 9, 1876, until Levson rang down the final curtain nearly half a century later, only 39 pitchers could successfully perform the act. Joe McGinnity accomplished the feat three times in one month (August, 1903), while Mark Baldwin, Ed Walsh, and Grover Alexander each managed it twice. The other 35 could only do it once, making a total of 44 occasions in which a pitcher went the distance twice in the same day, beating his foes both times.

Of singular importance was Cub pitcher Ed Reulbach’s double-barrelled blast to the Brooklyn Superbas on September 26, 1908. This performance was unique in that it marked the only time anyone pitched a shutout doubleheader in the major leagues.

Spitballer “Kaiser” Wilhelm was on the mound for Brooklyn, and for the first six innings he pitched almost as well as Reulbach, allowing Chicago only one run.

During this time Reulbach fell into but one jam, that, too, coming in the fifth, when Tom Sheehan and Joe Dunn led off with back-to-back singles. With two on and nobody out, it looked as if the Superbas would tie the game when first baseman Frank Chance appeared to overrun Wilhelm’s pop-up. But before the ball touched the ground Chance slapped it into the air with his right hand and, regaining his balance, grabbed it with his left for the first out. Tom Catterson then fouled out to Harry Steinfeldt at third, after which Harry Lumley bounced back to Reulbach to end the rally and the inning.

Wilhelm began to weaken in the seventh and the Cubs touched him for seven hits and four runs during the last three innings.

In the eighth Johnny Everes singled, took second on Frank Schulte’s sacrifice, then scored on Steinfeldt’s single after Chance had popped out. Not content to remain on first, Steinfeldt stole second and was driven across by Hofman’s single for the fourth Cub run of the game. Chicago put one more run across in the top of the ninth when Kling singled, stole second, and scored on Evers’ double to center field.

But the additional scoring turned out to be mere on the cake as Reulbach held the Brooklynites hitless for the last four innings. One more touch of excitement came in the Brooklyn eighth when Catterson slapped a towering pop foul in back of the plate. Racing hard, catcher Kling crashed into the wire netting of the backstop and caught the ball barehanded to a loud cheer from the generally partisan Brooklyn crowd.

With one shutout in his pocket, the elated Reulbach asked his manager, Frank Chance, if he could pitche the second contest as well. Chance had originally planned on assigning the second contest to Jack Pfiester or Chick Fraser but, playing a hunch, agreed to Reulbach’s request. He was not disappointed.

Surprisingly, Reulbach was stronger in the second game than he had been in the first, blanking the Superbas 3-0 on three singles. After Harry Lumley had singled with one out in the first inning, Rewubach was invincible until Tom Catterson led off the seventh with a safety. In between, the Cub ace had dispatched 14 Superbas in succession.

The Cubs in the meantime had taken a 1-0 lead in the third. With one out and Kling on second, John Hayden grounded to shortstop McMillan, who threw wildly to first, enabling Kling to score.

Two more were added in the eighth. After Tinker and Kling flied out, Reulbach walked. Hayden singled to center and Evers did the same. On Evers’ hit, Burch threw the ball over catcher Joe Dunn’s head, allowing Reulbach and Hayden to score, making it 3-0 Chicago.

The extra padding, of course, proved to be unnecessary, as Reulbach was never better. When the final out was made, the Cub pitcher had carved himself an exclusive and enviable niche in the record books.

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