From a Researcher’s Notebook (1989)

This article was written by Al Kermisch

This article was published in 1989 Baseball Research Journal

Ernie Banks was the first black manager, if only for a day. Al Orth threw two complete games in one afternoon. These findings and more from our staff archeologist.



During the five years that baseball’s first professional league the National Association of Professional Baseball Players operated, there were some heavy hitting performances that deserve special recognition. Following are some of the most noteworthy:

June 28, 1871: In an extraordinary game played at Troy, New York, the Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Troy Haymakers 49-33, with both teams scoring in all nine innings. For the Athletics, pitcher Dick Mc Bride and John Radcliffe each scored seven runs while Ned Cuthbert, Wes Fisler, Al Reach, and Levi Meyerle tallied six times each.

October 5, 1872: The Lord Baltimores of Baltimore defeated the Atlantics on the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn 39-14. Baltimore scored in all nine innings and catcher Scott Hastings registered seven hits and scored six runs.

July 4, 1873: The Resolutes of Elizabeth, New Jersey, surprised the Red Stockings at Boston by winning the morning game 11-2. In the afternoon contest the Resolutes gave the home club a tussle for six innings but the Red Stockings broke the game wide open by scoring five runs in the seventh, two in the eighth and an unbelievable 21 runs in the ninth for a 32-3 victory.

July 28, 1873: The Lord Baltimores overcame a 14-4 deficit by rallying for 13 runs in the last three innings to defeat the Red Stockings 17-14 on the Union Grounds in Boston. The victim of the uprising was Al Spalding, who was knocked out of the box in the eighth inning. The Baltimore victory spoiled an outstanding performance by Boston shortstop George Wright, who hit two home runs in the third inning, when the Red Stockings scored eight times. He led off the inning with a drive over the fence and later in the frame hit one into the left-field corner. The home runs were hit off Candy Cummings.

June 18, 1874: The Mutuals of New York scored in every inning and completely overwhelmed the Chicago White Stockings 38-1 on the Union Grounds in Brooklyn. Bobby Mathews set the White Stockings down with two hits.

October 1, 1874: The Red Stockings defeated the Atlantics 29-0 on the South End Grounds in Boston. Al Spalding held the Atlantics to three hits.


For years Bill Duggleby, a pitcher who hit a grand slam home run in his first time at bat for the Philadelphia Phillies on April 21, 1898, was considered the first player to homer in his first at bat. Several years ago I discovered that Mike Griffin had homered in his first at bat for Baltimore of the American Association on April 16, 1887. Later I found that Griffin had to share the honor with George Tebeau who had done the same thing on the same day in the same league for Cincinnati. That still left Duggleby as the first in the National League. Recently I ran across a National League player who performed the feat for Boston on September 10, 1895.

Joe Harrington joined Boston from Fall River after the close of the New England League season. He was immediately placed at second base and when he came to bat for the first time in the second inning he was given a great ovation by the Boston fans. He responded with a home run over the left-field fence off pitcher Bill Kissinger. Harrington had three hits in four times up in his debut, but St. Louis won 8-4.


Frank Robinson was the first black manager in the majors with Cleveland in 1975. Nonetheless, Ernie Banks, the popular Mr. Cub, likes to remind everyone that he managed in the majors before Robinson even if only for a day.

Ernie was a coach with the Cubs under Manager Whitey Lockman in 1973. In a game at San Diego on May 8, Lockman was ejected in the eleventh inning for arguing a called strike on Billy Williams. The Cubs were short of coaches that day. Larry Jansen was with his wife, who had undergone surgery, while Pete Reiser was at home recuperating from a scuffle in San Francisco a few days earlier. That left coaches Banks and Hank Aguirre, and Ernie got the job. The Cubs won the game in the twelfth inning on Ken Rudolph’s double, Don Kessinger’s sacrifice bunt, and a pinch-hit double by Joe Pepitone, making Banks a winner in his first stint as a major-league manager.


Bill White, former major league player and broadcaster and now president of the National League, had exceptional debuts in both the minor and major leagues. He broke into Organized Baseball as a New York Giant farmhand for Danville in the Carolina League in 1953. White made his debut on April 22 in the opening game of the season at Reidsville. He led the Danville attack with a home run, double, single and four RBI in five times at bat as his club won 13-11.

White was called up to the Giants on May 6, 1956, from Minneapolis of the American Association. The Giants were in St. Louis, and White was placed in the starting lineup as the No. 6 hitter. In his first major-league at bat, in the second inning, he hit a home run off Ben Flowers into the pavilion seats in right-center. On his second at bat his drive missed the right field pavilion roof by a few feet for a double. White took a called third strike from Lindy McDaniel in the sixth and singled off Gordon Jones in the ninth. Despite his successful debut, the Giants lost to the Cards 6-3.


Don Baylor and Ron Hunt are the all-time leaders in getting hit by pitches, but before 1900 it was Hugh Jennings, of the old Orioles, who specialized in HP’s. He was hit three times in a game on a record three occasions in 1894, 1896 and 1898all while with the Orioles, or so says the record book. But Jennings was hit thrice a fourth time while with Brooklyn, where Ned Hanlon had moved most of his Oriole stars. On July 8, 1899, Jennings was plunked three times by Chick Fraser of the Phillies as Brooklyn beat the visiting Phillies 6-2.


On October 13, 1898, Phillie pitcher Al Orth threw two complete game victories over Brooklyn, but his feat is not listed in the record books. Delighting the Philadelphia crowd, he won the first game 5-1 on four hits and the second, halted by darkness after five innings, 9-6 on six hits. The White Sox’ Ed Walsh is credited with two complete game victories at Boston on September 26, 1905. Actually, he did not start the first game even though he was in the contest for all 27 putouts. Doc White, the starter, gave up a single to Fred Parent, who took second on a fumble by outfielder James Callahan. With the count two balls on Chick Stahl, White asked to be relieved; he said the wind was blowing against his curveball and it wouldn’t break over the plate. Manager Fielder Jones sent in Walsh, who had no chance to warm up. Boston scored five runs in the inning, but Walsh pitched shutout ball the rest of the way and won 10-5. He won the second game 3-1 in eight innings, the game being curtailed by darkness.


Al Kermisch is an original SABR member who contributed to the first 15 issues of “BRJ.”