The 1922 Pittsburgh Powerhouse

This article was written by Gordon Hurlburt

This article was published in the 1981 Baseball Research Journal


The year 1922 was a truly exciting one for baseball. The revolutionary change from an emphasis on pitching to hitting and home runs had just taken full effect. As a result, team and individual batting averages soared; and crowds thrilled to the record-breaking home run bats of — not only Babe Ruth — but Rogers Hornsby, Cy Williams, Ken Williams and Clarence Walker. Soon after the season began there came a reminder that the pitching fraternity wasn’t planning to roll over and play dead. Little-known Charlie Robertson of the White Sox threw a perfect game at the Detroit Tigers, but otherwise this season belonged mostly to the hitters.

Over in the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates had started the season with high hopes. They had finished a strong second in 1921, just four games behind John McGraw’s New York pennant-winners. The Pirates had a good hitting club, which in 1922 would lead the league with a glittering .308 team batting average, second highest ever recorded for a Pittsburgh club since 1900. They even had good pitching, led by 22-game winner Wilbur Cooper. But, for some reason, they just couldn’t put their act together in 1922, and late July saw them languishing in sixth place, not even up to the .500 mark.

It was at this point that the team “caught fire,” launching a dazzling streak that would bring them to the level that fans had expected of them. It began with a game at the Polo Grounds on July 29, opening a series with the league-leading Giants. Pittsburgh smashed five home runs, including two by outfielder Max Carey and even one by pitcher Cooper, in an 8-3 triumph over New York. The next day, Carey hit two more out at the Polo Grounds as the Pirates blanked McGraw’s men, 7-0. They went on to sweep the four-game series in New York to knock the Giants out of first place, and to start themselves on a winning skein that would reach 13 games. This brought them up to third in the standings.

Toward the end of this show of strength, the Pirates set a record which literally stands alone in baseball annals. This article intends to throw light on this record, in which for five consecutive games every batter in the lineup had at least one hit. It made no difference if the man with the bat was even a relief pitcher, or a substitute or part-time performer; everybody came through with at least one hit in each game he played during the magnificent stretch. Let us take a closer look at how it was accomplished.

After the sweep in New York, the Pittsburghers traveled to Boston, where the lowly Braves occupied the National League cellar. We will begin with the third and final game of that series:

Game of August 5:

Pittsburgh…….005 011 020 = 9 16 1
Boston……….. 010 000 011 = 3 5 2

The Boston starter was Rube Marquard, who pitched seven innings. He was relieved by Joe Oeschger, famous as the Braves’ hurler in the 26-inning marathon with Brooklyn in 1920. Pittsburgh had two part-time players in the lineup for this game. Jewel Ens, 32, when he did play was normally a second baseman, but this time he played first in place of Charlie Grimm, who was missing from the lineup for the first and only time all year. 22-year-old catcher “Bubber” Jonnard was used even more sparingly, appearing in only 10 games during the year. Here is what the Pirates’ half of the box score looked like:

 

AB

Runs

Hits

Maranville, ss

4

1

3

Carey, cf

5

1

2

Bigbee, lf

3

2

1

Barnhart, rf

5

1

2

Tierney, 2b

5

0

3

Traynor, 3b

5

0

2

Ens, 1b

4

1

1

Jonnard, c

3

2

1

Morrison, p

3

1

1

37

9

16

 

Pittsburgh’s next stop was Philadelphia, where the Phillies were languishing in seventh place, just a shade better than the Braves. After a day off on August 6, play resumed the next day. We pick it up from there.

Game of August 7:

Pittsburgh……. 211 800 041 = 17 22 2
Philadelphia…..222 200 020 = 10 15 2

In this game, with the Phillies piling up runs in the early innings, Pirate manager Bill McKechnie called on three pitchers to do the job for him. Ace Wilbur Cooper started and lasted until two were out in the third inning, having allowed eight hits, good for six runs. He was relieved by Hal Carlson, but he lasted only 2/3 of an inning, during which he walked four batters. He in turn was replaced by “Whitey” Glazner, who pitched the rest of the game and picked up the win. These three combined to give the ninth spot in the batting order a perfect 5-for-S day. Cooper got a base hit in his only at bat; then Carlson, though in the game such a short time, came up twice in the Pirates’ 8-run explosion in the fourth and contributed a single and a double. Glazner also batted twice during his time in the game and he singled and hit a home run. All told, Pittsburgh had six doubles, a triple by second baseman Tierney and Glazner’s home run among their 22 hits. Ten Pirate players made two hits each to set a record.

 

AB

Runs

Hits

Maranville, ss

5

1

2

Carey,cf

5

2

2

Bigbee, lf

6

3

2

Barnhart, rf

2

1

1

Russell, rf

3

2

2

Tierney, 2b

5

2

2

Traynor, 3b

6

1

2

Grimm, 1b

5

2

2

Schmidt, c

6

2

2

Cooper, p

1

0

1

Carlson, p

2

0

2

Glazner, p

2

1

2

48

17

22

 

Games of Aug. 8:

(1)

Pittsburgh…….. 304 302 412 = 19 27 0
Philadelphia…….001 010 510 = 8 17 4

(2)

Pittsburgh…….. 001 041 010 = 7 19 0
Philadelphia…….000 011 001 = 3 9 1

Now the Pirate power really came alive. With the 22 hits of the day before, Pittsburgh set a record for the NL of 49 hits in two consecutive games. They also set a major league doubleheader record with their 46 hits. The batting stars were right fielder “Reb” Russell and second baseman “Cotton” Tierney, who each had 8 hits for the day. Russell had two doubles in each game, plus a home run in the first encounter, while Tierney had two homers in the first contest and a double among four hits in the nightcap. Let’s look at the Pirates’ box scores:

 

Game 1:

AB

R

H

Game 2:

AB

R

H

Maranville, ss

7

1

2

6

1

4

Carey,cf

5

2

3

6

0

1

Rohwer, cf

I

I

I

Bigbee, lf

4

3

2

5

2

2

Barnhart, lf

1

0

1

Russell, rf

5

5

5

4

2

3

Tierney, 2b

6

5

4

5

1

4

Traynor, 3b

6

2

3

5

1

1

Grimm, 1b

6

0

2

5

0

2

Gooch, c

5

0

2

(Schmidt, c)

5

0

1

Hamilton, p

6

0

2

(Morrison, p)

5

0

1

52

19

27

46

7

19

 

Game of August 10:

Pittsburgh……. 000 122 180 = 14 16 2
Philadelphia…..010 000 012 = 4 8 4

After another day off, the clubs resumed warfare with the Buccaneers continuing their remarkable hitting show. Left fielder Carson Bigbee had the biggest day with his five hits, but the biggest blow was a home run by pitcher Hal Carlson. It was the first homer for the 28-year-old hurler in the six years of his major league career; he would hit four more before his career terminated with his sudden death during the 1930 season. The remarkable streak where every Pittsburgh player hit safely for five games ended with the August 10 game.

 

AB

R

H

Maranville, ss

5

1

1

Carey, cf

6

1

2

Bigbee, if

6

3

5

Russell, rf

4

2

1

Tierney, 2b

4

1

2

Traynor, 3b

3

1

1

Grimm, lb

3

2

2

Schmidt, c

5

1

1

Carlson, p

5

2

1

41

14

16

 

After this game, the Pirates returned home where they hosted Cincinnati, winning the first two games in the series to boost their winning streak to 13 games, then dropping the finale to the Reds. This streak brought Pittsburgh to within 4½ games of the league-leading Giants, who had just regained the lead by half a game from St. Louis. Pirate hitting continued strong for the rest of the season. The five games we have looked at boosted the team batting average from just under .300 to .309, and they were able to maintain that level the rest of the way. But they could get no closer to the Giants, who won another pennant, and settled for a third place tie with St. Louis. The press of the day duly noted the Pirate winning streak, and their robust hitting, but it seemed to take little note of the remarkable string of five games in a row in which everyone hit safely.

Now, to wind it all up, let us look at a summary of the hitting in those five games. The most distinctive feature was undoubtedly the hitting of the pitchers, which showed ten hits, including two doubles and two homers in 24 at bats, for a .417 batting average and a .750 slugging average. The team as a whole batted .446 for these games, with a magnificent slugging average of .612. It might be interesting to see how each player batted in those five games:

 

AB

R

H

B.A.

Barnhart

=

8

2

4

.500

Bigbee

=

24

13

12

.500

Carey

=

27

6

10

.370

Grimm

=

19

4

8

.421

Maranville

=

27

5

12

.444

Russell

=

16

11

11

.688

Schmidt

=

16

3

4

.250

Tierney

=

25

9

15

.600

Traynor

=

25

5

9

.360

Carison

=

7

2

3

.429

Cooper

=

1

0

1

1.000

Ens

=

4

1

1

.250

Glazner

=

2

1

2

1.000

Gooch

=

5

0

2

.400

Hamilton

=

6

0

2

.333

Jonnard

=

3

2

1

.333

Morrison

=

8

1

2

.250

Rohwer

=

1

1

1

1.000

Team

224

66

100

.446

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