Schechter: An era summed up in one game, June 15, 1929

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on January 22, 2015:

An interviewer once asked me one of the classic baseball questions: “If you could go back in time and witness one famous game from Major League history, which would it be?” It took me just seconds to say, “The Merkle game,” on September 23, 1908. I could observe a lot just by watching Fred Merkle, Johnny Evers, Joe McGinnity, Christy Mathewson, Rube Kroh, and the two umpires, and I might be able to put together the actual sequence of events. If nothing else, I’d like to witness the pandemonium as the Giants won the game and then didn’t. Or perhaps be at the center of it, charging in from the bleachers to drag Merkle back to touch second base.

More recently, I found a different game I would most love to see, partly because it isn’t famous. It ought to be. The Giants and Pirates battled at Forbes Field on June 15, 1929, and set a record for hits by both teams—52—though it took 14 innings and more than four hours to do it. If the Little League-ish box score were filled with random names taken from a phone book, it would still trumpet a remarkable battle. What sets it apart for me is that the eight future Hall of Famers who played in that game combined for an astonishing 31 hits.

William Brandt of the New York Times called it “a fearful and wonder spectacle” ending in a “relay carnival” of 11 runs scored in the 14th inning. Oh, to behold that parade, to survive the near-riot in that final inning that was quelled by the police, and to witness some of the best hitters in the game at their best.

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Originally published: January 22, 2015. Last Updated: January 22, 2015.