Three different views of one 1913 play

From SABR member Dennis Pajot at on December 1, 2011:

After over 30 years of interviewing eye-witnesses at accidents and crime scene, I know that people see the same incident differently, so that three sport writers might see the same play different does not surprise me. For whatever the reasons when things happen in real life speed, and we have no foreknowledge it is about to happen, our eyes and brains read the story different than the next person. I guess that is one of the great things about being humans and not computers.

This is nothing new—think of Babe Ruth pointing to center field—just something to keep in mind when reading differing accounts of any play. Most likely the people relating the account saw the play as they are describing it, not fabricating.

Back to 1913—In the top of the third inning in game five Eddie Murphy led of with single. Rube Oldring then hit a grounder to Larry Doyle, who fumbled the ball, allowing Murphy to take second base and Oldring was safe at first. Eddie Collins then sacrificed both runners one base. Frank Baker came up and the infield moved up for a play at the plate.

The stage for set for Fred Merkle’s third mishap play in five years.

If what happened was or was not a “bonehead” play I let others decide. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study of the play. As I said earlier, the point here is to show how three baseball writers, presumably all at the game, saw and interpreted the play differently.

Read the full article here:

Related link: A New York view of the 1913 Merkle play (December 9, 2011)

Originally published: December 1, 2011. Last Updated: December 1, 2011.