On this day in 1910 Mike Mitchell one of the premier outfielders of the Deadball Era had one of his finest days at the plate. He went 4 for 4 with two triples and two singles in a late summer game in Boston.
Mike Mitchell had a short and successful career that lasted only 8 years which also started very late He was a 27-year old rookie and by his 34th year his career was over. He has been awarded by STATS, Inc. 1907 retroactive rookie of the year for his stellar play. In his limited time in the majors seasons, he lead the National League in Games Played 156 (1911), triples twice (1909 and 1910), and outfield assists once (1907). The two triples he garnered at this game helped secure league leading total 18. The second place finisher Sherry Magee of Philadelphia had 17. Mitchell’s career best of 22 triples in 1911 was good for second place in the NL, three behind the league leader, “Laughing” Larry Doyle of the Giants.
He was noted for having great speed on the bases and led the Reds in slugging in four of the six years he played for them. Alfred Spink wrote in 1910, “Mitchell is probably the heaviest hitter in the National, a name which he was won because of his liking for nailing out three baggers and home runs just when a hit is needed.”
And on this day the Reds needed his three baggers, and while they counted in the record books, the game itself did not count in the standings: it was called a tie because of darkness after 8 innings.
He is the batter of the day, not because this was his career best, (that came on July 19, 1911 at the Polo Grounds, but because two triples in a game that ended in a tie would mean that this game would be destined to be forgotten. In the past posts readers might have noticed that some players had great days against the Braves, and while this is no different, at least the hapless Boston Nationals did not lose this one. To make up for the draw game, the teams played a doubleheader the next day with the Reds sweeping it. For the final standings the Reds were extraordinarily mediocre in ’10 going 75-79 and finishing 5th some 29 GB. It was a thoroughly frustrating season for the Queen City Nine, they played well early in the season, then fading to the middle of the standings as the season went on. The Spalding Guide of 1911 reported:
The Cincinnati players believed they had a team which was better than Chicago, and went into the contests determined to prevent another championship from going to Chicago. …Cincinnati was a little disappointed at not finishing with a higher percentage, and perhaps would if the pitchers of the team had not been such failures. It was a bitter development to Griffith that the men upon whom he had counted the most should have suffered for a great part of the season with sore arms.
The Boston Doves, as they were known in 1910, might have been first in Peace, but definably last in the National League going 53-100, a mere 50.5 GB.
This game is important because it sheds new light on Mike Mitchell. Retrosheet.com records start from 1911 and Baseball-refrence.com box score records commence in 1914. Retrosheet.com notes its records are incomplete and lists one triple as a career high. Now we can rewrite the book on Mike Mitchell with a career high of two triples thanks to a stellar performance on August 28, 1910.
Spalding’s Base Ball Guide of 1911
SABRBioProject Mike Mitchell, by Mike Lackey, Don Geiszler, and Mark Dugo http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2d6a3c2f