August 31 is a good day for home runs in New York City. Gil Hodges hit 4 in 1950 as the Dodgers routed the hapless Braves 19-3; Mel Ott hit three in 1930 also against the Braves (but the Braves won this game 14-10; The Babe hit two in 1929 against the Senators as the Yanks won 13-3; Tony Lazzeri hit two in 1927 against the Red Sox in a 10-3 Yankee victory; Bob Seeds hit 2 in 1936, as the Yanks beat the White Sox 5-1; and in 1906 in the middle of the deadball era, Frank Delahanty went 4 for 4 with two home runs.
All of these efforts deserve recognition but the focus of the hitter of the day is Frank Delahanty in 1906. One of the famous five Delahanty brothers from Cleveland who played in the Majors Frank’s career was brief, just 6 seasons; unheralded just 286 games; unimpressive a paltry .226 batting average; but for one day spectacular: two home runs, one triple, 6 hits, 4 runs scored all in just 15 innings of baseball. August 31, 1906 was a doubleheader, the early game was a full nine innings, but the second game lasting only 6 innings before it was called for darkness. For the record the Yankees, as noted in the Sporting Life, but officially called the Highlanders by Baseball-reference and Baseball-almanac. It was not until 1913 that the name Yankees was made official.
Delahanty helped propel the New Yorkers to victory in the bottom of the 8th with a single and scoring the go-ahead run.
In the nightcap, he was spectacular. In just 6 innings, he went 4 of 5 and powered the Yanks to 20 runs before the game was called. With two and half more innings to play one can only image what the final score might have been.
Managed by future Washington Senators owner, Clark Griffith, the Yankees of 1906 won 90 games and finished second in the American League. The Senators were well on their way of establishing their foundation of baseball futility finishing 7th, 55-95 some 37.5 GB. The 25 runs scored on 27 hits in this shortened doubleheader of August 31 typified the Highlanders season. The1906 Spaldings’ Baseball Guide described the teams season as:
The New York club was subject to spurts and slumps and did not hold to its gait as steadily as is necessary to success in so close a race, but Griffith’s men won many a game simply on their nerve and strong batting ability.
This 1906 series was a mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) trifecta of doubleheaders – a total of 6 games in three days of Washington- New York American League baseball. In this six game stretch of the Highlanders won all six by a combined score of 51 to 25. The first game of six, Delahanty went 0 for 4 with a run scored. In game two, he was 3 for 4 with a sacrifice. In game five he was normal 1 for 4 with a run scored. In game six Frank Delahanty went 4 for 4with a double and triple and two runs scored. In this six game set, Frank Delahanty, feasted against Washington pitching: 13 for 25, 9 runs scored, 1 double, 2 triples, 2 HR’s and 1 sacrifice. A great week in just three days.
The five Delahanty brothers are “Big Ed”, Frank, Joe, Jim, and Tom. “Big Ed” was the best of the quintet and hit over .400 three times during the 1890’s, fifth all time with a career .3458 average and elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.
The other significant item that occurred today was fundamental to how the game is played today. The cork-centered baseball was patented August 31, 1909 by the A.J. Reach Company then a subsidiary of AG Spalding & Bros.
Delahanty photo http://www.legendaryauctions.com/lot-69694.aspx
Sporting Life Magazine Volume 47 Number 26, September 8, 1906, p 6.& 7.
Spalding’s Base Ball Guide 1907, American Sports Publishing