On this day in 1924, Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley of the St. Louis Cardinals went 6 for 6 and bats in a record 12 RBI’s as the Redbirds took the nest of the Brooklyn Robins.
Back then the Brooklyn Nationals called the Robins due to their manager last name Willie Robinson, and had a good year wining 92 – 62. These Brooklynites had winning records against the rest of the National League teams except against the first place Giants. Against the Cardinals, the Robins went 15-7 however, September 16 was their poorest game of the year in terms of number of runs allowed. In the 1924 seasons campaign, the Cardinals might have won the day’s battle they lost the war finishing 6th, going 65-89 some 28.5 GB.
Bottomley, known as Sunny Jim for his disposition, was a fan favorite especially on Ladies Day, as Baseball-reference notes. He was the first prospect from the minor league system that Branch Rickey established to win a MVP award in 1928. He is one of the select few who actually went 6 for 6 twice in their career. His career lasted 16 seasons 13 of which were played 13 of them in St. Louis, he played in 1991 games and knocked out 2313 hits. His final stat line shows a .310 Batting Average with 1422 RBI and a 125 OPS+.
When Bottomley reset the National League single game RBI record with 12, it was witnessed by previous record holder of 11, the Brooklyn manager, Willie Robinson; who accomplished that event as one of the Original Baltimore Orioles on June 10, 1892. Also on that day Robinson went 7 for 7. He is shown in his world series best plaid from 1916.
Ironically, Jim Bottomley does not hold the record of number of hits on September 16. That record is now held by Pittsburgh Pirate Rennie Stennett who matched Robinson’s 7 for 7. The confines of Wrigley were especially friendly to Stennett and his Pirate mates in 1975 as they plundered the Cubs 22-0.
Bottomley was more than just a gifted hitter, as he was noted as fine fielder and set the single season for unassisted double plays with 8 in 1936. Branch Rickey was quoted as saying:
By the sinews of Joshua how he could field! His reach from wrist to ankle was sublime.
On Bottomley’s famous day he started off the top of the first with a two –run single. The next inning it was a one run producing double. In the fourth he as at the plate again, and this time it was a bases clearing grand slam. (3 At Bats, 3 hits, 7 RBI.) In the sixth it was another home run, this time a two-run shot. (4-4-9). In the seventh it was another two- run single (5-5-11). And finally in the ninth his last single drove in run 12 (6-6-12). Final score Cardinals 17, Robins 3.
He shares another unique item with fellow Hall of Famer, Phil Rizzuto. The Scotter known for using the phrase “Holy Cow” one time too many, was given a Cow by the Yankees on his day in 1985. A fiberglass and plastic version of that cow is in the Hall of Fame. Sunny Jim a noted beef cattle farmer in rural Missouri, was given a Hereford by the Browns on his day in 1938.
Sunny Jim’s hall of fame pages quotes him as one who enjoyed life and the game beyond measure, as Bottomley is noted:
I’ve loved every minute of my life, the excitement of baseball
From a totally unrelated page of baseball history, I found this headline ripped from the Baseball box scores published in Sporting Life also from September 16.
“A Club the Mets Can Whip”Although present day Mets fans’ worst fear is that this headline is taken from today’s websites or a current ESPN sound bite, it actually originates from 1887. These Mets were the original New York Metropolitans of the defunct American Association. These Mets had just come off a four game stretch where they were shut out three times. These Mets featured players with names that would have made Abbott and Costello or Tinker, Evers & Chance very jealous: Lip, Candy, Dude (a double play combo, but not on this day); an outfield of Chief – Sargent- Cyclone , and a pitcher named Stump. (Third base was played by a saloon keeper named Hankinson). The winning pitcher on September 16 was Stump Wiedman who had the staff best 91 ERA+. Too bad this exhibition game didn’t count in his stats. The number one starter for these Mets was Al Mays who went 17-34 with a 4.73 ERA and 1.557 WHIP.
What makes this game of interest is that it’s hiding in plain sight. SABR Member Walter LeConte posted in Retrosheet.org a listing of over 5000 In-Season Exhibition Games. This list is very extensive, the result of very exhaustive research, and noted as being not complete, see: http://www.retrosheet.org /Research/ LeConteW/ InSeason Exhibition Games 1871-1920.htm . Now we can add one more game: September 16, 1887 NY Mets vs. Staten Island Athletic Club. Even in history the Mets are ignored, but no longer: Let the record state that on September 16th was the day the Mets found a club they can whip, 13-0! Let’s Go Mets! (Sporting Life, Volume 9 Number 21, September 21, 1887 page 2).
Baseball Hall of Fame.org
SABRBioProject by Bill Johnson, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/ea08fc60