Historical Hitter

Historical Hitter September 2 1890: Harry Bay

On this day in 1902, the Cleveland Bronchos had no trouble defeating the soon to be defunct Original American League Orioles. With the final score being 23-7, Cleveland knocked out 23 hits and was the beneficiary of 9 Baltimore errors.

1902 Cleveland vs Baltimore Box ScoreIn the same edition of the Sporting Life Magazine, it was announced that the American League was going to invade New York the next season. So Baltimore agony would soon be over but Charm City would need to wait more than 50 years for their beloved Orioles to return.

The “Broncho’s” or the “Blue Bird’s” batting hero of September 2 was Harry Bay who led the hit parade with 5 hits, 5 runs, 5 at bats and one sacrifice. The box score reveals a unique occurrence; Bill Bradley was just 3 for 7 but scored 5 runs. Without play by play to collaborate, one conclusion is Bradley hit into at least two fielder’s choices erasing a runner and reaching first base. Hall of Famers Lajoie went 4 for 6 with a stolen base, Elmer Frick went 3 for 5 with a home run, double and stole a base, and finally, Addie Joss came in and pitched 7 innings of relief allowing just two runs to get the win. Every Cleveland player who had an at bat got at least one hit. Pickering, who pinch hit for the ineffective Lundbom got his one hit and later scored.

Lundbom’s major league career was very short, just eight games with 34 innings pitched and a 1-1 record posting an era of 6.62. By the 13th of September with Bay hitting in 26 games, and the team winning 20 of 21 home games, Lundbom was released. Sporting Life noted that if the team had started the year the way they finished it they would be contesting for first place.

Harry BayBay was the table setter for the team and noted for being the fastest person in the American league. From his left handed batting position he was clocked with a home-to-first speed of 3.5 seconds, which earned him the nickname “Deerfoot.”

His first major league stint in Cincinnati was abysmal. His meager hitting, just .210, earned him a release by mid-May of 1902. He soon found a home in Cleveland and thrived. By mid-June Sporting Life took note of Bay’s success.

Wonder what the Keels think when they notice the gigantic batting average of Harry Bay? The Cleveland sub and ex-Red is soaking them for about .558 to date.

Bay put together a 26 game hitting streak, stole 22 bases, and led all Centerfielders in fielding percentage. This 5 for 5 and 5 runs performance of September 2 helped propel Cleveland to was a season high 23 runs. At the end of the 1902 Sporting Life reported that Bay was sought by Ned Hanlon to play for his Brooklyn squad.

Cleveland did resist the trade talks from Hanlon, and kept Bay as their center fielder. His peak seasons were 1903 to 1905 when he led the league in stolen bases in ’04 with 45 and ’05 with 38.

Harry BayHe was a very slight about 5’-8” and all of 138 pounds soaking wet. He was noted for sliding headfirst into first on close plays and covering more ground in center that his peers while making spectacular over the shoulder and diving catches all over the outfield. Eventually by the later part of the 1905 season his aggressive, fearless outfield play caused him to injure his left shoulder and then a few days later he damaged his knee slipping on a wet, muddy outfield. Sadly he never fully recovered, and saw very limited action from 1906 to 1908. Traded at the beginning of the 1908 season to minor league Nashville his injuries partially healed and his performance improved a few more good years. Being instrumental in Nashville winning the 1908 Southern League title endured him to the fans throughout eastern Tennessee. Finally he was a talented musician and a welcome addition to the clubhouse.


Sporting Life Magazine

  • Volume 39 Number 13, June 14, 1902
  • Volume 39 Number 15, June 28, 1902
  • Volume 39 Number 26, September 13, 1902

SABR BioPRoject, John Simpson http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/ff1e02e3



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