Historical Hitter

Historical Hitters September 14: The Griffeys & Cy Seymour

Cy Who? Seymour who? Cy was short for given nickname cyclone, his given name was James Bentley Seymour, one of the best unknown ballplayers to play the game.

Today in one of most unique hitting events occurred. In fact, in the 145 some years of professional baseball this has occurred only once. A father and son hit a home run in the same inning in consecutive at bats. While it gave their team an early 3-0 lead, it did not last, and our hitting heroes team lost 5-7. The two in question, two of the most popular players of their day: Ken Griffey, Sr. and Ken Griffey, Jr. For Senior, it was his third of the year, a two run homer; and Junior followed with his 20th of the year as a solo shot. Alas, this event occurred in 1990; consequently it does not meet the 75-year historical benchmark.

September 14th Box Score1908 was a high water mark for the National Pastime; attendance was at its highest, the pennant race at its tightest, and the season’s ending most controversial. It of course was the last year the Cubs have won the World Series. This game of mid-September helps set the table for the season’s historic ending.

The historical hitting hero of the day is a forgotten New York Outfielder and Pitcher, Cy Seymour. On this day went 5 for 5 with 4 RBIs. His at bats included two doubles and one triple today in 1908.

His last hit just a single, plated the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

The 1909 Spalding Guide puts this game in perspective on the historic 1908 season.

Seymour pulled the New York game of September 14, against Brooklyn, out of the fire, by making five hits and sending home all four of the runs which were scored by the

Giants. The Brooklyns were close on their heels with three.

The Giants, after winning a straight series of games from Brooklyn, followed with another straight series from St. Louis, and was so comfortably ahead that some of the more sanguine supporters of the team seemed to think the race was as good as won, although it was pointed out that Chicago and Pittsburg had better than an ordinary chance if the New York players should slip badly in all the contests which were to follow.

Cy Seymour was a pitcher-outfielder player that was not uncommon at the beginning of the 20th century. As for players who have combined for pitching victories, and base hits, Seymour ranks second in all of baseball and is an unknown star. (The number one pitcher-outfielder is a guy named Ruth.)

Cy Seymour 1He had one spectacular season as a pitcher in 1898 with 25 wins and leading the league in strikeouts, and as a batter in 1905 he lead the league in singles and batting average. Unfortunately these two spectacular seasons were not a backed up by other seasons, which have hurt his Hall of Fame credentials. In Seymour’s SABR BioProject, Bill Kirwin outlines the rationale for remembering who the other Cy was, and his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Seymour the pitcher pitching in 140 games going 61-53, and had a magnificent 25 win season in 1898. He was noted for a lack of control yet with power, leading the league in walks three seasons, and strikeouts two seasons. His strike out per nine innings ratio lead the National League for three years, but his career WHIP was a very healthy 1.554. On the positive side, opposing batters hit only .240 against him while the league average was .307! Seymour featured a strong fastball, a sharp curveball and a screwball. The Giants during this time period were a mediocre team noted for weak hitting and poor finishes not making it out of the second division. He was the ace of the staff and logged an average of 322 innings per season. Like too many pitchers today his over-pitching caused an arm injury in 1900, which required him to switch to the outfield full time.

Cy Seymour 2As a hitter he was spectacular, and not just on September 14. He led the league in hitting and base hits in 1905, with 219 hits leading to a healthy .377 average which surpassed Honus Wagner as the league’s best hitter. Overall, he had over 6000 plate appearances and knocked out more than 1700 hits which gave him a very respectable .303 average with 96 triples and 52 home runs resulting in a career OPS+ of 119.

He had the misfortune of a fielding miscue in the greatest of games in October of 1908, and he is not mentioned in John McGraw baseball autobiography which aids in his obscurity.

Nevertheless, on September 14, 1908 is the day that belongs to the best pitcher-hitter in baseball that few have ever heard of and even less is known about his success: Cy Seymour, outfielder-pitcher for the Giants of New York who went 5 for 5 and beat the Dodgers with his bat.

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