Perhaps the Greatest Dispute in the History of Baseball Happened 105 Years Ago Today
The year was 1908 and the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs were playing the final game of the season. The Cubs and the Giants were both tied for the National League Championship and this game would determine the National League winner. With the score tied at 1 to 1 New York was batting in the bottom of the ninth with two men on base and with two men out. The New York batter singled to centerfield to apparently win the game and the pennant for the Giants. What happened next was chaos.
Fred Merkle was the Giant runner on first base. When he saw the single to centerfield and the apparent winning run score he started to walk toward the clubhouse without touching second base. The crowd had poured onto the field to celebrate the supposed Giant’s championship. Meanwhile, Cub’s second baseman Johnny Evers got the ball and tried to tag Merkle out but the crowd that ran out onto the field prevented that from occurring.
The National Commission of Organized Baseball Director Harry C. Pulliam, reviewed the situation and a few days later ruled that Merkle was declared out and the game should end in a tie at 1 to 1. The two teams were then forced to play a post season winner take all game which the Cubs won 4 to 2.
The fans referred to Merkle’s blunder of not touching second base as a “bonehead” play which became known as Merkle’s “boner”. And as the legendary Paul Harvey would have said, “That’s the rest of the story”. It is a story that occurred on this date September 23rd, 1908, 105 years ago today.