On September 23, 1908, Giants Pitcher Mathewson and Cubs Pitcher, Three Fingered Brown, battle in the most controversial game ever played. Now, I would love to meet a pitcher named Three Fingered Brown.
The score is 1-1‚ with 2 outs in the last of the 9th. The Giants’ Harry McCormick is on 3B‚ and Fred Merkle (19‚ and making his first start of the year)‚ is subbing for the sore-legged veteran Fred Tenney‚ on 1B. Fred played for the Braves from 1894 to 1907.
Al Bridwell singles‚ scoring McCormick. Halfway to 2B‚ Merkle turns and heads for the clubhouse in center field. Johnny Evers secures a ball (Joe McGinnity swears he picked up the ball that was in play and threw it into the stands) and touches 2B as the crowd overruns the field. Umpire O’Day at 1B claims he didn’t see the play‚ but that evening he rules the run does not count‚ and the game ended with a tie score.
Years later‚ in an interview‚ Merkle will describe it this way: “When Bridwell shot that long single‚ I started across the grass for the clubhouse. Matty was near me. When Evers began shouting for the ball‚ he noticed something was wrong. Matty caught me by the arm and told me to wait a minute. We walked over toward 2B‚ and Matty spoke to Emslie. ‘How about this‚ Bob‚ is there any trouble with the score of the play?’ ‘It’s all right‚’ said Emslie. ‘You’ve got the game. I don’t see anything wrong with the play.’ Matty then took me by the arm and we walked to the clubhouse confident that we had won the game.”