The Forgotten Man IV
No play in baseball is made without at least two people participating. If a runner is thrown out trying to steal, the catcher threw the ball and an infielder applied the tag. Every home run is surrendered by a pitcher, and every error starts with a batter putting the bat on the ball. A number of men have participated in some of baseball’s most famous and infamous plays, but they’ve been forgotten to history.
On May 26, 1993, Texas Rangers designated hitter Julio Franco was asked if he’d ever seen a home run careen off a player’s head, and he replied, “Yeah, in cartoons.” But he had just witnessed it during the game he’d played that day.
In the top of the fourth inning, Texas Rangers starter Kenny Rogers was pitching with a 3-1 lead against Cleveland. Leading off for Cleveland was Carlos Martinez. The right-handed outfielder hit a drive to deep right field. Texas’ right fielder Jose Canseco drifted back, keeping his eye on the ball, then extended his right arm to see how close he was to the outfield wall. The ball hit the 6’4” Canseco on the top of his head and bounced over the fence for a home run.
“I’ll guess I’ll be on ESPN for a month,” said Canseco afterwards. “I guess I’m just an entertainer.” Video of the play went viral. It’s one of the baseball “bloopers” that 30 years later is still in the highlight reels of funny or awkward baseball moments.
But as people watch the video, they ask: who’s the other outfielder?
After the ball disappeared over the fence, Canseco laughed at what happened as Texas’ center fielder, David Hulse, who was also tracking the ball, came close to him. “I was just a rookie and I asked him, did that bounce off your head? And he said, “No, it hit my glove, and I started laughing,’” Hulse said recently.
Hulse is a frequent guest on a Dallas sports talk radio station, and when Canseco was in the city the two went on the air and did some “banter” about the play. For the record, Martinez said after the game about the home run, “I’ll take it.” It was his fifth and last round tripper of the season. He retired after the 1995 season, and died in 1999 at the age of 40. The home run was Martinez’s only hit of the game; both Canseco and Hulse went 0-3, and Cleveland won, 7-6.
During his three-year stint with Texas, Hulse had another comical moment in the next to last game of the 1992 season against the California Angels.
With Texas trailing 4-3 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Hulse faced the Angels’ hard-throwing closer Joe Grahe, who saved 21 games that year. Hulse drilled four consecutive foul balls in the Angels’ dugout at its far end. The first one might have nicked a trainer; the second was in the same spot, and someone took a towel and waved the white flag of surrender. He hit two more shots into the dugout, and by that time most of the players were either in the tunnel or close to the entrance to it.
On the next pitch, Hulse hit a slow roller to shortstop and almost beat the throw, but it was the second out of the inning. The crowd of Rangers fans stood and cheered. “That was the first and last time someone got a standing ovation for grounding out weakly to shortstop,” said Hulse.
In his first at-bat on the following day, Hulse noticed pitcher Bert Blyleven and catcher Junior Felix were giggling. Felix told him to look into the visiting team’s dugout. In the corner where his four foul balls had landed was a lone Angels player dressed in full catcher’s gear.
Hulse was drafted by the Rangers in the 13th round of the 1990 draft. He made his debut in 1993, and was the starting centerfielder the following season, when he hit .290 with 29 stolen bases. A shoulder injury in a collision at the plate affected his playing, and he retired after the 1999 season.
Hulse has one other claim to fame: he was the first player to get a hit at the Rangers’ new home field, then called The Stadium at Arlington. Against Milwaukee Brewers starter Jaime Navarro, Hulse led off the bottom of the first with a single. The Brewers won the game 4-3.
Charlie Finley was never at a loss for promotional ideas. Mechanical rabbits delivered balls to the home plate umpire; a mule once was on the field; there was a zoo behind right field. On September 8, 1965, he presented “Bert Campaneris Night,” in which the Kansas City A’s shortstop was to play all nine positions in a contest against the California Angels.
Prior to the game, Finley, who made his fortune in the insurance industry, said he took out a $1 million policy on Campaneris. “Movie producers insured the legs of Marlene Dietrich and Gingers Rogers for $1 million,” Finley proclaimed, “I’m going one better. I’m insuring all of Campy, not just his legs.”
Outfielder Larry Stahl said the team knew Campaneris was going to play nine positions. Finley, he said, “came up with a lot of stuff. Remember he had the sheep out there and behind the fence on the two hills, and come up with the orange balls or whatever they were for a while. He’d done a lot of promotional, crazy things.”
For most of the game, Randy Schwartz played first base and was making his major league debut. “I was playing A ball in Burlington, Iowa. The season ended around September 1 and I got called up,” recalled Schwartz. “We had a great team. Sal Bando was on that team.”
In the minors, Schwartz led the Midwestern League with 29 home runs and was second with 90 RBIs. What did he think of the “gimmick” of Campaneris Night happening on his first major league game? “It was typical of Finley, but I don’t think anybody minded,” said Schwartz.
“No, it didn’t surprise anybody, I don’t think. We were used to those things, I mean the white shoes and the orange baseballs and the rabbit behind home plate for the umpire to get his balls and the zoo out in right field or left field or wherever it was. And Campy was a good guy and unfortunately he got clobbered,” said Schwartz.
In the first inning, Campaneris played his usual shortstop. In the second he switched with second baseman Wayne Causey. In the third inning, Campaneris switched with third baseman Ed Charles. In the fourth, he took over left field while Jose Tartabull moved to right field, replacing Lou Clinton. Dick Green entered the game at second base. In the next inning, Campaneris moved to center field, Tartabull returned to left field, and centerfielder Jim Landis took over right field.
Bert Campaneris #19 of the Kansas City A's, warms up in the bullpen prior to the start of the eigth inning as he plays all nine positions during a game on September 8, 1965 against the California Angels at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The A's catcher is Johnny Blanchard #14. (Photo by: John Vawter Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
In the sixth inning, Campaneris and Landis switched positions. In the seventh, Campaneris replaced first baseman Schwartz while Mike Herschberger took over right field.
In the eighth inning Campaneris pitched, replacing Jim Dickson. Campaneris allowed one run on one hit and two walks. He ended the frame by striking out Angels second baseman Bobby Knoop. Stahl, who entered the game pinch-hitting for Herschberger, played in right field. Santiago Rosario took Dickson’s place in the batting order and played first base, taking over for Campaneris.
In the ninth inning, Campaneris handled the catching duties, replacing Billy Bryan. Angels right fielder Ed Kirkpatrick was on third with two out, and Aurelio Monteagudo pitching, when Kirkpatrick attempted to steal home. He was called out, but Campaneris suffered a shoulder injury in the collision and was taken out of the game (he didn’t play again until September 14 and was replaced at catcher by Rene Lachemann).
“Campy walked off the field. He said ‘No mas, no mas,’” said John O’Donoghue, who pitched that night. “He was quite an athlete. He was in AA, and he pitched (to one batter) left-handed and one right-handed,” added O’Donoghue. At the plate, Campaneris was 0-3 with a walk and a run scored. The Angels plated two runs in the top of the 13th to win 5-3.
It was not known if Finley collected on the insurance policies.
The A’s used 16 position players in the game, though some were not involved with Campaneris playing all nine places in the lineup, as some were used as pinch hitters and pinch runners. According to Rick Schabowski, who did a SABR biography on Campaneris, “Finley promised him a substantial amount of money and also took out four insurance policies on Campaneris.”
Attendance was 21,576, one of the largest crowds the A’s drew that season. The next home game – with Campaneris out of the lineup – only 1,271 were in attendance. For the season, the A’s finished last in the American League in both wins (59) and attendance, with 528,344. After two more years in Kansas City, the franchise relocated to Oakland.
In another game, Stahl said he hit the longest home run ever at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium. “It made the newspapers in Japan,” he said, but as for the Campaneris performance, “I guess I was part of history.”
(Original Caption) Guy Bush, formerly with the Chicago Cubs, and now a member of the pitching staff of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is shown swinging into form at the training camp of the Pirates at San Bernardino, California.
Henry Aaron concluded the 1973 season with 713 home runs, only two round trippers short of eclipsing Babe Ruth’s once thought unbreakable record of 714. Aaron might have surpassed Ruth sooner if a pitcher thought he could keep Ruth in the ballpark.
“I was still so strong that I didn’t believe anyone could hit anything off me,” said Guy Bush, in an interview published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on opening day, April 4, 1974. He was 33 at the time of the Ruth game.
“But I was young and rock headed, so Henry Aaron will have to wait a while,” said Bush, who was 33 when he surrendered home runs numbers 713 and 714 to Ruth.
On May 25, 1935, Ruth’s new team, the Boston Braves, were in Pittsburgh. In the top of the first, with one out and one on, Ruth homered (number 712) against Pirates starter Charles “Red” Lucas, who lasted only a third of an inning, and was relieved by Bush.
Bush had faced Ruth once before, in the 1932 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Bush started game one for the Cubs, and in the top of the first Ruth grounded out to first base. Bush was leading 2-0 at the start of the fourth inning, when Ruth singled to drive in a run and scored on a Lou Gehrig home run. In the sixth inning, Ruth walked and Bush left the game, charged with eight runs in 5.1 innings.
In the top of the third inning of the Braves-Pirates game, Ruth faced Bush. Again, with one on and one out, he homered. Then in the seventh inning, Ruth hit his final home run which was estimated to have travelled 500 feet, clearing the right field roof at Forbes Field.
“I was about two thirds mad about that (first) one, and I got madder as time went on,” recalled Bush.
“I’m going to throw a fastball by that jackass,” Bush told his catcher, Earl Grace. “I meant to throw three fastballs by him and watch the crowd laugh while he swung. The first one I threw was a tiny bit outside and he looked it over like it was a softball. He looked me right in the eye and I nodded ‘yeah’ to him, and threw another one right in the same spot.”
“I never saw a ball hit so far,” said Bush, who made 25 starts and 16 relief appearances that season, finishing at 11-11 with two saves. “Babe couldn’t run much anymore. But he just smiled nicely to me as he rounded third. I tipped my cap.”
The first just made it into the stands,” said Bush. “But the second was a blast, clearing the triple-deck stands in right-center field. It makes me feel a little bit good now because Ruth was such a great player.”
Ruth’s third homer against the Pirates tied the score at 7-7. After the Babe’s last blast, Bush gave up consecutive singles, and Bucs manager Pie Traynor replaced him with future Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt. Bush pitched six innings and was charged with five runs on eight hits. Pittsburgh went ahead in the bottom of the seventh inning when they scored three runs, and added another in the eighth to make the final score Pittsburgh 11, Boston 7. Hoyt pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief and earned his third win of the season. Five days later, Ruth made his last major-league appearance in Philadelphia.
Bush pitched for 17 seasons and had a final record of 176-136. He passed away in 1985.
Aaron bested Ruth’s record when he hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974.
In an otherwise uneventful spring training game on March 24, 2001 between the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson did something one writer described as “fowl.”
At bat was outfielder Calvin Murray. Johnson delivered a pitch that struck a dove as it flew in between the mound and the plate, resulting in an explosion of feathers.
“Everything disappeared,” said Murray after the game. The Giants’ Jeff Kent removed the bird’s carcass from the field with his bare hands. The home plate umpire ruled Johnson’s offering a “no-pitch,” which irked Murray, who thought it should’ve been called a ball. When the game resumed, Murray doubled off Johnson.
A Dallas native, Murray played baseball at the University of Texas. According to a website on the Texas Longhorns’ baseball history, in 1992, Murray was chosen as a member of the ‘USA Baseball National Team.’ He represented the US at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. He was selected First-Team All-American,’ and was named Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA, also in 1992. He led the Texas Longhorns to the College World Series. He holds the top three single season stolen base records (one for each season he played) for the university team. In 2007, Murray was inducted into the university’s Longhorn Hall of Honor.
He was twice drafted in the first round. In 1989, the Cleveland franchise took him with the 11th overall pick, but he did not sign. Three years later, the Giants selected him with the seventh overall pick and he inked a contract with them. With the Giants’ AAA team in 1999, Murray batted .334, with 23 home runs, 73 RBIs, and 42 stolen bases. He made his major league debut that season. Three years later, he was purchased by the Texas Rangers. He also played for the Chicago Cubs.
Murray’s nephew, Kyler Murray, is a Heisman Trophy winner and a number one draft pick of the Oakland A’s. He was asked about his uncle’s infamous at-bat: “He was so locked in, I’m sure,” Kyler said. “That’s Randy Johnson, you better be locked in. That bird just came out of nowhere.”
Following the game, Johnson told the Arizona Daily Star, “I just disregard everything that happened in the inning. I didn’t think that was funny at all.”
It was reported that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) considered filing a lawsuit against Johnson for animal cruelty. Johnson hired an attorney and PETA was never able to gain ground with their accusation.
In the second game of a double header on August 19, 1951, the St. Louis Browns had Frank Saucier playing right field and batting leadoff. He had played in only a handful of games for the Browns in 1951, his only season in the majors. In the bottom of the first, the Browns sent 3’7” Eddie Gaedel to the plate to pinch hit for Saucier. Seeing Gaedel approaching home plate with a tiny bat, home plate umpire Eddie Hurley said, “What the hell?”
Browns manager Zack Taylor convinced Hurley that Gaedel had signed a legitimate contract with the club, and eventually the umpire said, “Play ball.” Possessing the smallest strike zone in history, Gaedel walked on four pitches from Detroit Tigers starter Bob Cain. Catcher Bob Smith initially sat on the ground, but Hurley disallowed that. Hurley rose to his knees, and was almost as tall as the hitter.
Paul Dickson subtitled his biography of Bill Veeck as “Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.” Probably his greatest example of being a maverick was sending Gaedel to the plate.
“Attempting to address the most common complaint against the team – that it lacked a leadoff batter who could get on base with regularity – Veeck resolved to find someone sure to get on base, albeit just once,” Dickson wrote.
The Sunday double-header was promoted as the 50th anniversary of the American League and “Veeck also unilaterally proclaimed the day to be the 50th anniversary of the Browns radio sponsor, Falstaff Brewing, in order to gain publicity for the company….,” wrote Dickson.
More than 18,000 fans were in attendance that day, the largest crowd in four years (they were treated to free beer). After the Tigers won the first game 5-2, the celebrations began: a parade of 1901 vintage automobiles and the Clown Prince of Baseball Max Patkin performed. The finale was a giant cake made of paper mache, and Gaedel popped out wearing a Browns uniform and elf shoes with curled toes. It was a new version of the Browns symbol, “Brownie.”
According to Dickson, “The Falstaff executives seated in Veeck’s box, however, were unhappy. Promised a memorable event that would gain national publicity for the brewery, unaware of what was to come. In the bottom of the first it was announced Gaedel would pinch hit for starting right fielder Frank Saucier. Gaedel walked to the plate wearing a Browns uniform with the number 1/8. The result was the national publicity Veeck had promised his sponsors.
Cain told author Richard Bak in Cobb Would Have Caught It: “I went out to the mound to start to pitch the bottom half of the first and as I was warming up, Eddie went over and got these little bats. We couldn’t understand what was going on.” Swift advised Cain to “keep it low.” In another book, Numberville by Michael Farrell, Cain was laughing so hard at the prospect of pitching to Gaedel that “he’s practically falling off the mound with each pitch.” Cain proceeded to walk the smallest player in baseball history on four pitches, all high.
Gaedel was taken out of the game for a pinch runner, Jim Delsing, the team’s everyday centerfielder. In the top of the second, Delsing took over in center while the starting center fielder, Cliff Mapes, moved to right field taking place in the lineup.
Delsing made his major league debut in 1948 with the Chicago White Sox. He was traded to the New York Yankees and was acquired by the Browns midway through the 1950 season. St. Louis traded him to Detroit the following year, and he became an everyday outfielder for three seasons. His best year was 1953, when he batted .288 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs. He retired after the 1960 season.
Frank Saucier. (Photo via cooperstownexpert.com)
A strapping 6’3”, Mapes signed with the Cleveland Indians when he was 18. He lost years to military service during WWII, then was taken by the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. His best season with New York was 1950, when in 356 at bats he hit 12 home runs, and batted .247 with 61 RBIs. Three weeks before the Gaedel appearance, he was traded to the Browns. The following year he was traded to Detroit, which was fitting because his nickname was Tiger. He retired after the 1954 season.
Hurley, a Massachusetts native, became a major league umpire in 1947 and worked for 19 seasons, including four World Series and three All-Star games.
Swift had been the Tigers everyday catcher for many seasons, but by this “event” he was the backup to 24-year old Joe Ginsberg. Swift was 36 and caught both games of that doubleheader. He hit only .192, appearing in 44 games that season.
In Daniel Peary’s book, We Played the Game, Cain and Swift met on the mound to discuss what the approach should be. “I didn’t know whether to throw the ball underhanded or overhanded to Gaedel,” said Cain.” I just wanted to be careful not to hit him. Dizzy Trout told me later that if he’d been the pitcher, he’d have thrown the ball right between his eyes.”
According to a SABR biography by Chris Betsch, Cain “looked back on that game with good spirit. In all his remaining years, any time he was asked about his part in it he was happy to tell the story one more time.”
A story about Cain in the (Elyria, Ohio) Chronicle-Telegram in 1997 was headlined: “The Giant Who Pitched to A Midget.” In the article, Cain said, “Sometimes I wish I was remembered a little more for some of the other things I did in baseball besides pitching four balls to a midget.”
Gaedel died 10 years later from an apparent heart attack after being beaten by thugs. Cain was the only person from baseball who attended his funeral. “I felt obligated,” he said.
Saucier had outstanding seasons in the minors (he hit more than .400 one year), but with blood blisters on his hands and acute bursitis in his shoulder, he didn’t think he’d play that day. He was surprised when he was told he’d be the starting right fielder for game two.
Said the Browns’ second baseman, Bobby Young, to Saucier he’d seen a lot in baseball, but he’d never seen an injured player start a game. Young, he said, also told him, if a ball were hit to him, he’d run out to where Saucier was and he’d throw it back.
Vic Wertz (who would later crush the ball Willie Mays made for “The Catch”) hit a ball to Saucier and out of habit he threw it back in. “I didn’t throw a ball for a year,” he recently said.
When asked if he knew about Gaedel’s upcoming appearance, he said. “No I did not. But I thought it was the greatest act of show business I’d ever seen.”
He and Veeck were fraternity brothers of Beta Theta Pi. “I guess we still are,” Saucier said. “We were friends, and visited each other’s homes,” said Saucier. “Veeck was a man of his word. If he said he was going to do something, he did it, and if he said he wasn’t going to do something, he didn’t.”
Saucier served in WWII from 1943 to 1946. In spring training of 1952, he was recalled for the Korean War and was in the service until 1954. When Saucier was stationed at a base in Pensacola, FL., his commanding officer told him he’d be a battalion commander by day and a baseball player at night. Six bases were grouped in a district and pitted their baseball teams against each other. The commanding officer wanted to win the district championship. “We won,” said Saucier, adding that his team afterwards won a second round title.
After completing his military service, he returned to his oil and gas business. At 97, Saucier lives in Texas.