January 31, 2020

1869: Niagara Routs Columbia 209-10, But Still Fails To Score In Every Inning

Scoring at least one run in every inning of a nine-inning baseball game is not an easy thing to do. You can count the number of times it has happened in the 120 years of "modern" major league baseball on one hand.

Let's say you heard that a baseball team had scored 209 runs in a single game. You probably would not be surprised to learn that team had scored in every inning. The Colorado Rockies scored only 13 runs on May 5, 1999, but managed to get at least one in each of its nine innings. So scoring 196 additional runs should make that feat pretty easy. And yet ...

On June 8, 1869, in Buffalo, New York, Niagara beat Columbia 209-10 – with every player scoring at least 20 runs – but somehow managed to not score in the fourth inning!

Niagara  –  40 20  9   0 18 19  26 58 19  –  209
Columbia –   2  3  1   0  1  3   0  0  0  –   10

In the top of the eighth, Niagara batted around almost seven times, sending at least 61 batters to the plate. In the last 112 major league seasons (1908-2019), there have been only 27 games in which a team has sent at least 61 batters to the plate in an entire nine-inning game. The major league record is 66, held by the 1922 Cubs.

Here's something even crazier. Columbia used only one pitcher. Some poor sap named Mack threw – if he averaged four pitches per batter – roughly 950 pitches that afternoon (delivering the ball underhanded, but still). Mack put his team in a 40-0 hole before they even walked to the plate. Only Charlie Brown knows what that must feel like.

But then Mack allowed half as many runs in the second inning and half again in the third. Then he tossed a scoreless fourth! He must have felt like he was finally settling down – though how far out of the weeds can you really be when you're down 69-6? ... And then things really went to shit. (But, look, he retired every opposing batter at least once.)

You think any Columbia batters were trying to rally their teammates in the bottom of the ninth? Okay, we can do this, just gotta get on, choke up, stay focused, their pitcher's gotta be tired from all that baserunning, whack a little bingle, keep the line moving, it's never over till it's over ...

Columbia could have batted around 17 times and still lost by four dozen runs. ... Niagara's batters ran more than 14 miles on the bases. ... And it was all wrapped up in a tidy three hours.

The Buffalo Express, June 9, 1869:


johngoldfine said...

Alan--I never knew you could be this funny! Incisive, witty, sarcastic, ironic, sure--but this was lol funny!

Jere said...

To think they accomplished this *without* Atwater.

Also, "Columaias" in the headline.

Jeff said...

Great story! But there's a major inaccuracy. You imply that this was a game between Niagara University and Columbia University, but it was actually a game between two teams called the Niagaras and the Columbias -- no affiliation with any colleges. The Niagaras, founded in 1857, were actually Buffalo's first uniformed baseball club. The Columbias were another amateur club in Buffalo.


allan said...

Jeff: Thanks! I saw somewhere Niagara referred to as a "university team", but that may have been repeating wrong information. On this page, if you click on "1867 Niagara, Buffalo (Independent)" in the third row, you will see a couple of pictures of the team, including the not-much-missed Ed Atwater!

allan said...

I made a change to the headline and removed the word "college" from the second paragraph.

Also on that webpage, in addition to the "Ku Klux" team from Oneida, there is the 1879 Hop Bitters from Rochester, which team owner Asa Titus Soule (who ran The Hop Bitters Manufacturing Co., creators of a cure-all tonics) claimed was "purely to furnish innocent entertainment ... and not as an advertisement".

It would seem Soule was a bullshitter. SABR historian Charlie Bevis: "The Hop Bitters dropped out of the National Association in July to embark on a barnstorming tour across the country to advertise Soule's drink. They eventually landed in San Francisco, California, in September." Soule's obituary in 1890 stated he had made his "patent medicine famous by extensive advertising".

allan said...

Under "New England Region", for the "1882 Providence (Grays), National League":

"The new system uniforms by position. All the catchers in the league will be dressed precisely alike with the exception of their hose, which will be of their club color. The shirts, belts and caps...are to be as follows: catcher, scarlet; pitcher, light blue; first base, scarlet and white; second base, orange and black; third base, blue and white; shortstop, maroon; right field, gray; center field, red and black; left field, white; first substitute, green; second substitute, brown. The trousers and neckties of all the players are to be white, and the shoes leather. The stockings to be worn by the members of the different nines are as follows: Boston, red; Chicago, white; Detroit, old gold; Troy, green; Buffalo, gray; Cleveland, navy blue; Providence, light blue; Worcester, brown."
Detroit Free Press, December 11, 1881. Research from Peter Morris, A Game Of Inches (2006, 2010).

January 7, 1882: "The NL will continue the practice of using different color patterns on uniforms for the different positions. Third basemen will wear gray and white uniforms‚ as the blue and white uniforms originally sought were 'impossible to obtain.'"
From John Thorn. No specific documentation available.

May 1882: "Every time a league team appears on the ball field...the uniform is universally commented upon and condemned. None feel more sensitive over the situation than the players themselves. The sentiment will be overwhelmingly in favor of the repeal of the rule at the next meeting of the [National] League."
The Cleveland Leader, May 4, 1882. Research from Peter Morris, A Game Of Inches, (2006, 2010).


If two players switched positions during a game, would they have to change shirts, too?

laura k said...

Alan--I never knew you could be this funny! Incisive, witty, sarcastic, ironic, sure--but this was lol funny!

This post is worthy of Jayson Stark.

allan said...

I never knew you could be this funny

I'm certain that my humour is far more obvious in person than on the page, but I don't see how this post is any funnier than dozens of others through the years. I feel like John has not been really reading me. #Sad