Who’s NOT on Third?

(L>R) HERMAN, FEWSTER, VANCE EBBETS FIELD, BROOKLYN AUGUST 15, 1926

(L>R) HERMAN, FEWSTER, VANCE
EBBETS FIELD, BROOKLYN
AUGUST 15, 1926

 

It happened at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn back on August 15, 1926.

Led (but often arguably so) by the beloved future Hall of Fame Manager Wilbert Robinson,  the local NL club was dubbed the “Robins” as a tip-of-the-hat reference to their revered leader, much in the same light that the Cleveland Indians much earlier called themselves the “Naps” in honor of their future Hall of Fame leader, Napoleon Lajoie. Fortunately for Brooklyn’s Robinson, most of the ineptness tales that take root in the “Robins Nest” later found more familiar identity as “Dodger Daffiness” from back in the 1920s and 1930s era of losing big-time in insane ways. The club even had a dazzy pitcher named Dazzy Vance who also redeemed himself over his career for one memorably bad-egg Robin’s Nest day by posting a pitching record that also took him all the way to the Hall of Fame.

August 15, 1926 at Ebbets Field was not Hall of Fame Redemption Day as a base-runner for Dazzy Vance or a couple of other Brooklyn players either. Today, if they aren’t all yet dead by 2017, there are some old Brooklyn “Dodger” fans who know both parts of this ancient jab at the club’s baseball IQ on that probably now forgotten actual date from 1926:

Baseball Radio Announcer: “Brooklyn now has three runners on base.”

Radio Game Fans at Home: “Which Base? Hey! You forgot to tell us which base they’re on!”

How it all happened isn’t hard to explain. What’s harder for those of us who weren’t around to see the great job he must have done as a teaching manager in general, is to figure out how many of these kinds of mustard-stain plays are allowed on a managerial candidate’s resume’ for the Hall of Fame before they become something that keeps the entry door closed.

On that already posted game date, in the bottom of the 7th of a DH Game One, and now tied 1-1, Brooklyn had the bases loaded against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field, with one out. Brooklyn Catcher Hank DeBerry was the runner at 3rd; Pitcher Dazzy Vance was the runner ar at 2nd; and 2nd Baseman Chick Fewster was the runner at 1st.

Lefty 1st Baseman Babe Herman was the batter, facing lefty Braves reliever George Mogridge, with a run already scored in the same stanza already tallied and charged to Braves righty starter Johnny Wertz.

On the pitch, Herman crushed a ball that took off on a liner path to deep right center field. DeBerry figured it as a sure hit and scored easily from 3rd. Vance, on the other hand, hesitated briefly at 2nd to see if the ball was in there. Once assured, Vance went screaming around 3rd before another 2nd thought caused him t0 hit the brakes and head back to 3rd.

By this time, Fewster also was arriving from 2nd on the heads down break-neck pace that had lighted his race from the crack of the bat.

Both Vance and Fewster looked surprised to see each other – but not as surprised a they were quickly to be – as they both turned to see batter Herman joining them in his own search for safety. Babe had not halted a second in his pursuit of this apparently sure-fire-triple and 3-RBI time at bat.

Only Vance has found his refuge. As the returning runner at 3rd, he was entitled to it. As for Fewster and Herman, their attempts to retreat in an orderly fashion to 2nd and 1st were absolutely doomed. The Braves tagged them both out on their retreat to 2nd base and the innings was done. Brooklyn had taken a 2-1 lead and would add two more off Mogridge in the 8th for the winning 4-1 final margin, but this was not to be a day long remembered for winning – or excellence in achievement.

It would be recalled, even into the far distant future, as “that time the Dodgers ended up with three runners on third base” – an err0r-framed description on two major levels: (1) Vance was the only safe runner at 3rd base on that play; Fewster and Herman were there in jeopardy and soon called out. (2) Brooklyn wasn’t the Dodgers in 1926; the club’s nickname was the “Robins”.

The cruel, but funny barbs aimed at Babe Herman were both inevitable and never really malevolent by intention from their Brooklyn fans, or so it seems. Locals just loved the quirky memory that they were once home to “the first major league batter to ever doubled into a double play.”

As for how such a sloppy base-running play could actually ever unfold without their being plenty of blame to pass around. Who knows if we shall ever know for sure how badly a bad team shall find a way to destroy its opportunities. The only certainty here is that we don’t have either the time or the digital ink determination to find those answers tonight.

____________________

Footnote: Thanks for the featured cartoon that we borrowed from Page 9 0f  “Aunt Minnie’s Scrapbook” by A.K. (“Rosey”) Rosewell. The source was an anonymous gift from a friend of a long-out-of-print 79-page paperback collection of baseball stories. Based upon the title, some of you will figure out quickly that it must have come out during the period of time that Bob Prince worked as broadcaster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There also is a heavy western Pennsylvania influence upon this entire little jewel. – And, thanks again, “Anonymous Friend.”

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

 

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One Response to “Who’s NOT on Third?”

  1. Larry Dierker Says:

    And as the story goes, a few days later, a cabby is parked on the street and yells up to a fan in the second deck.

    “What’s the score?”

    The fan yells back, “No score but the Dodgers have three men on base.”

    “Which base?”

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