On October 8, 1908 A special replay of a game infamously known as The “Merkle Boner” was replayed.

On Sept 23, 1908, The New York Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago Cubs were battling for first place and a spot in the 5th World Series. The stage for the Merkle boner was set, on September 23, 1908. The Giants and Pirates were tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. With 1 out, the famous double combo of Tinkers to Evers to Chance could not execute a double play on Moose McCormack’s double-play ball because Art Devlin’s take out slide.

Merkle who was only 19 years old at the time and he had only played 36 games this season, was the next batter and he showed the grace of a long term vet singled McCormack to third, and with 2 outs, 2 on, Al Bridwell singled off Cubs pitcher Jack Pfiester. The fans erupted onto the field and in all the excitement the 19-year-old Merkle never touched second base. The Cub’s then had to fight the crowd for the ball and then Solly Hoffman had to find a way to get Johnny Evers the ball for the force at second. The ball used for the force may not have even been the official ball.

The controversy could not be settled and when the season came to a close, the teams were tied at 98-55. It was determined the game would be replayed at the Polo Grounds. Over 40,000 attended this game to see who would face Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers in the World Series!

The Giants turned to Christy Mathewson, Mathewson was 37-10 and the leagues most dominating pitching. Having arguably his best year. Advanced stats aside, Matty had a career-high in shutouts, innings pitched, WHIP, wins, and he even had 5 saves.

The Cub’s again turned to Pfiester. However, Pfiester struggled, allowing a hit, 2 walks and a run in 2/3 of an inning. Frank Chance didn’t hesitate and changing pitchers. He brought in Three Fingers Brown, Three fingers got the nickname because he lost 2 fingers on his pitching hand as a boy, but his injury allowed him to throw an incredible curve. Brown, was 28-9 on the season, Brown was in the middle of a 6-year stint where his era would be 1.56 and he would win 160 games, while only losing 66.

The Cubs, down 1-0, broke through for 4 runs in the 3rd lead by team manager Franck Chance who had a 2 run Single. Brown would scatter 4 hits and a walk over 8 and 1/3 and allowed only 1 run to the Giants in the 7th securing the win for the Cub’s and their appearance in the 1908 World Series for the 3rd straight year and a rematch with Detroit. The 1908 Pennant race remains one of the greatest pennant races of all time.

Fred Merkle would go on to have a productive career despite the boner! He played over 1,100 games, finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in 1911 and played on 5 World Series teams.
Although John McGraw never blamed him, Merkle remained Bitter over the events of the controversial game, Merkle avoided baseball after his playing career ended in 1926. When he finally appeared at a Giants old-timers’ game in 1950, he received a standing ovation from the fans.

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Play by Play

Full Box Score 

Game Played on Thursday, October 8, 1908 (D) at Polo Grounds IV
CHI N 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 4 9 0
NY N 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 – 2 5 0
BATTING
Chicago Cubs AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Sheckard lf 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 0
Evers 2b 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
Schulte rf 4 1 2 1 0 1 3 0
Chance 1b 4 0 3 2 0 0 14 0
Steinfeldt 3b 4 0 1 0 0 3 0 3
Hofman cf 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Howard ph,cf 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 0
Tinker ss 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 3
Kling c 3 1 1 1 0 1 4 1
Pfiester p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brown p 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 32 4 9 4 1 9 27 11
FIELDING –
DP: 1. Kling-Chance.
BATTING –
2B: Evers (19); Schulte (20); Chance (27).
3B: Tinker (14).
SH: Brown (5).
Team LOB: 3.
New York Giants AB R H RBI BB SO PO A
Tenney 1b 2 1 1 1 0 0 9 0
Herzog 2b 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 2
Bresnahan c 4 0 1 0 0 1 10 1
Donlin rf 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
Seymour cf 3 0 0 0 1 0 2 0
Devlin 3b 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 0
McCormick lf 4 0 1 0 0 0 3 1
Bridwell ss 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Mathewson p 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
Doyle ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wiltse p 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 30 2 5 2 3 2 27 9
FIELDING –
DP: 1. McCormick-Bresnahan.
BATTING –
2B: Donlin (26).
SH: Tenney (22).
HBP: Tenney (7).
Team LOB: 6.
PITCHING
Chicago Cubs IP H R ER BB SO HR BFP
Pfiester 0.2 1 1 2 1 0 5
Brown W(29-9) 8.1 4 1 1 1 0 29
Totals 9 5 2 3 2 0 34
HBP: Pfiester (11).
New York Giants IP H R ER BB SO HR BFP
Mathewson L(37-11) 7 7 4 1 7 0 26
Wiltse 2 2 0 0 2 0 7
Totals 9 9 4 1 9 0 33
Umpires: HP – Jim Johnstone, 1B – Bill Klem
Ejections: Solly Hofman by Bill Klem [Call at 1B]; Pat Moran by
Bill Klem [Call at 1B]
Time of Game: 1:40 Attendance: 40000
Play-by-play data not available for this game.