April 25, 1901, At Bennet Park, in Detroit, the Detroit Tigers made their American League Debut facing the Milwaukee Brewers, the Tigers staged an incredible comeback. Down 13-4 in the bottom of the ninth, they had rallied to within 4 runs of the lead, panicked Brewers Player Manager and Future Hall of Famer Hugh Duffy, decides to bring in Pete Husting, except he never had a chance to warm up to get the final two outs. Hustings was not faring well allowing 4 of 5 Tigers to reach base, Frank Dillon stepped to the plate and with two on and two outs Dillon lined Husting offering over outfielder Bill Hallmans head, allowing Doc Casey to score the tying run and Kid Gleason to score the winning run for the Tigers, giving the new franchise the most incredible walk off debut in baseball history as they scored 10 runs in their last at-bat to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, 14-13.
The attendance for the game was 10,024, and by all accounts, they all swarmed the field and rejoiced their first win as a franchise
More on Kid Gleason . . .
Gleason a former pitcher had won 138 games, including going 38 – 17 and pitching over 500 innings for Philadelphia in 1890, he started an incredible 54 games and completed all but 1 game during the 1890 season. He had moved to second base by 1896, and played 14 more seasons at second and was one of the better second basemen of the time, he jumped leagues to the new American League in 1901 to join the Detroit Tigers, he had a respectable .274 batting average for the Tigers in 1901 and was one of there better players. Gleason would return to Philadelphia where his career started in 1904 and remain a valuable player through the balance of his career which ended in 1908.
What Gleason is most famous or infamous for however was his brief managerial career. On December 31, 1918, he took over as the manager for the Chicago White Sox, in 1919 the Rookie Manager lead the Sox to the World Series. Sadly for Gleason and baseball, 8 White Sox players were tabbed as “The Black Sox”, including certain future Hall of Famers Joe Jackson and Eddie Cicotte.
When the gambling story finally broke the next year and came to trial, Gleason was the first witness for the defense, challenging an alleged meeting between players and gamblers at the very time they were holding a team practice in Chicago.
Not only was Gleason not involved in the gambling, but he probably knew from the first game what was happening (prominent journalists Ring Lardner and Hugh Fullerton held similar suspicions). Author Gene Carney found some evidence that Gleason confronted his team about the fix during the World Series, but his efforts didn’t stop the White Sox from losing to the Reds in eight games. Gleason told a reporter afterward, “Something was wrong. I didn’t like the betting odds. I wish no one had ever bet a dollar on the team.”
Though Gleason was found to be uninvolved in the scandal, he was personally affected by it for the rest of his life. His team finished a close second the following season, 1920, but failed to post a winning record in the three remaining years of his tenure. He ended his managerial career in 1923 with a record of 392-364. Although he never managed again, he helped Connie Mack build an obscure franchise the Philadelphia A’s into a powerhouse that would become one of the greatest teams of all time the 1929 – 1931 Philadelphia A’s.
Gleason would pass away from heart disease on January 2, 1933, he was so popular in Philadelphia over 5,000 people attended his funeral. McGraw was quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying: “He was, without doubt, the gamest and most spirited ballplayer I ever saw and that doesn’t except Ty Cobb. He was a great influence for good on any ball club, making up for his lack of stature, by his spirit and fight. He could lick his weight in wildcats and would prove it at the drop of a hat.”