October 2, 1920 at Forbes Field – With the last two games rained out, fans get their money’s worth in Pittsburgh as the Pirates and Reds, battling to determine 3rd place, play the century’s only tripleheader. Starting at noon, the Reds win the first, 13 – 4, to clinch 3rd place. The Reds win game two as well, 7 – 3, with a number of players at odd positions: the Reds put catcher Ivey Wingo at 2B, with pitchers Rube Bressler, Dutch Ruether, Fritz Coumbe, and Hod Eller at field positions. The Pirates take the finale, 6 – 0, called after six innings because of darkness. The only “tribill” played this century is played in five hours. Clyde Barnhart, who made his major league debut ten days earlier, doubles in the first two games, and singles in the 3rd, the only player to hit in all three games.
more on the game …
The Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates play the final triple-header in Major League history. The defending champion Reds were in third place. The Pirates were 3 1/2 games back of the Reds with 4 games to go. Friday’s game was rained out, with a scheduled double header Saturday , it seemed as though the Reds would finish third. However the Pirates owner had other ideas. After Reds manager Pat Moran turned down a triple-header, Pirates owner Barney Dreyfus turned to the NL office, who sided with the Bucs.
You may be wondering why all this effort to finish in third place? Aside from the chance to finish ahead of the champions, there was a financial reason, a third place share of the World Series bonus. It was a paltry sum, especially by today’s standards, but it was better than the 4th place share which was zero.
Pitching in the first game was Ray Fisher, pitching what would be the last game of his 10 year Major League career. 24 game winner Wilbur Cooper went for Pittsburgh. The Reds scored 8 runs on ten hits in 2 2/3 innings off Cooper and won 13-4 clinching third place.
In the second game the Reds started 4 pitchers in the field including opening day starter Dutch Reuther at first and eventual Reds Hall of Famer Rube Bressler, who was transitioning from a pitcher to a hitter, in the outfield. Pitcher Jimmy Ring came in the game later at 1st and 2nd base and had 3 hits.The Reds won the second game 7-3.
The Pirates won the third game 6-0 in six innings when the game was called for darkness. There were two other triple-headers in major league history and both were in the 19th century, on labor day and were charged separate admissions like a day-night doubleheader, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.