The day the Bronchos lost 44-0

The eyes of the baseball world briefly turned to the Dominican Summer League (DSL) yesterday, where the DSL Yankees trounced the DSL Twins by a score of 38-2. After a scoreless first inning the Yankees tallied in every subsequent frame.

The scoreline was reportedly record-breaking. MilB.com wrote that the DSL Yankees “are believed to have broken the all-time Minor League record for runs in a game, set by Rookie Advanced Ogden in a 33-10 Pioneer League romp over Helena on Aug. 27, 1995.”

I can tell you of at least one game that featured more runs than that.

The first placed San Antonio Bronchos of the Class C Texas League were about to embark on a twelve-day road trip. Their lead at the top of the 1907 standings had been dwindling ever since their previous road trip in early July, which included confidence-shaking beatings at the hands of the chasing Austin Senators.

The mid-July road trip started well enough, with San Antonio taking a series against Galveston by the odd game in five. But they dropped four of five to Houston and lost their league lead to the Dallas Giants.

On July 22nd the Bronchos started a six-game series with the third placed Austin Senators, who had recently put together a ten-game winning streak. The series would wreck San Antonio’s season, end one player’s career and leave the Bronchos on the wrong end of a extraordinary beating.

Austin took the first game of the series in a closely fought affair. It was the events of the following day’s double-header – on July 23rd, 1907 – that would cause newspapermen around the state of Texas to employ words such as “farce” and “burlesque”, and provoke one writer to label the Bronchos as the “laughing stock of the baseball world”.

In the first game San Antonio started well, scoring five runs early and carrying a 5-4 lead into the eighth inning. Here the trouble started. Umpire Schuster had been aggravating both teams with his calls, but a play at third base, where a Senators player overslid the bag by an alleged three feet yet was called safe, enraged the Bronchos.

Sam LaRocque, who performed the role of captain, manager and second baseman for San Antonio, was so angered by the call that he abused Umpire Schuster with “the vilest and vulgarist of language” before being removed from the game. First baseman Pat Newnam was also ordered to leave the field and eventually had to be escorted away from the grounds by a policeman. The previous day’s pitcher, Fred Winchell, replaced LaRocque at second base and followed his manager’s lead by berating of the umpire, at which point the umpires called the game in favor of Austin. The game went into the books as a 9-0 victory for the Senators.

The small matter remained of playing the second game of the double header. Policemen restored order and the Bronchos, deprived of the services of their manager (LaRocque) and their leading hitter (Newnam), did not take the high ground. The resulting game was a sham.

The Bronchos made no effort in the game, “loafing in the field” and performing “all the comedy acts known to the circus ring” on their way to committing eleven errors. Players switched positions with regularity. Pitcher Art Griggs started the game but was replaced on the mound by Ike Pendleton, George Leidy and Frank Everhart, all of whom were position players by trade. Starting catcher Hugh McMurray moved to shortstop and later center field. Hitters regularly batted out of order.

The Bronchos allowed 12 runs in the first inning. A mere two runs allowed in the second and none in the third was not a sign of things to come; Austin racked up two more double digit innings with 11 runs scored in fourth and 10 runs knocked home in the seventh. San Antonio’s hitters did not trouble the scorekeeper. The final score was 44 to 0.

Box score printed in the San Antonio Gazette on July 24, 1907

The box score of the game was reprinted across the country. One photographer snapped the score board at the end of the game and created post cards using the resulting photograph. Fans in Austin were said to be sending these post cards in the mail to their friends.

While some in attendance stayed at the game to see “just how bad the Bronchos would go”, many were disgusted with the Bronchos play. A petition was passed around the stands in which fans could voice their displeasure to the league president.

Said President Robbie acted decisively, fining LaRocque the sum of $50 for his actions in the first game and suspending him until the money was paid. First baseman Newnam was also fined $15 “and costs” for his language towards the umpire. Newnam was unable to take part in the second game because he was being detained.

“Why, they had me at the police station and wouldn’t let me go back to the park,” he said. “If it wasn’t for a barber that I happened to know there, who went [sic] my bond, they would have locked me up for the night. I offered to give my personal bond, but they would not accept it. I never heard of anything like this before.”

Newnam threatened to retire from the game unless Bronchos owner Morris Block paid his fine. It was LaRocque, however, whose playing days were over. On July 28th, five days after the game, it was reported he had resigned from the Bronchos. Three days later LaRocque left for his home in Birmingham, Alabama before heading north “to look after some business interests.” The 44-year-old, described glowingly by Block as “one of the best men to do business with that I have ever met” never played again. Newnam, who denied aiming abusive language at the umpires, was appointed as manager in his place.

The Bronchos lost the remaining three games in the series to the Senators, who completed the six-game sweep. San Antonio slumped to a third place finish in the standings, while Austin surged to take the pennant.

Naturally, San Antonio’s reputation had been seriously harmed. “The Bronchos have done much to hurt the cause of professional baseball in this city” wrote one paper. Another claimed they had attempted to “assassinate the national sport”.

One editorial, seeking to consider both the opinion of the unhappy spectators and the ballplayers who felt wronged by the umpires, arrived at the following conclusion: “The thing to do is drop it. Charge it up to one of the failings of human nature, wipe off the slate and begin all over again.”

Arguably the Bronchos did exactly that. A little over a year after the farcical events of July 23rd, 1907, the Bronchos, under the leadership of Newnam and George Leidy, won the Texas League pennant. Baseball had not been killed in San Antonio.

Sources: Descriptions of the game and quotes about it come from the Jul 24, 1907 editions of the San Antonio Gazette, Galveston Daily News and San Antonio Daily Express. Details of Newnam and LaRocque’s fines come from the July 24th and 25th Gazette. LaRocque leaving the club is discussed in the Aug 1 Gazette. The editorial calling for a clean state is in the Aug 3 Gazette.

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Doug
Guest

Fun stuff, Aidan.

This might be the highest scoring game on Retrosheet, Philadelphia over Troy 49-33, with both teams scoring in every inning.

https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1871/B06280TRO1871.htm

Paul E
Guest

Levi Meyerle was one of the game’s first stars but, he was no Roscoe Barnes. Check out Barnes’ “peak” with enough black and grey ink for Cooperstown.
Who knows what the game was like in those days? I’m fairly confident that Yelich, Trout, Bellinger would dominate back then 🙁

Doug
Guest

The two shortstops combined for 8 errors. Tough official scorer.

Doug
Guest

However that game was played those 148 years ago, it was competitive, tied 16-16 after four innings, before the Athletics pulled away.

A modern version might be this game, with the Phils ahead 21-19 after six innings, before things tightened up with only 5 runs for both teams the rest of the way. The two starters combined to face just 13 batters, retiring only two. The relievers weren’t any better; only searchable game with 6 pitchers each allowing 5+ runs in less than 4 IP.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN197905170.shtml

Paul E
Guest

Doug,
I think it’s safe to conclude that the wind was blowing out that day at Wrigley. That Phillies team was on fire and then was beset by injuries and just fell apart after winning three straight division titles. It absolutely worsened as,
eventually, we had to put up with the Pirates winning the whole thing and Bob Prince narrating it while suffering from the worst case of “homerism” in the history of team sports broadcasting

Doug
Editor
They were 21-7 for their first 28 games, but 9-19 for the next 28. Kind of like this year’s Mariners. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I guess. They went out and got Pete Rose and Manny Trillo to replace Richie Hebner and Ted Sizemore. At the time, it seemed like the 38 year-oid Rose had a fantastic season, with a .331 BA and league-leading .418 OBP, but his OPS+ was actually one point lower than the 30 year-old Hebner’s mark from the year before. Neither Sizemore nor Trillo hit much, but Trillo hit better, was 6 years younger… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

The Rose acquisition was a marketing ploy as the Phillies were in fear of a downturn at the gate after 3 failed playoff runs from ’76-’78……even Taft broadcasting pitched in some $$$. I believe it was eventually sold as , “Pete taught us how to win”.

no statistician but
Guest

I remember listening to the last inning of this game, probably driving home from work. Vince and Lou were distraught. A mere forty years ago.

Richard Chester
Guest

In that game one team scored 6 runs in the first inning while the other scored 7 runs in the first inning. Just for the heck of it I decided to search for other such games. I found 3 such games from 1901 and on. I made my search for 9-inning games only. Braves-Pirates on 7/23/1951, Blue Jays-A’s on 6/23/1989 and Red Sox-Browns on 8/4/1948.

Mike L
Guest

Fun story. I was kind of hoping that Joe West and Angel Hernandez were distant descendants of “Umpire Schuster”

Paul E
Guest
West did the Cubs-Pirates game yesterday, behind the plate. He saved Joe Maddon’s life by throwing him out of the game after he threatened Clint Hurdle. Apparently, Maddon took umbrage at the volume of inside pitches thrown in the direction of Cubs’ batters. The ministers of happy-speak in the booth indicated that West is the only umpire in the Stat-Cast era to call balls and strikes accurately for 9 innings. Very believeably, it’s only been done once….. We should, like the CoG, make a list of the worst umpires in MLB history or, at least, the last 50 years. I… Read more »
John
Guest

Nig Clarke of Corsicana of the Texas League hit 8 home rune on July 15 1902 as the Oil Cities barely knocked off Texarkana 51-3. Yes, 51-3. That’s not a misprint. It was a neutral site home game for Corsicana, played away from their home park in Ennis TX, to avoid blue laws. Clarke played 9 years in the majors hitting a total of 6 home runs.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Jeff McNeil is in some rare company.
A day before the AS break, he leads the league with a .356 BA.
We’ll see if he maintains that.

But at the moment, he’s on this list…

Highest BA over first two career seasons, minimum 500 PA:

.368 … Benny Kauff
.361 … Jim Bottomley
.360 … Paul Waner
.357 … Chuck Klein
.357 … Wade Boggs

.349 … Al Simmons
.349 … Johnny Mize
.346 … Earle Combs
.345 … Lloyd Waner
.344 … Dick Porter
.344 … Jeff McNeil

.338 … Fred Lynn
.338 … Wally Moses
.336 … Ichiro
.336 … Ted Williams
.336 … Patsy Dougherty

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

The leaders since 1946:

.357 … Boggs
.344 … McNeil
.338 … Lynn
.336 … Ichiro
.335 … Pesky
.333 … Pablo Sandoval
.330 … Kal Daniels

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

How the all-time leaders in BA did over their first two seasons:

.293 … Cobb

.306 … Hornsby

N/A … Joe Jackson (Shoeless took 4 seasons to reach 500 PA. And his BA was .391.)

N/A … Lefty O’Doul (did not pass 500 PA until his 5th season. .358 BA)

Paul E
Guest

Voom,
Kalvosky was the bomb-an on-base machine….injuries hurt. Amongst the top 15 in your first list, only Dougherty, Fred Lynn, and Boggs didn’t play in a high-scoring era and Kauff was part of the inferior Federal League

CursedClevelander
Guest

In a universe where no injuries happen and the front office has perfect foresight, the 1987 Reds going forward had an OF of Kal Daniels, Eric Davis and Paul O’Neill, with the young Barry Larkin at SS. That OF when healthy and in their prime would have rivaled some of the all time greats.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

The Federal League may have been inferior, but somebody still had to be the best.
And Kauff led the league by .22 and .19 points in his two years.

He was called: the Ty Cobb of the Federal League
(.370 with 75 steals)

In his five years in the ‘real’ league , the BA went down, but he had a 136 ops+.

Then!
Kauff was charged with accepting stolen cars in his used car business.
He was acquitted.
But Landis banned him anyway.
(It was 1920-21, the Judge wasnt playing around).

Scary Tuna
Guest

“The DSL Yankees trounced the DSL Twins by a score of 38-2.”

Granted it’s just the Dominican Summer League, but the Twins usually don’t roll over to the Yankees until the playoffs… ;o)

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Nice to see a Scary Tuna post!

Doug
Guest
This year’s Home Run Derby and All-Star Game fall on the anniversary of the first (sort of) inter-league games. On these dates in 1945, seven inter-league exhibitions were played in lieu of an All-Star Game, which had been cancelled to help baseball meet its mandated (by the Office of Defense Transportation) wartime travel reduction of 25% relative to 1944 levels (schedules featured 4 and 5 game series, instead of 3 and 4, and fewer and longer road trips). The games that year were: – White Sox 5, Cubs 4 – Yankees 7, Giants 1 – Reds 6, Indians 0 –… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I’d never heard about this, Doug. Thanks. The inter-city and interstate rivalries made sense, but those poor wallflower teams! The Tigers and Pirates were probably thrilled to be rained out (no rematch of 1909), and how do you suppose Brooklyn and Senators fans looked at that strange match-up? As it turns out, though, both teams were tied for second that day, on the way to identical W-L records — no wonder the game was close. The ’45 Senators won more games than any Washington team between 1933 and 2012.

Doug
Guest

I had no knowledge of these games either, and only started looking into it with all the 90th ASG references. By my count, it was 91, until I discovered there hadn’t been a game in ’45. Found the scores of these games in one source, but haven’t found the boxes.

The Brownies not only won bragging rights for St. Loo, but also gained some satisfaction in downing the defending champs in a WS rematch.

Richard Chester
Guest
Here’s a blurb from the Charlton’s Chronology: ” With tomorrow’s All-Star Game at Fenway Park canceled because of travel restrictions, seven inter-league games are played on July 9 and 10 for war charity during the schedule break. All the games are arranged geographically. Plans for a USO-sponsored all-star game in Europe do not materialize, although the war in Germany is over and fighting in the Pacific will be over in 6 weeks. At Comiskey Park, the White Sox edge the Cubs, 5-4, in ten innings, before Chicago’s biggest crowd (47,144) since 1941. At Cleveland, the Reds blanked the Indians, 6-0.… Read more »
Doug
Guest
The chosen All-Star teams are on B-R. https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/1945_All-Star_Game#AP_Selected_Teams Shepard’s win in the Senators game resulted in his promotion to the active roster. He appeared in only one league game, finishing against the Red Sox and allowing 1 run over 5.1 IP. Shepard was a left-hander and his prosthetic leg was his right, so he had to land on it with every delivery (ouch!). Amazing to think someone could pitch a major league game on a prosthetic leg, especially a 1945 vintage prosthesis. This SABR article has the same 3-0 Browns score, and the $240,000 reference. It also says the Tigers-Pirates… Read more »
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