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.
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.