Remember When …
A column by Rick Cabral
Hoag (Davis, Calif.) and another player from the New
York Yankees were accused of one of the most heinous infractions ever lodged in baseball:
“indifferent base running.”
The incident occurred on August 5, 1935 at
Boston’s Fenway Park in a game pitting the Yankees and Red Sox. In the fifth inning, New York
led 8-2 with rain threatening. Showers had already interrupted play in the fourth inning, and
with another rainstorm potentially on the way, the two clubs took opposite actions. The
Yankees wanted to play five full innings to make it an official contest, while the Red Sox,
sensing six runs too much to overcome, wished to stall and cancel the game. Thus, the
In the top of the fifth, New York’s Ben Chapman
doubled with one out. Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, who was ailing that day with a bad cold,
knew that Lou Gehrig was suffering another lumbago attack, “which had him crippled and
playing under difficulties” reported the New York Times.
McCarthy called on Hoag, his only available
bench player, to pinch-hit for Gehrig. But before Hoag could swing the bat, Boston manager
Joe Cronin signaled for a new relief pitcher, Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes. When play resumed,
Chapman immediately took off for third base with less than stealthy intentions, hoping to be
tagged out. Instead, when Red Sox third baseman Bill Werber received the throw from the
catcher, he purposefully did not apply the tag, allowing Chapman to take third standing
Hoag then singled off Rhodes, driving in Chapman
to extend the Yankees’ lead to 9-2.
Cronin changed pitchers once again, in what
appeared an obvious stall tactic. With Tony Lazzeri at the plate, and the skies threatening
rain, Hoag broke for second in an attempt to be tagged out. But Boston just watched as
reached base safely. On Lazzeri’s tapper to the mound, Hoag advanced to third. He then
promptly broke for home in a final attempt at being tagged out, but Boston allowed him to
score standing up.
Mercifully, the rains came with New York batting
in the sixth inning. The game was called and the Yankees were awarded the 10-2 victory. The
result gave Charley “Red” Ruffing—a former Red Sox pitcher—his ninth victory on the year, and
extended Gehrig’s consecutive games streak at 1,597.
But the display of poor sportsmanship did not go
One week later, American League President
William Harridge blasted both managers and several players and for employing “stalling”
tactics and other questionable actions. Harridge fined McCarthy and Cronin $100 each and
chastised Chapman and Hoag for “indifferent base running” and Werber for intentionally
avoiding to apply the tag on Chapman at third.
“The actions of both teams is highly
reprehensible and a gross imposition to the fans who had paid their money with the
expectation of witnessing a major league ballgame,” AL President Harridge was
Hoag, who played 13 seasons in the big
won four world series championships during his
seven years on the Yankees. In the 1938 World Series against Chicago, Hoag
played against three Cubs players from the greater Sacramento area: Joe Marty, Frank
Demaree and Stan Hack, who was voted #1 on our
All-Time Top 50 Players
As a kid growing up watching the Game of the Week, and listening to Giants
game at night on the radio, my favorite umpire was Augie
Donatelli. Simply because of the mellifluous last name, I suppose.
His name came up recently after watching a fascinating documentary called “The
Curious Case of Curt Flood.” Flood, as you may recall, challenged major league baseball’s “reserve
clause” in court. His case was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the
“reserve clause” and denied Flood the freedom to choose which team he wished to play for. In 1970,
the St. Louis Cardinals had traded flood to Philadelphia, but Flood refused to report. Flood is
generally viewed as a trailblazer in the mode of his hero, Jackie Robinson, who broke the color
barrier. Flood succeeded in raising awareness for the player’s union, and its desire to rescind the
reserve clause and earn players the right to free agency.
All of that preamble is simply to set up the documentary, which also showed
how Flood was a great player. He earned seven consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1963 to 1969 as
the center fielder for the Cardinals, which appeared in three World Series and took home two
championship trophies (1964, 1967).
During the section on the Cardinals’ Game 7 victory in the 1967 World Series
the documentary showed the team celebrating around their hero, pitcher Bob Gibson. As the fielders
jumped in a circle around the pitcher’s mound, I spotted something unusual occur on the periphery
of their circle. And it was gone in a flash.
Replaying the video, I spotted an umpire charging in from the left side of the
diamond, swoop in and snatch the cap off of a Cardinals’ player. As he was running away, the ump
looked back, raised the hand with a cap, as if to signal to the player “Thanks for the souvenir.”
And he ran out of the frame.
Imagine, an umpire stealing a player’s cap in plain view of the 35,188 Fenway
Park fans, plus a nationwide audience watching on television.
Associated Press photo of Donatelli running off with Cardinals
after the Game 7 1967 World Series victory.
I re-ran the footage again and noticed this time that when the umpire raced in
he was already holding one Cardinals cap in his left hand (shortstop Dal Maxvill had already lost
his hat near the infield grass). So, he made off with two. In the replay, I spotted the player’s
number 25: second baseman, Julian Javier.
After a little more digging I found this story was no secret. In fact, the
Associated Press ran a photo of the umpire running off with Javier’s cap in its story that day. The
culprit? You guessed it, Augie Donatelli, who was the third base umpire that
A Los Angeles Times reporter asked Donatelli in 1987 about the
incident. “It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing,” said Donatelli, who at the time was an umpiring
consultant for the National League. “The one fellow's cap was falling off, and I just kind of
grabbed it (Maxvill). And then I reached in and grabbed another.”
Asked for his reaction Gary
Darling, Sacramento’s lone representative among today’s major league umpires, admitted he had
never heard the story. “I'm sure MLB wouldn't be thrilled if one of us scooped up a player’s hat or
any other equipment,” he said. “I doubt any of our guys would even consider it.”
Darling, who is president of the board of UMPScare, noted that Donatelli had
umpired in the big leagues for 24 years and appeared in five World Series. He also pointed out
Augie spent 15 months in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II. The Blue Crew brethren
is a tight bunch.
Donatelli also was known for another unusual World Series moment that involved
a Sacramento-related player.
Ten years before the cap snatching incident, in the 10th inning of Game
of the 1957 World Series home plate umpire Donatelli called a close pitch to
Milwaukee Braves pinch-hitter Nippy Jones a ball. Jones vehemently objected, claiming the baseball had hit his shoe. He convinced Donatelli
to check and sure enough, the umpire found a black smudge on the ball and awarded Jones first base.
A pinch runner scored the game-tying run and the Braves won both the game and the series from the
New York Yankees.
Solons President Eddie Mulligan (left) with Nippy Jones who had
three different stints with Sacramento.
A native southern Californian, Sacramento had adopted Jones after playing for
the Solons from 1953 through early ’57, when the Braves purchased his contract. He had also played
for the Solons in 1943 when Sacramento was affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals
After the '57 World Series, the Braves released Jones, who played two more
seasons for the Solons and finished up his playing career with the Portland Beavers in 1960. He
retired in Sacramento and lived the rest of his life here.
And the two Cardinals caps pilfered by Donatelli that day? Still a
Thanks to roundballroundbat.com which contributed to this
recent signing of Jesuit shortstop Zach Green (picked in the 3rd
Round) is reminiscent of the Larry Bowa story.
Both made their
mark around town at shortstop and signed with the same team. But the similarities pretty much
Zach Green snarling after scoring the go-ahead run for Jesuit in the top of the
seventh inning against Pleasant Grove.
started at shortstop all three years at Jesuit, was twice selected All-Metro by the Bee and
All-Capitol Team by BaseballSacramento.com. He played nationally on competitive travel teams and
starred on the 16U USA National team. He was rewarded for his years of hard work by being
selected in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft. He received a bonus of $420,000 from the
Phillies, plus big money for college.
Bowa not only
wasn’t drafted out of high school, he never played one inning of varsity ball at McClatchy (the
theories vary on why he was passed over (To read them in last year’s
Spotlight feature go here).
He played two years at Sacramento City College, making All-Conference in 1965. That summer, he was
passed over in the first-ever MLB First-Year Player Draft. But Larry wouldn’t be denied.
At that point in his fledgling baseball career, he was known as the feisty, temperamental shortstop
with the soft hands and still perceived by “baseball men” as no sure bet to make the
One man who remained steadfast in his belief in Bowa was Phillies scout, Eddie
Bockman, who passed away nearly one year ago. Bockman played 20 years of professional
ball, including a four-year stint in the big leagues with the New York Yankees, Cleveland and
Pittsburgh from 1946-1949. He also played for the Sacramento Solons from 1952-1954, which is where
he established ties with the Capital City.
Bockman came out to watch Bowa play for the first time at a Julius Winter League game. Around town,
Bowa was well known for his hot-headed temper, but on this day, he topped himself by getting thrown
out of both ends of the double header for arguing with the umpires. When Bockman filed his report,
he said tongue-in-cheek, “I didn’t really see much of him that day.”
Bockman pressed the Phillies to consider signing Bowa. According to writer Tracy Ringolsby, he
went so far as to show films of Bowa to Phillies executives on a sheet in a hotel room. They
When he came to the Bowa family house that evening, Bockman told Larry to fetch something from the
glove box of his car. Bowa of course knew what it was and raced to the vehicle. He returned with a
contract that included a $2,000 bonus. Despite protestations from his father, Paul
Bowa, a former St. Louis Cardinals’ farmhand, who advised him to hold out for a larger
sum, Larry signed.
He told his parents he wanted to start his pro career immediately. His mother Mary asked what made
him think he could make it.
I'm going to make it, there is no doubt," Larry told his mother. "I'm going to play in the big
After three years in Philadelphia’s minor league system, he debuted in 1970 as the Phillies
starting shortstop, garnering a third-place finish in Rookie of the Year Award voting. He played 16
seasons in the majors, made All-Stars three times and culminated his career in Philadelphia with a
World Series ring in 1980.
In the All-Time Top 50, Bowa was
tabbed the third best player from Sacramento.
To achieve his dream, Zach Green might borrow from Larry Bowa's playbook, especially the dog-eared
pages on self-confidence and tenacity.
All contents © Rick Cabral