Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17th: The Great Comeback of 1904

     On August 17, 1904, the Cardinals pulled off an epic comeback at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The club from St. Louis came into the ninth down 7-3, and proceeded to knock out six runs off of Philadelphia's starter Tully Sparks who was saddled with the loss, as the Cardinals hung onto win 9-7.

     The Phillies looked good early, as they plated four runs in the first. From there the Cardinals starter Chappie McFarland settled down. The two clubs each plated a run in the fifth, and they both scored two in the sixth, which set the score at 7-3. Sparks looked to have it in the bag when the ninth frame opened up, the tide turned. The Philadelphia Record called the ninth inning Sparks' Waterloo. For those who do not get the reference, Waterloo was the famous battle in which Napoleon Bonaparte suffered defeat. The battle came after Bonaparte had been victorious time and time again, then he picked the wrong fight. That same paper laid blame on Philly's player/manager Harry Wolverton for not getting Sparks out of there when things began to unravel. Of course hindsight is 20/20. 

     The unraveling began with a free pass to Homer Smoot, then Sparks gave up a single to George Barclay, before he was able to record an out. Mike O'Neill hit for McFarland and ripped a double, that was followed by back-to-back-to-back singles. The lead was still intact, but two wild throws later the Birds were on top as six men had crossed the dish. The astonished crowd of 1,152 (when I looked at the attendance total I'll admit I laughed) then watched Jack Taylor end all hopes of a rally in the bottom of the inning, when he set down the side in order. 

     The funny thing about this fact is I was looking through a newspaper for a story about a no-hitter that was thrown by Boston's Jesse Tannehill that had occurred on the same day. As I was scrolling through I see a headline about a Cardinals rally. It's crazy how it works. One man is in Chicago tossing a no-hitter, while another man is in Philadelphia suffering his own Waterloo. In the words of Ron Washington "That's how baseball go." 

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