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Looking Back At Ty Cobb's Last Hit
ALSO: JACKIE ROBINSON MUSEUM OPENS IN NEW YORK
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On Sept. 6, defending AL MVP Shohei Ohtani (Angels) was batting .270/.360/.537 with 32 homers, 85 RBIs, 78 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 130 games and pitching like an ace with a 2.58 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 136 innings over 23 starts . . .
A family affair: Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette are the first teammates with three-homer games in the same season whose fathers played in the majors . . .
The thrifty Braves have 10 players who are just at or slightly above the minimum salary, including three of their five starters . . .
Roger and Kody Clemens (an active Detroit infielder who pitches in mop-up roles) have combined for 4,673 strikeouts, most ever by a father and son duo . . .
After 11 seasons, three teams this season, and one Cy Young Award, veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel seems finished at age 34 . . .
Also finished, at least for this season, is Andrew Benintendi, a lefty-hitting contact hitter who gave the Yankees a helping hand in left field before breaking that hand.
Revisiting Ty Cobb’s Final Hit
By Andrew C. Sharp
Washington’s Griffith Stadium, torn down in 1965, had more than its share of historic moments. Walter Johnson, with the help of a couple of bad hops, pitched the Senators to their only World Championship in a thrilling Game 7 on Oct. 10, 1924. Walt Dropo had the last seven of his record 12 consecutive hits there on July 15, 1952. Babe Ruth hit his last home run as a Yankee there on September 29, 1934.
Seven seasons earlier in 1928, Ty Cobb had the last hit of his amazing career there.
Connie Mack’s Athletics were battling the Yankees for the 1928 pennant when Philadelphia came into Washington for a double-header on September 3, 1928. Down 6-0 with two outs left in the first game, Mack sent up the 41-year-old Cobb as a pinch-hitter against Bump Hadley of the Senators.
Cobb, in his second year playing for Mack, had been the regular right fielder for the A’s until the end of July, when Mack decided to go with younger players. The A’s owner/manager had talked Cobb out of retiring by offering the long-time Tiger a lucrative contract after the 1926 season.
Coming off a 1927season in which he hit .357 in 133 games for the A’s, Cobb wasn’t having a great season by his standards. Yet his batting average was still .323 with a .389 on-base percentage when he came up with one out in the ninth at Griffith Stadium.
Cobb doubled to left, sending Bing Miller to third. None of the game accounts in the next day’s newspapers describes Cobb’s hit in any detail, nor is it known what the count was.
What is known is that this was the last hit of Cobb’s unparalleled career: number 4,189, according to the most accurate research, or number 4,191, according to official MLB historic statistics.
With two outs, an error on a grounder brought home Miller, thanks in part to Cobb’s smart base running, blocking the shortstop’s view of the ball. But the game ended with Cobb stranded at third.
Sent up as pinch-hitter again in the second game, Cobb struck out for the last out of a 5-4 Senators’ victory. The double-header losses left the A’s two-and-half games behind the Yankees, which is where Mack’s team ended the season.
On September 11in New York, Cobb made one more pinch-hitting appearance. He popped out. The next day, he announced his retirement. Cobb ended the season hitting .323 – and the highest career batting average of all-time: .366.
Ty Cobb played his first game in Washington on September 21, 1905, at American League Park, the old wooden stadium that was replaced after a fire in 1911 by what became known as Griffith Stadium on the same site.
Although this ballpark, near Howard University, was by far the league’s most difficult place to hit one over the fence, Cobb loved it. Spraying the ball all over the spacious outfield, Cobb hit .405 at Griffith Stadium, his highest lifetime mark in any ballpark.
The Georgia Peach was already an established star when Walter Johnson debuted in Washington in 1907. Cobb ended up played a season longer than Johnson. His average against the Big Train, coincidentally, matched Cobb’s .366 career average against all pitchers.
Cobb and Johnson, adversaries for two decades, were among the first five inductees into the Hall of Fame, along with Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner.
Andrew C. Sharp is a retired journalist and a SABR member who blogs about D.C. baseball at washingtonbaseballhistory.com.
Long Overdue, Jackie Robinson Museum Finally Opens in New York
By Dan Schlossberg
Fourteen years after his widow announced the project, Jackie Robinson is finally getting a lasting memorial: a museum that will take visitors on an interactive journey through the baseball pioneer’s life and career.
Opened on Sept. 5, the museum contains artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs in a 20,000-square foot space.
It features a model of Ebbets Field, where Robinson broke in with the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers and embarked on a 10-year career that led to Cooperstown, plus Robinson’s Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies, his Presidential Medal of Freedom and even his military uniform.
Even Robinson’s U.S. Army court martial, in which he was acquitted, is included.
According to the TODAY show, the museum divides Robinson’s life into categories: as entrepreneur, activist, soldier, and family man.
“We wanted that first impression to be, wow, he did all those things on all those different fronts,” said Della Britton, president and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “He was doing activism — and it was really more simultaneous, it wasn’t sequential — the same time he was in the military . . . because he was petitioning to make sure there was equality in the military.”
As Hank Aaron once said, “Jackie’s character was much more important than his batting average.”
That batting average — and his other achievements on the field — were impressive. He starred at three different positions, made the National League All-Star team seven times, and won a batting title and World Series ring. He hit .311 with 197 steals and 137 homers from 1947-57, then refused a trade to the New York Giants and retired.
Baseball fans will love tinkering with the model of Ebbets Field, which lights up as various stories are told. It not only highlights where famous plays were made but also where Rachel Robinson was sitting in the stands a the time.
The opening coincides with the 75th anniversary of the year Robinson broke into the big leagues, breaking the Modern Era color line.
Celebrities at opening ceremonies included Spike Lee, Billie Jean King, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Rachel Robinson and two of her children cut the ribbon at the grand opening.
HTP weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ can’t wait to get to the museum. In the meantime, he’s covering the Braves-Mets title chase and other stretch-drive baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and various other outlets. His e.mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You want to be in the thick of this thing. I’ve always said, even when I was a third base coach, you love that time of the year when you wake up and get a cup of coffee and you can’t wait to get to the ballpark because you want to play the next game. These games all mean something. It’s what you play for.”
— Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker after the Braves tied for first place Tuesday
The Tigers have claimed 21-year-old infielder Luis García off waivers from the Phillies and optioned him to Double-A Erie. This Garcia is not to be confused with the Luis García of the Nationals or the Luis García of the Padres or the Luis Garcia of the Astros . . .
Yadier Molina, teammates with Adam Wainwright for the past 18 seasons in St. Louis, came into Thursday with 333 hits in games started by Wainwright — the most hits in baseball history by a catcher in games started by one pitcher — and then homered twice in the game against Washington . . .
During their radio broadcast from Oakland Wednesday, Atlanta announcers Joe Simpson and Ben Ingram complained of ants and possums in the broadcast booth . . .
Matt Olson homered in the first game he played in Oakland after his trade from the A’s to the Braves in March . . .
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, mired in a personal power shortage, has never homered at PNC Park — alone among the current 30 ballparks now in use . . .
The A’s have used an amazing 30 rookies so far this season.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.