Just to put the Texas Rangers' 30-3 win over the Batimore Orioles on Wednesday into proper perspective, we take you now to 1897, the last time a Major League team cracked the 30-run barrier. It was a glorious, two-fisted era in baseball, when an umpire could be arrested twice in the same season for on-field incidents, and when players just seemed to have a lot more fun. President McKinley bids you enjoy.
• March 9: The Cleveland Spiders of the National League sign Holy Cross star Louis Sockalexis‚ a full-blooded Penobscot Indian. Due to his great skills, baseball fans soon begin referring to the Cleveland team as the "Indians." Although Sockalexis will only play parts of three seasons due to acute alcoholism‚ the nickname will be revived in 1915 and become the club's official name.
• April 28: Phillies manager George Stallings is "bruised and shaken" when he is hit by a slow-moving trolley car while bicycling to his hotel.
• May 16: Fans assemble for Cleveland's first Sunday baseball game only to have the police arrest the players after the first inning for playing on the Sabbath. Players and umpire Tim Hurst are released on bail provided by Cleveland club owner Frank DeHaas Robison. A test case is made of rookie hurler John Powell, who a month later will be found guilty of playing ball on Sunday and fined $5.
• June 12: Brooklyn pitcher Brickyard Kennedy belts the only homer of his career‚ off Chicago's Nixey Callahan.
• June 19: Baltimore's Wee Willie Keeler fails to get a hit for the first time in 1897 after 44 straight games‚ a Major League record that will stand until Joe DiMaggio breaks it in 1941.
• June 29: The Chicago Colts score in every inning to demolish the Louisville Colonels 36-7, setting a Major League record for runs scored. Chicago amasses 32 hits, with Barry McCormick collecting four singles‚ a triple‚ and a home run in eight at-bats. Winning pitcher Nixey Callahan is 5-for-7. Chick Fraser starts for Louisville‚ but gives way in the third to Jim Jones, who makes his major league debut with his team down 14-0.
• August 4: In Cincinnati during a game against the Pirates, a fan rolls an empty beer glass onto the field in protest of a call by umpire Tim Hurst. Hurst promptly picks it up and hurls it back into the stands, injuring a different fan. Hurst is arrested for assault and battery and receives a suspension.
• August 14: Today is Bid McPhee Day at Cincinnati. The Reds lose the game‚ but the veteran second baseman‚ playing in his 16th season‚ receives a check for $1‚800.
• August 25: Settling a bet between Cap Anson and H.P. Burney, chief clerk of the Arlington National Cemetary, Chicago catcher William "Pop" Schriver becomes the first to catch a ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument. He makes no attempt on the first ball and catches the second, before a guard chases the group away. Later that day the Washington Senators defeat the visiting Chicago Colts, 9-4, as Schriver goes 2-for-3.
• August 27: Roger Bresnahan‚ an 18-year-old who will ultimately become a Hall of Fame catcher‚ pitches a shutout in his Major League debut for Washington‚ allowing six hits in a 3-0 win over St. Louis. Bresnahan is to be the great uncle of Dave Bresnahan, who pulled off the famed Potato Caper in the minor leagues 90 years later, in 1987.
• August 27: Philadelphia's Nap Lajoie shows up intoxicated for a game with Pittsburgh and is suspended. Pittsburgh wins‚ 6-5.
And my favorite ...
• August 30. The Chicago Colts are leading the New York Giants 7-5 after eight innings when Colts manager Cap Anson‚ leading off the ninth‚ argues that it is too dark to continue. Umpire Bob Emslie tells Anson to hit. After a strike is called‚ Anson protests so loudly that he is tossed. Anson refuses to allow a pinch hitter, and Emslie rules an out against Chicago. The Colts then take the field for the bottom of the ninth without a left fielder (left fielder George Decker had moved to Anson's spot at first base). After threat of a forfeit, Chicago pitcher Dan Friend‚ dressed in a bathrobe and cap‚ emerges from the clubhouse and takes his place in left. After two outs‚ Giants manager Scrappy Bill Joyce protests that Friend has no uniform on under the robe. At that point‚ Emslie throws up his hands and calls the game on account of darkness. Chicago wins‚ 7-5.
Charlton's Baseball Chronology — 1897 [Baseball Library.com]
For One Magical Evening, The Great Potato Caper Lives Again [Deadspin]