Merkle's Boner

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Merkle's Boner

Today is the 100th anniversary of Merkle's Boner, a historic play in baseball history. Flashback to Sept. 23rd, 1908...The NY (baseball) Giants are playing the Chicago Cubs at the Polo Grounds. Moose McCormick was the baserunner at 3rd base. 19-year old Fred Merkle stood at 1st. With the score tied 1-1, Al Bridwell singled home the winning run and the Giants fans rushed the field in celebration. There was only one problem. Merkle exited the field having never touched 2nd base. Cubs 2nd baseman Johnny Evers realized this, retrieved the ball, and touched 2nd base for the force out. The umpires acknowledged the out but it was too late to resume the game, because the crowd had already consumed the field. The game was declared a tie. (Note: There are varying stories about what transpired on the field amidst the confusion).

After two more weeks of regular season games, the Giants and Cubs ended the season in a deadlock for 1st place in the National League. They played a one-game playoff, which the Cubs won 4-2 and vaulted them to the World Series. It was the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Merkle earned the nickname of "Bonehead" for this famous play. He did make it to the World Series five times over the course of his 16-year career, but never won.

The Giants appealed the game's decision to league president, Harry Pulliam, whose indecision in the matter resulted in serious criticism from the New York media. Sadly, he shot himself to death at the New York Athletic Club the following July.

What modern day sports gaffes could be compared to this Boner?

Actual 1908 article from the New York Times

Merkle's career stats

Andy Katz is a senior writer for Andy Katz 360

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