21 Straight

20 Sep

The Delta League only lasted two seasons, 1904 and ’05, but James Baxter Sparks made the first a memorable one.

The 21 year old Yazoo City Zoos southpaw set a professional baseball record by winning 21 consecutive games.  During one week he beat the Brookhaven team in three straight games, then after one day off shut out the Jackson Senators.  Sparks also threw a no-hitter against Clarksdale during the streak.

The Sporting Life said that Sparks appeared in 33 games during the season but there is no record of his overall record for the season.

Sparks spent the majority of his career in the low minor leagues, the only exception being 1906 with the Atlanta Crackers in the Southern Association where he went 8-10.  From 1910-1912 he was 49-23 for Vicksburg in the Cotton States League.  His career ended with Meridian in the same league in 1913.

Sparks coached the University of Mississippi baseball team in 1917 and returned to the Cotton States League as a manager in 1923 and ’24 with the Clarksdale Cubs and Laurel Lumberjacks.  He died in Mississippi in 1956.

One more bit of trivia from the Delta League.  The 1904 season featured a scoreless 19 inning game between Jackson and Brookhaven on August 24—the longest scoreless game to end in a tie in professional baseball until the record was tied by the Dodgers and Reds in 1946.

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