“It was one of those Lucky Days when a Player can hit a pea”

8 Aug

Norman Arthur “The Tabasco Kid” Elberfeld earned his nickname for his aggressive play and violent temper.  In 1904 he described his greatest game in an  article that appeared in several newspapers:

Kid Elberfeld

Kid Elberfeld

“It is not a cinch by any means to dig up the good and bad plays one has made.  If my team can win the game, that is about sufficient for me, and I forget many times just how prominently I may have figured in the victory.

“The best batting I remember having done was right up on Washington Heights last season, when we were playing the Philadelphia Athletics.  Connie Mack had saved Rube Waddell for us, and the famous southpaw never had more speed or better benders.  When Rube is right he is a wonder, and when it is remembered that he fanned thirteen batters that afternoon it can be appreciated that he was pretty near being tight.  It was Rube’s first appearance of the season in New York, and he was more than anxious to pitch a winning game.  It was the closest kind of contest, and we just managed to win out 4 to 3.  I was the lucky boy that day.  I made four clean plunks off Rube, drove in three runs and scored one myself.  That wasn’t so bad, when you say it quick.  There were only four hits made off Rube that day.  So I copped.

“It was one of those lucky days when a player can hit a pea.  Rube didn’t fool me a little bit.  I refused to let him drive me away from the plate, but stood up close and just met the ball.  Every hit was a hard one, too, and on a line.  If I had attempted to swing hard I might not have made a hit.  There is everything in a batter timing the ball well and then just meeting it.  One will be surprised at the swiftness with which the ball shoots off the bat.”

Elberfeld got a couple of key facts incorrect; the score was actually 3 to 2 and while Elberfeld drove in all three runs he did not score a run that day.  For the rest of his life, Elberfeld referred to the game as the greatest of his career.

In 1929, in an article about the athletic prowess of Elberfeld’s five daughters—they had their own basketball team, and each excelled in additional sports as well—the proud father still referred to the 1903 game as “The best batting I remember having done,” although he still incorrectly maintained that the Highlanders scored four runs that day.

Elberfeld's greatest game, August 1, 1903

Elberfeld’s greatest game, August 1, 1903

As for his aggressiveness towards umpires, Elberfeld had no regrets fifteen years after his playing career ended:

“I’ve been asked whether it did any good to threaten umpires, and occasionally take a wallop at one.  I always thought that if I didn’t stand up for my rights, they would give me the worst of it.  If an umpire made a mistake in the really rowdy days the whole team would threaten his life.  Would that scare him?  I should say so, and the next time a close decision came up, he would even up for the bad one previously handed down.”

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One Response to ““It was one of those Lucky Days when a Player can hit a pea””

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “He thought he knew more than his Manager” | Baseball History Daily - October 14, 2015

    […] seventh inning; it was actually the fifth.  Dinneen had just walked “Wee Willie” Keeler and “Kid” Elberfeld, forcing in a second run and loading the bases.  With two out, and 2 to 0 lead, Griffith picked up […]

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