Miller James Huggins was born on this date in 1879. The Hall of Fame Manager of the New York Yankees played 13 seasons as a second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1911, he told Hugh Fullerton of The Chicago Record-Herald about “The greatest play,” he had seen during his career.
Huggins said it was a play made the previous season—July 30, 1910–by his teammate, shortstop Arnold “Stub” Hauser during a game between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, and was described by Charles Dryden of The Chicago Examiner as “the only quadruple play ever made.”
“The play was wonderful, not only because of the situation and the manner in which it was accomplished, but because of the fact that Hauser kept his head all the time and thought as quickly as he acted.
“The situation was this: we had the game won, but (Frank) Chance and his Crabs were fighting hard and hitting harder. It took a lot of fielding and desperate work to hold the lead we had gained as they had men on the bases in almost every inning and kept threatening to pile up a bunch of runs almost any minute and beat us out. “
“Chance hit it like a streak of lightning almost over second base, perhaps two or three feet to the third base side of the bag and on a low line. The ball was hit so hard that I hadn’t a chance to get near it, although I took a running jump in that direction. It didn’t seem that Hauser, who was playing short, could make it touch his hands. He came with a run, and as he saw the ball going past he dived for it, and made it hit his left hand while it was extended at full length. He just stabbed at the ball, and although it hit his hand he, of course, could not hold it. He was staggering, almost falling, and the ball popped up in the air perhaps a couple of feet, and as it started to fall to the ground Hauser, still falling, grabbed it with his hand and clung to it. I had covered second, hoping he would be able to get the ball to me when I saw him hit it with his hands. (Instead of throwing to Huggins) He staggered over second base (to retire Sheckard) and shot the ball to first (to retire Hofman). As he touched second he spiked me so severely that I had to quit the game. That is why Dryden called it a quadruple play, as it retired three Crabs and myself at the same time. I’m proud now that I got spiked, as it gave me a part in the greatest play I ever saw on a ball field.”
Speaking of Huggins. I receive a fairly steady stream of advance copies of books, and while I read most of them, I don’t recommend many. Too many rely heavily on recycled information from secondary and tertiary sources, often repeating faulty information and perpetuating myths. A soon to be released book about Huggins is a pleasant exception.
The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership That Transformed the New York Yankees, by Steve Steinberg and Lyle Spatz, will be released on May 1. In addition to being a thoroughly researched, well-written, definitive, biography of both Huggins and Yankee owner Jacob Rupert, the book does an excellent job of weaving the story of the Yankees in the broader context of the 1920s.