Tag Archives: Frank Fear

“Remarkable Baseball Stunt”

15 Jan

In the 1890s, there was a “baseball puzzle” that was said to have confounded Baltimore Orioles catcher Wilbert Robinson for days.  How could a team hit two triples and four singles in an inning and not score a run?

His confusion probably says more about Robinson than the complexity of the puzzle.  The answer was the first two hitters tripled and were out trying to stretch them into home runs.  Three players hit singles to load the bases.  The fourth hitter singles, but the ball strikes a runner ending the inning.

Wilbert robinson

Wilbert Robinson

In 1912, a sportswriter in The Toronto Globe claimed that a similar inning had actually occurred in a minor league game in 1890.

The Pittsburgh Gazette-Times called it a “Remarkable baseball stunt.”

While there’s no proof the story isn’t apocryphal, both papers said it took place on May 30, 1890, in an Indiana League game and the members of the Anderson, Indiana team mentioned in the articles all did play for Anderson in 1890. (Although Baseball Reference doesn’t list statistics or rosters for the 1890 Indiana League, all the named players are confirmed as having played for that team in a variety of contemporaneous sources.)

According to the story Benjamin Ireland led off the inning with a triple.  With Ed Wiswell at the plate, the ball got away from the catcher, Ireland was out trying to score.  Wiswell tripled, but was tagged out trying to stretch the triple.  Rush Shumway followed with the third triple of the inning.

With Shumway on third Gene Derby bunted down the third base line that the third baseman waited to roll foul, “It stayed (fair) and (Derby) pulled up at second.  (Shumway) did not try to score.”

The fifth batter, Charles Faatz, also bunted.  The runners held as Faatz beat out the bunt.  Frank Fear was the next batter and “hit a vicious liner to right, but the ball struck Faatz on the arm.”

Three triples, two singles, no runs.

A remarkable inning.