Tag Archives: Morrie Rath

“You got away with Something that time, Buck”

2 Mar

It will be reviewable by instant replay this season, but in 1914 the “Neighborhood Play” had no name, and its use by one American Leaguer was a big story.

The Chicago Daily News said:

“There is a story going around the circuit which undertakes to show how Buck Weaver, the White Sox shortstop, fooled all the umpires…Buck’s long suit was acting as pivot on a double play, taking the ball from the second baseman.”

buckweaver

Buck Weaver

The paper said when Weaver joined the Sox in 1912, he “noticed that he was often failing,” to turn double plays.

“He lay awaken nights figuring how he could increase his speed in pulling off (double plays), and finally decided that if he could not get the batter no one could, as he was the owner of as strong a whip as any shortstop in the land.

“The solution of the puzzle came to him by accident.  In dashing to second to take a throw from (Morrie) Rath he overstepped the bag and was a stride closer to first than usual when he got the ball.  Instead of stepping back and touching the sack, he made the throw to first base and, much to his surprise, the umpire called both men out.”

When Weaver returned to the dugout, Manager Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan said:

“’You got away with something that time, Buck.’”

Weaver told his manager:

“’I was a whole stride over second when I got the ball.  But say, I could away with it by accident, what’s the matter with trying to pull it off right along when the man at bat is fast and likely to beat me out if I wait for the throw? I can save a quarter of a second or so by going over the bag.’”

The paper said Callahan encouraged him to try it.

“And Buck did.  He worked the trick successfully against the Naps six or seven times, twice in one game with (George) Hildebrand umpiring the bases.

“’He worked it on us several times,’ said Jim McAleer, formerly of the Red Sox, while Clark Griffith admits that Washington suffered the same fate.

“Even Connie Mack was forced to murmur, and when Connie Mack kicks, something must be wrong, and possibly as a result of the protest of the manager of the world’s champions, the umpires will watch Mr. Weaver more carefully this year when he is acting as pivot man in the double play.”

After 1913, when he participated in a career-high 73 double plays, Weaver never played as many games at shortstop, so it’s unknown whether umpires, in fact, watched him “more carefully” when  he attempted the Neighborhood play.

Morrie Rath

25 Nov

In August of 1913, the Chicago White Sox sold second baseman Morris “Morrie” Rath to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association.

Morrie Rath

Morrie Rath

The Chicago Eagle said the sale wasn’t the result of Rath’s .200 batting average, or 16 errors, but because of his performance coaching first base during a game in Philadelphia earlier in the month:

“Morris was coaching at first base and (Manager Nixey) Callahan was at third.  (Harry) Lord was at bat.  He hit a bounder to one of the infielders and as it was a slow hit he figured he could beat it out.  He ran with every ounce of speed and strength that he possessed.  The play was mighty close.

Harry Lord

Harry Lord

“’Out,’ cried the umpire.

“Lord figuratively hit the ceiling.  He threw his cap down and jumped upon it.  He picked it up and threw it down again.  He howled and he scowled.  He allowed that if there ever was a blind umpire that he was working on the bases that day.  He assured the ump that in all his experience as a ball player it was the worst decision he ever saw.  Then up spoke Rath.  His voice was as gentle as could be:

“’Yes, you were out Harry.’

“And Lord collapsed.  That beat the other thing.  Never in his experience as a ball player had he heard another player agree with the umpire when it meant that one of his pals was out instead of safe.  That was beyond the comprehension of Lord.  He just wilted and staggered to the bench.

“By this time Callahan was over there.  There was fire in his eye, and he was fighting mad.  ‘Of all the—‘ he started in and then stopped.  For the umpire was laughing.

‘What’s the matter?’ howled Cal.

‘Why Rath here agrees that he was out,’ laughed the ump.

“What did Cal do?  What could he do?  He also was dazed.  It was a new one on him.  He had been around ball fields for many years, but never before had a member of his team taken sides with the ump against a teammate.”

It was a long road back to the big leagues for Rath.  He played for Kansas City until June of 1915 when he was sold to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  In 1916, He joined the Salt Lake City Bees in the Pacific Coast League, after hitting .300 and .341 he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds after the 1917 season in the Rule 5 Draft.

After spending 1918 in the United States Navy where he was captain of the baseball team at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Rath finally joined the Reds for the 1919 season.  He was Cincinnati’s regular third baseman in 1919 and 1920 and appeared in all eight games of the 1919 World Series against his former team.

Rath finished his career with the San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League in 1921.

After his career, he operated a sporting goods store in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.  In 1945, suffering from ill-health, he committed suicide.