Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A 1887 Dodger Baseball Card of a Player Involved in a Play of Deception

Following up on yesterday's post featuring a couple of vintage Dodgers memorabilia items for sale at Legendary Auctions, I want to take a moment to point out a late 19th century Baseball card for sale of a former Dodger player I thought worth mentioning.

The below card is a 1887 Old Judge tobacco card of Brooklyn Grays starting pitcher Stephen Toole.

He isn't notable because he was a great pitcher worthy of serious consideration into the Hall of Fame.  Toole was a rather poor pitcher who played in only 4 Major League seasons (2 of which with the Brooklyn Grays/Dodgers - 1886 to 1887). 

I highlight Stephen Toole because he played a part in a very unusual triple play.

As a member of the Brooklyn Galdiators (American Association) in 1890 he, along with 2 teammates, were called out in a triple play that can only be described as an act of trickery. 

Toole was on 2nd base with the bases full as the batter, John Peltz, popped it up to the short stop, Marr Phillips.  Seeing an opportunity, the short stop decided to let the ball fall untouched.  In a time before the advent of the "infield fly rule", the runners, unsure of what exactly to do, first held fast then ran for the next base.  As you can imagine, they were all putout for a triple play.

Obviously, the Brooklyn club protested.  They claimed that the league recently declared that only the batter would be out in this situation (i.e. the infield fly rule).  Unfortunately, the umpire, ironically named Barnum, would have none of that.  He declared it a triple play, claiming that he had not been notified by the league of any rule changes.

BTW, the Brooklyn Gladiators lasted only one season as a going concern.  They folded up after the 1890 season, having gone 26-72 for the year.  The team that would be known as the Brooklyn Dodgers, on the other hand, had left the American Association that season and won the National League.

*The above triple play story came from the SABR Triple Play database.
(Auction Link)

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