Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Now That's A Relief Pitcher!

Nowadays an ace reliever only comes in for save situations, usually three outs or less.  There were some outstanding relievers used in the 1960s and 70s for up to three innings like Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, and Hoyt Wilhelm.  But they're all wimps compared to Edwin Americus (Eddie) Rommel.
(Rommel)
On July 10, 1932 the 2nd place Philadelphia Athletics faced the 4th place Cleveland Indians at League Park.  The Athletics, American League pennant winners the past three years, trailed the Yankees by six games entering the contest.  Pitching for the A's was 20 year-old Lew Krausse, making only his second start of the year.  In the top of the 1st the A's scored two quick runs off Clint Brown, hurling for the Indians, but Krausse was rocked in the bottom of the inning when future Hall of Famer Earl Averill hit a three run homer and manager Connie Mack decided to pull the kid and put in a veteran pitcher in to start the second - 34 year-old Eddie Rommel, now in his 13th year with the A's.  Eddie had pitched three innings in relief the prior day and another two on July 8.  Both Krausse's start and Rommel's daily pitching are explainable because of a quirk in the schedule.  On July 7, 8, and 9 the A's played doubleheaders against the White Sox to make up for a series rained out earlier in the year and a further rainout on July 6 and then had a doubleheader against the Indians on July 11.  They were in the midst of playing 9 games in five days with a staff consisting of only eight pitchers and the games on July 7, 8, 9 and 11 were in Philadelphia while the A's traveled to Cleveland to play the July 10 game as Sunday baseball was still banned in Philly.
 (Mack)
Earlier in his career, Eddie had been a star starting pitcher for Connie Mack.  From 1921 to 1925 he'd won 100 games, including 27 in 1922, but for the past few years he'd been a spot starter and long reliever for the A's.  Considered by some as the father of the modern knuckleball he certainly wasn't a flamethrower, striking out fewer than 600 batters while pitching almost 2600 innings.

The game turned into a slugfest.  In the top of the 4th, the A's retook the lead 5-3 but the Tribe responded with three more in the bottom of the inning to go ahead once again.  Then, in the top of the 7th, the A's added seven more runs and seemed to have a commanding 13-8 lead but it evaporated in the bottom of the inning when the Indians scored six times.  It looked like Cleveland would triumph but with two outs in the 9th the Indians' first baseman muffed an easy grounder by Jimmy Dykes, Al Simmons followed with a walk and Jimmie Foxx drove them in with a double and the A's led once again.  In the bottom of the inning Rommel gave up a two-out single with a runner at second to tie the game and send it to extra innings. [THC does not have the play by play data for the game but the best detailed description can be found at The JG Preston Experience; according to the Preston blog, to save money (the team teetered on the brink of financial disaster during the Depression) Connie Mack took only two pitchers with him to Cleveland explaining why Rommel pitched so long, although it also raises the question why he took Krausse out so quickly].
(Jimmie Foxx, Double XX, The Beast)

The next six innings were scoreless (the Indians had a runner thrown out at home in the 12th).  In the top of the 16th the A's scored twice on a Foxx homer and seemed on the verge of ending the marathon but the Indians tied it up once again when they came to bat.  Finally, the A's scored with two outs in the 18th (16 of their 18 runs were scored with two outs!) and made it stand up to win 18-17.  The A's had 25 hits and seven walks while the Indians whacked 33(!) hits and 10 walks, leaving 24 runners on base.  The Tribe's 33 hits and the 58 hits by both teams remain major league records.  The whole barrage only took 4 hours and 5 minutes (this would be at least a six hour game today).

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer front page, July 11, 1932
(from JG Preston Experience)

568450
And Eddie Rommel's relief stint lasted 17 innings in which he faced 87 batters giving up 29 hits, 13 earned runs and walking nine, the second longest relief appearance in major league history, while contributing three singles as a batsman!  On the other side, the Indian's third pitcher, ace Wes Ferrell, went the last 11 1/3 innings. 

The game also generated some other strange statistics.  The Indians had 4 players with at least four hits, led by shortstop Johnny Burnett's 9 hits, setting the major league record for most hits by a player in a game.  For the A's the main damage was done by their two best players and future Hall of Famers, Simmons and Foxx. Simmons went 5 for 9, all singles, while Foxx bashed six hits in nine at bats, including a double and three home runs, driving in 8, giving him 101 RBI's for the year in his team's 81st game (the rest of the A's lineup went only 14 for 62).  By the end of the game, Foxx had 33 HRs (looking like he might pass Ruth's 60) and a .383 batting average to go with all the ribbies.  However, Double XX "cooled off" over his last 73 games hitting only 25 homers, driving in 68 runs and batting .342.  It was still good enough for the Triple Crown.

For Eddie Rommel it was his first and only win of the year.  It was also his 171st, and final, career victory.  He didn't pitch again until August 20 and was released as a player at the end of the season but Connie Mack hired him back as a coach.  After two season, Rommel decided to become an umpire and ended up doing so in the American League for 22 years, not retiring until after the 1959 season.  Eddie later said about that July 10, 1932 appearance:

"It never occurred to me that I’d have to go more than a couple of innings, if any. It was the end of me as a pitcher, too."

Boxscore courtesy of Retrosheet

Game Played on Sunday, July 10, 1932 (D) at League Park IV

PHI A    2  0  1    2  0  1    7  0  2    0  0  0    0  0  0    2  0  1  -  18 25  1
CLE A    3  0  0    3  1  1    6  0  1    0  0  0    0  0  0    2  0  0  -  17 33  5
BATTING
Philadelphia Athletics       AB   R   H RBI      BB  SO      PO   A
Haas cf                       9   3   2   0       1   1       7   1
Cramer rf                     8   2   2   1       2   2       5   0
Dykes 3b                     10   2   3   4       0   0       0   7
Simmons lf                    9   4   5   2       1   1       1   1
Foxx 1b                       9   4   6   8       1   0      19   2
McNair ss                    10   0   2   1       0   0       6   3
Heving c                      4   0   0   0       0   0       1   0
  Madjeski c                  5   0   0   0       0   2       9   1
Williams 2b                   8   1   2   0       1   1       5   9
Krausse p                     1   0   0   0       0   1       0   1
  Rommel p                    7   2   3   1       1   2       1   5
Totals                       80  18  25  17       7  10      54  30
FIELDING - 
DP: 2. Williams-McNair-Foxx, Williams-Madjeski-Foxx.
E: Rommel (1).
BATTING - 
2B: Haas (16); Dykes (16); Foxx (15); McNair (20).
3B: Williams (1).
HR: Foxx 3 (33,3rd inning off Brown 0 on,7th inning off Ferrell 1 on,16th inning
off Ferrell 1 on).
Team LOB: 15.
Cleveland Indians            AB   R   H RBI      BB  SO      PO   A
Porter rf                    10   3   3   2       1   0       3   0
Burnett ss                   11   4   9   2       0   1       5   5
Averill cf                    9   3   5   4       2   1       4   1
Vosmik lf                    10   2   2   1       1   0       8   1
Morgan 1b                    11   1   5   4       0   3      15   0
Myatt c                       7   2   1   0       3   0      10   1
Cissell 2b                    9   1   4   3       1   0       4   5
Kamm 3b                       7   1   2   0       2   0       5   6
Brown p                       4   0   2   0       0   0       0   3
  Hudlin p                    0   0   0   0       0   0       0   0
  Ferrell p                   5   0   0   0       0   2       0   0
Totals                       83  17  33  16      10   7      54  22
FIELDING - 
DP: 2. Burnett-Cissell-Morgan, Kamm-Cissell-Morgan.
E: Burnett (21), Morgan (12), Cissell 2 (19), Brown (1).
BATTING - 
2B: Porter (26); Burnett 2 (12); Vosmik (20); Morgan 2 (24); Myatt (10); Cissell
(22); Kamm (16).
HR: Averill (16,1st inning off Krausse 2 on).
SH: Kamm (7); Ferrell (3).
Team LOB: 24.
BASERUNNING - 
SB: Cissell (3).
PITCHING
Philadelphia Athletics       IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR BFP
Krausse                       1     4   3   3   1   0   1   8
Rommel W(1-0)                17    29  14  13   9   7   0  87
Totals                       18    33  17  16  10   7   1  95
WP: Rommel 2 (2).
Cleveland Indians            IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO  HR BFP
Brown                         6.2  13   8   7   1   3   1  36
Hudlin                        0     0   2   2   2   0   0   2
Ferrell L(16-6)              11.1  12   8   6   4   7   2  49
Totals                       18    25  18  15   7  10   3  87
Umpires: HP - George Hildebrand, 1B - Brick Owens
Time of Game: 4:05   

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