1909 April

1st  The National Commissioner awards P Ben Henderson to the Indians. Both the Boston Nationals and Cleveland had claimed the pitcher.

3rd Eddie Plank pitches the A’s to a 5–4 win over the Phillies to even the Philadelphia series at one game apiece.

8th  While at spring training, Hal Chase of the Highlanders contracts smallpox. The entire team is vaccinated and quarantined while traveling north.

12th  Philadelphia’s Shibe Park is dedicated as a record crowd of 31,160 sees 18-year-old John “Stuffy” McInnis make his ML debut at SS. Eddie Plank pitches the A’s to an 8–1 win over Boston, allowing 6 hits. A’s catcher Mike “Doc” Powers injures himself going after a foul pop, and after the game complains of intestinal pains (other versions have the pain due to a sandwich or twisting himself in an unusual fashion). The 38-year-old will be operated on tomorrow, but will not survive the month, the first ML death this century caused by an on-field injury.

At Washington, the Yankees open the season under new manager George Stallings, losing to the Senators, 4–1. The Nationals score three runs in the first off journeyman Doc Newton to pave the way for Charlie Smith. Smith allows just 4 hits and strikes out 10. Joe Ward opens at first base for New York, taking over for Hal Chase, who is recuperating in Georgia after contracting small pox in spring training.

14th On Opening Day in Detroit, Detroit’s George Mullin, slimmer by 40 pounds from last year, pitches a one-hitter, beating the White Sox, 2–0, and setting a record for fewest base runners in an opener. Gavvy Cravath singles and walks, the only Sox to reach base. Mullin will set a Detroit team record by winning his first 11 decisions, one in relief. Billy Sullivan, the White Sox catcher in the first AL game, and who replaced Fielder Jones as manager, is the skipper. The Sox will drop their next two games at Detroit for Sullivan.

15th  With Christy Mathewson sidelined with a bruised hand, the result of a line drive off the bat of Moose McCormick (according to historian Ronald Mayer. Frank Vacarro says that Matty was hit in the chest by a loose bat from Larry Doyle during pre-game practice today. In either case, Matty does not make his first appearance until May 4), Red Ames gets the call. Before an Opening Day crowd of 30,000 at New York, Ames pitches a no-hitter for 9 innings against the Brooklyn Superbas, loses the no-hitter with one out in the 10th, then loses the game 3–0 in the 13th. Kaiser Wilhelm matches Ames by not allowing a hit until the 8thinning. The Giants outfield has no putouts.

In the Browns 4–1 win over visiting Cleveland, Brownie Danny Hoffman bangs the first homer ever hit at Sportsman’s Park. In 1956, Willie Mays will collect the last.

18th  The Tigers announce plans to build a new concrete and steel stadium. The Pirates name their million-dollar ballpark Forbes Field in honor of the English general who founded Pittsburgh.

The Tigers edge the Naps, 3-2, managing just four hits off rookie Lucky Wright in his ML debut. The deciding run scores in the 5thinning when George Moriarty takes advantage of Wright’s big windup to steal home. Catcher Jay Clarke drops the high pitch which might have made it closer. Wright almost hits a double against George Mullin as “Ty Cobb had to go into the standing room only crowd in deep right field to make the catch.”

The Pirates edge Chicago, 1–0, in 12 innings, handing the loss to ace Three Fingered Brown.

In an exhibition game between the New York Highlanders and the Jersey City Skeeters, the two teams are concerned about violating the Sunday “Blue Laws.” Worried about arrests, the Jersey management passes out cards to spectators asking them to keep quiet.

20th  The National Commission learns that an effort to bribe umpires Klem and Johnstone was made before the Giants-Cubs playoff game in 1908. The identity of the alleged briber is not disclosed, but all clubs are notified of the results of the investigation. Klem reveals that the alleged briber was Dr. Joseph Creamer, a well-known New York physician, who served at many cycling and boxing events. Creamer, who served as the Giants’ team physician last season, denies the charges but he will be barred for life from all major league ball parks.

After winning their first five games, the Tigers drop a 12-2 decision to visiting Cleveland. The Naps score in each of the last 7 innings.

23rd  In the 6th inning of the Reds-Pirates game in Pittsburgh, Honus Wagner steps across the plate to the other batter’s box as Reds P Harry Gaspar delivers the ball. Umpire Bill Klem refuses to call him out because he felt Gaspar was trying to walk Wagner intentionally. The Pirates win 2–1, but Reds manager Clark Griffith protests and acting NL president Heydler backs Klem. But the league will override Heydler and Klem and order the game replayed September 10th. The Pirates will win again, by a score of 4–3, with Vic Willis again the victor.

24th  Sidelined much of April with the flu, Walter Johnson makes his first appearance of the year. He should’ve stood in bed as the Highlanders rough him up for 6 runs before he’s lifted in the 3rd. Behind Joe Lake, New York rolls to a 17–0 win over Washington, a club record shutout loss for the Nationals. It’ll be tied by New York in 1920.

Let’s call him Home Run. At Boston, the A’s Frank Baker hits his first homer, a grand slam off Frank Arellanes, as the Athletics win, 4–1. This is the only grand slam hit in the AL this year tying the mark set two years ago. There will only be two hit in the NL, a ML record.

25th Great Scott! White Sox rookie Jim Scott debuts with a 1–0 win over the visiting Browns, striking out 6. Chicago Tribune reporter Ring Lardner calls the conditions “arctic weather.”

26th  A’s popular C Doc Powers dies at the age of 38. He developed intestinal problems sustained when he ran into a wall during the Shibe Park opener on April 12th.

27th  The White Sox win their 3rd 1–0 game from St. Louis in 3 days, setting the AL mark for consecutive 1–0 wins. Hits by the two teams in the three games total only 18.

28th  Washington rookie Bob Groom chalks up his first major league victory beating Philadelphia in 10 innings, 3-2. But beginning in early July through late September, Groom will lose 15 straight games, with Washington scoring a grand total of 19 runs during the streak, and setting the ML mark for consecutive losing games (as John Stahl notes, this was once thought to be 19 games but the 15 total was established in 1991 by Frank J. Williams’ careful look at the records), Groom will also pitch two tie games during the streak.