1911 April

1st  NL president Tom Lynch reveals he had asked all umpires to produce certificates as to their eyesight; tests showed all have perfect vision.

In Atlanta, the Crackers play an April Fool’s joke on the New York Giants, beating them 6–5. Larry Doyle’s error in the 10th lets in the lead run.

4th  The idea of selecting a Most Valuable Player is introduced. Hugh Chalmers, the automobile maker, offers a new car to the player in each league chosen MVP by a committee of baseball writers. This is in response to last year’s controversy where Chalmers ended up presenting cars to both Lajoie and Ty Cobb, the AL batting leaders.

11th   At Oriole Park in Baltimore, the A’s and the Orioles (IL) play a benefit game for shortstop Simon Nicholls, 28, who died March 12 of typhoid fever. Nicholls played for the A’s, Cleveland and, most recently, the Orioles. Baltimore defeats the A’s, 3-2, scoring all their runs against Lefty Russell. The match raises $2,700 for the Nicholls family.

12th  President Taft throws out the first ball at Washington’s opener, and holdout Walter Johnson signs a 3-year contract at $7,000 a year and does not pitch the opener. He won’t miss another until 1922. Dolly Gray takes the mound for the Nationals, winning 8–5, over Boston’s Joe Wood and Ed Karger.

In front of Mayor Gaynor and a record crowd of 30,000 at the Polo Grounds, the Phillies’ Earl Moore walks 8 but he shuts out the Giants, 2–0, in the season opener. The Phils score twice in the 9thon a double by Fred Luderus. For the third straight opener, Red Ames is the loser as Mathewson is being held out for Saturday’s game. The game takes 1 hour, 50 minutes (this game is often noted as taking just 50 minutes).

In the Opener at Brooklyn, the Boston Rustlers score 2 runs in the 8th inning and edge the Superbas, 2-1. Buster Brown (1-0) is the winner for Boston, but he will lose his next 14 to set a franchise record.

Before the start of the opener in Philadelphia, 2B Eddie Collins, the best player on the champion A’s, is presented with a new automobile. Jumbo Vaughn and the A’s Chief Bender then display tough pitching, each allowing a run apiece through seven innings, but Jack Barry’s error in the 8th allows Otis Johnson to score the winning run for the Yankees. Vaughn allows 4 hits in the 2–1 victory.

The Reds suffer their worst Opening Day ever, losing to the Pirates, 14–0. Babe Adams tops Art Fromme with a 4-hitter. The Bucs 17-hit attack is led by Wagner, with 3 hits, Dot Miller with 4 hits and Bobby Byrne with 5 hits, a walk, and 5 RBIs. Reds reliever Jesse Tannehill, pitching his first NL game since jumping the Pirates ship in 1902, gives up 6 hits and walks 3 in 4+ IP. The shock is so great that Tannehill retires after this game.

13th  With Cleveland leading St. Louis 3–1 in the 9th inning at Cleveland’s League Park, the game is stopped because of a severe storm. Many fans are bruised by hailstones.

Phillies P Jack Rowan allows just 3 hits while his teammates pepper Christy Mathewson for 14 hits in 18 innings. The Quakers beat the Giants, 6–1. Hours later, the Polo Grounds grandstand and LF bleachers ignite in a mysterious fire, lighting up the night sky with flames. President Frank Farrell of the Highlanders invites the Giants to use the AL grounds, Hilltop Park; the offer is accepted, paving the way for the Giants’ invitation for the AL team to use the Polo Grounds when the Hilltop Park lease expires after the 1912 season. A $500,000 steel-and-concrete structure will replace the wooden stands of the Polo Grounds.

14th  Cleveland’s great pitcher Addie Joss dies unexpectedly from tubercular meningitis. Beset with arm injuries last season, Joss made just 13 appearances last year, but his career ERA of 1.88, compiled in 9 seasons, will earn him a plaque in Cooperstown. Joss died in his hometown of Toledo after returning there from spring training.

15th  Walter Johnson ties a ML record, and sets the AL mark, by striking out 4 batters in the 5th inning of Washington’s 6–2 loss against Boston. The 5th inning runner scores the game’s first run, and Boston scores 3 more in the 6th, plus runs in the 7th and 9thto beat the Nationals ace.

Grover Cleveland Alexander makes his ML debut, but an unearned run in the 9th by Boston gives the Phils rookie a 5–4 loss. Bill Klem makes the call behind the plate.

At Hilltop Park, the Giants beat Brooklyn, 6–3, as pitcher Otis Crandall lines a pair of triples. He also did it last September. He’ll hit a pair of triples in a 1914 game. In his 10-year career, Crandall will have 19 triples while compiling .285/.372/.398 numbers.

The Reds and Cards swap catchers, with Mike Gonzalez going to Cincy and Ivey Wingo (also spelled Ivy Wingo) to St. Louis.

17th  The Giants pick up 4 stolen bases in a 3–1 win over Brooklyn, the start of a post-1900 record 347 steals for the year. Eight Giants will steal 19 bases or better, topped by Josh Devore’s 61 and Larry Doyle’s 38.

Addie Joss’s funeral is held at Toledo with Billy Sunday preaching the sermon. The funeral is the 2nd largest in the city’s history. His Cleveland teammates insist on being there, forcing postponement of the season opener. Ban Johnson announces that there is no disagreement with the players and that “the game will be made up later in the season.”

A bill to permit Sunday baseball is refused in the lower house of the New Jersey legislature.

18th Ty Cobb starts the scoring for the Tigers by swiping home in the first inning on the front end of a double steal. The battery is George Kahler and Syd Smith for Cleveland as Detroit wins, 5–1.

21st At Baker Bowl, the first-place Phils stop the Giants, 3–0, as Earl Moore fires a one-hitter. Fred Snodgrass’s 6th-inning single is the lone hit. Moore had a two-hit shutout over the Giants on April 12th. Sherry Magee has a homer and drives in all three runs.

Boston spoils opening day at Washington Park by beating the Superbas, 9-5, scoring 5 in the 8th and one in the 9th. The day starts beautifully as the two teams march behind Shannon’s 23rdStreet Regiment Band from home plate to the CF flagpole. Following the raising of the flag, umpire Bill Klem catches the ceremonial first pitch from Borough president Steers.

The Yankees Russ Ford, who finished last season with a 12-game winning streak, loses to the Bob Groom and the Senators, 1-0.

24th  Battle Creek of the South Michigan League makes 2 triple plays in the first 2 innings against Grand Rapids, a trick never performed in the ML.

NL President Lynch orders his umpires to stop catchers, especially Roger Bresnahan, from verbally attacking batters.

25th  In his last full season as a player, 38-year-old Pirate player-manager Fred Clarke is kept busy with 10 putouts in LF as the Bucs beat St. Louis, 9-4. Howie Camnitz is the winning pitcher, allowing 7 hits including a pair of homers by Steve Evans.

In Brooklyn, the Pirates down the Superbas, 7-2, behind Lefty Leifield. Bobby Byrne has his second 5-hit game this season for the Bucs.

The Giants beat Boston, 3–1, with Christy Mathewson outpitching Patsy Flaherty.

26th In the first of two with Brooklyn, Grover Cleveland Alexander wins his first ML game, 10–3. Alex strikes out six and walks six, while slapping two of the Phillies 7 hits.

27th Honus Wagner’s double is the only hit off Art Fromme as the Reds edge the Pirates, 1-0. Howie Camnitz takes the loss, allowing 5 hits.

28th In Philadelphia, Walter Johnson picks up his first win of the year, edging the A’s 2–1. Frank Baker hits a solo HR off Johnson, the first HR over the fence the Washington ace has allowed: there have been two inside-the-park homers hit off Walter.

29th Before 15,000 at Washington Park, Mathewson hurls the Giants to a 7–3 win, defeating Cy Barger.

In the Highlanders 10–6 loss to the A’s, New York pitchers Hippo Vaughn and Jack Quinn throw just 7 pitches to the A’s Stuffy McGinnis, who has five singles. Stuffy hits a first pitch 3 times and the 2nd pitch twice.