Baseball’s Greatest Controversies

Rhubarbs, Hoaxes, Blown Calls, Ruthian Myths, Managers’ Miscues and Front-Office Flops


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About the Book

To the uninitiated, baseball is a simple sport: the pitcher throws the ball, the hitter tries to hit it, and the fielders try to catch it. But what happens before, during and after those basic actions causes more arguments than can be found in any other sport. Most of these disputes are settled quickly; a few survive for generations, still able to spark heated debate decades later.
Did Babe Ruth call his home run in the 1932 World Series? Was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson a victim or a perpetrator of the Black Sox Scandal? And who really won the batting title in 1910? These and 23 other of the game’s most heated controversies are analyzed in this work. The background for each of the debates is given, as well as a full discussion of the historical implications of the decisions. After all, disputes have been a part of the national pastime since Abner Doubleday laid out the first baseball diamond in 1839. Right?

About the Author(s)

John G. Robertson is a private tutor and sports historian who lives in Cambridge, Ontario. He is the author of numerous books on baseball, hockey and boxing history.

Bibliographic Details

John G. Robertson
Format: softcover (5.5 x 8.5)
Pages: 206
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [1995]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9368-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. The Hoax That Will Not Die: Cooperstown and the Doubleday Myth 3
2. 1904: The First Year Without a World Series 10
3. “Bonehead Merkle”: The Baserunning Blunder That Lost a Pennant (1908) 17
4. Cobb or Lajoie: Who Really Won the 1910 American League Batting Title? 24
5. Innocent but Still Guilty: The Lifetime Banishment of Buck Weaver and Joe Jackson (1919 World Series) 32
6. Darkness at the Polo Grounds: George Hildebrand Calls the Game (1922 World Series) 39
7. Sam Rice’s Banishing Act: Was It a Catch or a Home Run? (1925 World Series) 46
8. The “Quick Pitch” Controversy: Did Babe Ruth Receive Preferential Treatment? (1928 World Series) 52
9. The Stuff of Legends: Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” (1932 World Series) 59
10. The Goat and the Hero: Johnny Pesky Holds the Ball as Enos Slaughter Scores (1946 World Series) 66
11. Starting for the Red Sox Is … Denny Galehouse? (1948) 73
12. Bob Feller’s Pickoff Play: Runner Caught Off Base, Ump Caught Off Guard (1948 World Series) 80
13. The Imperfect Game: Harvey Haddix Is Denied Immortality (1956) 87
14. Maris, Ruth, Frick, and the Asterisk: The Disputed Home-Run Record (1961) 94
15. The Speed Game: Was Lou Brock Out at Home? (1968 World Series) 101
16. Too Much Hustle? Pete Rose Flattens Ray Fosse (1970 World Series) 108
17. Blind Justice: Ken Burkhart’s Behind-the-Back Call (1970 World Series) 115
18. The Designated-Hitter Rule: A Move to Offense, or an Offensive Move? (1973) 122
19. No Interference? The Armbrister-Fisk Collision (1975 World Series) 129
20. A Flip of the Hip: Did Reggie Jackson Commit Interference? (1978 World Series) 136
21. A Half-Baked Idea Burns the Reds: Cincinnati and the 1981 Split Season 143
22. The Game That Refused to Die: The Great Pine-Tar Debate (1983) 151
23. Bad Time for a Bad Call: Don Denkinger’s infamous Safe-at-First Call (1985 World Series) 158
24. Wrestled Off the Bag: Drew Coble’s Out Call (1991 World Series) 165
25. The Triple Play That Wasn’t, and Other Gaffes of the 1992 World Series 172
Epilogue. Third Strike: The Aborted 1994 Season 179
Bibliography 189
Index 191

Book Reviews & Awards

“another entry in sports literature’s favorite category, the ‘best-of’ book…enjoyable”—Dugout; “gives the background for each of the debates and discusses the implications of the decisions”—The SABR Bulletin.