Harry Harper’s Minneapolis No-hitter in 1915

Yesterday, May 19, 2011, was the 96th anniversary of a no-hitter by Harry Clayton Harper of Hackensack, New Jersey. From a pitcher’s standpoint, any no-hitter is extraordinary. But history would dictate just how special this gem was. On the surface you have two struggling teams, crosstown rivals whose fans grabbed the local streetcar to head over to the opposition’s city and have a raucous time watching baseball. But it would prove to be a landmark game in the six-decade history of the storied rivalry between the St. Paul Saints and Minneapolis Millers. Here is what I wrote about the event for an upcoming article I’m having published on the 1915 American Association season, slightly edited to provide context:

Sitting at 14-14 just a month into the 1915 season, the St. Paul Saints made the jaunt over to Minneapolis for a matinee against the Millers. And it was then that a funny thing happened on the way back to their season resurrection. On Wednesday, May 19, a rangy, just-turned-20-year-old southpaw named Harry Clayton Harper took the hill for the Millers at Nicollet Park and reeled off a no-hitter. The gem would become the only Millers vs. Saints no-hitter ever in the American Association. The final score: 4-0. The eleventh Minneapolis victory of the season next to 14 losses, it was surely a boost to everyone in the city. Despite Harper’s no-hit heroics, the club did not rebound, losing eight of their next ten. It would be several weeks before Harper and his Miller teammates could come through with anything resembling a celebration. Could the sparkling event have been foretold? Perhaps the baseball gods were atoning for an earlier lapse on their part. On May 11, Harper struck out 16 Columbus Senators enroute to an extra-inning loss at home, just a sign of the times for Pongo Joe Cantillon‘s men. At least, in Harper, there was something bright about the season after all, and maybe there was something to look forward to in Mudville.

Advertisements

Missing 1910 Millers Game Found

As previously published in this blog, I’ve undertaken to reconstruct the 1910, 1911, and 1912 seasons of the American Association’s Minneapolis Millers. This process involves recording the game-by-game results of each season, including the pitcher, opposing pitcher, and other pertinent information. The hope is that after completing the document, the won-loss record reconciles with that of the official record. I was unable to make such a reconciliation for 1910 until I was able to visit Wilson Library (where I do most of my microfilm research) on the University of Minnesota campus, which I did last Friday.

Not only was I able find the game I’d missed (I’d found 106 wins, as opposed to the official 107 wins the Millers earned in 1910), I discovered that the game itself was significant of its own accord. As it turns out, the absence of the box score was my own error; I had simply neglected to include the game’s record in my compilation. This can be a humbling process.

The game was played at Milwaukee’s Athletic Park (later known as Borchert Field) on July 10, 1910. It was the front-end of an unscheduled doubleheader (resulting from a postponement the day before).

According to the report in the Minneapolis Journal for July 11, 1910, the game drew perhaps the largest crowd in Milwaukee American Association history, as an estimated throng of 15,000 were in attendance on that Sunday. This was substantially beyond the capacity of the park. Secondly, this game featured the first triple play to take place in Milwaukee at Athletic Park, according to the Journal. It happened in the fourth inning of the contest. Here is how the play developed:

With the Millers up 1-0 by virtue of their single tally in the first inning, Brewers’ shortstop Phil Lewis and first baseman Dan McGann, the number four and five hitters in manager J.J. McCloskey‘s batting order, singled and were perched on first and second base. Brewer veteran third-sacker Harry “Pep” Clark came to the plate intending to sacrifice, but the result of his attempt was to send a soft line drive to Miller shortstop Dave Altizer who grabbed it and fired across the diamond to Dr. Warren Gill at first, doubling up McGann. Gill fired it back to Altizer at second, nailing Lewis. Score that 6-3-6 if you’re keeping score along with us.

Joe Cantillon‘s Millers wound up with the win on that sunny Sunday, 3-0, as 34-year-old southpaw Nick Altrock blanked the Brewers on while the grand old man of the American Association, 39-year-old Stoney McGlynn, took the loss. Minneapolis took the second game of the double decker as well, 8-1. With these wins, numbering 55 and 56 on the Millers’ season slate, the club ended their four-game skid and increasing their mid-season hold over St. Paul. By the end of the week of June 18, the Millers stood atop the American Association with a record of 61-31 while their crosstown rival St. Paul Saints were in second-place at 53-36.