August 22 brings us some interesting and notable home run tails:
August 22, 1886: Under the subject that reality is better than fiction, I’ll let “Redleg Journal” by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder tell the story:
“In a game at Louisville, a dog attacks Reds outfielder Abner Powell. In the 11th inning with the score tied 3-3, Louisville’s Chicken Wolf hit a drive into the outfield which awakened a pooch sleeping near the fence. As Powell chased the ball down, the mutt clamped his jaw on the outfielder’s pants. Before Powell could free himself, Wolf circled the bases. Louisville added another run in the inning for a 5-3 victory.”
Can you imagine the pre-game grounds rule meeting with the umpires? “As for the dog…”
Well, this game was the last day that the 1886 Cincinnati Red Stockings saw .500 as they ended the day 51-51 before ending the season in fifth place with a 65-73 record. It was the only year they had a losing season playing in the American Association (1882-89). Manager Ollie Caylor had led the Red Stockings to a second place finish in 1885, but the losing season cost him his job.
Abner Powell only played 19 games for the Red Stockings. He was a substitute outfielder and starting pitcher. He batted .230 and was 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA. The Red Stockings’ Tony “Apollo of the Box” Mullane posted the fifth highest single season wins total in 1886, while also setting the single season record for losses as he went 33-27 with a 3.70 ERA. Bid McPhee scored 139 runs in 140 games played that season.
As for the unusually named player, Chicken Wolf, Wolf never played for the Red Stockings but was one of the best players in the AA. He is the only player that played in every season of the American Association’s major league existence (1882-1891). He led the AA in 1890 with 193 hits, 260 total bases, and a .363 batting average. His Louisville Colonels team on this day was in second place with a 60-40 record. However, they collapsed, going 6-30 the rest of the way, including a 13 game losing streak. They finished in fourth place.
August 22, 1959: Redlegs first baseman Frank “The Judge” Robinson erupts for three home runs and six runs batted in as the Redlegs beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-4. Robinson connected in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings of the game. For the year, Robinson batted .311 with 36 homers and 125 rbi. Robinson had 586 career home runs with 324 coming with the Reds. He batted .309 in 10 years with the Reds. The 1959 Redlegs team finished the season 74-80 in fifth place of eight teams.
August 22, 1979: Speaking of Robinson’s 324 home runs, on August 22, 1979, Johnny “Little General” Bench connects for his 325th career home run to break Robinson’s team record. The home run came Montreal Expos pitcher Stan Bahnsen and kept the Reds 1 1/2 games out of first place behind the Houston Astros. It was the Reds’ second consecutive win, but part of an eight game win streak that would propel the Reds into first place in the National League’s Western Division. The Reds would eventually be swept in the in the National League championship series by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bench would finish this season batting .276 with 22 homers and 80 rbi. He retired following the 1983 season with a Reds record 389 career home runs.