In 1905 a brash young outfielder came up to the Detroit Tigers from Augusta of the South Atlantic League and proceeded to stand the American League on its head. Twenty years later, when it might be supposed that his efforts would be confined to occasional pinch-hitting chores and advice to nonhitting rookies, he set a modern record for total bases in a ball game.
It wasn't particularly out of character because the player was T. Raymond Cobb.
On Tuesday, May 5, 1925 the Tigers took on the St. Louis Browns, who still retained some of the glory of their great 1922 team.
Joe Bush for the Browns and Hubert (Dutch) Leonard for the Tigers were the starting pitchers in a game that was to see 22 runs scored and 31 base hits against the inept tossing of nine hurlers, six of whom toiled for Player-Manager Sisler's St. Louis club.
Detroit was off with a three-run burst in the first frame that included Player-Manager Cobb's first homer of the afternoon. There is no doubt that he trotted out to his center-field position with the happy feeling that he and his team had made an auspicious start towards a pleasant afternoon.
But the Browns weren't ready to call it a day and tore into Leonard for four runs and a one-run lead. Girding up his ancient loins, Ty led his forces in a counterattack in the second frame to knock out Bush and batter his successor, Elam Vangilder, for five runs, including Cobb's second homer.
The Tigers scored once in the third, and again in the fourth, while Leonard had steadied to hold the enemy at bay. In the fifth the Browns proceeded to bash Leonard with giddy abandon. Dutch went; Holloway came, walked a man and departed in favor of Wells, who finally got things under control. The damage was four runs, and Detroit's lead had shrunk to 10-8. They increased this to 11-8 with a run in the sixth.
Cobb, since his second homer, had lashed out two singles and one double. He strode to the plate in the eighth inning, had himself a look at Pitcher Gaston's wares, picked out one to his liking and whaled it into the stands for his third round-tripper of the game.
With the aid of another run in the ninth and Wells's shutout hurling, the Tigers closed it out for a 14-8 victory, and the press box statisticians totted up the figures.
In addition to the 12 bases on his three homers, the 39-year-old Georgia Peach had two singles and one double for six hits in six times up, four runs scored, and 16 total bases. This constituted a modern record for total bases in a ball game, for Lowe and Delahanty had hit their four homers and one single (17 bases) in 1894 and 1896 respectively, in the ancient days of the game.