Welcome to Delahanty Day here at PSH. This is a good one. It comes to us from the Baseball Hall of Shame 3. There is no exact date on this one, but it supposedly happened in July of 1892. The following from the book.
It happened at the Huntington Grounds, where Philadelphia was playing host to Chicago. That stadium had one unique characteristic-a “doghouse”. It was a tiny structure with an oval topped doorway that made it look like it had been built for man’s best friend. The doghouse was situated at the base of the flagpole in right field and was used to store numbers for the scoreboard.
In the 8th inning of game the Phils led, 2-1, future Hall of Famer Cap Anson came to the plate. He hit a ball into right field that somehow got stuck in the doghouse. Big Ed tied to crawl in to retrieve the ball. Again from the book:
“From the grandstand, all that was visible was the rear elevation of his country seat,” wrote W.N. Pringle, a spectator whose account of the incredible incident was published 16 years later. “His heels were kicking in the air in a lively manner in his frantic efforts to extricate himself.
In the meantime, Mr. Anson was clearing the bases at a lively clip amid the greatest excitement I ever saw on a ballfield. I do not think there were a dozen people in that immense crowd who were not on their feet, laughing, cheering and yelling themselves hoarse, and throwing hats, canes, and umbrellas in the air.”
By the time teammate Sam Thompson helped Delahanty out of the doghouse, 3 runs had scored and the Cubs had taken a 4-2 lead. At least, that’s what the book (and presumably Mr. Pringle) would have us believe. However, the Phils won all their home games against the Cubs in 1892, with the Cubs never scoring 4 or more runs in Philly. And I can’t find any other mention of the story online. Is Big Ed getting a bum rap in an embarrassing story? As of press time, I have been unable to contact Mr. Pringle or anyone else who was at that game. If you know any Phillies fans from the 1890s, have them get a hold of me.
Ed Delahanty is one of my favorite Phillies to ever put on a uniform, as his skill was matched only by his insanity. A good example of the former came on July 13th, 1896. Big Ed and the Phillies faced the Chicago Cubs at the West Side Grounds (above.) This was the ballpark the Cubs would call home from 1893-1915, and was the last home they’d win a championship in (pretty incredible, but the Cubs have never won a World Series since they moved into Wrigley).
The facts about what Ed did are in question. There are some historians who claim he hit all inside the park home runs, while there are others who say that two of them cleared the wall. Nonetheless, there is no argument that he went 5 for 5 that day, with 4 home runs off Cubs pitcher Ned Garvin. He became the 2nd player to ever hit 4 homers in a game. The story goes that after hitting 3 homers, Cubs center fielder Bill Lange called time and backed all the way up to the center field wall, a full 560 feet away from home. It drew a laugh from the crowd, but it didn’t do the Cubs much good. Delahanty hit a gapper and rounded the bases. Of course, this being the Phillies, they still lost the game, 9-8. He would be the only player to hit 4 homers in a losing cause until 1986, when the Braves’ Bob Horner went yard 4 times in an 11-8 loss to the Expos.