The Snodgrass Muff
There’s Something About That Name
Five years after Fred Merkle committed his boner, which ultimately led to the New York Giants losing the National League pennant, another Fred was busy at work muffing another play for the Giants. In the early 20th century, the Giants seemed to have bad luck with guys named Fred. First, there was Merkle and then there was Fred Snodgrass of the Snodgrass Muff. Snodgrass would commit his error on an even bigger stage, the 1912 World Series.
Calling Mr. Snodgrass
So, who is Fred Snodgrass? He was a regular in the Giants outfield from 1910 through the 1914 season. He had good speed on the base paths and stole a career-high, 51 in 1911. Snodgrass wasn’t the best on the club, but he was a solid contributor on a Giants team that won three straight pennants from 1911-1913. As with Merkle, Snodgrass would go on to commit an untimely error that would haunt him for the rest of his life and beyond.
So What Did Fred Do
A Brief Reminder of Technology
Back in 1912 stadiums didn’t have lights. No lights mean, of course, no baseball at night.
Back To What Fred Did
It was the eighth game of the World Series–
“Wait a second, game eight? What’s the meaning of this?”
Way back in game two, after the eleventh inning, the Boston Red Sox and Giants were tied 6 to 6. Darkness was descending on Boston. The umpire deemed it too dark to continue. Tie ball game. It was decided that if necessary an eighth game would be played. It ended up being necessary.
“Oh, okay, got it, continue please.”
Back to Game Eight…
Christy Mathewson was on the hill for the Giants. New York took a 1 to 0 lead into the seventh. Then Boston tied it up. They stayed tied until the tenth, when Fred Merkle, yes that Fred Merkle, singled to drive in the go-ahead run.
Just three more outs and the championship would belong to New York. Clyde Engle, a pinch hitter for the Red Sox, led off the bottom of the tenth. He hit a high fly ball to left-center field where Snodgrass was playing.
The Murderer is Hiding Behind the Door
This is that moment in the horror movie when you start yelling at the screen, “no, don’t go in there, don’t do it!” But, because the unsuspecting teenager can’t hear you, they enter the room and are never seen alive again. Fred is about to walk into a room where the murderer is hiding behind the door.
Back to Game Eight…
The ball was soaring through the air. Snodgrass, being the center fielder and having the right to call off the other outfielders, called off Red Murray in left. Oh, Fred, if only you hadn’t waved Murray off, but you did.
And then he dropped the ball.
Sure, on the very next play, Snodgrass made an amazing catch, but that’s not what is remembered. What is remembered is that the runner that reached because of Snodgrass’ muff, Engle, was driven in by Tris Speaker for the tying run. Then Boston won the game, and the World Series, on a sacrifice fly.
A Tale of Two Freds
And with this closes the second blunder by a couple of Giants’ Freds. Sure, Fred Snodgrass would go on to amass great wealth as a banker, and would even become mayor of Oxnard, California, but it was the eighth game of the 1912 World Series that he would always be remembered for. When Fred died sixty-two years after the fateful muff, even The New York Times wouldn’t give him a break. His obituary in The Times was titled, Fred Snodgrass, 86, Dead; Ball Player Muffed 1912 Fly.
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