Today, 103 years ago, the fastest game in professional baseball was played. And all this because both teams had to catch their trains.
On August 30, 1916, the Winston-Salem Twins and the Asheville Tourists played a nine-inning game at Riverside Park in just a bit more than half an hour, thirty-one minutes to be exact.
In one of the last games of the regular North Carolina State League season, the Winston-Salem Twins had their train, that would leave from Asheville at three o’clock, to catch. The problem was the game was scheduled at two o’clock.
Since the game didn’t matter anymore, both teams agreed on starting the game half an hour before the scheduled time and play it in a hurry. The pitchers would lob the ball over the plate, and the batters would swing at the first pitch no matter what. When those batters became runners, they ran until they touched the plate or were tagged out. The result? The game ended before the game was scheduled to begin (a 2-1 Twins victory).
Fun part is that the umpire only showed up in the fourth inning. The most unusual play of the game happened in the top of the third inning. Asheville pitcher Doc Lowe threw the ball before his catcher was behind the plate. The Twins’ batter singled to center field and tried to advance to second base when the oufielder’s throw was about to end in the visitor’s dugout. The Twins’ Frank Nesser, who was on deck, snagged the ball and threw out his teammate with a perfect throw to second base.
When the Tourists’ owner showed up at the appointed time and discovered that the game was just finished, he reprimanded the respective managers and offered a refund to ticket-holders, of whom many just arrived at the ballpark.