Today, 108 years ago, the Detroit Tigers fielded mainly an amateur team against the Athletics in Philadelphia. Why? Continue reading and you’ll find out.
What was the reason, the Tigers refused to play? Well, in a game vs the Highlanders in New York a few days earlier, Cobb was heckled by a Highlander fan. He asked a police officer to remove the fan but his request was in vain. At some point, Cobb lost it and ran into the stands and beat up the fan who appeared to miss several fingers due to an accident.
As a coincidence, Ban Johnson, who was touring all American League ballparks, attended the game. Cobb was tossed from the game immediately and suspended indefinitely.
Cobb’s teammates rallied to his defense two days later in Philadelphia, sending Johnson a message that they would strike in protest.
“If the players cannot have protection, we must protect ourselves,” the Tigers wrote.
If the Tigers would not show up against the Philadelphia Athletics, they would be fined $5,000. Manager Hughie Jennings did not know what to do. The club would be fined if he did not field a team but he was not willing to send out his players. Tigers owner Frank Navin ordered Jennings to field a team. The solution came thanks to Philadelphia sportswriter. With his help, Jennings created a team that mainly contained amateurs of the St. Joseph’s College baseball team.
Allan Travers, the assistant manager of the St. Joseph’s College baseball team collected the players who would be paid $25,00. Travers would play right field himself but decided to pitch when he heard that he would receive $50,00.
Hughie Jennings did not field an all-amateur team. Jennings himself had a pinch-hit appearance (at the age of 43). Two of his coaches also stepped in. 48- year old Deacon McGuire, who had spent 25 years in the Majors, played catcher and 41-year old Joe Sugden played first base.
Travers would go the distance, giving up 24 runs, 14 earned runs, 26 hits, and seven walks, but did strike out one. The balance of power was clearly in the favor of the professional players of the Athletics as they beat the “Tigers” 24-2. This would be the only Major League outing for Travers.