Among the many things that makes the Red Sox great is how they connect you to baseball history. And that takes us to Massachusetts native John Phalen (“Stuffy”) McInnis on this day in Red Sox history, June 27, 1911.
McInnis, 20 years old and playing in his third season with the American League Philadelphia Athletics, was ready to lead off in the top of the seventh inning. Red Sox fielders were just taking their position.
As McInnis stepped into the batters box, Boston pitcher Ed Karger was warming up, lobbing balls to his catcher. McInnis casually stroked one of those warm up tosses deep into the outfield and started around the bases. Boston players weren’t even in position and, no doubt, caught off guard as the baseball bolted towards the wall. When they saw McInnis clearing the bases and heading home they realized it was a live play but not before McInnis collected an inside-the-park-home run.
Not surprisingly, Red Sox manager Patsy Donovan was not amused. He protested but player-turned-umpire (and later Brewers minor league manager and Red Sox scout) Jack Egan upheld the play and McInnis’ run counted.
How could this have happened?
Like today, in 1911 baseball was concerned about the length of the game. Measures were being proposed to shorten game time and one such idea, championed by AL president Ban Johnson, was to limit warm up pitches. Johnson said the pitcher had to be ready when the batter stepped into the box. As it turned out, the rule was short-lived, and soon, a full complement of warm-up pitches were allowed again, but on that day McInnis’ home run was left to stand.
Stuffy McInnis went on to play 9 years for the Athletics before spending 4 seasons with his hometown Red Sox, helping the 1918 Boston club to an AL pennant and World Series title. He also played for the Boston Braves, Cleveland Indians, and Pittsburgh Pirates before returning to where he started in Philadelphia, but this time with its National League club, the Phillies.
McInnis retired after 19 big league seasons with a .307 career batting average—and 20 home runs, including a very memorable on that day in Red Sox history.
RSNStats is grateful to Terry Walters for corrections to the original version of this post.