April 2020 Astonishing Tales Part II

Here is the rest of the amazing info on the 26 inning, Boston vs. Brooklyn, 1-1 tie between pitchers Leon Cadore of the Dodgers and Joe Oeschger back on May 1st, almost exactly 100 years ago now. Ten days prior to the marathon duel, Cadore topped Oeschger in an 11-inning, 1-0 shutout. On May Day, the two would toil all 26 innings only to wind up with no decisions.

Cadore pitched to 95 batters, less than four hitters each inning, and Oeschger did even better, facing only 90 men. Cadore set a record by registering 13 assist, more than any pitcher in a single game ever (his opponent racked up 11 assists). Oeschger established a new record by working 21 straight shutout innings in a game, one better than Cadore. One first baseman, Walter Holke was particularly busy with 32 putouts and an assist. Only three Dodgers reached as far as third base–the runner who scored and two men who were wiped out on double play action according to author Norman L. Macht.

Pitch counts were many decades in the future, but Cadore guessed that he threw nearly 300 pitches while Oeschger estimated he fired about 250 pitches! Plus, as mentioned in the last blog, the game ran under four hours at 3:50. Two men throwing that many pitches, two men throwing that many innings, and a game of that length running for that amount of time would be sheer impossibilities in today’s game. In short, this was one remarkable game.

It would not have been so memorable except for an error by Oeschger which allowed the Dodgers only run of the game to score. Take that away and Oeschger wins a 1-0 contest in nine innings and many entries in the record books would never have been written.

Macht wrote in the book The Ol’ Ball Game that when Cadore was being attended to by a doctor in 1958, the physician complained to him that he couldn’t locate a good vein for a needle. He said, “A man your age should have a vein sticking right out, especially in that right arm that pitched those 26 innings.” Cadore smiled and replied, “Doc, I pitched that game with my head.”

Cadore later stated that his arm was so sore he couldn’t even comb his hair for three days. Still, a week later he resumed his turn in the rotation. He also said the he had never before had a sore arm and that he never again came up sore. However, he added that he never again “had the same stuff.” In fact, he ended the season at 15-14 but his win totals over the next few years tapered off to 13, 8, 4, then zero. His career was over at the end of his winless 1924 season. He wound up with 68 wins, 72 losses, and one unforgettable no decision.

Oeschger’s career path was rather similar although after going 15-13 in 1920, he followed that up with a 20-win season. Then, however, he also hit the skids, winning only 6, 5, 4, then in his final season, one while wearing the uniform of the team he had baffled for 26 innings–Brooklyn. Like Cadore, he also wound up with a sub-.500 career mark at 82-116. Still, what he and Cadore did on May 1, 1920, forever remains etched in the record books.

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