Once upon a time, about 100 years ago, the Chicago White Sox had an infielder named David Altizer. The White Sox had acquired Altizer’s services from the Cleveland Indians, and, playing in his first game against his former team, Altizer was anxious to do well.

The Tribe were leading 2-1 in the seventh inning. Altizer came to the plate with the bases empty and one out. He promptly singled, putting the potential tying run on base.

First baseman George Stovall held Altizer close to the bag as White Sox playing manager Billy Sullivan gave the hit and run sign.

Altizer took off for second base as the batter hit a vicious, low line drive right to first baseman Stovall, who caught the ball and stepped on the bag for an easy double play, ending the inning.

But this was 1909, when players still had fun playing the game.

Altizer was the only individual in the ball park who had no idea where the ball had been hit. It was a great situation that both teams took advantage of.

Chicago White Sox third base coach Nick Altrock, who had been around for a while, knew what to do.

Altrock yelled to Altizer to slide into second, which he did, since he was completely unaware that he had already been doubled off first.

Stovall heard Altrock shout, and immediately realized what was happening. He fired the ball to second, deliberately making a high throw that sailed over shortstop Terry Turner’s head.

Altrock was besides himself, but he controlled his laughter as he screamed to Altizer to go to third. Altizer got up and headed toward third carrying what he thought was the tying run.

Center fielder Joe Birmingham picked up Stovall’s “errant” throw and fired to third as Altizer slid into the bag. Third baseman Bill Bradley let the ball get by him.

“Home,” yelled Altrock, as Altizer once again took off.

Bradley retrieved the ball and fired home to catcher Nig Clarke, who had the ball in more than enough time to tag out the sliding Altizer, but Clarke deliberately missed the tag.

Umpire Billy Evans, who was the game’s only umpire, had followed Altizer around the bases, and was in perfect position to make the call at home plate. The crowd was in a frenzy.

Altizer picked himself up after touching home plate with a big grin, since he knew that he was safe, at least until Evans called him out.

Altizer screamed at Evans, imploring the veteran arbiter to change his decision, but it was no avail. Evan later said, amidst a sea of laughter, that under other conditions, he would have throw Altizer out on his ear.

There is no record of Altizer’s reaction when he discovered what had happened.


Evan, Billy. Baseball Digest . July, 1945, p. 12.

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