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Lot # 1212 (of 1727)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

LOT WITHDRAWN - 1908 Chicago Cubs "Gill Game" Protest Affidavits related to "Merkle's Boner"

Starting Bid - $0, Sold For -

Please note: This lot has been withdrawn from the auction due to an issue relating to title.

Collection of four notarized affidavits relating to an official Chicago Cubs protest of a game they lost against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 4, 1908, signed, respectively, by Johnny Evers, Charles Fraser, Jimmy Slagle, and James Gilruth.

"Merkle's Boner" is unquestionably the most famous and controversial play in baseball history; however, if fate had been just a little bit more kind to Merkle, fans today might be talking about "Gill's Boner" instead. In 1908 the Giants lost a crucial September victory against the Chicago Cubs when nineteen-year-old first baseman Fred Merkle, as a runner at first base, failed to touch second on an apparent game-winning hit by Al Bridwell with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Since the umpires ruled that Merkle didn't touch second, he was ruled out on the force play and the winning run was negated, leaving the Giants with a tie instead of a victory. The play's significance was magnified when the two clubs finished in a tie for first place at the end of the season. Unfortunately for Merkle, the Giants lost the playoff game, and the pennant. Amazingly, the exact same play occurred nearly three weeks earlier on September 4, 1908, in a game between the Cubs and Pirates in Pittsburgh. The main culprit in that game was also a young first baseman, one by the name of Warren "Doc" Gill. In the game, which eerily foreshadowed the events of September 23rd, the Pirates and Cubs were deadlocked 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth in Pittsburgh. With the bases loaded and two out, Pirates outfielder Chief Wilson singled to center, driving in Fred Clarke from third. However, the runner on first, rookie first baseman Doc Gill, instead of running to second, proceeded towards the Pirates clubhouse, which was standard practice at the time. When Evers saw this he called for the ball, stepped on second base, and asked umpire Hank O’Day, who was working the game alone, to declare Gill out. O’Day (who was also the umpire in the "Merkle's Boner" game) refused to call Gill out, but according to the accounts of the day it is not entirely clear why he ruled as he did. Some reports say he was citing precedent by letting the run stand; other reports have him stating that he did not see whether or not Gill had touched second base, so he couldn’t call him out. The Cubs, of course, protested the game, as the rules clearly supported their claim: the run should not have counted.

The offered affidavits, each typed and dated September 9, 1908, are the official statements given by four witnesses to that play: three Chicago Cubs players and a Chicago sportswriter. These are the very statements that were submitted to National League president Harry Pulliam in support of the Cubs' protest (all four affidavits can be viewed on our website). The most significant of the four is that submitted by Johnny Evers, as he was the central figure in both this play and the subsequent "Merkle's Boner" play. The other three witnesses are center fielder Jimmy Slagle, who fielded the ball and threw it to Evers, Charles Fraser, a pitcher who was in the dugout at the time of the play, and James Gilruth, a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, who witnessed the play from the press box. Naturally, all of the sworn accounts corroborate either the fact that Gill did not run to second, or Evers recorded the force out. (The Evers and Fraser statements make note of both facts.) For some reason, both the Sleagle and Gilruth have a number of lines crossed out, indicating that after the affidavits were typed up they were either misquoted or they changed their minds regarding what they could honestly swear to. All of the signatures have been scripted in black fountain pen and grade "10." Each affidavit, typed on onion-skin paper, measures 8.5 x 13 inches and displays either five or six horizontal folds. All bear the signature and notary seal of "L. Getrude Smith." In Excellent condition overall. Total: 4 affidavits. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR


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