Fred Merkle made a base running blunder in what should have been the deciding game of the regular season in 1908. Just 19 at the time, Merkle singled to put runners on first and third in the bottom of the 9th against the Cubs. After the next batter singled to allow what was the winning run to score, Cubs 2B Johnny Evers appealed the play at second base knowing Merkle did not touch the base. There is a rule that requires all base runners who are forced into a base to arrive at the next base even if the result of the play ends the game. The fact that Merkle did not touch second allowed Evers to retrieve a ball and umpire Hank O'Day (HOF 2013) called him out. The home New York fans had run onto the field and there was no way to restore conditions to continue the game. In addition, darkness had set which forced the umpire to declare the game a tie. Because of the tie, the Giants and Cubs finished the season with an identical record. Had the Giants won the game in question, the Giants would have won the 1908 NL Pennant. Instead, they had to play a makeup game of the one that was scored a tie. The Cubs won the game and therefore, the Pennant and eventual World Series (over the Detroit Tigers).
Snodgrass was blamed for the 1912 World Series which went a total of 8 games against the AL Champion Boston Red Sox. The series, scheduled for 7 games, went to a deciding 8th game as one of the games was declared a tie due to darkness. The Giants had a 1 run lead in the bottom of the 10th inning and Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball which put the tying run on second base. The Red Sox took advantage of the opportunity though the game would have been tied already if not for a great diving catch by Snodgrass on the very next batter of the game. The Red Sox scored two runs in the inning and won the World Series on a walk-off.
It was this play that followed Fred Snodgrass for the rest of his life. His obituary in the New York Times said something along the lines, Fred Snodgrass dead, dropped fly ball in the World Series. He was a successful banker and politician in California and managed to live 86 years. Clearly a success story, he is the prime example of how one moment can define one's entire life.
What happened on this date 103 years ago could be defined as a precursor to what would haunt Snodgrass for the rest of his life. The Giants were holding onto a 1 run lead with 2 outs in the 9th inning and two Dodgers runners on. The Giants, who had a 1 1/2 game lead over the Cubs coming into the day's action, were holding onto a 3-2 when Jake Daubert hit a fly ball to Snodgrass which he dropped allowing the tying and winning runs to score and to steal the game for the Dodgers. Because the Cubs won both games of their double header, the Giants would fall into a virtual tie with the Cubs for 1st place in the NL. Of course, the Giants would end up winning the NL by 7 1/2 games over the Cubs so- unlike 1912- Snodgrass' dropped fly ball cost them only the game.
The usually fleet footed outfielder would play in three World Series for the Giants (1911-1913) including the one which included his infamous play. He spent parts of 9 seasons in the big leagues, with all but his last year and two months with the Giants. When he was released by the Giants in 1915, he was picked up by the defending World Series Champion Boston Braves. Of course, fans in Boston still remember the ball he dropped in the 1912 World Series. Because of that, he got a lot of support and it seemed to make a difference. Though he hit just .194 for the 1915 Giants, he would hit .278 in 23 games to finish the season. Ironically, just a year earlier- 1914- the Giants were playing a game against the Braves. When Snodgrass was hit by a pitch, he made a gesture to the Braves pitcher. The Braves pitcher mocked out Snodgrass for dropping the fly ball by imitating the play. When Snodgrass returned to the field, the Boston fans were nearing a riot with their actions causing Giants manager John McGraw to remove Snodgrass from the game for his safety. After he hit .249 for the Braves the next season, the Braves released him. He signed with the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League and hit .277 for the season. Though he had something left and was not yet 30, Snodgrass chose to retire from baseball after the 1917 season. He would pass away in 1974, over 61 years after the infamous "Muff."