Baseball History: Fred Tenney

Fred Tenney

T-206 Card of Fred Tenney

Fred Tenney missed one game for the New York Giants in 1908.

At 36, the first baseman was nearing the end of his 17-year career when he was part of an eight-player deal that had him going to the Giants prior to the 1908 season.

For the Giants in 1908, Tenney was at the top of the National League in runs scored with 101. He was third in games played with 156. His teammate Art Devlin and Chicago’s Joe Tinker played in 157 with an extra contest scheduled to break a tie in the standings at the end of the regular season.

The Chicago Cubs won that extra game 4-2 over the Giants to win the National League pennant. Chicago went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers four games to one to win the World Series in what has turned out to be at this point the last championship for the Cubs.

Tenney was a valuable player for the Giants as they competed for the NL crown. However, it is the one game that he didn’t play that has become part of baseball lore.

According to several different sources, Tenney was having back problems and wasn’t in the lineup when the Cubs visited the Giants on Sept. 23.

While Wally Pipp had Lou Gehrig replace him at first base in 1925, Tenney had Fred Merkle.

Merkle had joined the Giants as an 18-year old in 1907 and played in 15 games. In 1908, he was in 38. The game that everyone remembers is the one on Sept. 23.

In what has become known as “Merkle’s Boner” the game that day ended in a 1-1 tie, which meant the contest would have to be replayed if needed. Merkle was on first base when a teammate got a hit to score what was thought to be the game-winning run.

Merkle failed to touch second base and was eventually called out on a force play at second. The winning run didn’t count and as a result, the Giants and Cubs were destined to meet for the right to go to the World Series.

Tenney had been with Boston from 1894 to 1907 and after spending 1908 and 1909 with New York, he finished with Boston in 1911.

Merkle played 16 years in the big leagues. He was with the Giants from 1907 to 1916. He was traded to Brooklyn in 1916. Ironically in 1917, he was purchased by the Cubs and played in Chicago until 1920. He finished his career with the New York Yankees in 1925-1926.

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