Baseball History: Zabel Set Relief Mark 100 Years Ago

George "Zip" Zabel

George “Zip” Zabel

Relief pitchers coming out the bullpen for more than a couple of innings is certainly a rare occurrence in today’s game, but 100 years ago working on the mound was very different.

Zip Zabel of the Chicago Cubs established a major league record in 1915 that will likely never be challenged as he ended up as the winning pitcher in a 4-3 victory in a 19-inning affair against Brooklyn at West Side Park.

The Chicago starter Bert Humphries had given up a run on three hits in the first inning against Brooklyn when Zabel was called into the contest with two outs. Humphries was injured when Zack Wheat hit the ball off him to single home the first run of the contest.

Zabel, who was 5-4 after the contest, worked 18 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

Jeff Pfeffer was Brooklyn’s starter and lost on an error in the bottom of the 19th as the winning run was scored on a bad throw by George Cutshaw. Pfeffer surrendered only two earned runs of the four he gave up on 13 hits to fall to 5-5 on the season. He had six strikeouts, but issued eight walks.

After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first, the Cubs rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the frame on run-scoring singles by Frank Schulte and Cy Williams.

Brooklyn tied the contest in the eighth when Hi Myers knocked in a run with a double.

The game remained 2-2 until the 15th inning when Brooklyn appeared to clinch the victory as Otto Miller‘s single produced a run.

The advantage didn’t last as Chicago’s Vic Saier pulled a solo homer to right to make it 3-3.

In the 19th, Bob Fisher led off with a single and he moved to second on a fly ball by Schulte that was caught by Casey Stengel. After a walk and another out, Williams hit a grounder to Cutshaw who threw high to first allowing Fisher to come home with the game-winner.

A right-hander from Kansas, George Washington “Zip” Zabel played three years in the major leagues with 1915 being his last season. He was 7-10 in his final year, while posting a 12-14 career mark with a 2.71 ERA.

Jeff Pfeffer

Jeff Pfeffer

A native of Illinois, Pfeffer had a 13-year career. He started with the St. Louis Browns in 1911. After a season in the minors, he joined Brooklyn in 1913. Pfeffer stayed with Brooklyn until he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1921.

Pfeffer ended his career in Pittsburgh after the 1924 season with a 158-112 record. In 1915, he was 19-14 after going 23-12 the season before.

Pfeffer’s best year was in 1916 when he was 25-12 as Brooklyn won the National League pennant, but lost to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. He appeared in three games in the series and lost the decisive fifth contest to Ernie Shore.

The right-hander also pitched in one game in the 1920 World Series as Brooklyn fell to the Cleveland Indians.


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