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Happy Anniversary, Merkle's Boner!

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on Sep 23, 2008 8:00PM

2008_09_23_merkle.jpgIt's not every day I get to use the word "boner" in a headline (and legitimately, at that). But today marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Merkle's Boner, a mistake made by N.Y. Giants first baseman Fred Merkle during a game against the Cubs and was eventually responsible for the Cubs winning the National League pennant (and, later, their last World Series).

With the season winding down, the Cubs and Giants were tied 1-1 in the ninth inning of a game at the Polo Grounds.

Merkle, only 19, was on first base after hitting a single, and teammate Moose McCormick was on third. With two outs, Al Bridwell singled to center to drive in McCormick with the apparent winning run.

As Giants fans mobbed the field, Merkle headed for the safety of the clubhouse. But Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers noticed Merkle had left the field without touching second base, though it really should not have mattered, as the forceout rule usually wasn't enforced on game-winning hits in those days.

On this day, however, it was. Amid the chaos, Evers convinced umpire Hank O'Day to call Merkle out on a force play, thus nullifying the winning run.

With Giants fans all over the field, the game couldn't be continued and was declared a tie, a ruling upheld by then-NL President Henry Pulliam. As a result, the teams played a make-up game on October 8 that year, a game that also would decide who won the pennant. The Cubs won 4-2 and went on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. While accounts still vary as to what actually happened, and Merkle himself always contended that he touched second, history has set legend in stone.

If you really feel like celebrating (and with the Cubs heading towards the playoffs, who wouldnt?), head over to Merkle's Bar and Grill (3516 N. Clark) tonight at 7 p.m. for a special Merkle Day celebration. Let the exorcising begin, Cubs fans.