Herd Chronicles: Bisons rack up 11 straight hits in one 'cyclonic scoring spree' in 1929

Herd beats Baltimore with historic inning 88 years ago

By Brian Frank of HerdChronicles.com / Buffalo Bisons | July 13, 2017 11:20 AM ET

This article is written by Brian Frank of HerdChronicles.com, a new website dedicated to some of the many great stories from the storied history of the Buffalo Bisons. Frank has done extensive research on the early days of the Bisons and shares tremendous stories about the team and baseball in the Queen City that are must reads for Buffalo sports fans. Follow them on twitter as well, @HerdChronicles

 

The Bisons struggled through the beginning of the 1929 season and by early July were stuck in seventh place in the International League standings. However, the Herd caught fire and entered their July 13 doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on an eight game winning streak. Buffalo's record setting offensive outburst that day is worth remembering almost nine decades later.

                 

Buffalo manager Bill Clymer sent Jesse Barnes to the Bison Stadium mound in the first game of the twin bill. Both Barnes and his mound opponent, Baltimore's Herm Holshouser, struggled early in the game. After Buffalo scored two runs in the first inning, Baltimore came back with five runs in the second and another three runs in the fifth. The Orioles offense was powered by sluggers Al Bool and George Loepp, who each had a pair of home runs to help chase Barnes from the game.

 

Things weren't looking good for the Bisons as they entered the bottom of the sixth inning trailing 8-2. Herm Holshouser, who had settled in after his shaky start, got Al Moore to fly out to left field to begin Buffalo's half of the sixth. But, it would be the last out Holshouser would record that afternoon, the Bisons began what W.S. Coughlin of the Courier-Express called a "cyclonic scoring spree."[1] Starting with the next batter, the Herd reeled off a remarkable streak of 11 straight hits off four different Baltimore hurlers.

 

Buffalo first baseman Clayton Sheedy started the onslaught, by beating out an infield single. After catcher John "Honey" Barnes singled, shortstop Jimmy Cooney brought home Sheedy, with a third straight single. Buck Elliot came up to pinch-hit for relief pitcher Hugh Buchanan, and he belted a three-run home run over the left field fence, to cut Baltimore's lead to 8-6, and give Buffalo their fourth consecutive hit.

Bisons leadoff hitter Ollie Sax then singled to knock Holshouser out of the game and bring in reliever Bonnie Hollingsworth. Herb Thomas greeted the new pitcher by reaching on an infield single for Buffalo's sixth straight hit. Cleanup hitter George "Showboat" Fisher followed with a booming RBI double to cut the lead to 8-7. Hollingsworth was then pulled in favor of lefty Fritz Columbe.

                

Center fielder Heinie Mueller promptly hit a two-run single, which gave Buffalo the lead 9-8. Al Moore, the only Bison who had made an out at that point in the inning, got in on the hit parade with a looper just out of the reach of Orioles shortstop Joe Benes. Moore's single was Buffalo's ninth straight hit, and caused Baltimore manager Fritz Maisel to bring in his fourth pitcher of the inning, right-hander Bill Clarkson.

                

Clarkson's first hitter was Clayton Sheedy, who rapped his second single of the inning, which scored Mueller and gave Buffalo a 10-8 lead. Honey Barnes came to the plate looking for his second hit of the inning, and "swished a ferocious triple to the scoreboard in centerfield," scoring two more runs.[2] Shortstop Jimmy Cooney followed by making just the second out of the inning with an RBI groundout to short, ending the Bisons streak of 11 consecutive hits.

                

However, the Herd weren't done rallying in the inning. After Bob Elliot walked, Ollie Sax beat out a grounder to third for his second hit of the inning, followed by Herb Thomas's second single of the frame, which plated Elliot and gave Buffalo a 14-8 lead. Showboat Fisher ended what W.S. Coughlin of the Courier-Express called "probably the most amazing inning of modern baseball at Bison Stadium," by grounding to the pitcher for the final out of the inning.[3] Buffalo had scored 12 runs in the frame, sending 17 batters to the plate, with everyone in the lineup scoring a run.

 

Buffalo continued to put runs on the board, and staged another rally in the eighth, when eight consecutive batters reached base. This barrage consisted of six straight hits, followed by a walk, and then another hit, to plate six more runs. The Bisons finished the game with 21 hits and nine walks, and won the nine inning game 20-9, for their ninth straight victory. The Herd also won game two of the twin bill, a seven inning affair, by a score of 4-1, behind a well-pitched game by Dick Bonnelly. The ten game winning streak and doubleheader sweep moved the Bisons from seventh place in the standings up to a three way tie for fourth, and put the Herd within a game of the .500 mark at 44 wins and 45 losses on the season.[4]

 

In the 140 year history of Bisons baseball, 11 consecutive hits is still believed to be the franchise record. According to the Buffalo Evening News in their edition following the game, 11 consecutive hits was a professional baseball record at the time, breaking the previous mark held by the St. Louis Cardinals, who recorded 10 straight hits on two separate occasions.[5] It took until July 30, 2010, for a major league team to get eleven hits in a row, when the Colorado Rockies achieved the feat against the Chicago Cubs. The fact that it took 134 years for a National League team to equal the Bisons streak, demonstrates how rare the accomplishment is.

                

The game was a microcosm of Buffalo's season, as the team continued to hit, but their pitching struggled. The Herd finished with 83 wins and 84 losses for a disappointing fifth place finish. Their season as a whole may not be that memorable in Buffalo baseball lore, but their amazing streak of consecutive hits on a July afternoon is one for the ages.

 

 

 

 

[1] W.S. Coughlin, "Terrific Outbreak of Hitting Routs Orioles; Bisons Rise in Race," Buffalo Courier-Express, July 14, 1929.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The Bisons split a doubleheader with the Orioles the next day, losing the first game, to end their winning streak at 10 games.

[5] "Bisons' 11 Straight Hits Smash Record," Buffalo Evening News, July 15, 1929. According to the article, the Cardinals had 10 straight hits on September 17, 1920 and June 12, 1922.

 

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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