Feb 27, 2016

Old Time New York Giants Outfielder: Moose McCormick (1904 /1908 /1910-1911)

Harry Elwood McCormick was born on February 28, 1881 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned the name Moose due to his large size of 5’ 11” at a time when people were a lot smaller. He played both baseball & football in high school, starring in both sports. 

Moose attended Bucknell University in Central Pennsylvania, where he was a team mate of the great Christy Mathewson. There he played baseball as well as using his intelligence to earn an engineering degree. In 1903 he played in the Eastern league where he led the league in batting, hitting for a .362 average. 

The New York Giants bought his contract for 1904 & he played in right field batting .266 with five triples, nine doubles & 12 stolen bases in just 59 games. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates that summer in a three team deal that brought Turkey Mike Donlin to the Giants. After the season Moose stayed in Pittsburgh and worked in the Steel Mill industry for the next three years. He returned to baseball in 1908 with Philadelphia, but had his contract bought back by John McGraw & the New York Giants in July. 

There he joined his old Bucknell University team mate Christy Mathewson who won 37 games, as well as Turkey Mike Donlin who he was traded for in 1904, who hit .334 on a strong Giants team. This was the legendary baseball season of Crazy ’08 where the Chicago Cubs beat out the Giants in a wild pennant race, that included the classic Fred Merkle’s Boner game. 

On September 23rd, 1908 the Giants & the Chicago Cubs were tied for first place, going head to head in a highly anticipated game at the Polo Grounds. In the bottom of the 9th inning the score was tied 1-1 when Art Devlin singled with one out. Moose McCormick then hit a sharp grounder to second, but the double play could not be turned due to Devlin's aggressive slide. 

Next, came rookie FRed Merkle who had just 47 plate appearances all year, he then singled down the right field line. Short stop Al Bridwell then singled to center field, McCormick scored from third base in what was thought to be the game winning run. But, the runner on first base, Fred Merkle didn’t touch second base completing the play. He thought the game was won and began to exit the field after McCormick had crossed home plate. 


The Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers alerted the umpire, Hank O'Day, to what was happening. Evers retrieved a baseball & touched second base forcing out Merkle. There are many stories as to what baseball he actually had retrieved. Some stories say a fan picked up the original ball & was attacked by Cubs players, another story said the Giants had retrieved the ball & threw it into the stands. In any event, the same incident had happened weeks before & was common at the time. But the Cubs infielder Johnny Evers had warned the umpires he would insist the rule be enforced if it happened to him again, so the league was aware of it. 

McCormick’s run ended up not counting & the game officially ended in a tie. The two teams ended up in a tie at the end of the season. The Cubs beat the Giants in a one tie breaker in front of a very rowdy Polo Grounds. 

Moose returned in 1909 to play his Giants career 105 games. He hit .291 with 21 doubles, eight triples 27 RBIs 68 runs scored & 49 walks good enough for a .373 on base %. 


He would not play in the big leagues the next two seasons but returned  for the Giants 1912 & 1913 NL Championship seasons. By then he was just a part time player, batting .333 (13-39) with four doubles & 8 RBIs in 42 games in 1912. In 1913 he hit .275 (22-86) in 57 games driving in 15 runs. He got a hit in each of the two World Series playing in seven games overall, mostly being used as a pinch hitter. 

In his five season career he batted .285 with 356 hits 26 triples 62 doubles 6 HRs 133 RBIs & 30 stolen bases. 

Retirement: After his playing days he returned to Bucknell College & the US Military Academy as a baseball coach.

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