This Day in Baseball History: July 2nd, 1903

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On July 2, 1903:

Ed Delahanty dies in a mysterious accident.

Big Ed Delahanty was one of the premier hitters in the National League at the turn of the 20th century (more in the 1890’s). He was one of the few to hit 100 home runs. He was second to hit 4 home runs in a single game (all inside-the-park home runs — he was the first to do that). Delahanty is the only player in major league history to hit 4 home runs in one game and then hit 4 doubles in another. Any way you slice it, Delahanty was one of the best of his era.

Big Ed, however, had his problems. His wife had become ill, and because he spent money on horse racing and alcohol, the family had no money. Needing money desperately, he switched leagues (he had already done so in 1901 from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Washington Senators of the upstart American League) to the New York Giants, but because the leagues decided to honor each other’s contracts when they combined in 1903, the Giants had to revoke their contract and their $4,000 advance to Delahanty, forcing him back to the Senators who paid him $1,500-3,500 less depending on what story you’ve heard. Now even farther behind in debt, Delahanty went further into depression. The team sent him to a health spa to relax and recover, but when he came back, he feuded with his manager. While on a trip to Detroit, he abandoned the team. After that, the situation becomes murky.

Delahanty headed to New York, but no one knew why and some were concerned that he might kill himself. He boarded a train that would take him across Niagara Falls. Due to excessive drinking, smoking, breaking glass, and supposedly brandishing a straight razor, the conductor threw Delahanty off the train before the train crossed the bridge. Delahanty began moving across the bridge and fell to his death into Niagara Falls. But what happened from the train to his death? No one is sure.

One scenario says he just jumped. Depression and alcohol clouded his judgment, and he committed suicide. Another says that he, in a drunken stupor, simply fell off the bridge. A third says that he was attacked by a guard who was on the lookout for smugglers, and not in a condition to realize what was happening, Delahanty fought back and either was pushed off or ran away and off the bridge (the guard’s story). A final one believes that a robber took his money and clothes (he was found naked) and pushed him off the bridge. But no one will ever be sure what exactly happened to the Hall of Famer.

This is the official story.

Trivia Time
True or False. He is the only man to win a batting title in both leagues.

Tuesday’s Answer –> 13

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One Response to “This Day in Baseball History: July 2nd, 1903”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    True.

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