Most Ridiculous MLB Game Ever is Played: This Day in Sports History

Brian Giuffra
Ty Cobb Batting
Ty Cobb Batting / Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

The idea of amateurs being pulled off the street at the last second to play an official MLB game seems ridiculous now, but on this day in 1912 that really happened.

The result? A fiasco on the field.

Two days after Tigers centerfielder Ty Cobb was ejected from a game for fighting a fan with no fingers and subsequently suspended, his teammates told their manager Hughie Jennings they were striking in protest and refused to play against the Philadelphia Athletics. The Tigers faced a $5,000 fine if they forfeited the game, so team owner Frank Navin told Jennings he had to field a team.

Who to turn to? Who will help? According to the New York Times, a local sportswriter named Joe Nolan and a college baseball coach named Allan Travers rounded up eight position players to field the team. They were paid $25 each. Two Tigers coaches rounded out the lineup.

Facing the defending World Series champion A's, the ragtag group of "players" were throttled 24-2. One of the replacements lost some teeth on a misplayed grounder. Another got plunked in the head when he dropped a fly ball in center. The team made nine errors. The game lasted only an hour and 45 minutes. No one died, which seems like a positive.

Cobb urged his teammates to end the strike after that game and they returned to play before anymore tomfoolery occurred. But we'll always have this moment when replacement players formed the first version of the "Bad News Bears" and played an MLB game that still counts in the official record books.