Norman "Tony" Boeckel 1922 baseball card
August 25, 1892|
|Died: February 16, 1924
La Jolla, California
|July 23, 1917, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 6, 1923, for the Boston Braves|
Norman Doxie "Tony" Boeckel (August 25, 1892 – February 16, 1924) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) infielder who played six seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Braves of the National League (NL). He drove in one of the runs scored in a 1–1 tie game on May 1, 1920 that lasted a record-breaking 26 innings. Boeckel was an active MLB player when he was killed in an automobile accident.
Boeckel was born in 1892 in Los Angeles. He played minor league baseball for several teams before his MLB career. Boeckel's minor league career began with the Stockton Producers of the California State League. He split the 1914 season between Stockton and the Tacoma Tigers of the Northwestern League. He moved to another Northwestern League team, the Great Falls Electrics, for 1916 and part of 1917. Boeckel's minor league statistics are only complete for 1913, when he hit for a .268 batting average in 115 games and committed 49 errors in 579 total chances.
Major league career
In 1917, Boeckel made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. During his first game, he had to be carried off the field due to heat prostration. He returned to the field two days later and was struck in the head by a line drive. The head wound required several stitches and he missed another week of play. He played in 65 games for Pittsburgh that year, hitting .265 and tallying 23 runs batted in (RBI).
Before the 1918 season, Boeckel lost 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Pittsburgh manager Hugo Bezdek was pleased and said that Boeckel's weight had been an impediment the previous year. However, Boeckel missed the season after enlisting in the navy. Pittsburgh acquired third baseman Walter Barbare in 1919, so the team placed Boeckel on waivers early in the season. He was obtained off waivers by the Boston Braves. Between the two teams, Boeckel appeared in 140 games that season. He was one of three NL players to reach that number of games played.
In 1920, Boeckel had eleven at bats in the record-breaking 26-inning game between the Braves and the Brooklyn Dodgers. His sixth-inning single accounted for Boston's only RBI and the game was later declared a tie when it became too dark to continue.
Boeckel reached career highs in several offensive categories in 1921. He batted .313 with 10 home runs and 84 RBI. He also registered 20 stolen bases, nearly matching his career high of 21 steals. In 1922, Boeckel struggled with a toe injury. He aggravated the injury during the following preseason, but a newspaper report at the time called him "a mighty fine ball player when the veteran is right." A collegiate player named Arthur Conlon briefly challenged Boeckel for the third base position in 1923, but Conlon's play fizzled and Boeckel remained the starter.
Boeckel struggled at times with defensive mishaps. He led the league three times (1920, 1921 and 1923) in errors by a third baseman. Boeckel played with the Braves from 1919 to 1923; during those seasons, the team did not finish higher than fourth place in the league standings.
Braves club secretary Edwin L. Riley referred to Boeckel's death as a "real personal loss" and he indicated that Boeckel was also close to club president Christy Mathewson. The Braves wore mourning bands in 1924 to honor Boeckel. A bronze tablet at Braves Field was later dedicated to Boeckel's memory.
- "Tony Boeckel dies from auto injuries". The Delmarvia Star. February 17, 1924. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Tony Boeckel minor league statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
- "Boeckel hits hard luck at Pittsburg". Spokane Daily Chronicle. August 3, 1917. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Tony Boeckel statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "The sporting periscope". The Spokesman-Review. February 7, 1918. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Balinger, Edward (March 8, 1944). "The good old days". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Balinger, Edward (September 30, 1931). "Following the Bucs". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "1919 National League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Reighler, Joe; Olan, Ben (January 7, 1961). "Only 4,000 fans saw historic tie game". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Infield is Braves' hope declares veteran Evans". Evening Independent. March 27, 1923. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Huggins, Doc (February 22, 1924). "Sport pills". Evening Independent. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Atlanta Braves team history and encyclopedia". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
- "Tony Boeckel, third baseman for Braves, dies from injuries". Lewiston Daily Sun. February 18, 1924. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Mike Robbins. Ninety Feet from Fame: Close Calls With Baseball Immortality. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 173. ISBN 0-7867-1335-6.
- Huggins, Doc (March 1, 1924). "Sport pills". Evening Independent. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- "Hooks and slides". The Florence Times-News. July 9, 1931. Retrieved October 8, 2014.