May 11, 1930 – Blue Laws Force Series Shift to League Park
This is the first game played in League Park in the series, but it did not take place on a traditional homestand.
In 1930, the Indians were scheduled to play a Friday to Monday series against the Philadelphia Athletics. Pennsylvania had banned professional sports on Sunday since 1794 when the Pennsylvania Assembly passed “an Act for the prevention of vice and immorality, and of unlawful gaming, and to restrain disorderly sports and dissipation.”
Pennsylvania was founded by the Quakers, who considered any form of paid work on Sunday to be immoral.
In 1926, the Pennsylvania attorney general brought suit against the As for violating the prohibition of Sunday baseball. In 1927 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled, by a vote of 7 to 2, that Sunday Baseball was both “unholy” and “worldly employment”.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, several states and municipalities relaxed their blue laws to allow Sunday baseball. Apparently in this confusing environment of referendums, court cases, and changing social mores, the American League scheduled a weekend series in Philadelphia.
The Court had threatened the As, that if the they continued to play on Sunday, the team’s incorporation would be revoked. Therefore, to avoid any additional trouble, the A’s and Indians boarded a train after Saturday afternoon’s contest and took an overnight trip to Cleveland where Sunday baseball had been legalized in 1918.
The A’s were reigning champs, having been rebuilt throughout the 20s by legendary manager Connie Mack. An overflow crowd of over 28,000 came to League Park to see the A’s and their star players. When the grandstands were full, people were seated on the field down the foul lines. Manager Roger Peckinpaugh, seeing the unique conditions directed the Indians to try to push balls down the foul line and force ground-rule doubles.
The Indians delivered, batting around the order in both the 4th and 9th innings. Over the course of the game, they hit nine ground-rule doubles, as balls driven down the line would disappear into the crowd seated on the field. A’s rookie Al Mahon gave up eight runs in two innings and never pitched in the majors again.
Indians right fielder Bibb Falk had one of the Indians all-time stat lines with 5 hits, 5 runs scored, and 5 RBI in 5 at bats.
Pennsylvania eventually allowed local municipalities to vote on Sunday sports restrictions in 1933, and Sunday baseball was legalized in Philadelphia shortly after. For much more on blue laws and baseball history, I recommend this Liberty Magazine article The Battle for Sunday Baseball.
Honorable Mention: May 11, 1964 – One of two Indians wins credited to Tommy John who was developed through the minors by the Tribe. John would later have surgery to replace his torn ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from his other forearm. The surgery revived John’s career and the careers of many MLB pitchers.