May 25, 1926 – George Uhle Walks Off His Own 11 Inning Complete Game
George “Bull” Uhle was the most dominant pitcher of 1926. Uhle was a native Clevelander and graduate of West High School. As a teenager, he played in the semi-pro industrial leagues around Cleveland, eventually landing a spot on the Standard Parts team, and a lucrative manufacturing job with Standard.
In 1919, Uhle reported to Indians Spring Training in New Orleans with a stipulation in his contract that he could not be sent to the minor leagues. He was resolved to return to Cleveland either on the roster or to his job. He later said. “If I wasn’t good enough for the majors, I wanted my release. I figured I could do better working at Standard Parts.”
Uhle earned a spot on the pitching staff, and developed his game throughout the 1920’s, including pitching in the 1920 World Series. A ligament ailment set him back a bit in the early half of the decade, but by 1926 he was hitting his stride.
The St. Louis Browns were at League Park (then called Dunn Field after owner Sunny Jim Dunn) for a Tuesday afternoon contest. George Uhle was matched up with Tom Zachary of the Browns.
Harry Rice led off the game for St. Louis with a double into left field. After two outs, Ken Williams doubled into left. Rice scored easily and put the Browns up 1-0 in the early going.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Indians got on the board when George Burns dropped a double into right and then was driven in by a Homer Summa single to tie the game.
The starting pitchers battled through the first six innings, until the Tribe broke through against Zachary. In the bottom of the sixth Luke Sewell led off with a single into right field. Batting at the bottom of the order, Uhle singled to center, advancing Sewell to third base.
Charlie Jamieson and Freddy Spurgeon reached on consecutive errors by Browns second baseman Ski Mellilo. Tris Speaker scored Uhle on a fielder’s choice. Joe Sewell walked, and then Jamieson scored on a sacrifice fly by George Burns, bringing the score to 4-1 Indians.
In the top of the eighth inning, Pinky Hargrave knocked a two-run home run into the League Park seats, bringing the Browns within one run.
Gene Robertson pinch hit for Zachary in the top of the ninth inning. He drove a triple to the center field wall. Robertson scored on a throwing error to tie the game.
Win Ballou came in to pitch for the Browns in the bottom of the ninth. The Indians threatened, but left the bases loaded to send the game to extra frames.
Uhle only seemed to get stronger as the day went on. He retired the side in order in both the tenth and eleventh innings. Uhle achieved his season-high strikeout total with ten.
In the bottom of the eleventh, Homer Summa drew a walk to lead things off. Rube Lutzke dropped a bunt down the first base line which moved Summa over to second. Luke Sewell knocked a single into right field. Brown’s outfielder Harry Rice fielded the ball and fired home. He gunned down Summa for the second out of the inning while Sewell advanced to second.
Uhle stepped to the plate looking to help out his own cause. The Bull blasted a walk-off home run over the tall right field wall at League Park. He sealed the win for the Indians and the best outing of his career.
Solid hitting was not unusual for Uhle, whose .289 career batting average is the highest for any pitcher (playing only as a pitcher). After four years with the Tigers, Uhle spent a few years as a player-coach in various organizations. After baseball, he returned once again to the Cleveland area. He lived in Lakewood until he passed away in 1985.