October 2, 1921: Jim Mahady
In a late regular-season game 98 years ago today, Jim Mahady got into a game for the New York Giants against the crosstown rival Brooklyn Robins. In front of 15,000 fans at Ebbets Field, The Robins knocked off the Giants 7-4, though the Giants were well on their way to a National League pennant with a 94-59 record on the last day of the season.
The Giants' next game would come three days later against another crosstown foe, the New York Yankees, at the Polo Grounds in the 1921 World Series. It was Babe Ruth's second full season in pinstripes, but the Giants would win the best-of-nine series, 5-3. All Mahady could do was think about whether or not he would get another chance to play in the majors.
"Play" is a strong word for what he did on that early Fall afternoon in 1921. Late in the game, Mahady replaced starting second baseman Johnny Rawlings in the field. No, Rawlings would not go on to found the Rawlings sporting goods empire, but he did interestingly end up coaching a series of professional women's baseball teams in the All-Girls Professional Baseball League including the Grand Rapids Chicks from 1946-50, Peoria Redwings in 1951, and the Rockford Peaches in 1953-54. He won the league title with the Chicks in 1947, the same year Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier.
The man who replaced Rawlings in the field as a defensive replacement would get just a single chance to field a ball in a big-league game. Luckily, he handled that chance and thus, recorded the only stat of his career: one assist. Mahady had been subbed into the game too late and did not come up to bat. His career was remarkably similar to Moonlight Graham in that way. Another sub for the Giants in that game was Casey Stengel, who would go on to have one of the most notable managerial careers in the game's history, winning 1,905 games with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Bees/Braves, New York Yankees, and New York Mets. In 25 seasons, he won 10 pennants and seven World Series.
And on one afternoon, he was playing right field behind a man named Jim Mahady, who was subbed in at second base. Mahady didn't get to play in a World Series game and had to wonder all offseason when his next shot might come. He didn't land anywhere in 1922 and then went on a tour around the country with various minor-league clubs.
Between 1923 and 1928, he played for eight different teams. Unbelievably, he didn't extend his playing career by six years at second base, where he had appeared in his only major-league game. His six seasons in professional ball were spent on the mound. Spread across six seasons, he went 69-50. After 1928, he called it quits and fully returned to civilian life.
In 1930, controversy struck. The 5' 11" 170-pound former hurler had too much to drink and got behind the wheel of his car anyway. Predictably, he lost control of his vehicle while he drove it intoxicated and he struck and killed a woman. Mahady was charged with second-degree manslaughter, but only served three years of his sentence. Herbert H. Lehman, the governor of New York, commuted the former ballplayer's sentence in 1933.
Just two years later, Mahady was dead. With all the admiration he could have had as a former ballplayer, his drinking-and-driving incident rightfully turned him into a bit of a recluse. On August 9, 1936 in the same town he was born in -- Cortland, New York -- Mahady died, merely a footnote in baseball's long and storied history.