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January 1, 1897: Monty Swartz

If ever there was a player who got his money's worth in his one career game, it was Monty Swartz. Perhaps nobody got more of a chance within their single appearance on a big-league ball field than him. Just one year removed from having won the controversial 1919 World Series, which the heavily-favored Chicago White Sox threw for crooked bettors, the Cincinnati Reds needed pitching help during the 1920 season.

Swartz, a 23-year-old Ohio native fit the mold of what they were looking for. "Dazzy" Swartz got his shot with the club on October 3, 1920. On the penultimate day of the MLB regular season, Swartz was handed the ball to face the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. Though the Reds were well above .500 at 82-70 entering play, both teams had long ago been eliminated from pennant contention.

Objective No. 1 for Swartz was to eat innings and eat innings he did. His Reds got him a run of insurance in the bottom of the first inning, but he gave it right back when he allowed a single run to tie the score in the top of the second. Facing a lineup that contained legendary slugger Rogers Hornsby, Swartz allowed another run in the fourth inning, which gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead. Still, through four innings he had allowed just two runs and showed no signs of slowing down.

The Reds got two back in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead and as Swartz continued to mow down the St. Louis lineup, it looked as if his MLB debut was going to be a complete game win. The Cardinals still trailed by one in the top of the ninth inning, but were able to scratch across a run to tie the score. With Cincinnati failing to score in the bottom half, the game headed to extras and nobody was warming up in the Cincy bullpen.

Swartz was handed the ball once again going into extras and in the 10th and 11th, he set the St. Louis lineup down easily. He was sure his offense would end the game in one of those two innings, but two straight times up, they failed to score. Finally, the floodgates opened in the 12th, when Swartz, clearly fatigued, allowed three runs, giving the Cardinals a 6-3 lead. With the Reds unable to score once again in the bottom half, Swartz was tagged with a loss despite spinning eight great innings, before blowing the lead in the ninth and collapsing in the 12th. His final stat line: 12 IP, 17 hits, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

Surely, being a workhorse for a Reds team that so desperately needed it would earn him another shot. That seemed to be conventional wisdom, but by 1921, Swartz was in Salt Lake City playing for the Bees of the Pacific Coast League. He split time between there and the Seattle Rainiers. He played consistently at least at the Class-B level for the next seven seasons in leagues like the PCL, the Sally League, Southern Association, International League, and New York-Pennsylvania League. However, he never earned another shot at the majors.

Once pitching in the game that seemed like it would never end, Swartz couldn't have imagined that when he walked off that mound that October day in Cincinnati, it would be the last time he would throw a pitch at baseball's highest level. "Dazzy" as his teammates called him, retired from professional baseball after the 1927 season and lived to be 83 years old, passing away in 1980 in Germantown, Ohio, just five miles from where he was born in Farmersville.


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