May 25, 1926 – George Uhle Walks Off His Own 11 Inning Complete Game
George “Bull” Uhle was the most dominant pitcher of 1926. 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 was given a spot on the pitching staff, and developed his game throughout the 1920s, including pitching in the 1920 World Series. A ligament ailment set him back a bit in the early 20s, but the 1926 was his high water mark.
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. The starting pitchers battled through the first six innings, until the Tribe broke through against Zachary. In the bottom of the 6th Luke Sewell led off with a single to right field. Batting 9th, Uhle singled to center advancing Sewell to third base.
Charlie Jamieson and Freddy Spurgeon reached on consecutive errors by Browns second basemen 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 8th, Pinky Hargrave knocked a two-run home run into the League Park seats, bringing the Browns within one run. In the top of the 9th, Gene Robertson pinch hit for Zachary and 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 9th. The Indians threatened, but left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.
Uhle only seemed to get stronger as the day went on. He retired the side in order in both the 10th and 11th innings, reaching a season-high strikeout total of 10. In the bottom of the 11th, with Luke Sewell on second, Uhle stepped to the plate to help out his own cause. His walkoff home run 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. He eventually returned to the Cleveland area, living in Lakewood until he passed away in 1985.