Luque Loses His Cool

Luque Loses His Cool

May 28, 1921

Long before Joaquin Andujar and Oil Can Boyd were even born, Dolf Luque was the epitome of nastiness on the mound. Never one to back down from a fight, Luque was as hard to control as his wicked curveball was to hit.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Luque enjoyed moderate success in the big leagues, leading the NL with 27 wins in 1923.

But Luque’s success was frequently tempered by his inability to control his emotions. Early in his career, one of his teammates made the mistake of uttering derogatory comments about Luque’s Latin heritage. Enraged, Dolf hurled an ice-pick in his teammate’s direction. Luckily for his intended target, Luque did not throw a strike.

On May 28, 1921, Luque’s fiery disposition once again got the better of him and this time cost his Reds a victory. Locked in a pitcher’s duel with Whitey Glazner of the league-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, Luque found himself in trouble in the bottom of the eighth. The score was deadlocked at three as the Pirates’ Clyde Barnhart stood on second, representing the go-ahead run.

For some reason, Luque lost his cool and suddenly gunned the ball into his own team’s dugout. A surprised Barnhart broke towards third but was thrown out. Luque escaped the jam, and the game went to extra innings. In the tenth, Rube Marquard (who had a temper off his own) scored the winning run for the Reds off of Bucs’ reliever Babe Adams.

But the Pirates refused to go down without a fight. Rightly claiming the ball should have been called dead when it entered the Reds’ dugout, Pirates’ skipper George Gibson successfully protested the loss to NL President John A. Heydler. The game resumed on June 30 with the score tied at three in the eighth, and this time the Pirates won, 4-3.

Thanks in large part to Luque’s 19 losses that season, the Reds finished the year a distant sixth, 24 games out of first place. The Pirates, led by the potent hitting combination of shortstop Rabbit Maranville and second baseman George Cutshaw and the pitching of 22-game winner Wilbur Cooper, ended up in second place, four games behind the eventual World Champion New York Giants.

It was not the last time Luque’s volatile temperament cost his team. The following season, Luque started an all-out brawl between the Reds and Giants after hearing racial slurs emanating from the Giants’ dugout. The right-hander calmly walked off the mound and socked Giant bench-warmer Casey Stengel in the mouth — the only problem was that Bill Cunningham, seated next to Stengel, was the man responsible for the barrage of insults.

A brawl ensued and Luque was summarily ejected. But even before play could resume, Luque again found his way into the Giants’ dugout, where he menaced the New York players with a bat. Luque was immediately dragged from Crosley Field by a team of policemen.

Ironically, Luque’s only postseason win came 11 years later as a member of the Giants. Working in relief of Hal Schumacher, the 42-year-old Luque hurled 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Washington Senators, earning the win in the fifth and decisive game of the 1933 World Series.