A very strange thing happened on this day: a baseball player on second base ran the wrong way and stole first.

On purpose.

This was the work of a player named William Herman Schaefer, but as the Chicago-born son of German immigrants, he was better known by his nickname of Germany Schaefer.

In the early days of Major League Baseball, Schaefer was a generally dependable middle infielder and a natural comedian.

During a game on a rainy day, he came to bat in a raincoat and rubber boots.

Another time he was thrown out of a game for wearing a giant fake mustache at home plate.

Players said he’d sometimes narrate his own trips around the basepaths, like an announcer calling a horse race.

Umpires didn’t exactly love Schaefer’s antics, but fans did.

So did his teammates, as Schaefer kept team spirits high.

And sometimes doing something really wild directly helped the team win.

On August 4th, 1911, in the ninth inning, Schaefer stole second base.

He was hoping that the opposing team’s catcher would try to throw him out, and give his teammate on third base, a chance to steal home and win the game.

The catcher didn’t fall for his strategy, so, Schaefer used another pitch to steal first, the base he’d just left.

Sadly, that didn’t work either.

But it did lead to the creation of what’s sometimes called the Germany Schaefer rule: runners who run the wrong way to try to trick the other team are automatically out.


Today in 1901, music legend Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans.

But if you want to take part in events to commemorate his birthday, you’re a month late.

Armstrong believed that his birthday was July 4th; the August 4th date wasn’t discovered during his lifetime.

But honestly, every day is a good day to hear some Louis Armstrong.

Germany Schaefer (Society for American Baseball Research)

FAQ (Louis Armstrong House via Archive.org)

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