The Most Unfortunate Boner

This article first appeared in the Platte County Landmark

Humans are stupid.

You know that, right? The human brain evolved from the size of a split pea. We should honestly be happy we don’t spend 80% of our day looking for our car keys. So why is it such a big deal when we screw up?

By now, you’ve seen the famous Oscars gaffe that temporarily handed the movie “La La Land” the Best Picture when the presenters were given the incorrect card. “Moonlight” was the appropriate winner. The mistake lasted a total of 90 seconds and people are treating it like is was the biggest blunder in history.

It wasn’t. It’s not a big deal. We’ve got the President of Typoistan in the White House right now. It’s time to cut everyone a little slack. Besides, this isn’t even the first time this has happened in a year! Steve Harvey perfected the dipsey-do whoopsie during the Miss Universe pageant in 2016.

In the pantheon of mistakes this doesn’t even rank in the top 10. The most famous of which belonged to Fred Merkle in 1908. Fred Merkle was a rookie for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cubs, Pirates, and New York Giants were in the midst of a pennant race. At age 19, Fred Merkle was asked to start his first game ever in a key September game with major playoff implications.

In a 1-1 game and with two outs, Merkle lined a single to right field in the bottom of the ninth. The hit pushed Moose McCormick to third and things were looking good for the Buccaneers. The next batter was Al Bridewell who laced a single to center field. McCormick scored and the fans spilled out onto the field celebrating the victory. Only Fred Merkle never actually reached second. He turned around after seeing the swarm and sought the relative safety of the dugout.

Johnny Evers, the Cubs second baseman knew the rules, however and asked for the ball. He tagged second base which made the force out at second base. A run cannot score on a force out to end the inning and it was taken off the board.

The field was unplayable and a protest was lodged with the National League. The game would be replayed two weeks later and the Cubs won handily 5-2 eliminating the Pirates from the playoffs.

The Merkle Boner was born.

Of all the gaffes you can possibly think of, having a boner named after you would certainly be the top of the list. The New York Times said Pirates lost due to “censurable stupidity on the part of the player Merkle.” He would live out his days with the nickname “Bonehead.”

So let’s cut the Oscars producers some slack. A mistake that lasts only a minute and a half certainly hadn’t raised to the level of boner. And it surely isn’t worth more than a day of talk.

Humans are stupid. We make mistakes. And I learned early on in life, thanks, in part to Fred Merkle, that mistakes happen. Luckily, you probably won’t screw up enough to have a boner named after you.

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