You know. Something to do, while we stare out the window and wait for spring.
I've apparently done 586 pieces for Da Box, and not even my biggest fan (do I have a fan? Oh, please!) would enjoy sorting through that many entries in search of... well, in search of anything. I myself will sometimes have a vague memory of something I wrote here once that I would like to refer to again and I always discover firsthand how little fun trying to find it can be.
This piece originally appeared on 22 March 2005 and if the readership has turned over as much as the Roster has since those days, I'm pretty confident this piece will indeed be new to many of you. Which almost makes it useful - after all, this opus does have much to do with my legend, such as it is. When people are making obscure remarks about me and the 1912 season, which I supposedly witnessed firsthand... this piece is why. And when they're cracking wise about the length of some of my offerings... again, this is why.
I do think on this occasion I'll provide some background.
Why 1912? The original idea came during the 1994 strike. Believe it or not, with no baseball being played, the radio station actually had Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth do broadcasts of fictional games. Presumably they got some table game, rolled the dice, got the results and had Tom and Jerry broadcast these made-up games. This really happened. I thought it was pretty silly, but I also thought that if you are going to do that, why not do a pretend broadcast of some famous game from the past? Some game that we don't have on film, that we don't have an audio recording of? Say, the final game of the 1926 World Series. Or (my particular choice) the final game of the 1912 World Series...
Why 1912? Well, as you'll discover if you read on, it truly was a classic, one of the greatest and most memorable games ever played. But there was also a kind of family connection. Veteran Bauxites may recollect that my son Liam has contributed the occasional piece here. Back in the early 1980s, before Liam was even a twinkle on our eye, Liam's mother mentioned that one of her relatives had apparently played for the Red Sox way back when. She didn't know much more than that. At the time she was mainly a football fan (I changed that soon enough, I promise you!). All she knew was that he was from New England and he'd apparently become a banker. But that was more than enough. Her last name is Carrigan, and Rough Bill Carrigan was of course the catcher (and later the manager) of the Red Sox for most of the first two decades of the 20th century. He was born, lived, and died in Lewiston Maine, and he spent his post-baseball life as a banker in Lewiston. All this was very suggestive. Then we tracked down a picture of Rough Bill, and he proved to be the absolute spitting image of her father, Liam's grandfather. A dead ringer - it was almost spooky. As it turns out, Rough Bill has a very minor role in this piece, but I'll want to salute his key defensive plays in Game 2 of the Series anyway...
So that's why 1912.... My original plan to write a play-by-play of the series finale eventually evolved into a deliberate attempt to review the entire 1912 season, in the spirit of Roger Angell's masterful New Yorker essays. Bill James may have had more to do with my understanding of the game, but Roger Angell is still my man, more than anyone else who has ever written about the game. No one writes about baseball better. His most casual descriptions of a player on the field are the purest gold...
Anyway, here 'tis....
The Year in Review: 1912
The spectacular World Series that just concluded with Boston coming from behind in the tenth inning to snatch the championship away from New York went a long way indeed to redeeming a season that had been, in all honesty, rather disappointing.
The Series, however, and the final game in particular, was filled with drama and tension to a degree that was - well, frankly it was excessive. It was as if all the excitement and pleasure that one normally derives in the course of the long season had instead been crammed into these eight unforgettable games.
AL President Ban Johnson quickly suspended Cobb indefinitely. The Tigers players showed a previously unsuspected solidarity with their fiery centre fielder, and protested his suspension by going out on strike. Johnson threatened Tigers owner Frank Navin with a $ 5,000 fine if he failed to field a team for Detroitís next game, that Saturday against Philadelphia. Manager Hugh Jennings accordingly rounded up some local amateurs and semi-pro players to take the field against the World Champion Aís. Unsurprisingly, they were thrashed by a 24-2 score. Two Tigers coaches, Joe Sugden and Jim McGuire, both in their 40s, suited up as well, and the two old coaches accounted for all the home sideís scoring.
Johnson met with the striking players the next day, and informed them that if they didnít play Sundayís game against Washington, they would never play in the American League again. Cobb himself urged them to return to action. And so they did. Cobb's intervention may be one of the reasons why his own suspension was rescinded just one week later. Cobb, in fact, escaped with a $50 fine - his teammates were each fined $100 for their show of support and one-day walkout.
There was other bad news. Cupid Childs, the outstanding second baseman for the Cleveland Spiders in the 1890s, passed away after a struggle with Bright's Disease. Childs was just 45 years old. Childs, Jesse Burkett, and Cy Young were the stars of one of the better National League teams of the day. Equally sad, although not all that surprising to those who remember him, was the death of former Giants pitcher Bugs Raymond at the age of 30. Raymond, who never let anything interfere with his taste for a drink, got into a scuffle with a man who walloped him over the head with a baseball hat.
The season seemed under some kind of awful shadow from the very beginning. Less than a week after Opening Day, the world received the stunning news of the Titanicís sinking, with the loss of more than 1500 lives. Obviously, nothing that happened on any field of play this summer is remotely significant in comparison. It is not the role of baseball to comfort us in our time of loss, nor to heal our wounds in our time of tragedy. Only the passage of time makes it possible for us to begin to bear the unbearable. The game is only a game. But the games go on because our lives go on, and the games matter to us because our lives matter to us. We will always mourn, and we will always remember, but we do the dead no honour if we forsake those things that bring purpose, or even simple pleasure, into our own lives.
Happily, there were some positive developments to report from the diamond this past year. The seasonís final contest was played in the one of the gameís three new parks, Bostonís marvellous Fenway Park close by the River Charles. The park, which seats 35,000 - three times as many as their old home on Huntington Avenue - has basically been built on a swamp, and the players report that that the tunnels and dugouts are wet at most times. A ten foot incline leads up to the left field wall, to the confusion of many an opposing outfielder. The wall itself is 25 feet high, presumably to spare the windows on Lansdowne Street.
While the Red Sox moved across town, Cincinnati and Detroit put up their new parks in the same spot where the old ones stood. The Reds have been playing at the site of an old brick yard at the corner of Findlay and Western since 1884; Redland Field is the third park built on the site. This one should last awhle. Similarly, the Detroit Tigers tore down Bennett Field, and built a new stadium at Michigan and Trumbull. They named it Navin Field after team president Frank Navin. These new facilities join the other recent concrete and steel ball parks that have appeared over the last three years, beginning with Philadelphia's Shibe Park in 1909. Charles Comiskey's new stadium in Chicago opened its doors in 1910, and League Park in Cleveland was renovated and rebuilt for the same season. Washington's National Stadium, rebuilt after last year's fire, saw its first full season of service this year.
More new parks are coming, and not a moment too soon. In Brooklyn, Charles Ebbetts began construction on a new stadium in Flatbush. The New York Highlanders are abandoning rickety old Hilltop Stadium; at the moment they have no plans to build their own park but will instead be moving into the Giants' home at the Polo Grounds. The Highlanders are also changing their name - in 1913, they will begin calling themselves the New York Yankees. It is not yet known if they will continue to wear the pinstripes they began modelling this past season.
This recent phenomena, by the way, of teams changing their nicknames every other year has become more than a little annoying. It goes beyond the Highlanders and Yankees. The Brooklyn Superbas have spent the past two years calling themselves the Brooklyn Dodgers - next year, they plan to resume playing under the Superbas moniker. The Cleveland Naps are looking around for an appropriate nickname for that inevitable day when Nap Lajoie is no longer the star and centre piece of the team. Most maddening of all is the case of Bostonís National League entry. This year, they began calling themselves the Boston Braves. That makes the fifth different team name in the last twelve years. They have been the Beaneaters, the Nationals, the Doves, and the Rustlers - we can only guess how long ďBravesĒ will stick.
At any rate, the Braves opened their year with the oldest player of them all, Cy Young, attending spring training and hoping to add to his all-time record of 511 career victories. But at age 44, Youngís arm did not come around, and he never did make it on to the Boston mound this year. In late May, he began warming up with the intention of coming into a game, only to discover that he had apparently used up all his thunder. He went home to his Ohio farm. He reported later that he attempted to pitch against some local semi-pros, and couldnít get them out either. His time had passed, but he wanted us to know that he had enjoyed it all while it lasted.
Another era ended in Chicago, in the very first week of the season. After two games, Cubs manager Frank Chance removed himself from the lineup. The famed double-play combination of Tinker, Evers, and Chance, the heart of the greatest baseball team most of us have ever seen, had played its last game together. More shocks were to follow. As the the final days of September approached with the Cubs fighting it out with Pittsburgh for second place, Chance was dismissed as manager. Before the year was out, Chance was preparing to manage New Yorkís Yankees, while Joe Tinker had been sold to Cincinnati. It was truly the end of an era. Cubs fans did enjoy the play of hard hitting third baseman Heinie Zimmerman, who led the league in numerous offensive categories, and may very well prove to be the leagueís next great offensive star. However, Wildfire Schulte, so outstanding in 1911, came crashing back to earth. More disturbing still, Mordecai Brown slumped to just 5 wins and is not expected to return. Johnny Evers will manage the Cubs next season, but it looks like their marvellous run over the last decade or so may be coming to an end.
Alas, the pennant races never did amount to much of anything. The two eventual champions asserted themselves early, and for the most part operated under no strain whatsoever. Most observers expected to see the Giants, Cubs, and Pirates fight it out again, as they have for each of the last ten years. No one would have been surprised to see the Giants back in the World Series this year, most likely in a rematch with last yearís champions from Philadelphia.
No one, however, could have foreseen the way the Giants came out and tore the league apart in May and June. The Giants ran off winning streaks of 14 games and 16 games; they went 20-4 in May, 22-4 in June and by the first of July they were 13 and a half games in front, and had an incredible 50-11 record. From that comfortable perch, they had a long and leisurely cruise to the pennant.
The fact that there were no real competition for this year's pennants may account for why attendance was down significantly this year, especially in the National League. There simply were no games played this year that had much relevance to the pennant race, and the fans, especially in St Louis and Philadelphia, simply found other things to do.
"No one throws harder than Smokey Joe Wood"
As always, however, there were players worthy of our attention. The Giantsí Christy Mathewson was his usual brilliant self. He won 23 games, making it ten consecutive seasons with more than 20 victories. He now has won more than 300 games in his career, and Cy Young's mark of 511 is still within his reach. Matty turned 32 in July, and needs 199 victories to catch Young. He will need to keep doing exactly what he has been doing until he turns 40.
Mathewson continues to be the most admirable and articulate of men, and in this day of Ty Cobb we need Mathewson more than ever. He added another string to his bow as he became an author this year, publishing a very interesting and informative book about pitching. "Pitching in a Pinch" gives its readers an explanation of how Mathewson throws each of his many pitches as well as his general philosophy of pitching, which we might crudely summarize as use your head and respond to the situation. Mathewson continues to evolve on the mound. He does not strike out nearly as many opposing hitters as he once did. His control, however, has gone from very good to impossibly good. This past year he issued a mere 34 bases on balls in more than 300 ininngs of work. No pitcher in the game is so stingy with the free pass.
Despite all this, Matty was very nearly overshadowed on his own team. Big Jeff Tesreau, a rookie spitballer, posted the best earned run average in the National League; lefty Rube Marquard won his first 19 decisions before losing a game, and finished with 26 wins all told. The Giants lineup had no single player as outstanding as Wagner or Zimmerman, with the possible exception of Laughing Larry Doyle. But it had no weaknesses. Everybody did everything, and did it well.
To their credit, the Cubs managed not to get too discouraged by the Giants enormous lead, and started to play very well indeed in July and August. They actually closed to within four games of the first-place Giants. But at that moment, in early September, they dropped five of six games and ended up falling all the way to third place, behind the Pirates and the incomparable Honus Wagner.
It was an interesting year in Pittsburgh. Wagner, at the age of 38, may no longer be the very best player in the game. He was still good enough, however, to hit .324 and drive in more runs than anyone else in the National League. Fred Clarke retired to the dugout after a superb career in the Pirates outfield; the Bucs also traded veteran Tommy Leach early in the season. However young Max Carey seems to be developing into a fine replacement for Clarke. And perhaps most inexplicable of all, Pittsburgh right fielder, Owen Wilson, hit 36 triples this past year. Thirty-six triples! Needless to say, this was a new single season record. The last man to hit as many as 30 triples in a season was Heinie Reitz back in 1894 for Ned Hanlon's old Baltimore Orioles. Wilson had hit just 37 triples in his previous three seasons combined, so his binge this year did come out of the blue.
What Wilson's barrage of three base hits really demonstrates is the profound influence a particular home park configuration can have upon the game, and upon the numbers that record what happened in the game. Twenty-four of Wilson's three baggers came in his home park, Forbes Field. Forbes Field, which may be the most impressive of all the new parks built in the last five years, is simply enormous in the outfield. The nearest fence, in left field, is 360 feet from home plate; the furthest reaches of centre field are 462 feet from home. At least four outfielders, each as fast as Cobb or Speaker, would be needed to defend such a wide expanse. In the meantime line drives roll and roll and roll, while the fielders run after them in vain pursuit. It's a different kind of ball game out there.
It was a year of upheaval in the American League. The new cork-centred baseball developed by Ben Shibe and introduced in the 1911 season clearly seems to have led to increased offense all around the game. Last year, both Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson (as a rookie!) hit better than .400; they were the first men to reach that level since 1901. Cobb repeated the feat this year. Scoring these last two years has been significantly higher in both leagues, but the American League has seen much the larger increase.
The Detroit Tigers crashed and burned, tumbling all the way to 6th place. Obviously, the Cobb business, with the suspension and walkout, didnít help. But it wasn't the problem. Cobb played in 140 of his teamís games this year, and played as brilliantly as ever. However, Cobb and Sam Crawford received little support from the rest of the lineup, and the two sluggers by themselves could not provide enough offense between them to carry a pitching staff that has grown old and mediocre and this year were finally unable to disguise that fact.
The defending World Series champions, the Philadelphia Aís, didn't have a bad year. They fielded another good team - it just wasnít good enough to beat Boston. Surprisingly, they were also unable to beat Washington. The famed $100,000 infield delivered its usual level of play: Frank Baker and Eddie Collins in particular had superb seasons. Baker drove in a remarkable 130 runs, a new league record and the highest total since Ed Delahanty's 137 RBI in 1899. The rest of the offense was not quite up to past standards. The A's especially missed the production of outfielder Danny Murphy. The pitching was good; again, it was just not as quite good as it had been in previous years, what with the mild decline of Chief Bender and Jack Combs losing a bit of his form.
The news was better in Cleveland and Washington. The Naps brilliant young right fielder, Joe Jackson, did not match his sensational .408 as a rookie, but he did hit .395 with 73 extra base hits. Another Southerner, Jackson is more powerfully built than Cobb; he seems not to share the Georgianís taste for violence and scandal. The Naps also introduced a very promising young shortstop named Ray Chapman partway through the season. He will get to learn his trade alongside the still outstanding Larry Lajoie.
The big story in Washington, and to some degree in Boston as well, was the arrival of a hard-throwing pitcher as one of the gameís greatest stars. Walter Johnson had already established himself as an outstanding pitcher, winning 25 games with ERAs below 2.00 in each of the two previous seasons. This year he was even better. He won 33 games, including 16 in a row, and lost just 12. His ERA of 1.39 was almost as good as the figure he posted in 1910, with the old baseballs, as were his 303 strikeouts.
As great as Johnson was, Bostonís young Joe Wood may have been even better. Wood, like Johnson, hails from Kansas, and at last report hordes of scouts were descending on that state, looking for the next prairie flame thrower. Wood is just 22 years old; this past year he won 34 games and lost only 5. He struck out 258 batters himself and also ran off a 16 game winning streak.
Wood and Johnson provided some of the best entertainment to be had on the diamond this year. There was the day in June when Wood threw a three-hit shutout to beat Johnson 3-0; Johnson allowed just 4 hits himself and struck out 10. Even better was their showdown in early September, in front of an overflow crowd at Bostonís new park. Johnsonís streak of 16 straight victories had ended less than two weeks earlier; Wood had won 13 in a row. In the sixth inning of a scoreless tie, Tris Speaker lofted what would have been a routine fly out most days. On this day, it fell beyond the cordoned off area in the outfield for a ground-rule double. The next batter, Duffy Lewis, doubled him in for the gameís only run. Wood struck out nine Senators for the 1-0 win.
The two pitchers made a striking and fascinating contrast: Johnson, tall and lanky, with those long arms and that ridiculously easy looking sidearm motion that just whips the ball towards the batter; Wood, smaller, sturdier, more intense, more obviously trying to throw as hard as he can. We donít know who actually throws harder: pressed on the point, Johnson emphatically said ďlisten, mister, no man alive can throw harder than Smokey Joe Wood.Ē Ty Cobb muttered unhappily that Johnson's hard one seemed about the size of a watermelon seed, and "it hissed at you" as it went by. However, we are beginning to get an idea of just how hard these men do throw a baseball. At seasonís end, the Remington Arms Company of Bridgeport had Johnson and Nap Rucker fire fast balls through a tunnel of fine wires in an attempt to clock their fastballs. One of Johnsonís pitches was clocked at 82 miles per hour, and the conditions of the test - he was in street clothes, throwing without a warmup, not off a mound, and throwing the ball through something more resistant than the air - all of this suggests that what American League hitters must deal with is likely to be considerably faster still.
Like the Giants, the Red Sox resisted being drawn into a pennant race. They didn't explode out of the gate like the Giants, but steadily pulled away from the rest of their American League rivals. When it was over, they had 105 victories, the highest total since the American League started play in 1901. Connie Mack in Philadelphia said he simply underestimated how good they were. There were probably three key factors to Boston's sudden rise from the 5th place - the arrival of Joe Wood as one of the leagueís best pitchers; the return of Jake Stahl from a yearís sabbatical to manage and play first base; and the sensational season turned in by centre fielder Tris Speaker.
Speaker is... special. He turned 24 years old just before the season started, his fourth as Boston's regular centre fielder. He had already attracted the notice of baseball fans for his remarkable outfield play - he positions himself much closer to the infield than other outfielders, supremely confident that his great speed will allow him to track down any ball hit over his head or in the gaps. He is thus able to flag down and glove numerous balls that would fall in front of most outfielders for a safe hit; he is also able to throw out numerous runners on the bases. This year, in addition to his peerless defense, he emerged as a hitter and baserunner comparable to Cobb and Jackson.
Cobb, Speaker, and Jackson - we are blessed with some outfielders. The three have much in common; all left-handed hitters, all Southerners, all still quite young. Cobb, the eldest of the three, tall and slender, flashing around the basepaths like a lean (and vicious) greyhound, has now led the league in hitting in five of the last six seasons. For all that, he didn't turn 26 until after the season. It is very hard to enjoy the manner in which he approaches the game. Cobb has said that he regards the game as "something like a war" - he seems to play in a constant rage, teeth and fists clenched, spoling for a fight, wanting not just victory, not just the next base - wanting rather to inflict pain and misery on his opponents. He wants their blood. He is frightening. But as difficult as he makes it to cheer for him, it is impossible not to be dazzled by his skills on the diamond.
Joe Jackson, who just turned 23 this summer, is the youngest of the three. Jackson is as tall as Cobb but more powerfully built. He had two brief trials with Connie Mack's Philadelphia team while still a teenager, but apparently felt himself overwhelmed and out of place. He is a taciturn young man from rural South Carolina with little or no education - but he is as fine a natural hitter as anyone has ever seen. After two plus seasons, he has a .393 lifetime average, which does rather speak for itself pretty well. He slugged 26 triples this year, which was a new American League record. He runs very well, if not with the dazzling speed of Cobb and Speaker; and while he doesn't throw as well as Speaker (no outfielder in the game throws as well as Speaker) he threw out 30 baserunners himself this year from his post in right field.
Speaker is 24 years old and from Hubbard Texas, and like Cobb and Jackson, when he began playing baseball as a boy he batted left and threw right-handed. Speaker began throwing left-handed at age 10 after he fell from a horse and broke his right arm. He is not as tall as the other two men, although he may be built more solidly than either. He doesn't appear to have Cobb's blinding speed; however Speaker stole 52 bases himself this year, and runs down every ball that clears the Boston infield. He doesn't appear to have Jackson's raw power; however Speaker smashed 75 hits for extra bases this year, and led the league in both doubles and home runs. His overall game seems more complete than either of his rivals, and I think he was clearly the best all around player in the American League this year.
"Hard pounding, this, gentlemen. Let's see who pounds longest."
--The Duke of Wellington, at Waterloo
And so we come to the great Boston and New York showdown. It all got started at the Polo Grounds with a big surprise. Giants manager John McGraw crossed up everyone in the baseball world when he passed over Mathewson and Marquard and chose his big rookie, Jeff Tesreau, to start the opening game. Tesreau made McGraw look good for a while, as the Giants led 2 to 1 after six innings. With one out in the seventh, however, the Sox mounted a threat in the seventh. Wagner and Cady singled. Wood hit into a fielder's choice, sending Wagner to third. Hooper doubled to the wall in right to tie the game. With the runners dancing off second and third. Yerkes lined a single into left field. Wood and Hooper scored to give the Sox a 4-2 lead. The Giants mounted a last threat of their own in the ninth. They scored once, and advanced the tying run to third and the winning run to second with just one out. In this crisis, Smokey Joe Wood rose to the occasion. He struck out Fletcher and Crandall to seal the victory. All told, Wood struck out 11 batters, the most ever in a World Series game. Describing the ninth inning afterwards, Wood said: "I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body."
It was a terrific ball game, and we hadn't seen anything yet. Game Two was the first World Series game played in Boston's brand new ballpark, and Bostonís Royal Rooters paraded around the field before the action started. Mathewson started for the Giants and got off to a shaky start, as three hits and an error gave the Red Sox three runs in the first. The Sox nursed a 4-2 lead as far as the eighth inning, when the Giants suddenly rallied for three to take a 5-4 lead, the big blow being a two run double by Buck Herzog. However, errors by Fletcher and Doyle - and errors by Giants defenders will be a persistent theme in this series - allowed Boston to even things up.
After nine innings, with darkness approaching, the score was tied at five. The Giants scored in the top of the tenth to take the lead, but in the bottom of the inning, the Giants came up with another blunder that this time cost them the win. Speaker blasted a drive to deep centre field, but unwisely - or so it seemed - became suddenly possessed with excessive greed while running the bases. Having arrived at third base, he tried to score when shortstop Tillie Shafer mishandled the throw from centre field. Shafer recovered quickly, and threw home in plenty of time to nail Speaker only to have catcher Art Wilson drop the ball, allowing Speaker to score the tying run. Speaker then went charging down to third base, and almost got into a fight with Buck Herzog, who had appeared to impede Speaker as he was rounding third on the play. In the eleventh inning, the Giants then got Snodgrass and Becker on base, but Boston catcher Bill Carrigan gunned down both of them attempting to steal. The game was finally called on account of darkness, and went into the books as a 6-6 tie. Thatís why this best of 7 series required 8 games.
The tied game also set off a squabble between the players and the National Commission. The players received a share of the proceeds from the first four games; they contended that they should receive a share of the receipts from the tie game as well as the first four complete games, and threatened to strike if they werenít satisfied on the matter.
The schedule called for alternating games between Boston and New York. Because Game 2 was a tie, Game 3 was played in Boston as well. And 26 game winner Rube Marquard of the Giants finally got into action in this Series. The long tall lefty, who rolled off 19 straight wins to start the season, scattered seven hits for a 2-1 Giants victory that evened the Series at one game apiece. However, he wouldn't have been able to do it without Josh Devore. Trailing 2-0 with one out in the 9th, Boston scored on a single by Lewis and a double by Gardner. After an out, Heinie Wagner reached on an error and stole second without a throw to put the winning run on second base. Hick Cady then lined a shot into the gap in right centre, but Devore came sprinting over and made a sensational catch, diving and tumbling, and taking the win right away from the Red Sox. A remarkable play. No one watching could recall a greater catch, and certainly not with so much at stake.
And because it was getting very foggy and misty in Fenway as the afternoon turned into the early evening, a lot of fans actually missed the play. They went home thinking that the ball had gone by Devore, the runs had scored, and the Sox had a 3-2 win. But Devore had indeed made a truly sensational catch and the Giants had evened the Series.
So we were back at the Polo Grounds for Game Four, where we saw Smokey Joe Wood hook up with big Jeff Tesreau again. The Sox struck first in the second when Gardner tripled and scored on a wild pitch; they added another in the fourth on an RBI single by Hick Cady. The Giants had their best chance to tie this game in the seventh inning. With two out, Art Fletcher ripped a double to the right field, scoring Buck Herzog from first base. John McGraw sent Moose McCormick up to pinch hit for Tesreau. McCormick rolled a base hit just beyond Yerkes into right field. Fletcher came around third and headed for home as Yerkes tracked the ball down in shallow right. The throw was in time, the collision was tremendous, Fletcher laid Cady out on his back... but the Boston catcher held the ball and recorded the out. Joe Wood provided himself with an insurance run in the ninth when he singled to right to score Gardner; he then set down the Giants in order in the bottom of the inning for a 3-1 victory, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the series. Wood struck out 8 batters in this game, giving him 19 for the Series and a shot of Bill Dineen's record of 28 strikeouts, set in the 1903 Series.
Game 5 at Fenway Park matched up Bedient and Mathewson again. The Sox did all their damage in the third inning. Once again, the New York defense fell apart behind Mathewson. Hooper and Yerkes started the inning with back to back triples, to put the Sox ahead 1-0. Tris Speaker came up, with Yerkes on third, and the Giants infield looking to cut off the runner at the plate. Speaker obligingly hit a grounder to second that went right through Doyle, scoring Yerkes with the second run. Those two runs were all Bedient would need, as he tossed a three-hitter. Mathewson did not allow another man to reach base for the rest of the game, as he set down the final seventeen batters. He found himself on the short end of the score anyway. The Sox now had a 3-1 lead in the Series.
Sunday was an off day, and the two teams returned to the Polo Grounds for Game 6 on Monday. Rube Marquard started for the Giants, while the Red Sox surprised everyone by sending Buck O'Brien to the hill. That decision had inspired a great deal of comment, especially in view of how it all worked out. Certainly, no one expected O'Brien to start. The minor league veteran did win 20 games this year in his first full season in the major leagues. Still, after the off day, everyone had assumed that Stahl would come back with Joe Wood. And apparently that's exactly what Stahl wanted to do, but he was overruled by team president Jim McAleer, who insisted that O'Brien get another chance at the Giants after taking the loss in Game Three. The whispered argument is that McAleer wanted another game in Boston, and the gate receipts that would come with it. A more generous school of thought has it that McAleer wanted O'Brien, born in Brockton and a lifelong Massachusetts resident, to pitch the clinching game. An argument that would make a little more sense if the game had actually been played in Boston.
At any rate, we learned once more that you should always be careful what you wish for. The Giants hammered O'Brien for five runs in the first inning. This game was over in a hurry. The Giants had Doyle on third and Murray on first after two infield hits and a stolen base. O'Brien had two out, however, and a chance to escape. But with Fred Merkle at the plate, OíBrien balked in the gameís first run. He immediately fell apart, allowing a run scoring doubles to Merkle and Herzog, and singles to Meyers and Fletcher. It was more than enough for Marquard, and the Giants stayed alive with a 5-2 victory.
So McAleer got his extra home game yesterday - we are informed that the gate receipts totalled some fifty thousand dollars - and Joe Wood went to the mound to wrap things up for Boston. But a funny thing happened on the way to the World's Championship: Boston's Royal Rooters were at the centre of a near riot that delayed the start of the game by more than an hour.
It had been assumed at the beginning of the series that there would be at most three games in Boston: games 2, 4, and 6. The Royal Rooters bought tickets for those three games. The tie in the second game meant that a fourth game in Boston would be required; although you may argue, as the Royal Rooters certainly did, that if the first game played in Boston didn't count... well, then it didn't count. It's certainly true that when it didn't produce a result, they played the next game in Boston as well.
The gate receipts were certainly collected and counted, and new tickets were printed and sold for Tuesday's contest. And when the Rooters made their grand entrance yesterday afternoon, singing their songs, they discovered that their section was already full. Red Sox management had sold the seats. The Rooters did not take this news quietly. Mounted police were needed to control and disperse the crowd, and force the Royal Rooters to seats behind the temporary bleachers in left field.
All this took some time, and the delay could not have helped Joe Wood very much. Wood tried to warm up, sat down, tried again. When the game finally began, he had nothing. He threw but 13 pitches in his one inning of work, and the Giants turned them into seven hits and six runs. Wood retired just two batters, one on a sac bunt; another Giant was thrown out stealing. Fred Snodgrass got the carnage started with a two-run double in the first inning; Larry Doyle rapped out three hits, including a two-run homer, and scored three runs in the easy 11-4 victory.
"I dropped the darn thing"
And so we come to the finale, which, with its sudden reversals of fortune and the unsurpassed drama of its finish, with its ever-mounting tension and its explosive moments of brilliance and excitement, provided absolutely everything one could possibly wish for from a single ball game.
Christy Mathewson and Hugh Bedient, the starters from the second and the fifth games, were matched up for the third time on a a grey and overcast afternoon at Boston's shiny new ballpark. An air of fretfulness and worry hung about the proceedings. Some of this, no doubt, may be explained by the absence of the generally boisterous and enthusuastic Boston fans. The Royal Rooters responded to Tuesday's troubles with a boycott and a 300 man picket line. The people of Boston in turn showed their support for the Rooters (or their reluctance to cross them) by staying away from the game. And so the biggest game of the year was played in a half-empty stadium.
The dismal grey weather may also have something to do with the general feeling of apprehension hanging over the ball park. It rained overnight, and the field was still a little wet as play began. A chilly fall wind was blowing across the field. But most of the grim mood could surely be explained by the unhappy truth that the Red Sox had frittered away two chances to win the Series, once with their best pitcher on the mound. Now they were asking Hugh Bedient, a 22 year old rookie, to defeat the man with more victories than any other active pitcher - the great Christy Mathewson himself, a man who once pitched three shutouts in a single World Series.
The general nervousness spread from the stands down to the field, where the Boston infielders persistently gathered around Bedient after almost every other pitch. The rookie issued a first inning walk to Snodgrass, who promptly attempted to steal second. Cady's throw was in time but Wagner mishandled it for an error. However, Larry Gardner scooped up Red Murray's hard ground ball to get the Sox out of the inning. The Giants made yet another error in their half, allowing Speaker - whose baserunning in this series has been extremely aggressive - to reach second on a fairly routine single. Matty struck out Duffy Lewis to end the inning.
The Giants threatened again with two out in the second - an error by Gardner, a single by Fletcher, and another error by Gardner on a pickoff play put runners on second and third. But Speaker chased down Mathewson's long fly ball to end that threat.
Mathewson walked the leadoff man in Boston's half of the inning - it was the first free pass he had issued in the Series. The Giants continued their shaky defense, messing up a possible double play, and after a single by Wagner, the Sox had another threat in place. But Matty retired the 8 and 9 hitters to end the inning and the Giants finally broke through in the top of the third. Bedient walked Josh Devore with his first four pitchers. Joe Wood and Ray Collins both moved down to Red Sox bullpen in foul territory to begin warming up. Bedient retired the next two batters, but Devore moved around to third in the process, where he scored easily on Red Murray's double just out of Speaker's reach in the left-centre field. The Giants had the lead, and a chance to add another, but Bedient got Merkle to ground out on the first pitch.
Mathewson, given a lead, suddenly looked very imposing. He dismissed the Sox in order in the third. The Giants got a leadoff double from Buck Herzog in the fourth, but couldn't get him home. Larry Gardner doubled for the Red Sox with one out in the fourth, but the Giants executed a wonderful relay - Snodgrass to Doyle to Herzog - to catch him trying for three. It was still 1-0 Giants after four.
The Giants threatened yet again in the fifth. Josh Devore led off with a comebacker that ricocheted off Bedient's shin towards third base. Gardner made a fine play but was unable to nip Devore at first. On the very next pitch, Devore lit out for second, and was thrown out by Cady. Larry Doyle followed this miscue by driving a ball deep towards the temporary bleachers erected in right field. Harry Hooper dashed back, leaping above the barrier, and hauled in the ball with his bare right hand - a play even more impressive than Devore's game-saving diving catch back in Game Two. Snodgrass followed with a single, but Murray fouled out to end the inning. The Giants had turned two hits and a booming line drive into absolutely nothing. The Sox had spent the entire afternoon on the ropes, but still only trailed by a single run.
Not that Christy Mathewson seemed inclined to give them the Bostonians much cause for hope. He needed just three pitches to retire the side in the fifth inning. The Giants stranded a two-out walk in the sixth, and the Red Sox mounted a threat in their half of the inning. After a walk and a single, they had runners on first and third with two out, and Jake Stahl decided to see if he could get a run across with some trickery. With Gardner at the plate, he tried a squeeze and a delayed double steal on the same play. Lewis broke for second as Gardner squared to bunt. Gardner could not make contact with Mathewson's pitch, however, and Meyers fired the ball towards second as Yerkes, the runner on third, now suddenly broke for home. But an alert Mathewson intercepted the peg, and easily threw out Yerkes scrambling back to third base.
The Giants got yet another runner into scoring position in the seventh - Mathewson, given a reprieve when Stahl dropped his foul pop, singled to centre. Devore's force out replaced Matty on the bases with the fastest of all the Giants, and Devore this time was able to successfully steal second. But Snodgrass was unable to bring him home. Sooner or later, one knew, the Giants would bitterly regret all these missed opportunities. And Boston's half of the inning was when it happened. With one out, Stahl singled and Wagner walked. Matty got Cady to pop out on the first pitch. Jake Stahl, standing on second base, waved for Olaf Henriksen to come into the game and bat for Bedient. Joe Wood quickly got up and started throwing again in the Boston bullpen.
Henriksen, a small left-handed hitter, had yet to bat in the Series. Mathewson quickly got two strikes on him, and chose to put him away with his fadeaway. The pitch breaks in the opposite direction of a regular curve ball - away from a left-handed hitter - and it seems quite possible that Henriksen had never seen one before. He was completely fooled by it - his swing was well out in front of the pitch and he hit it right off the end of his bat. But he hit it well, and his drive kicked off the bag at third base and went into left field for a double that tied the ball game. With runners on second and third, an unhappy Mathewson retired Hooper to end the threat.
But the game was tied, and Joe Wood came in to pitch for the Red Sox. The Giants got to Wood for a two-out single in the eight, and a two-out walk in the ninth, but could not push across the lead run. In the bottom of the ninth, Stahl doubled to deep left field. With the fans screaming with excitement, Mathewson retired Wagner and Cady, to send the contest into extra innings.
And in their half of the tenth, the Giants went ahead again. With one out, Red Murray doubled, bringing Fred Merkle to the plate with his best opportunity ever to atone for 1908. And Merkle came through, singling past second base. Speaker charged the ball aggressively, hoping to make a play on Murray at the plate, but was unable to come up with the ball cleanly. Murray scored and Merkle moved up to second on the error. Wood struck out Buck Herzog on three pitches, bringing Chief Meyers to the plate. Meyers drove Wood's first pitch right back at the mound. Wood knocked it down with his bare hand, and then, clearly in pain, managed to retrieve the ball and throw Meyers out at first.
The breaks of the game were clearly going the Giants way. They had the lead, they needed just three more outs, and Joe Wood was injured and unable to continue. This mattered in the bottom of the tenth because Wood was scheduled to lead off. Despite being a pitcher, Wood was a far better hitter than anyone on the Boston bench, especially now that Henriksen had already been used. But Wood couldn't play, and Jake Stahl needed someone to bat against Mathewson. He chose his backup infielder, Clyde Engle.
Mathewson got him - Engle lofted a lazy fly ball into medium left-centre field. Snodgrass drifted over, waved off left fielder Murray, put up his hands - and the ball hit his glove and popped out. A startled Engle pulled into second base. Asked afterwards what had happened, Snodgrass shook his head and said "I dropped the darn thing."
Mathewson, visibly frustrated, kicked at the rosin bag, and prepared to deal with Harry Hooper. Hooper bunted the first pitch foul. Then, with Giants' infielders all converging on him, Hooper crossed them up, swung away and drove a shot into deep left centre that seemed certain to tie the game... except that Snodgrass sprinted back into the gap and made a wonderful over the shoulder catch. Engle tagged and moved up to third.
There was one out and the tying run on third. But Mathewson had some wiggle room. Steve Yerkes, one of the weaker hitters in the Boston lineup, was the batter. Tris Speaker, the most dangerous of all the Boston hitters, followed Yerkes. Still, if Matty could just retire Yerkes without allowing the run to score, he could avoid challenging Speaker and take his chances instead with Duffy Lewis if he so desired.
But all these options depended on getting past Yerkes. And Christy Mathewson, the man with the best control in the National League, walked Yerkes on four pitches. The winning run was on first, and Tris Speaker was the batter.
Speaker swung at the first pitch and popped a harmless little foul to the right side of the infield. Chief Meyers came charging out from behind the plate, Fred Merkle was moving over from first, and Mathewson was calling out instructions... and the ball fell untouched in foul territory.
While Snodgrass' dropped ball has come in for a disproportionate amount of attention, it seems clear in retrospect that this missed opportunity to retire Speaker was the decisive moment in the inning. Mathewson, once again, was very visibly upset after the play, and this time he may have been upset with himself. He had been loudly calling "Chief! Chief!" The ball drifted, however, closer and closer to first base. Meyers could not get there in time. First baseman Merkle had a much better chance to make the play.
Speaker spoke to Mathewson when the play was over. Asked afterwards what he had said, Speaker replied that he had simply said that they'd be sorry they didn't get him when they had the chance. He was surely thinking of the foul ball and the moment; but one may be forgiven for thinking that Speaker may also have remembered that John McGraw and the Giants had passed on him, Speaker, when he was a young ball player in Texas. McGraw said he had all the outfielders he needed. It was a most uncharacteristic lapse in judgement by one of the game's shrewdest judges of talent, and Speaker wasted no time making McGraw regret it some more. He lined Mathewson's next pitch to right field for the single that tied up the game. They should have got him when they had the chance.
The Giants had yet one more defensive miscue in their holster, and Josh Devore provided it with an utterly pointless throw to the plate that allowed Yerkes to take third unchallenged and Speaker to take second. Whether Devore had a chance to keep Yerkes at second, or throw him out at third, is something we will never know. But he had no chance at all to catch Engle at the plate. With just one out, surely the Giants should have given some thought to trying to keep the winning run from reaching third base.
The Giants walked Duffy Lewis intentionally to load the bases and set up a force play at every base. It brought Larry Gardner to the plate. He hit Mathewson's second pitch deep to right field. Devore sped back and made the catch, but Yerkes trotted in from third. The game was over. The Red Sox were World Champions.
There were so many heroes, there were so many goats - and generally, it was the same people. Joe Wood ended up winning three games in the series - but he came within an eyelash of losing the last two. His team was trailing in the final game when he left the mound. Tris Speaker's single drove in the tying run, but if the Giants hadn't messed up his foul ball on the previous pitch, Speaker would still be answering questions about his error in the top of the inning that led to the Giants' second run. Christy Mathewson lost twice in the series: his shocking walk to Yerkes in the tenth and his missed call on Speaker's pop up proved fatal. And yet he pitched brilliantly in all three of his starts, and was persistently sabotaged by the shabby work his fielders turned in behind him. The Giants out-hit and out-scored the Red Sox. They just kept giving away outs, and baserunners. It cost them dear. When you have put the other man down, you must not help him up.