LAST UPDATED 10/19/02 - (1920's completed - 1930's in progress)
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History of the Fall Classic
Baseball-Almanac.com's World Series section
Each year, the primary focus in any professional sport is the race for a championship. Every sport has their pinnacle trophy, but none is as coveted as baseball’s World Series; a best of 7 contest that celebrates our national pastime. An event as important as any holiday on the calendar, it is as traditional as Thanksgiving, as patriotic as the Fourth of July and as anticipated as Christmas morning. Over the last century, the World Series has been woven into the fabric of America’s culture evolving far beyond a mere baseball tournament. It has become the game of all games and has continued to provide us with an endless highlight reel of magical moments evoking childhood memories of agony and ecstasy.
How would one define the World Series? It’s Willie Mays catching what can't be caught and Don Larsen being perfect where perfection is simply not possible. It's Babe Ruth telling the fans and media where he is going to deposit the next pitch and a heavily outscored team of Pirates beating the unbeatable Yankees off a ninth inning Bill Mazeroski blast. The World Series is the crushing blow of Fred Snodgrass dropping a routine fly ball and Willie McCovey hitting the final out straight to Bobby Richardson. It's the Curse of the Bambino, when loyal Red Sox fans live their entire lives without witnessing a championship and when Yankees fans witness 4 in 5 years…
Although the "Fall Classic" as we know it didn't begin until 1903, major-league baseball had several versions of a post-season championship series before that. In 1884, the Providence Grays of the National League outplayed the New York Metropolitan Club of the American Association in a 3 game series for what was originally called "The Championship of the United States." Several newspapers penned the Grays as "World Champions" and the new title stuck. Over the next 6 years, different variations took place between the NL and AA pennant-winners, ranging in length from six to fifteen games. The American Association folded unexpectedly after the 1891 season forcing a suspension of the series. The following year, the National League absorbed 4 of the AA's former franchises and expanded to 12 teams in an effort to promote the growth of baseball and maintain the public’s interest. They played a split season in which the first-half winner played the second-half winner for the league championship. Many fans did not support the new system and the split season was promptly dropped in 1893.
In 1894, Pittsburgh’s owner William C. Temple offered a championship trophy to the winner of a best-of-seven-game series between the NL's first and second-place teams. In addition, he stated that the winning franchise would receive 65% of all ticket sales and the losing team would pocket 35%. Boston accepted his offer and went on to beat Pittsburgh 5 games to 3. Temple’s novel idea would last for the next 3 years and helped to build the foundation for baseball’s post-season popularity. More changes were on the horizon and in 1901, the American League was established much to the dismay of the Nationals. Suddenly, baseball found itself engaged in a "civil war" as both rival leagues competed separately for the fan’s loyalty and attention. 2 years later a truce, previously known as the "National Agreement", was redefined outlining baseball’s employment, salary and travel requirements. The 1903 compromise produced the business blueprint for major-league baseball and resulted in a merger that has lasted to this day. Once again the Boston Pilgrims and Pittsburgh Pirates, the top AL and NL teams, found themselves competing against one another in the first official "World Series".
1903: Pittsburgh Pirates (3) vs. Boston Pilgrims (5)
In an effort to end a bitter 2 year rivalry and promote unity in baseball, the veteran National League and newly established American League decided to bury the hatchet and come together for a new kind of season finale. 9 years earlier, the 2 top teams in the National League competed in an experimental post-season championship in which Boston beat Pittsburgh 5 games to 3. In 1903, both teams (now in separate leagues) found themselves competing against one another in the first official "World Series". Echoing the 1894 proposal of owner William C. Temple, Pittsburgh’s Barney Dreyfuss and Boston’s Henry Killilea agreed that their ballclubs, who were both pennant winners, should meet in a best-of-nine playoff series for the "World Championship." The spectacle would represent the first step towards a mutual reconciliation for years of open hostilities and blatant player raids. The Pirates, who had just won their third consecutive pennant, were the perfect representatives for the veteran Nationals. Their rivals, the Pilgrims, had won their flag by 14 1/2 games and represented the fledgling Americans who were still trying to establish themselves as a worthy competitor.
Game 1 of the series proved to be a complete success as fans were treated to the best baseball that both leagues had to offer. The Pirates played exceptionally well on both sides of the ball as Deacon Phillippe pitched a 6-hitter and right fielder Jimmy Sebring hit the first homer in World Series history. He alone drove in 4 runs for a 7-3 victory. Game 2 did not disappoint either as Boston mirrored Pittsburgh’s previous performance. They evened the series when Bill Dinneen threw a three-hitter and Patsy Dougherty walloped two homers in a 3-0 triumph.
Pittsburgh’s pitching staff, ravaged by illness and injuries, forced the Pirates to start Phillippe again in Game 3 after only 1 day of rest. The veteran workhorse, a 25 game winner during the regular season, rose to the challenge allowing only 4 hits in a 4-2 win. Three days later, Pittsburgh went to their dependable ace for a third time and backed him up with reinforcements who came out swinging. Third basemen, Tommy Leach, knocked in 3 runs while Honus Wagner and Ginger Beaumont each collected three hits. Boston was unable to answer and Pittsburgh led the series 3 games to 1.
Boston was down, but far from out. Cy Young, a veteran, 28-game winner was called upon to cool off the Pirates in Game 5 and that’s exactly what he did. Pittsburgh never knew what hit them. Young yielded only six hits and drove in three runs in an 11-2 runaway. The following day, Game 2 winner Bill Dinneen maintained Boston’s momentum with a 6-3 victory in a contest that featured four hits, two RBIs and two stolen bases by the losing Pirates. The series was now tied at 3 games each.
Deacon Phillippe, who was undefeated in the series, took the mound for the Pirates in Game 7. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, all good things must come to an end. The Pilgrims’ playing manager Jimmy Collins and Chick Stahl knocked him for first-inning triples and Boston bolted to an early 2-0 lead en route to a 7-3 triumph. For the first time, the Pilgrims had seized the Series lead. Ahead four games to three, Boston would attempt to nail down the championship on its own Huntington Avenue Grounds.
Game 8 looked to be a pitchers duel as Dinneen and Phillippe went head to head to a scoreless tie through the first 3 innings. Boston managed to get on the board twice in the 4th and again in the 6th. Phillippe battled on and would end up pitching his fifth complete game in the Series, which lasted 13 days, but Dinneen bested him in the climactic finale, tossing his second shutout of the Series and notching his third victory. The 3-0 decision was the Pilgrims fourth straight triumph and made the upstart Boston team champions of the First American League vs. National League World Series. With great pitching dominating the play, hitters obviously had a rough time at the plate. Boston batted .252 while Pittsburgh, despite the presence of NL batting champion Honus Wagner, hit .237.
1904: Cancelled due to NL refusal
The inaugural World Series of 1903 was a resounding success and represented the first step in healing the bruised egos of both the veteran National and fledgling American Leagues. Pittsburgh and Boston went head-to-head for 8 games proving that great baseball between the 2 leagues was possible and that a merger would benefit the growth of the sport. Unfortunately, some owners still disagreed with the concept and in 1904, it was prematurely cancelled. John T. Brush, president of the National League champion New York Giants, refused to play the returning American League champion Boston Pilgrims. He was quoted as stating that he refused to compete with a "representative of the inferior American League". Surprisingly, Brush regretted the decision and later that year proposed to continue with the series as originally conceived. His about-face spawned the "Brush Rules," a set of guidelines relating to the on-field play and off-field finances of the World Series which exists to this day.
1905: New York Giants (4) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (1)
After refusing an invitation to play the Boston Pilgrims the 1904 World Series, the New York Giants agreed to participate in the 1905 Fall Classic in an effort to win back it’s fan approval. Many were upset by the Giants' "no thanks" attitude of the previous year and it was clearly visible in their regular season attendance. This time, John T. Brush and company were eager to take on the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics after an NL race in which the Giants won 105 games. The Series would be contested under guidelines drawn up by the Giants' owner, seeking to stabilize an event he earlier had cancelled. Besides outlining a revenue formula, the John T. "Brush Rules" called for a best-of-seven format.
The Giants were extremely confident going into their first combined post-season championship for obvious reasons. Their pitching rotation read like an All-Star ballot and featured Christy Mathewson (31 victories), Joe McGinnity (21) and Red Ames (22) and also included Dummy Taylor (15) and Hooks Wiltse (14). New York wound up using only two of its "big five" as starters in the Series, but that twosome proved more than enough. The Athletics were not as fortunate and were still reeling from the late-season loss of standout lefthander Rube Waddell.
In the opening game, lefthander Eddie Plank, a 25 game winner for the Athletics, was matched up against the Giants ace Mathewson. Recalling memories of the first World Series, it remained a pitcher’s duel until the 5th inning when the Giants offense finally broke through for 2 runs. Game 1 was all Mathewson - on both sides of the ball. At the plate, he contributed a single in the 5th that ignited New York’s scoring drive and a key sacrifice in the 9th. On the mound, he completed a four-hit, 3-0 victory and did no walk a single batter. For Game 2, Athletic’s manager Connie Mack called on righthander Chief Bender to even the score. He obliged the legendary skipper with support from Bris Lord's run-scoring singles in the third and eighth innings. In the end, Bender out-dueled the Giants’ Joe McGinnity for a 3-0 victory. The Series was now tied and an interesting trend had developed with 2 shutouts in 2 games.
With 2 days rest, Game 1 winner Christy Mathewson was given the start for Game 3. Once again, the righthanded sensation dominated the contest and held Philadelphia to only 4 hits and 1 walk. First baseman Dan McGann was the Giants' big gun in a 9-0 romp, collecting two singles and a double and driving in four runs. New York was now ahead, but the Athletics refused to roll over and entered the following contest with a renewed vigor. Game 4 represented the ultimate pitcher’s duel and to this day, is still considered one of the best match-ups ever on the mound during a World Series. This time McGinnity and Plank hooked up in a contest that allowed only 9 hits and 1 run. Philadelphia matched the Giants play in every aspect of the game and only lost due to a crucial infield error. The 1-0 triumph increased New York's Series lead to three games to one.
Once again, Mack decided to go with Chief Bender to halt the Giants in Game 5, while McGraw decided to stick with a winner and brought Mathewson back for a third performance. Pitching on only 1 day of rest, the Giant’s workhorse was again up to the challenge allowing only 6 hits with no walks. His counterpart was almost as good yielding only 5 hits, but allowing 2 runs. The 1905 New York Giants suddenly found themselves the champions of a contest that they had previously boycotted and had a newfound respect for their American League rivals who made them earn it.
Mathewson was clearly the most valuable player of the 1905 Fall Classic although the award had not yet been established. In the space of six days, he pitched three shutouts and permitted only 14 hits. The Giants' ace struck out 18 and walked one in 27 innings. Besides Mathewson and McGinnity, the only other Giants pitcher to see action was Ames, who worked all of one inning (as a reliever in Game 2). Pitching was the most noteworthy aspect of the Series with 5 shutouts in 5 games.
1906: Chicago Cubs (2) vs. Chicago White Sox (4)
The 1906 World Series was the first to feature 2 teams from the same city, "the windy city" that is. Chicago was split in two as the American League’s (South Side) White Sox prepared to battle the National League (West Side) Cubs. The Sox, despite having a meager offense, managed to win the Series opener 2-1. In fact they would play true to form in the first four games of the Series collecting only six runs and 11 hits. The Cubs rebounded with a 7-1 victory in Game 2 that featured the one-hit pitching of Ed Reulbach and the timely hitting of Harry Steinfeldt and Joe Tinker. Third baseman Steinfeldt, a .327 hitter after his off-season acquisition from Cincinnati, went 3-for-3 and Tinker had two hits and scored three runs.
In Game 3, White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh allowed 1 single off of Solly Hofman and a double to Frank Schulte in the first inning He then went on to hold the Cubs hitless for the rest of the way. The South Side’s franchise emerged as 3-0 winners, with Walsh striking out 12 batters and George Rohe tagging Jack Pfiester for a bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning. Mordecai Brown drew the Cubs even the next day, denying the White Sox a hit for the first 5 2/3 innings on the way to a two-hit, 1-0 victory. The trend would not last as the White Sox bats came alive in Games 5 and 6. Nicknamed the "Hitless Wonders" by the local press, they came out swinging and drove Reulbach from the mound in the third inning. Continuing their momentum, they added four runs in the 4th and held on for an 8-6 victory. Frank Isbell paced the Sox's 12-hit attack with a Series-record four doubles and George Davis knocked in three runs as well.
The Cubs were stunned by their cross-town rival’s renewed zeal and were unable to stop them in Game 6 despite their best efforts. The "born-again" bats from the South Side defeated Mordecai Brown (the Cubs’ Game 4 winner) and cruised to a stunning Series-deciding 8-3 victory that was fueled by 14 hits. The Sox had pulled off an upset of gigantic proportions despite hitting only .198 in the Series. Their top threesome, Patsy Dougherty, Billy Sullivan and Fielder Jones, the team's playing manager, combined for only four hits in 62 at-bats. Nevertheless they had out-hit the Cubs, who batted only .196. Their top hitter, center fielder Solly Hofman, had appeared in only 64 games during the regular season, yet he played every inning of the Series and batted .304.
1907: Chicago Cubs (4) vs. Detroit Tigers (0)
The 1907 World Series once again, featured the National’s Chicago Cubs going up against the American’s Detroit Tigers, who had just edged out the previous year’s champion Philadelphia Athletics in a fierce pennant race. The opening contest rewarded fans on both sides of the field with neither team backing down. After 12 innings, the game was called because of darkness. Tigers 3, Cubs 3. Although Detroit had clearly started Game 1 with more momentum, Chicago showed it’s resolve and snatched the victory from the Tiger’s grasp. The Cubs seemed inspired by their stunning loss to the underdog White Sox in the last years Series and had obviously learned from their mistakes. It was only the beginning as Manager Hugh Jennings' Tigers would fail to recapture the initial fire and fail to score more than one run in any of the remaining Series games. Chicago's Jack Pfiester dominated Detroit, 3-1, in Game 2 and Ed Reulbach continued the streak beating AL champs, 5-1, the next day.
The Tigers showed some signs of life in Game 4 when they seized a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as an up-and-coming 20-year-old named Ty Cobb, having just won his first batting championship, slammed a triple and scored on a Claude Rossman single. Unfortunately that was all they could muster and went down to a 6-1 defeat against Orval Overall. Game 5 was Detroit’s last chance at turning the series, but Mordecai Brown threw a seven-hitter clinching the 2-0 triumph and a Cubs sweep of the Series. Chicago’s boys from the West Side had dominated the entire contest and made amends for the Series loss to their cross town rivals the previous year.
Most fans were not surprised by Chicago’s supremacy. The Cubs were quickly becoming baseball’s first "dynasty" making their 2nd (soon to be 3rd) post-season championship appearance, getting there by winning 107 games and finishing 17 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Detroit never had a chance as the Cubs aggressive play on both sides of the plate stole the show. They had outstanding offense from Steinfeldt and Evers, who batted .471 and .350, respectively (with Steinfeldt getting seven hits in the last three games of the Series and Evers getting seven in the first three games). They ran with reckless abandon against the Tigers, stealing seven bases in Game 1 and finishing the Series with 18. Most importantly, Chicago’s pitching staff held a potentially threatening Tigers line-up to 43 scoreless innings out of 48 and shut down the American League's top hitters of 1907, Cobb and Sam Crawford. Cobb managed only a .200 average in the Series after batting .350 in the regular season; Crawford hit .238 after a .323 season.
1908: Chicago Cubs (4) vs. Detroit Tigers (1)
The 4th official World Series marked the 3rd consecutive post-season championship appearance of the Chicago Cubs. After losing to their cross town rivals, the White Sox in 1906, the reigning national league champs made amends by sweeping Detroit in the 1907 Series. The Tigers had learned a hard lesson and were also determined to make a repeat appearance. They met their goal by winning the American League pennant on the last day of the regular season. The press played up the rematch on both sides as Chicago papers were filled with words like "repeat" while the Detroit papers used "revenge".
Game 1 recalled memories of the previous year’s opener as the Tigers held a surprise lead going into the 9th inning. Once again, the Tigers watched their advantage fade away, although this year the game would not be called at a tie. Detroit pitcher, Ed Simmons continued to look strong going into the 9th as he retired Johnny Evers to open the inning. The 24-game winner was 2 outs away from Series leading victory, when suddenly everything folded. In what must have seemed like a recurring bad dream, Simmons yielded six consecutive hits resulting in five runs. Chicago snatched the lead and never looked back en route to a 10-6 triumph, using Orval Overall and Mordecai Brown in relief roles behind Ed Reulbach.
Chicago’s Orval Overall was given the start for Game 2, having only served in a relief role in the Series opener and was paired up against the Tiger’s ace Bill Donovan. Both pitchers went head-to-head for 4 innings straight with neither allowing a single hit in a 0-0 standoff. Three innings later, the Tigers had managed 3 hits and the Cubs had 1. The game remained scoreless going into the 8th inning with both teams waiting for the other to blink. Donovan blinked first and ran into trouble in the bottom of the inning. Joe Tinker started the rally with a 2 run homer to right field and before the inning was over, the Cubs had four more hits and four more runs. Ty Cobb tried to generate some momentum with a run-scoring single in the 9th, but once again, Chicago prevailed, winning 6-1. The Cubs were on a roll and won their sixth consecutive Series game against the Tigers.
Detroit was finally able to break Chicago’s post-season winning streak in Game 3 with a stellar performance on the mound by George Mullin. The Tigers’ ace dominated the Cubs line-up allowing only 7 hits in an 8-3 victory. The win appeared to breathe some life back into the perennial losers, but their renewed fervor didn’t last long. In Game 4, they recorded a miserable four-hit effort in a 3-0 loss against Brown and they would never recover. Overall, who had performed so magnificently Game 2, was even better in Game 5. The 27-year-old right hander allowed only three hits and struck out 10 batters in the 2-0 triumph and back-to-back Series winner. The Tigers’ embarrassment was dulled by the lack of witnesses in the stands as only 6,210 fans witnessed the finale in Detroit, the smallest crowd in Series history.
The Cubs became the first team to record 3 consecutive World Series appearances and 2 consecutive World Series victories with both championship wins coming off the heels of a record 116-victory season of 1906. In 1908, Chicago’s West Side franchise was more than just a winning baseball team, they had just become sports first official "dynasty".
1909: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. Detroit Tigers (3)
The Pittsburgh Pirates, a regular Series contender, won their 7th National League championship in 1909, behind the brilliant play of veteran superstar Honus Wagner. (He would add his 8th and final title 2 years later) Wagner had hit .339 for the Buccos and Pittsburgh’s pitching staff was just as dangerous. Howie Camnitz and Vic Willis won 25 and 22 games, respectively, for the Pirates and Lefty Leifield posted 19 victories. Detroit returned for their 3rd consecutive Fall Classic determined to erase the memories of their previous efforts. The Tigers were also backed up by the heavy bat of Ty Cobb (who had just won his third consecutive AL batting title) and a formidable pitching staff featuring Mullin, Willett and Summers who had a combined 70 victories. None of this mattered though as the Pirates "big three" were unable to win a single game in the Series and only one Detroit standout, Mullin, performed as predicted by chalking up 2 victories.
The Tigers managed to outplay the Pirates veteran starters, but they couldn’t handle newcomer Babe Adams, who had compiled a 12-3 record for the Pirates in 1909. Adams drew the start for Game 1 and responded with a 6-hitter, 4-1 victory that was sparked by playing Manager Fred Clarke’s game-tying homer in the 4th inning. Once again, Detroit had lost the lead… and lost the game.
Game 2 was tipped in Detroit’s favor with a 3 run outburst in the third inning that was ignited by the spectacular home plate stealing of Ty Cobb. The Tigers had managed to square the Series at one game apiece and were looking for more. Pittsburgh regained the lead in Game 3 when they jumped on the back of Honus Wagner, who had 3 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 stolen bases and rallied to an 8-6 victory. The win-swapping continued when Tiger ace George Mullin actually lived up to his reputation and threw a 5-hit, shutout while striking out 10 Pirates in a Game 4 victory.
Once again, Detroit had tied it up, but were unable to repeat as the Babe Adams threw another 6-hitter, resulting in an 8-4, Game 5 triumph. The resilient Tigers found themselves back in business the next afternoon when Mullin, after being roughed up for three first-inning runs, surrendered only one more and wound up with a 7-hit, Game 6 winner. With the Series going down to a climactic seventh game (the first to go the distance) Pittsburgh's Fred Clarke went with 2 game winner, Babe Adams as his pitcher, while Detroit Manager Hugh Jennings decided on Bill Donovan, a complete-game winner in Game 2.
Donovan was off to a miserable start as he hit the first Pirate batter and went on to walk 6 of them in the first 2 innings. He was pulled after 3 with Adams confidently holding a 2-0 lead. Pittsburgh never looked back as the Bucco’s Babe nailed his third 6-hitter of the Series and an 8-0 championship victory. It was the Pirates 3rd post-season appearance, 2nd official Series and first World Championship. Honus Wagner continued to prove his Cooperstown worthiness by hitting .333, with 7 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. Playing manager Fred Clarke set a record with 4 walks in Game 4. On the other side, future Hall of Famer Ty Cobb did not fare as well. Appearing in what would be his last Series (although he would be an active player through 1928), Cobb batted only .231 but led Detroit with 6 RBIs.
1910: Chicago Cubs (1) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (4)
The first decade of World Series baseball came to a close as 2 regulars, the Chicago Cubs (making their 4th appearance) and Philadelphia Athletics (making their 2nd) went head-to-head for the championship title. Both teams were powerhouses with the A’s chalking 102 victories and winning their pennant by 14 games. The A’s boasted three .300 hitters with Eddie Collins, Rube Oldring and Danny Murphy and a 31-game winner in Jack Coombs, a 27-year-old righthander who was 12-12 the previous season. Both teams suffered devastating injures and would not be at full strength for the Series. The Cubs had lost 2nd baseman Johnny Evers to a broken ankle and Philadelphia was missing Oldring with a broken leg and pitcher Eddie Plank who was suffering from an arm ailment.
Although A’s manager Connie Mack was handicapped with the loss of one of his starting pitchers, he remained confident in his other aces Jack Coombs and Chief Bender. Bender, coming off his first 20-victory season in the major leagues (he was 23-5), opposed the Cubs' Orval Overall in Game 1 of the Series. The matchup proved a mismatch, with Bender pitching a one-hitter into the 9th inning and Overall departing after allowing three runs and six hits in the first three innings. The A's, getting three hits and two RBIs from Frank Baker, scored a 4-1 victory as Bender completed a three-hitter with eight strikeouts.
In Game 2, Coombs maintained his team’s momentum with a solid, but unspectacular Series leading performance. Although he lasted a complete game, he surrendered 8 hits and 9 walks while managing a 9-3 victory. Philadelphia had consecutively beaten 2 of Chicago’s top aces and prepared to tee off on a 3rd against Series veteran, Ed Reulbach. The A’s came out swinging in Game 3 and drove Reulbach off of the mound in the 2nd inning after tallying 3 runs. Harry McIntire took over in the 3rd with a 3-3 tie, but was shelled for 4 runs in the 1/3 inning. The Cubs continued to collapse and before the inning was over, the A's had tacked or a fifth run en route to a 12-5 romp. Coombs remained unbeatable while pitching with only one day of rest. Playing well on both sides of the plate, he only gave up 6 hits and had three hits and three RBIs.
Suddenly, the mighty Chicago Cubs, considered sports first official dynasty, found themselves on the brink of elimination. Realizing that Philadelphia’s advantage was the direct result of poor pitching, the Cubs put their faith into the right arm of rookie Leonard (King) Cole, who had just completed a 20-4 season. The 24 year-old newcomer handled the pressure well, but was pulled in the 8th inning, while trailing 3-2. Hanging on by a thread, Chicago managed to get something started in the 9th when playing Manager Frank Chance tripled home Frank Schulte. Then, in the 10th, Chicago's Jimmy Sheckard came through with a two-out, game-winning single against Bender, who had gone the distance, but paid for it with a 4-3 loss.
Still alive by their "last stand" victory in Game 4, the Cubs decided to go with their winning reliever, Mordecai Brown against the undefeated Coombs for Game 5. Both pitchers rose to the occasion and went neck and neck for 7 innings. Philadelphia pulled ahead by 1 before adding 5 more in the 8th on the way to a 7-2, Series winning victory. Not only had the A’s defeated baseball’s biggest dynasty, they did it with only 2 starting pitchers (Bender and three-time winner Coombs).
1911: New York Giants (2) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (4)
As the "teens at the turn of the century" emerged, baseball was fast becoming more than just another entertainment spectacle. Soon it would officially be christened "America's national pastime" due in part, to the success of the World Series. After it's introduction in 1903, many had doubted that the merging of the National and American Leagues into a single sporting syndicate would last until the following season. 8 years later, the Fall Classic had proven all of the cynics wrong and evolved into much more than just a post-season exhibition. It had become the pinnacle of growth in major-league baseball and had set a precedent for all other professional sports in America. And they were only getting started…
The 1911 Series echoed a classic rematch of the 1905 contest between the New York Giants and the returning Philadelphia Athletics. Pitching was the most noteworthy aspect of the previous Series with 5 shutouts in 5 games and the confident Giants were poised for another outstanding performance on the mound. Christy Mathewson, their ace with 3 shutouts in the 1905 classic, returned to the big show with a 26-13 record and was backed up by a young emerging lefty named Rube Marquard, who had 24 wins as well. The A's were also ready as their staff including Jack Coombs, Eddie Plank, Chief Bender and Cy Morgan who had combined for 82 victories. Both teams were also dangerous on the other side of the plate. Philadelphia's outfielders Danny Murphy, Bris Lord and Rube Oldring batted a composite .312 and New York had set a long-standing major-league record with 347 stolen bases.
The media frenzy surrounding the 1911 Series was unprecedented due to such an even an unpredictable match-up. The A's, were more than ready to defend their championship title and the Giants were ready to repeat history. Some favored Philadelphia as the returning champions, but many felt that New York was a stronger team after overcoming a difficult season in which their ballpark, the Polo Grounds, had burned to the ground. From April to late June, the Giants played at the yard of the AL's new Highlanders (soon to be Yankees) and still managed to win 99 games with no real "home field" advantage.
Game 1 opened before a record setting attendance of 38,281 at the newly rebuilt Polo Grounds as once again, Chief Bender and Christy Mathewson went head-to-head in a classic pitcher's duel. After taking the lead in the 2nd when Frank Baker scored on a Harry Davis single, the A's stumbled and lost their advantage after several crucial errors in the 4th. Later in the 7th, New York collected the tie-breaker and 2-1 game winner when Chief Meyers scored on a Josh Devore double. In the end, Mathewson had thrown another 6-hitter (6 was becoming his Series standard) and Bender tossed an impressive 5-hitter with 11 K's.
Game 2 looked very familiar as another stalemate broke out on the mound between New York's Rube Marquard and Philadelphia's Eddie Plank. Neither walked a batter and hits were few and far between. With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning, Marquard had retired 2 in a row, but was starting to show signs of weakening. Frank Baker, the A's clean-up man who was only in his 3rd season, took advantage of the pitcher's fatigue and knocked one straight over the right-field wall. The Athletics held on to win 3-1 and tied the Series at a game a piece.
The next day, Baker proved that lightning can strike twice with an encore performance in Game 3. Mathewson had the Giants in the lead 1-0 going into the middle of the 9th when the A's young powerhouse stepped up to the plate and delivered another homer over the right-field wall. The New York pitcher stood in disbelief as he watched a second Giants lead slip away in the final inning. Inspired by Baker's back-to-back performances, the A's also repeated and rallied to a 3-2 triumph in the 11th inning. Both team's aces had gone the distance with Coombs giving up only 3 hits and Mathewson surrendering an unimaginable 9.
Although the last 2 games had been close wins, the A's were showing an incredible resolve and started to play like returning World Champions. The Giants on the other hand, were in shock, after giving up 2 consecutive leads so late in the game, the Series momentum had turned and New York was in trouble. They would have plenty of time to think about it as Game 4 was postponed for an entire week due to rain. When the clouds finally parted, a well-rested Christy Mathewson came back for revenge. This time his long-time advisory, Chief Bender, got the best of him in a 4-2 decision that gave the Athletics a 3 game lead.
Philadelphia came out swinging in Game 5 ready to end it then and there. Coombs had held a 3-0 advantage after 6 innings and a 3-1 lead going into the 9th. Down, but not out, New York found their own resolve and managed to start a comeback rally while going on to win 4-3 in the 10th. Fred Merkle scored Fred Snodgrass off of Philadelphia reliever, Eddie Plank. The Giants had escaped elimination and forced at least one more outing for the championship title.
Unfortunately for Giants fans, the win only prolonged their suffering as New York's luck was about to run out. Philadelphia was disappointed in their failure to shut the door on their opponent in Game 5 and was determined not to fail again. Scoring 4 runs in the 4th and 7 in the 7th, the A's steamrolled the Giants on their way to a 13-2 victory and a second consecutive World Series championship. The Giants had failed miserably at the plate with 6 starters batting .190 or less and earning only 8 runs in 6 games. One man in particular, clean-up man Red Murray went 0 for 21. The A's had truly earned their back-to-back title with great tenacity, although most of the credit went to the inspired performance of "Home Run Baker".
1912: New York Giants (3) vs. Boston Red Sox (4)
Once again, the New York Giants stood atop the standings as the most dominant team in the National League. Still reeling from the devastating loss in the previous World Series, they managed to take comfort in the less-than stellar performance of their rival Philadelphia Athletics. The 2x Champions were slated at the beginning of the season for a "three-peat", but later fell to 3rd place and finished 15 games behind the pennant winning Boston Red Sox.
The Giants had a lot of other reasons to smile during the regular season as left-handed ace, Rube Marquard set a long-standing major-league record by going undefeated in his first 19 starts and later went on to finish with 26 wins. Veteran Christy Mathewson had 23 victories and rookie Jeff Tesreau had won 17 games while leading the National League with an ERA of 1.96. At the plate, New York boasted solid performances by Larry Doyle, who batted .330, Fred Merkle who had a .309 average and Chief Meyers who delivered a .358. Merkle and Doyle had combined for 21 homers and Red Murray led the team with 92 RBIs. New York had won 103 games and the National League pennant by 10 games. Boston was also stacked after a magnificent year on the mound by Smokey Joe Wood who had won 34 out 39 games and pitched 10 shutouts. Offensively, Tris Speaker had dominated the American League pitchers with a .383 batting average.
Boston Manager Jake Stahl gave the Game 1 start to superstar Joe Wood while New York's John McGraw chose newcomer Jeff Tesreau over Series veterans Marquard or Mathewson. Rookies, even 17 game winners, rarely started World Series openers and it would prove to be a fatal mistake in the eyes of many Giants fans as Woods and the Sox took a 4-3 first game advantage. Game 2 was a roller-coaster ride as the Giants overcame a 4-2 deficit in the top of the 8th only to allow the tying run during the Sox's half of the inning. Memories of the previous Series late game comebacks and losses to the A's inspired the Giants to regain a 6-5 lead in the 10th. Boston was able to even the score in their next at bat and almost won after Tris Speaker hit what appeared to be an in-the-park homerun (after reserve catcher Art Wilson dropped the ball at the plate) but it was credited as a triple. Neither team could break through in the 11th inning and once again, a World Series game was called short and went into the books as a 6-6 tie due to darkness.
The next day, Giant ace Rube Marquard lived up to his record-setting reputation and evened the Series with a 2-1 triumph. Despite his best efforts, New York's momentum would not last long. In a Game 4 rematch of the opener, Wood and Tesreau went at it again for another performance of "David vs. Goliath" as Smokey Joe out-dueled the young rookie in a 3-1 victory. Surprisingly, Boston decided to turn the tables for Game 5 by starting their own rookie ace, Hugh Bedient, a 20-game winner, against the Giants' veteran Christy Mathewson. This time the story played out true as the Sox's "David" outmatched the Giants' "giant" with a 2-1 decision.
Not wanting a repeat of last year's Series ending performance, the Giants came out in Game 6 with a renewed sense of urgency and knocked Boston starter Buck O'Brien for 5 runs in the 1st inning on their way to a must-win victory. A rejuvenated, New York carried the same momentum into Game 7, getting revenge on the undefeated Wood with 6 runs in the opening inning. With Marquard pitching a seven-hitter and Tesreau finally turning the tables on Wood, the Giants had won 2 crucial games by 5-2 and 11-4 scores. The best-of-seven battle would require an eighth game. Chasing away the demons from the previous year, New York had finally shown it's own tenacity and was ready to finish the job, but Boston wasn't ready to go home empty handed either.
Once again, New York's John McGraw sparked some pre-game controversy after deciding to start Christy Mathewson, who was winless in his 2 previous appearances, for the Series finale. Not to be outdone, Boston started their own argument by selecting their 22-year-old rookie Bedient, who had defeated Mathewson in Game 5 for the crucial start. Both teams went head-to-head for 9 innings to a tense 1-1 standoff. Mathewson was still pitching for New York, while Wood had taken over in the 8th for Bedient (who left the game in the 7th for pinch-hitter, Olaf Henriksen, whose double had tied the score). In the 10th, New York's Red Murray knocked a one-out double and later scored on a Fred Merkle single. While Wood retired the side without further damage, the Red Sox were faced with trying to rebound from a 2-1 deficit.
Desperate Giant fans had already started celebrating as Boston took their turn at an extra-inning comeback. Pinch-hitter Clyde Engle started the bottom half of the inning with a high fly ball to mid-centerfield. Fred Snodgrass stepped back to make the routine catch and accidentally dropped it. His teammates stood in disbelief as the tying run for Boston was now on second base. The visibly shaken Snodgrass was given the opportunity to "save face" on the very next play and shined with a spectacular catch off a Harry Hooper line-drive. Unfortunately, Engle had now advanced to 3rd and was in prime scoring position. Steve Yerkes followed with a walk and Tris Speaker sent Engle home for the tying run. With Yerkes stationed at third and Speaker on first with one out, Duffy Lewis was walked intentionally. Larry Gardner stepped up and belted a deep sacrifice fly to Josh Devore in right field, while Yerkes tagged up and scored. The Red Sox had come back for a 3-2 victory and their second World Series championship. For the stunned Giants, it was their second consecutive defeat in the Fall Classic and an unbelievable finish to what had otherwise been a magical season.
1913: New York Giants (1) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (4)
In a classic rematch, the New York Giants (who had just won their 3rd consecutive pennant and were making their 3rd consecutive World Series appearance) squared off against their post-season rival Philadelphia Athletics. Giants manager John McGraw was still trying to escape the recurring questions surrounding his selected pitching rotations in the previous Fall Classic that had resulted in a Red Sox victory. Once again, he had taken his team through another magnificent season while winning the National League pennant by 12 1/2 games, but many fans had lost faith in his post-season coaching capabilities. Pitching aces Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson and Jeff Tesreau had been given a second chance and were determined not to make the same mistakes that had cost them game-winning leads in the 1912 championship. Connie Mack's A's were a worthy opponent and many felt that this series would go down to the wire like the last one.
Marquard was given the Giants' start in the opener and was shelled for 5 runs and 8 hits in 5 innings. The last Series' hero "Home Run Baker" validated his handle by driving in 1 run in the 4th and knocking a 2 run homer in the 5th. The Athletics' Chief Bender, faired the same and gave up an unlikely 11 hits while managing a slim 6-4 victory. The Giants' veteran journeyman, Christy Mathewson was given the ball for Game 2. "Matty" as he was called by teammates, was coming off of his next-to-last 20+victory season in the majors as he posted a 25-11 record. The Bucknell star was matched up against his former collegiate rival, Eddie Plank from Gettysburg University. Both aces were at the top of their game, matching each other pitch-for-pitch through 9 scoreless innings. Surprisingly, it was Mathewson himself, who managed to turn his adversary with a 10th inning single setting up a 3-0 triumph.
For Game 3, Mack decided to take a page from the last Series and start a bright 20-year-old rookie named "Bullet" Joe Bush who had won 14 games for him during the regular season. McGraw answered the challenge with his own young gun, Jeff Tesreau, who had successfully debuted as a rookie in the previous Fall Classic. Philadelphia proved to be the better team that day and whopped the Giants' 8-2. The A's maintained their Series leading momentum well into Game 4 and were leading 6-0 after 5 innings. That was until Fred Merkle stepped up to the plate and fueled a Giants' comeback bid with a 3 run homer in the 7th. Bender was able to recover and the A's managed to hold on for a 6-5 victory. The win was Bender's fourth straight in Series competition.
Trailing 3 games to one, New York's Christy Mathewson once again, found himself sharing the mound with Game 1 rival Eddie Plank. However, this time Plank was in control, allowing only 2 hits in a shocking 3-1 decision and Series deciding victory. For the third consecutive year, the New York Giants had played magnificent during the regular season, only to fall short of a championship. It was a heartbreaking defeat to the players and their fans. McGraw and his Giants vowed to shake their "curse" and restore the club to it's former post-season glory. Little did they know that it would be 4 years before they would get another chance.
"Home Run Baker" had led the A's with a .450 batting average and 7 RBIs. Eddie Collins hit .421, while Wally Schang contributed 6 RBIs and a .357 average. Chief Bender's performances in Games 1 and 4 boosted his Series victories to 6. Mathewson, pitching in what would be his final Series, wound up with a 5-5 lifetime mark in the Fall Classic. At one point, he was 4-0 after splitting two decisions in 1913.
1914: Boston Braves (4) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (0)
By 1914, the Philadelphia Athletics had become a World Series regular and had dethroned 2 of major-leagues baseball's first post-season dynasties by beating the mighty Chicago Cubs and New York Giants on more than one occasion. Most of their success had been built on a foundation of solid "big-game" pitching. Chief Bender, a Fall Classic favorite, entered Game 1 with a major-league leading .850 winning percentage and a 17-3 record. His opponent, Dick Rudolph had won 27 games for his Boston Braves. Rudolph pitched a five-hitter and teammate Hank Gowdy made a valiant attempt at a True Cycle when he singled, doubled and tripled. Boston won 7-1 and surprised the presumably overconfident A's who were heavy favorites.
The next day the "Miracle Braves" called on their other ace Bill James who had boasted an impressive 26 wins for his team during the regular season. The A's Connie Mack countered with the 1913 Series winner Eddie Plank and both pitched to a 0-0 standstill after 8 innings. In the top of the 9th, Boston's Charlie Deal hit a one-out double, stole third and scored on a two-out single by Les Mann. In the bottom of the 9th, James walked two batters but got out of the jam by inducing Eddie Murphy to hit into a game-ending double play. James' two-hit, 1-0 victory gave Boston a shocking Series lead of two games to none.
Although the Fall Classic had shifted to Boston, the Braves were still without home-field advantage. Fenway Park (home of the Red Sox) was chosen over their own South End Grounds as a more attractive and inviting venue. Game 3 was anyone's game as the Braves and A's battled to another game extending tie at 2-2 through 9 innings. Once again, "Home Run Baker" came up clutch, hitting a 2 run single off of the Braves starter, Lefty Tyler. The Braves answered back with 2 runs of their own in the bottom of the 10th as Gowdy led off with a timely homer and Joe Connolly produced a run-scoring fly ball later in the inning. Bill James came in as relief for Tyler and shut the Athletics out for the next 2 innings. In the bottom of the 12th, Gowdy knocked a double off of "Bullet" Joe Bush (who had gone the distance) and gave way to a pinch-runner, Mann. After an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Larry Gilbert, Herbie Moran followed with a perfect bunt. Bush grabbed the ball and threw toward the third baseman in an attempt to force Mann, but his throw went wide resulting in much more than an error. Mann jumped at the opportunity and darted home for the 5-4 victory. Boston was now up 3 games to none and the Philadelphia "favorites" were in serious trouble.
After failing to win with the "Big 3" - Bender, Plank and Bush, the Athletics turned to 2nd year man, Bob Shawkey in an effort to get themselves back in the game. The "Miracle Braves" were on the verge of sweeping one of baseball's original dynasties and the A's were running out of options. Shawkey rose to the challenge and shutdown Boston for 3 scoreless innings before giving up one in the 4th. In the next inning, he helped his own cause with a game-tying double, but later surrendered 2 more runs in the bottom of the inning. Game 1 winner, Dick Rudolph held the A's at 1 and the Braves went on to a 3-1 victory and World Series sweep. The Philadelphia Athletics became the first team in World Series history to be eliminated in 4 games (the 1907 Tigers also went winless, but managed a tie game against the Chicago Cubs, extending the contest to 5 games).
Hank Gowdy was a standout for the Braves with 3 doubles, 1 triple and a homer while batting a Series leading .545. Rudolph and James, after accounting for 53 of the Braves' 94 regular-season victories, went undefeated while holding their opponents to a miserable .172 team mark. After their less-than stellar performance Connie Mack's Athletics began rebuilding for the future. Unfortunately, Mack's plan did not include many of the 1914 players. Eddie Collins was traded over the winter, "Home Run Baker" sat out the entire 1915 season in a dispute before being sold to the up-and-coming New York Yankees and both Plank and Bender went off to the Federal League. It didn't stop there, by the middle of 1915, Jack Barry, Eddie Murphy and Bob Shawkey had all been traded or sold. The underdog Braves had not only swept the American League's first real dynasty, they had destroyed it.
1915: Philadelphia Phillies (1) vs. Boston Red Sox (4)
The 1915 Fall Classic was notable mostly for the debut of a young 20-year old lefty named George Herman Ruth. "The Babe" and 5 others from Boston's pitching staff had won 14 or more games for Manager Bill Carrigan on their way to a 101-50 record and were able to edge out the Detroit Tigers for the American League pennant. Another great pitcher, Grover Cleveland Alexander, a 31 game winner, and his Phillies had just won their first National League title and were ready to take their shot at the big one. Philadelphia was also stacked at the plate with Gavvy Cravath, who had led the league with 24 homers and 115 RBIs.
Alexander was given the opening start against Ernie Shore and later emerged as both a 3-1 winner and the first World Series pitcher to shut down baseball's biggest legend. Ruth, who despite his 18 victories was limited to this one appearance (as a pinch-hitter for Shore) grounded out in the 9th. Little was said at the time as no one could have possibly predicted what the future held for this promising pitcher from Baltimore. Boston turned the tables in Game 2 riding on the back of pitcher Rube Foster who held the Phillies to 3 hits and drove in the winning run in the 9th inning. Foster's one man show was witnessed by Woodrow Wilson, who was the first president ever to attend a Fall Classic. A true fan of the game, his appearance validated baseball as America's national pastime and many future chief executives would follow his lead.
With the contest now tied at a game apiece, both teams traveled to Boston for Game 3. The cross-town Braves returned the favor from last year's championship by allowing the use of their yard in place of Fenway Park. Although the home of the Red Sox was considered a more attractive facility, Braves Field was much larger and could handle the capacity crowd of over 42,000. Philly ace, Grover Alexander returned for a second appearance against the left-handed Hubert "Dutch" Leonard. In spectacular fashion, the Red Sox pitcher retired the last 20 batters on the way to a 2-1 victory. Duffy Lewis drove home Harry Hooper in the 9th for the Series leading win. It was more of the same the following day when Philadelphia suffered it's 3 consecutive loss due to the outstanding performance on the mound by Game 1's loser Ernie Shore who only allowed 7 hits in another 2-1 triumph. Boston had rolled over the "City of Brotherly Love" and wasn't showing any signs of slowing down.
Despite the valiant efforts of first baseman Fred Luderus and reliever Eppa Rixey, Philadelphia was unable to hang on in Game 5. Offensively, Luderus had driven in a 2 run double and added a homer in the fourth giving his mates a 4-2 lead. Defensively, Rixey, who had taken over for Erskine Mayer in the 3rd, shut out Boston through the 7th. However, the Phillies ran out of luck in the 8th inning after Duffy Lewis launched a game-tying, 2 run blast. Later in the 9th, Hooper added his 2nd homerun for a 5-4 victory and the Red Sox' 3rd world championship. In a strange twist, the two other teams from Boston and Philadelphia, who were previous World Series contenders, experienced a very different story in 1915. Boston's "Miracle Braves" had run out of divine intervention and barely finished 2nd in the NL and the Philadelphia Athletics, a Fall Classic mainstay, had completely disbanded and ended up in last place 58 1/2 games behind the AL leading Red Sox. Babe Ruth's modest contribution went unnoticed although he would soon become the focal point of a World Series controversy that would haunt the Boston franchise for many years to come.
1916: Brooklyn Robins (1) vs. Boston Red Sox (4)
Another World Series newcomer, the Brooklyn Robins (later known as the Dodgers) had paved their way to the 1916 Fall Classic with solid hitting by Zack Wheat and standout pitching from the arm of Jeff Pfeffer, a 25 game winner. They also boasted 2 World Series veteran acquisitions in Rube Marquard and Jack Coombs who had made several post-season appearances with the Giants and A's. The deck appeared stacked in their favor, but the returning world champion Red Sox would have something to say about that. Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson felt that starting 2 lefthanders would give his team an upper hand, so he nominated veteran Marquard and another standout, Sherry Smith for Games 1 and 2 in Boston. Once again, the Red Sox turned to the cross-town Braves Field in favor of Fenway Park to handle to ever-increasing World Series crowds. The Robins' Marquard went up against the 1915 opener's loser, Ernie Shore in what first appeared to be a standoff. The Red Sox were up 2-1 through 6 innings with neither pitcher flinching. That was until both clubs started a scoring frenzy. First, the Red Sox knocked Marquard for 3 runs in the 7th (forcing the veteran to be pulled in favor of Pfeffer) and 1 more in the 8th. Brooklyn answered back with 4 runs of their own in the 9th, but Shore, who had pitched a complete game, cinched the rally and held on for the 6-5 win.
Sherry Smith and another young lefty nicknamed The "Babe" went at it for Game 2 in what has been dubbed as both a "double masterpiece" and a 'hitters nightmare". Through 13 innings, both had allowed only six hits and 1 run each. In the bottom of the 14th, Dick Hoblitzell set the stage for a dramatic finish by drawing his 4th walk of the game. Duffy Lewis followed suite by sacrificing Hoblitzell into scoring position at 2nd. With all his pieces in place, Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan prepared to checkmate his opponent by sending in Mike McNally as a pinch-runner and Del Gainor as a pinch-hitter. Gainor stepped up and delivered, driving in Hoblitzell and sealing Boston's 2-1 victory.
Robinson turned to another Series veteran for Game 3, but this time he chose a right-hander in Jack Coombs. In the first World Series game ever to be played at the newly constructed Ebbets Field, he combined with relief from Jeff Pfeffer, to pitch a 4-3 triumph that put his team back into play. Boston came back the very next day with a counter attack from Hubert "Dutch" Leonard who threw an 8-hitter in a 6-2 reply. Larry Gardner backed him up by adding his 2nd homer in 2 days with a 3-run blast. Series veteran Ernie Shore returned in Game 5 for the Red Sox and shut the door on the Robins with a 4-1, Series deciding victory. The "Beantown Bombers" had joined the ranks of baseball's elite as back-to-back world champions without ever playing a single post-season game in their own house. One of Brooklyn's few standouts, an outfielder named Casey Stengel (who batted a Series leading .364) would go on to become one of the most successful post-season managers in the history of baseball. Unfortunately for Brooklyn fans, it would be with the New York Yankees and 4 of his wins would be over the Dodgers.
1917: New York Giants (2) vs. Chicago White Sox (4)
The Giants finally returned to the Fall Classic after a 4 year hiatus ready to make amends for the 3 consecutive championship losses that they had suffered earlier in the decade. It would be their 5th appearance and the 2nd of their rivals, Chicago's South Side White Sox. 1917 had been a year of many firsts including the first back-to-back no-hitters ever thrown in the American League. On May 5th, Ernie Koob tossed a shutout for St. Louis against Chicago and the very next day his teammate, Bob Groom did the same. Apparently, the second game had been determined by the umpires who changed a scored "hit" in the 1st inning to an error. An outraged Writers Association quickly passed a resolution disallowing such actions for all future games. Some league Umpires were beginning to become unpopular with the players and the no-hitter controversy didn't help their situation. The following month, Babe Ruth started his June 23rd outing with four called balls. The Boston lefty was upset with each call and visited umpire Brick Owens at the plate each time. After the official issued a base on balls to Eddie Foster, Ruth charged the plate and punched him in the face, resulting in an ejection.
The Giants were probably upset too as they found themselves in familiar territory midway through the Series. After 5 relatively uneventful outings, New York was down 3 games to 2. Their starter, Rube Benton and Chicago's (Game 2 and 5 winner) Red Farber were locked in a 0-0 struggle going into the 4th inning when it all came crashing down. The White Sox's Eddie Collins hit a routine grounder to Heinie Zimmerman who overthrew the base. Next, teammate Dave Robertson made another crucial error on a dropped fly-ball from Joe Jackson. In 2 at bats, Chicago had put runners on 1st and 3rd due entirely to poor fielding. The Giants weren't done yet and made another costly misplay on the very next at bat. Happy Felsch stepped up with runners in prime scoring position and grounded back to the mound. Benton saw Collins break from 3rd and threw to Zimmerman in an attempt to get Collins hung up. The 3rd baseman ran Collins toward home, but the White Sox star somehow evaded catcher Bill Rariden to make it a Zimmerman-Collins race to the plate. Collins won the dash with the other 2 runners advancing to 2nd and 3rd. Fundamental baseball had killed the Giants as Rariden, Benton and first baseman Walter Holke, had all left the plate unattended. New York cut the lead to 1 in the 5th, but it wasn't enough as the White Sox walked away with a 4-2 victory and their 2nd World Series championship.
While Faber's Series winning performance grabbed most of the headlines, the Giants' Robertson was another standout. Despite his costly error in Game 6, he had salvaged some respect with his 11-for-22 performance at the plate. Collins was praised, too, as evidenced by his .409 average for the White Sox. One other notable event took place during the 1917 Series as Olympic athlete and football star Jim Thorpe made the only post-season "appearance" of his major-league career in Game 5. Unfortunately, he never made it onto the field. Listed as the Giants' #6 man in the line-up, the right-handed Thorpe was strategically removed for the left-handed pinch-hitter, Robertson after Chicago lifted lefty Reb Russell in favor of righty Eddie Cicotte. Still the biggest story of the 1917 Fall Classic was the New York Giants and their everlasting potential for post-season disasters.
1918: Chicago Cubs (2) vs. Boston Red Sox (4)
In the wake of America's entry into World War 1, the U.S. government called for a shortened season (ending on Labor Day) as well as an accelerated Series to take place immediately after. The perennial "Fall Classic" was temporarily transformed into a "Late-Summer" version and ran from September 5th to the 11th. In the first of many, the 1918 season was the first to show the effects of wartime on baseball. Many of the league's elite players were called up to serve their country and the overall quality of teams suffered as a result. Still, America's national pastime carried on smartly while helping to raise money (and the spirits) of concerned citizens everywhere. More than just a game, baseball would serve this role time and time again for many years to come.
Despite their thinning line-ups, Boston's "Beantown Bombers" had dominated the American League on the way to their 5th World Series appearance. With an undefeated post-season record of 4-0 (they had won as both the Red Sox and the Pilgrims) they were primed and ready for #5. With an elite pitching staff including Carl Mays, "Sad" Sam Jones and "Bullet" Joe Bush, not to mention the multi-talented Babe Ruth, Ed Barrow's team had won the shortened AL pennant race with a 75-51 record. Ruth split time between the outfield and the mound for the first time in his young career and managed to toss13 wins, bat .300 and hit a league leading 11 homers. Their National League rivals, the Chicago Cubs were returning to the big show with an impressive 84-45 tally and an equally promising group on the mound. "Hippo" Vaughn had led the NL with 22 victories and was backed up by Claude Hendrix with 20 wins and Lefty Tyler with 19.
The Cubs opened Game 1 at Comiskey Park, home of the cross-town rival White Sox, rather than their own Weeghman Park (later named Wrigley Field) due to it's larger seating capacity. Trading ballparks was not that unusual back in the day, as the Red Sox had chosen Braves Field over their own Fenway Park for their previous 2 Series appearances. Babe Ruth continued to build on his post-season legacy by extending his consecutive scoreless innings from 13 to 22 against "Hippo" Vaughn in a 1-0 victory. Lefty Tyler managed to even it up the following day by throwing a 6-hit, 3-1 decision. Vaughn returned for revenge in Game 3 backed by his teams newfound momentum, but fell short after losing a 3-1 heartbreaker to Carl Mays.
A well-rested Ruth returned to the mound for Game 4 and increased his scoreless streak to a record 29 consecutive innings with a 3-2 win that also featured a great performance at the plate. The Babe had delivered the winning hit as well with a huge 2-run triple in the 4th. Boston was now up 3 games to 1. Vaughn finally had his revenge in Game 5 tossing a 5-hitter and blanking the Red Sox with a 3-0 triumph, but it would be all the Cubs could muster. Game 6, would be their last stand as Mays buried the hatchet in the form of a 3-hit 2-1 triumph that ended the Series and crowned his franchise as 5x world champions. Boston's grand finale almost didn't take place as the game was delayed due to a heated players debate over gate receipts. Series shares would be reduced drastically because, for the first time, all first-division clubs shared in the revenue. Without a doubt, pitching was easily the most notable statistic of the 1918 Series. Boston's pitchers had combined for an impressive 1.70 ERA and Chicago's boasted an even better 1.04. Neither team scored more than three runs in a game and there wasn't a single homerun in all 6. The victorious Sox batted a miserable.186 and the losing Cubs swung a lowly .210.
1919: Cincinnati Reds (5) vs. Chicago White Sox (3)
Even a casual baseball fan can tell you a little something about the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919. The very fiber that held the game together was challenged when the news broke a year after the series that a fix was on from the first inning of game. Eight members of the participating White Sox including pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude (Lefty) Williams, outfielders Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch, first baseman Chick Gandil, shortstop Swede Risberg, third baseman Buck Weaver and reserve infielder Fred McMullin were all charged with conspiring to fix the outcome of the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. Cynics were tipped off before the Series even started when the pre-game betting odds swapped shortly before the first game. Chicago's White Sox were originally slated as heavy favorites, but were later changed to underdogs in favor of the Cincinnati Reds. Despite the rumors, most fans and members of the press accepted the games to be true, but all that would change in 1920 as suspicions turned into confessions.
The first Game of the 1919 scandal featured an outstanding and "authentic" performance by the Reds' pitcher Dutch Ruether. In addition to going the distance in a 6-hitter, he went 3 for 3 with 2 triples and 3 RBIs. Greasy Neale, who would go on to lead his team in hitting with a .351, also performed well at the plate in tandem with teammate Jake Daubert. The White Sox put on quite a show themselves, losing 9-1 in questionable fashion. Nothing changed the following day as Cincinnati's Slim Sallee faired the same, tossing a 4-2 Game 2 victory that was sealed by a Larry Kopf 2-run triple in the 4th. Dickey Kerr, an up and coming rookie for the White Sox, drew the start for Game 3. Apparently untouched by the scandal, the tough lefthander refused to roll over and threw a 3-hit 3-0 winner to put Chicago back in the race (whether they wanted to be or not).
The inspired Reds, unaware that a fix was on, pitched back-to-back shutouts in Games 4 and 5 on the arms of Jimmy Ring (2-0) and Hod Eller (5-0) who sat down 6 consecutive batters. But wait! It wasn't over yet... In any other year, the Series would have ended there, but 1919 was different. Due to the intense postwar interest, the commissioner of baseball had decided to extend this Fall Classic to a best-of-nine affair.
To curb further suspicion, the "Black Sox" decided to make a "reasonable effort" and rebounded in the following 2 games with 5-4 and 4-1 victories. Cincinnati "dominated" the final outing "with a little help" from their crooked rivals in a 10-5 stomp that started with 4 runs in the 1st inning. The Reds had won their first world championship in their first Fall Classic appearance. Unfortunately, the victory would be bittersweet after the scandal had been confirmed a year later. The "Black Sox" had been able to camoflague their deception by being selective in their misdeeds. Joe Jackson had batted a Series-leading .375 but acknowledged that he had let up in key situations. Buck Weaver had also performed well at the plate by hitting .324. Chick Gandil had game-deciding hits in 2 outings and Eddie Cicotte had tossed a one-run game to avoid elimination.
After a lengthy investigation in 1920, the members of Chicago's tainted team were amazingly acquitted the following year despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). All of the players involved were banned from baseball because of their undeniable link to gamblers. The league offices were constantly denying accusations from the press that professional baseball itself was in on the take and made every effort to assure the fans that the 1919 scandal was an isolated incident. "Regardless of the verdict of juries," the commissioner said in a statement, "no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever again play professional baseball." To this day participants in the "Black Sox" conspiracy have been denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1920: Brooklyn Robins (2) vs. Cleveland Indians (5)
As America was welcoming in a new and promising decade, baseball was longing for days gone by. The 1919 World Series had sparked a major controversy amid rumors of a gambling fix. Eight members of the participating Chicago White Sox were all charged with conspiring to throw the Fall Classic against the Cincinnati Reds. After a lengthy investigation and highly publicized trial (lasting until 1921), the "Black Sox" were acquitted despite their own confessions (which were recanted later). However, all of the players involved were later banned from baseball because of their undeniable link to gamblers. Throughout the 1920 season, the league offices were constantly denying accusations from the press that professional baseball itself was in on the take and made every effort to assure the fans that the 1919 scandal was an isolated incident. In an effort to win back the fan's approval, the commissioner decided on another best-of-nine series and went to great lengths to promote the integrity of baseball in the papers. Still, many wondered if the fan's trust in baseball and more specifically, the World Series would ever fully recover. Only time would tell as the National League's Brooklyn Robins (who would later become the Dodgers) returned for their second series appearance against the American's Cleveland Indians.
In Game 1, Cleveland's starting right-hander, Stan Coveleski, stifled Brooklyn's line-up in a 5-hit, 3-1 opening winner, but the Robins answered back quickly in Game 2 with a fantastic performance by Burleigh Grimes, who tossed a 7-hit, shutout that ended in a 3-0 series-tying victory. Brooklyn maintained their momentum over the Indians in Game 3 on the arm of Series veteran Sherri Smith, who threw a 2-1, 3-hitter to take the early lead. Coveleski returned for Game 4 against Leon Cadore, who had gone the distance in one of the longest games in baseball history just five months earlier, a 26-inning 1-1 tie with Boston. Surprisingly, the Brooklyn workhorse only lasted 1 inning (in his only Series start) which ended in a 5-1 Cleveland decision.
With the Series tied at 2 games apiece, Brooklyn's Burleigh Grimes, returned to rematch Cleveland's Jim Bagby. This time, the Indians line-up came out swinging and promptly loaded the bases in the bottom of the 1st. Elmer Smith, a 28 year-old outfielder, stepped up to the plate and into the record books by smashing the first grandslam in World Series history. The historic blast scored Charlie Jamieson, Bill Wambsganss, Tris Speaker (as well as Smith) sending the home team crowd into a deafening frenzy that set the tone for the rest of the game. The score remained 4-0 until the 4th when Bagby homered off of his rival with 2 men on base. Now with a 7-0 lead, the Indians looked to have the advantage, although their pitcher had already given up Series high 8-hits in 4+ innings. Brooklyn had yet to score, but was headed in the right direction with Pete Kilduff and Otto Miller on base and in scoring position. Relief pitcher Clarence Mitchell, who had entered the game in the fourth, was Brooklyn's next batter. The versatile Robin, who was used as a pinch-hitter, outfielder and utility infielder hit a sharp line drive to 2nd baseman Bill Wambsganss who caught the ball, stepped on the bag and tagged out a returning Miller to complete the first triple play (completely unassisted) in World Series history. After managing to score a run in the 9th, Brooklyn fell to the Indians in an 8-1 loss.
Cleveland remained in control and went on to shutout the Robins in both Games 6 and 7. Brooklyn's recently acquired Waiter Mails threw a superb 3-hit, 1-0 winner and Coveleski returned for his third 5-hitter of the Series in a 3-0 masterpiece. Amazingly, the Indian's pitching staff had held the Robins to just 2 runs in the final 43 innings of the Series on their way to their first world championship. The victory was bittersweet though as the team was still recovering from the loss of one of it's own. Ray Chapman, a 29 year-old shortstop known for excellent defense and leadership, died after being struck by a pitch on August 16 in New York. His teammates had persevered, gone the distance and went on to dedicate their win in his memory. For the 2nd consecutive season, a "first-timer" had won the championship, but this time… it was legit.
1920 will also be remembered as the year that witnessed the birth of one of sports greatest dynasties and the death of another. The New York Yankees, previously known as the laughable Highlanders, purchased an outfielder/pitcher named George Herman Ruth from the financially strapped Boston Red Sox. Ruth, who had hammered 29 homeruns (a major-league record for Boston in 1919), brought the game into a new era in 1920 by knocking out 54. He also set attendance records at the Polo Grounds as he and the Yankees, playing their home games in the Giants' park, outdrew John McGraw's team by more than 350,000.
1921: New York Giants (5) vs. New York Yankees (3)
If the 1920 season had left Boston wondering if they had made a mistake, then the 1921 season surely removed any doubt. Babe Ruth was in New York and busy breaking his own records for the 2nd consecutive season. As the Red Sox were struggling to stay competitive, the Yankees were still getting used to winning after coming off of a 3rd place A.L. finish during the Babe's "rookie" season in a pinstriped uniform. Nothing changed in 1921 as their new acquisition raised his homerun record to a staggering 59, his RBI total to 171 and his batting average to .378 on the way to their first American League pennant and World Series appearance. The Babe wasn't alone though as teammate Bob Meusel contributed 24 homers and 135 RBIs and the rest of the Yankees batted .288 or higher. Two other "ex Red Sox", Carl Mays (a 27 game winner) and Waite Hoyt (with 19) added insult to injury while Bob Shawkey added 18 more victories.
The National League's Giants were veterans to the Fall Classic and had plenty to smile about themselves. With a line-up of "lumberjacks" including Frankie Frisch, Ross Youngs, George Kelly and Irish Meusel and a solid pitching staff known as the "fearsome foursome" (Art Nehf, Fred Toney, Jesse Barnes and Phil Douglas), they promised to give Babe Ruth and his re-born Yankees a run for their money. In the first World Series to be played entirely in one ballpark (the Polo Grounds), the Big Apple's "rival roommates" squared off in the first official "Subway Series". Despite rumors of Ruth on the mound, Miller Huggins gave the Game 1 start to Carl Mays while John McGraw selected Phil Douglas. The Yankee's pitchers quickly set the tone for the Series with an opening 3-0 victory that was repeated the following day with a 2-hit, 3-0 triumph by Waite Hoyt.
Down but not out, the Giants managed to come back in Game 3 after trailing 4 runs in the 4th. After tying it up in the bottom the inning, McGraw's team rallied for 8 runs in the 7th thanks to Ross Youngs' bases-loaded triple. In the end, the Yankees had blinked and were taken for 20 hits and a 13-5 victory that turned the momentum back to the veterans. The Giants continued as Douglas returned the following day and vindicated himself with a 4-2 win that tied the Series at 2 games apiece. Game 5 was even more dramatic as an injured Babe Ruth shocked everyone with a key bunt in the 4th inning, setting up the winning run off a Bob Meusel double. The Yankees had regained their composure and walked away with a 3-1, Series leading victory, but at a terrible cost as their most valuable player would be unable to continue due to arm and knee ailments.
Despite the absence of the Babe, the Yankees still felt confident with their remaining line-up. That was until they lost Game 6, 8-5 and Game 7, 2-1. Great performances at the plate by Irish Meusel and Frank Snyder as well as a solid outing on the mound by Phil Douglas had put the Giants out in front. Game 8 evolved into a classic pitcher's duel between Waite Hoyt and Art Nehf, who led the standoff 1-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. In a last chance effort, the desperate Yankee skipper went to his bench and replaced the struggling Wally Pipp (who had batted a miserable .154) with the still injured Babe Ruth who grounded out to first. Two plays later, the Series was over with the Giants winning 5 games to 3.
Although they had fallen short in their first World Series appearance, the Yankees had shown a glimpse of what would become a dynasty. Waite Hoyt had not allowed a single earned run in 27 innings and Carl Mays had been just as effective with an ERA of 1.73 over 26. Ruth batted an impressive .313 and added his first World Series homer and 4 RBIs. After 4 straight losses, the Giants had finally reclaimed the championship title for the first time since 1905.
1922: New York Giants (4) vs. New York Yankees (0)
The defending A.L. champion Yankees entered the 1922 season still recovering from a devastating loss to the Giants and without 2 of their star players. Both Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel had been suspended for an unauthorized barnstorming tour after the 1921 Series. To make matters worse, Commissioner Landis handed Ruth additional suspensions after several run-ins with umpires and other indiscretions off the field. In fact, the Babe did not play until May 20th and had only made 110 appearances out of 154 games at the end of the pennant race. His stats plummeted as a result, dropping him to 3rd in homers (with 35) and out of the top 5 for RBI's (with 99). Still, the Yankees managed to hold onto their A.L. crown and prepared for a rematch against the defending World Champion New York Giants.
The Yankees had continued to pillage the Boston Red Sox acquiring Everett Scott and Joe Dugan as well as Whitey Witt from the Philadelphia Athletics. The Giants had made some great deals too in trading for 3rd baseman Heinie Groh and pitcher Jack Scott. Once again, New York was host to its 2nd consecutive "Subway Series" which had finally reverted back to a best-of-seven format.
Game 1 found the Giants in familiar territory as they rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the 8th on their way to a 3-2 victory. Newly acquired Heinie Groh performed exceptionally well going 3 for 3 despite the best efforts of Joe Bush who had shut out his hometown rivals through 7 innings. Things started differently in Game 2 as the Giants quickly set the pace with a 3-run homer off of Yankee veteran Bob Shawkey in the top of the 1st. Not to be outdone, the Yankees managed to tie it up with runs in the 1st, 4th and 8th innings. Both sides dug in for what promised to be a dramatic finish, but umpire George Hildebrand insisted on calling the game due to "darkness" after the 10th inning. With at least a ½ hour of sunlight left, the fans were outraged and demanded the official's resignation. In an effort to make the best of a bad public relations situation, the league decided that the gate receipts would be donated to various New York charities.
Babe Ruth's difficulties had continued to plague him well into the post-season and it wasn't looking any better for Game 3. At this point in the Series, the "Sultan of Swat" had gone 2 for 8 with 1 measly RBI and his teammates weren't looking any better. Giant's pitcher Jack Scott, who had compiled an impressive 8-2 record in only 17 games, blanked the Yankees with a 4-hit, 3-0 triumph and set a momentum that would last for the rest of the Series. Hugh McQuillan took the mound for the Nationals in Game 4 and notched a complete 4-3 win backed up by the slugging of Dave Bancroft. Art Nehf returned for Game 5 and the clincher (as he had in the previous year) in a 5-3 triumph that netted the Giants their 2nd consecutive title. Not only had the Giants pitching staff dominated the last 3 games for a back-to-back championship, they had done so while holding baseball greatest slugger to a miserable 0 for 9 record. The Bambino wound up with two hits in 17 at-bats for a .118 average and his teammates hit only .203 as a team.
1923: New York Giants (2) vs. New York Yankees (4)
The term "home field advantage" took on a whole new meaning in 1923 as baseball's grand cathedral, Yankees Stadium, opened much to the dismay of the Giants. Although the 2x defending champions would finally reclaim the Polo Grounds for themselves, "The House That Ruth Built" towered over their yard and featured an enormous seating capacity with an architectural beauty that was second to none. With the addition of a third ballpark, New York had established itself as THE premier city for professional sports entertainment. A sports columnist from Philadelphia had written that thousands of years in the future archeologists would uncover ruins in the lower Bronx that would resemble that of ancient Rome's coliseums. The Giants had generously shared their field with the Yankees (and Highlanders) since 1913 but now found themselves standing in the shadow of their cross-town rivals.
Although the Yankees had lost 2 consecutive World Series to the Giants, they were quickly becoming the more popular of the 2. The soon to be penned "Bronx Bombers" boasted the game's top player, the largest arena, and the best record in baseball after winning their 3rd A.L. pennant by a 16 game margin. Once again, the "Subway Series" was on as the Yankees and the Giants met for the 3rd consecutive year. In a strange twist, Giants' outfielder, Casey Stengel, who would later become one of the most successful and beloved Yankee managers, beat his future team in Game 1 with an inside-the-park home run off of Joe Bush to break a 4-4 tie in the 9th. The Yankees record was now 0-9 (8 losses and 1 tie) in Series games against the Giants, but New York had Babe Ruth and he would have something to say about that. After a disappointing season plagued with suspensions and poor play in 1922, the Babe was back in action, hitting .394 and sharing the home run title with the Phillies' Cy Williams (with 41). He was in top form for Game 2, hitting homers in the 4th and 5th innings on the way to a 4-2 victory at the Polo Grounds.
Game 1 hero Casey Stengel once again stole the spotlight in Game 3. Through six innings, the Yankees' Sam Jones and the Giants' Art Nehf were locked in a scoreless battle. Then, with one out in the 7th, Stengel homered into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium for the win. Not to be outdone, the Yankees dominated the next 2 outings while totaling 16 runs with 27 hits resulting in 8-4 and 8-1 victories. New York coasted through Games 4 and 5 on the arm of Joe Bush and the bat of Joe Dugan. Finally, the Yankees had beaten the Giants for their first world championship in their brand new stadium (which featured crowds in excess of 62,000 and over $1million dollars in ticket sales). In addition, Babe Ruth had finally beaten his post-season demons, hitting 3 home runs, a triple, a double and 2 singles while batting .368.
1924: New York Giants (3) vs. Washington Nationals (4)
After struggling to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the N.L. pennant by only 1 1/2 games, the New York Giants once again found themselves competing in their 8th World Series in 14 years. Their challengers, the Washington Nationals, had topped the American League and were determined to bring home a championship to the nation's capital. Game 1 promised a great Series as league-standout Walter Johnson and veteran Art Nehf went head-to-head in a 12-inning nail-biter that ended in a 4-3 Giants victory. Although Johnson had struck out 12 New Yorkers, "The Big Train" had allowed 14 hits and 6 walks. After winning 2 out of the next 3, Washington was pounded in Game 5 when Johnson surrendered 13 more hits including 4 by Fred Lindstrom on the way to a devastating 6-2 loss. The Nationals' ace was now 0-2 and they were one game away from elimination.
Washington managed to stay afloat thanks to a solid performance at the plate by Bucky Harris (who knocked a 2-run single in the 5th) and the arm of Tom Zachary, who held the Giants in tow for a crucial 2-1 win that tied the Series at 3 games each. Game 7 at Griffith Stadium provided a perfect backdrop for the Senators "Grand Finale". Although the Giants looked to add yet another title to their resume (with a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th) a critical fielding error by the Giants'18-year-old third baseman Fred Lindstrom (on a routine grounder) netted 2 runs and a last minute tie. The stalemate continued until the 12th thanks to "big" relief from "The Big Train". Once again, the Giants committed 2 major fielding errors including a replay of the missed grounder to 3rd and a dropped foul by catcher Hank Gowdy, who tripped over his mask. Fittingly, it was Walter Johnson who had turned his game around (after 2 poor outings) in a 4-3 triumph that gave the Nationals' their first world championship. The 1924 contest was John McGraw's last championship appearance (although he would manage the Giants until 1932) and he would end it with a 3-6 Series record. Despite losing twice as many match-ups, the Giants skipper is currently 2nd all-time for World Series appearances (behind Casey Stengel with 10).
1925: Pittsburgh Pirates (4) vs. Washington Nationals (3)
As the "Roaring Twenties" reached their midpoint, the Washington Nationals returned for their 2nd consecutive Fall Classic against one of the Series' original pioneers, the Pittsburgh Pirates. After defeating the perennial Giants in a 7 game thriller the previous year, the Nationals showed no signs of slowing down and quickly set the pace by winning Game 1 with little resistance. The next day the Pirates evened the score with a 3-2 victory on the arm of Vic Aldridge (who had gone the distance) and the swing of Kiki Cuyler who knocked a 2-run homer in the 8th. Both teams continued to trade W's as the Nationals netted a 4-3 win thanks to spectacular fielding by Sam Rice and the Pirates' Vic Aldridge returned for a 6-3 triumph over Stan Covelski.
The Pirates maintained their momentum for a crucial 3-2 victory in Game 5 due to the efforts of rookie 2nd baseman Eddie Moore and 2nd year pitcher Ray Kremer. Moore had broken a tie in the 8th with a monster blast and Kremer held the Nationals to just 6 hits. With the Series tied at 3 games apiece, it would all come down to the final outing at historic Forbes Field. Veteran ace, Walter Johnson (who had won Game 7 the year before) drew the start against the Pirates' Vic Aldridge in what promised to be a fantastic finish. In 1925, "The Big Train" had reached 20+ wins for the 12th season and was within 4 wins of the 400 mark (and he had done it entirely in a Washington uniform). "Old Reliable" was coming off of a 15-7 season with the Pirates and was the only pitcher in Pittsburgh's rotation that was a billed in the New York papers as a "worthy opponent of the mighty Johnson".
The press couldn't have been more wrong about Aldridge as the Nationals tagged him for 4 runs in the 1st before being pulled and lasting only 1/3 of an inning. Washington maintained control with a 6-3 lead going into the 4th, but Johnson broke down as well on the way to surrendering 15 runs in 8 innings. They managed to hold onto a 6-4 lead thanks to several fielding errors on the Pirates' part but paid back the favor with several follies of their own including the 7th error by Roger Peckinpaugh who was having an awful postseason. Capitalizing on the National's backslide, Pie Traynor stepped up and laced a timely game-tying triple (but was tagged out himself as he tried to reach home). Pirates' reliever Ray Kremer took the mound against a desperate Washington team who must have cringed at the site of "Series goat" Peckinpaugh stepping up to the batter's box. The 34-year old veteran had experienced every ballplayer's nightmare with one error in Game 1, two in Game 2, one in Game 3, another in Game 5, one in Game 6 and, to this point, one in Game 7. Even worse, he had gone 5-23 at the plate. However, all that was momentarily forgotten as the struggling workhorse launched a rocket into the left-field seats, giving his team the 7-6 lead. Things appeared to be going in the Giants favor as Johnson sat down the first 2 Pirates in the bottom of the 8th. Once again, "goat-turned-hero-turned-goat" Peckinpaugh made a poor throw while attempting to record a forceout at second allowing Eddie Moore and Max Carey to reach base. Game 2 hero, Kiki Cuyler, sealed the victory with a two-run ground-rule double (the Pirates 8th base hit of the day). The defending champions had fallen hard to the underdog Pirates whose comeback marked the first time a team had rallied from a 3-1 deficit in games to win a best-of-seven Series.
While Max Carey batted a Series-leading .458 for Pittsburgh and Aldridge and Kremer each won two games, the focus fell mainly on Washington's players. Goose Goslin had hit 3 Series home runs for the second straight year; Joe Harris hit .440 (with 3 HRs) and Sam Rice, batted .364 and played exceptional defense. One particular play involving Rice sparked a controversy that would last for over 50 years: In the 8th inning of Game 3 (with the Nationals leading by 1 run), the fielder tumbled into the right-field stands while reaching for a line drive. After several seconds he reemerged holding the ball signaling the out. Understandably, the Pirates contested umpire Cy Rigler stating that a Washington fan may have stuffed the ball into Rice's glove. Questions about that moment followed Rice for the rest of his life resulting in a letter being sent to the Hall of Fame Officials (to be opened after his death in 1974) that stated simply, "At no time did I lose possession of the ball."
1926: St. Louis Cardinals (4) vs. New York Yankees (3)
Once again, the New York Yankees had risen to the top of the American League with solid pitching and spectacular hitting by the soon to be penned "Murderer's". Babe Ruth was joined in the spotlight by 2 young up-and-coming sluggers named Lou Gehrig and Earle Combs who hit .348 and .357 during the regular season. Their opponents, the National League's St. Louis Cardinals, had similar success with Rogers Hornsby, a .317 hitter, and pitchers Flint Rhem and Bill Sherdel who had won 20 and 16 games respectively.
Both teams looked to be strong on both sides of the plate, but the Yankees remained heavy favorites after dethroning the Giants' dynasty in the previous Series. Rookie Lou Gehrig had a fantastic debut in Game 1 driving in the winning run for a 6-3 opening victory. New York was not as fortunate in Game 2 as the Cardinals returned with a vengeance for a 6-2 payback. Grover Alexander went the distance against 3 Yankees pitchers including Urban Shocker, Bob Shawkey, who came on in the 8th, and Sam Jones who finished the 9th. Things didn't get any better for the favorites in Game 3 as once again, a Cardinal pitcher (Jesse Haines) lasted all 9 against 3 of New York's finest (Dutch Ruether, Bob Shawkey and Myles Thomas). Haines also contributed the only home run in the 4-0 shutout. The underdog Cards' were now on top 2 games to 1.
Down, but not out, "Murderer's Row" came back in Game 4 with a new resolve. This time it was St. Louis exhausting their bullpen as Yankee vet Waite Hoyt stood tall against 5 Cardinal pitchers including Flint Rhem, Art Reinhart, Hi Bell, Bill Hallahan and finally Vic Keen. The Bambino was back to his old self too, knocking out 3 homers to the Cardinals none. Although the National League champs were still ahead by a single game, serious damage had been done in the 10-5 debacle, as New York was clearly not giving up without a fight. Both teams dug in as Game 5 resulted in a 10 inning pitcher's duel between the Yank's Herb Pennock and Card's Bill Sherdel. The Yankees managed to win it 3-2 and led the Series by 1 game with 2 to go. Game 6 offered a replay of Game 2 as Grover Alexander once again, went the distance in a crucial 10-2 triumph that left Bob Shawkey a loser and Urban Shocker and Myles Thomas unavailable for the final showdown.
Game 7 was a real nail-biter as Jesse Haines and Grover Alexander went head-to-head with Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. Both teams managed 8 hits apiece and Babe Ruth contributed the only homer in the contest. Down 3-2 in the 9th, the Yankees were still in good shape as baseball's greatest slugger stepped up to the plate. The Babe worked the count to 3 and 2, then drew his 11th walk of the Series. Clean-up man Bob Meusel prepared to put the winning run on base, but was denied when the anxious Bambino attempted to steal 2nd. Although he had successfully stolen against the Cardinals in Game 6, he was slow off the start and catcher Bob O'Farrell's throw to Hornsby nailed the Yankees' slugger ending the fall classic. Many fans were furious with Ruth and believed that his mistake had clearly cost the Series. St. Louis had managed to beat the mighty Babe Ruth and his defending world champion Yankees despite mediocre performances from their standout players. Hornsby hit a meager .250 against New York and both Rhem and Sherdel had failed to win a game.
1927: Pittsburgh Pirates (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
1927 witnessed the play of what many baseball historians consider to be the greatest team in the history of baseball, The 1927 New York Yankees. With an all-star lineup known as "Murderer's Row", New York outscored its opponents by nearly 400 runs and hit .307 as a team. Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest ever, set the original single season mark with 60 homeruns which was more than any other American League team had combined. The Sultan of Swat also had plenty of help from his fellow sluggers in pinstripes. Outfield counterparts, Earle Combs in center and Bob Meusel in left, hit .356 and .337 respectively. Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with 47 homers and a league leading 175 RBIs. Second year man Tony Lazzeri ranked third in the loop with 18 homers. The pitching staff boasted four men who won 18 or more wins, led by Waite Hoyt at 22-7. Herb Pennock and Wilcy Moore gained 19 victories apiece while Urban Shocker added 18. This lethal trio complemented the dominant offense by claiming the league's three best ERAs. Moore, who pitched primarily in relief, led the way with a 2.28 mark. With a 110-44 record, the Bronx Bombers ran away with the American League pennant, winning by a staggering 19 games.
On the National League side, the Pittsburgh Pirates had managed a pennant, but were clearly not the caliber that New York represented. Game 1 opened at Forbes Field, but the "homefield advantage" offered the Pirates little comfort in a 5-4 loss that was highlighted by several crucial fielding errors by the home team. Little changed in Game 2 as the Yankees netted another 6-2 victory off the arm of George Pipgras who beat Pittsburgh's Vic Aldridge, Mike Cvengros and Joe Dawson. Herb Pennock, who entered the game with a 4-0 Series record, went the distance for the third outing mowing down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th innings. The result was an 8-1 triumph that left the Yankees 1 win away from sweeping the Series and reclaiming their crown.
Game 7 was anyone's for 9 innings as neither team blinked in a 3-3 stalemate. Pittsburgh manager, Donie Bush, had turned to Carmen Hill, who had peaked in 1927 as the ace of his pitching staff. Hill had never won more than three games, but in 1927, he chalked up 22. New York's Miller Huggins went with Wilcy Moore, a promising rookie who had made only 12 starts in his 50 appearances. Both had planned to go the distance, but the mental fatigue was starting to take its toll. Pittsburgh's John Miljus came in as relief in the 7th and looked strong until the 9th. Earle Combs walked and Mark Koenig beat out a bunt to advance to 2nd and 3rd. In a daring move, Ruth was walked intentionally, filling the bases with no outs and Lou Gehrig coming up next. Miljus managed to strike out the next 2 batters, but threw a disastrous wild pitch to Tony Lazzeri, scoring Combs and ending the game. The Yankees had won their 2nd championship title and the crowning achievement to a magnificent season. They also became the first team ever to sweep the National League in a World Series.
1928: St. Louis Cardinals (0) vs. New York Yankees (4)
After coming off of a magical season, the defending champion Yankees managed to hold off the Athletics to win their 3rd consecutive pennant by 2 1/2 games, but at a serious cost as injuries depleted their line-up. Pitcher Herb Pennock (17-6) was on the sidelines for the Series with a sore arm. Centerfielder Earle Combs was available only as a pinch-hitter because of a broken finger. Second baseman Tony Lazzeri suffered a lame-throwing arm, and Babe Ruth was playing on a bad ankle. The St. Louis Cardinals, however, were all in good shape and ready for a repeat of the 1926 contest when they had dethroned New York 4 games to 3.
For Game 1, Waite Hoyt went up against Bill Sherdel in a classic rematch of David vs. Goliath. The Babe managed to play, despite his inability to run and he and his young protégé both put on quite a show. Ruth had a single and 2 doubles, Gehrig went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs and Bob Meusel knocked a 2 run homer on the way to a 4-1 opening victory. Grover Alexander (who had embarrassed the Yankees and their pitching staff in the '26 Series) returned for Game 2, but lacked the dominating presence of 2 years ago. Lou Gehrig started things off with a 3 run homer in the 1st inning and the Yankees continued to score without resistance on the way to a 9-3 victory.
As expected, Ruth and Gehrig continued to abuse the Cardinals' pitching staff with reckless abandon. The "Iron Horse" launched 3 blasts in Game 3 for a 7-3 win and "The Babe" knocked 3 into the seats in Game 4 (with Gehrig contributing 1) for another 7-3 triumph and a second sweep for the World Championship. Both sluggers had combined to go 16 for 27 at the plate, with a .593 average, 7 homers and 13 RBIs. Ruth set one of many Series records hitting an unbelievable .625 with 10 hits in 4 games. Gehrig hit .545 and set his own record with 9 RBIs in 4 games. It truly was a 2-man show as the rest of the Yankees batted .196, but were supported by solid pitching by Hoyt, George Pipgras and Tom Zachary. The perennial World Champions had managed to save-face after a difficult season and once again proved that they were the best-of-the-best.
1929: Chicago Cubs (1) vs. Philadelphia Athletics (4)
As baseball prepared to close its books on the 1920's, the National League's Chicago Cubs were still looking for their third World Series Championship. Joe McCarthy's team was more determined than ever after losing in their previous 2 attempts (1910 & 1918) and had made it back to the big show on the arm of Pat Malone, who boasted 22 victories during the regular season. On the American League side, one of baseball's original dynasties, the Philadelphia Athletics were back on top after a lengthy rebuilding process. Connie Mack had finally assembled a line-up of talent that brought back memories of the perennial championship A's and featured players like Al Simmons, who had topped the American League with 157 RBIs. The A's were 104-46 in 1929 and won the AL pennant by 18 games over the New York Yankees, who had swept the World Series in 1927 and 1928.
The Athletics' skipper shocked everyone after selecting Howard Ehmke, their 7th best pitcher, for the start in Game 1. The 35 year-old veteran had a 7-2 record with an unimpressive ERA of 3.29. In a brilliant move, Mack had placed Ehmke in the stands at various games to study the Cub's hitters anonymously. His strategy paid off as the surprise underdog went on to beat Charlie Root and Guy Bush in a 3-1 opening victory. George Earnshaw and Lefty Grove maintained the Athletics' momentum with a Game 2 win over 4 of the National League's best. Pat Malone, Sheriff Blake, Hal Carlson and Art Nehf all came up short in a game that featured a combined 23 hits in a 9-3 Philadelphia romp. The Cubs struck back in Game 3 with a crucial 3-1 triumph that put them back in the hunt and set the stage for one of the most exciting comebacks in the history of the World Series.
Game 4 rotated 9 different pitchers including the Cubs' Charlie Root, Art Nehf, Sheriff Blake, Pat Malone, Hal Carlson and the A's Jack Quinn, Rube Walberg, Eddie Rommel and Lefty Grove. Things appeared to remain in Chicago's favor even as Al Simmons added to his league leading stats with a homerun in the bottom of the 7th. Jimmie Foxx, Bing Miller and Jimmy Dykes followed him with singles. With the score still in the Cubs' advantage at 8-3 (with 2 runners on and no outs) Joe Boley stepped up to the plate and delivered another run-scoring single and the 5th consecutive hit off of starter Charlie Root. As the rally continued, Philadelphia had pulled within 4 and Root was pulled in favor of Art Nehf. The veteran lefty had won several crucial games for the New York Giants (in 4 consecutive World Series match-ups) but promptly surrendered 3 more runs on an error by outfielder Hack Wilson, who had let a long drive roll to the fence. The A's line-up had clearly taken control leaving Chicago in shock as they watched their significant lead dissolve to a single run in a single inning. Then, Mickey Cochrane walked as Sheriff Blake came in to replace the struggling Nehf. Simmons, who had started the Athletics' comeback, stepped up for the 2nd time in the inning and added yet another single. Jimmie Foxx returned as well driving in the tying run making it an 8-8 contest. McCarthy's team had fallen into "quicksand" and was sinking fast. Pat Malone was summoned from the bullpen, but nothing changed as he hit Miller with a pitch, loading the bases. Dykes followed suite and slammed a double scoring the 9th and 10th runs of the inning, but Malone dug in and struck out Boley and Burns ending the devastation. Lefty Grove came in to finish to job and retired Chicago in order in the 8th and 9th innings while striking out four consecutive batters. The A's, staring at the likelihood of a 2-2 tie in games when they came to bat in the 7th inning, now boasted a three games-to-one lead after their unlikely 10-8 triumph and looked to close out the Cubs in Game 5.
A battered Pat Malone returned for the start in Game 5 hungry for payback after his team's Game 4 debacle. Paired up against the unlikely Game 1 winner Howard Ehmke, he managed to keep the Cubs' hopes alive with a clutch performance. Both aces were locked in a 0-0 struggle until the 4th inning when Chicago drove in 2 runs and Ehmke off the mound. Rube Walberg came in as relief and matched the NL ace until the bottom of the 9th. With 1 down and a 2 run lead, the Cubs stood 2 outs away from sending the Series back to Wrigley Field, but Max Bishop kept the A's alive with a crucial single. Mule Haas stepped up to the plate for his biggest at-bat of the season and tied the game with a bomb over the right-field wall. Down, but not out, Malone remained tough and got out #2 off a Mickey Cochrane grounder. With 2 down now and 1 to go, the Cubs still had a chance. That was until Al Simmons came up big with a priceless double - forcing the intentional walking of Jimmie Foxx. Bing Miller completed the cycle, hitting one off Shibe Park's scoreboard for the winning run and another World Series Championship. The 3-2 comeback gave Connie Mack's Athletics' their first title since 1913 and sent Chicago packing after surrendering leads in both Games 4 and 5.
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All essays researched and written by Michael Aubrecht.
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