The Phillies are out of it, but I’ve still got World Series fever. Therefore, I thought we’d relive the World Series of 100 years ago. I’ll be writing everyday as Hap Jackson, sports reporter for the Philadelphia Bulletin. I got the idea from this site, which started with a bang but shut down a few months ago. I thought it was a noble pursuit and thought I’d keep it going here for the Series. So expect plenty of photos, facts and bios of the 1911 A’s here in the next couple of weeks, written as if the Series were taking place now.
(October 14th, 1911) NEW YORK– Hello, sports fans and welcome to the 1911 World Series, which begins at 2 p.m. today between the Philadelphia A’s and the New York Giants. This is a highly anticipated matchup, as the two teams took their pennants with little drama. The Giants won by 7 1/2 games, and the A’s looked like a Model T among horse and buggies on the junior circuit, winning by 13 games. There is no question that we are witnessing the two finest battalions in baseball. Let’s look at their starting lineups and see if we can find who has the upper hand. We’ll start with managers.
MANAGER: Very different styles in manager here, the quiet gentleman Connie Mack of the Athletics (in suit) and the tempestuous firebrand John McGraw (in jersey), aka “The Little Napoleon”. Both are effective in their own styles, and quite popular with their men. Mack takes a laid back approach, while McGraw is known for tripping baserunners when the umpire isn’t looking and barking at opposing players to throw off their concentration. Each man will surely send their troops into battle well-prepared.
ADVANTAGE: None. These are two of the finest managers in the game. Despite contrasting styles, they have the full and complete respect of their players and are both expert tacticians.
For A’s and Giants pitching matchups, click here.
For Infield comparisons between the two teams, click here.
For Outfield comparisons, click here.
(October 14, 1911) NEW YORK–If baseball had a Hall of Fame, both squads would have some surefire entries.
GIANTS: Christy Mathewson is as fine of a flamethrower as you will ever lay eyes on, and “Matty” can lay you low with his fadeaway (Later known as a screwball). He went 26-13 with a 1.99 ERA this season, not quite “Matty-esque” (remember that Matty won 37 games in 1908), but none too shabby. He’ll be on the hill this afternoon.
Their #2 option is no Christy Mathewson, but who is? Rube Marquard is a dashing young lefty who really felt his oats this year, going 24-7 with a 2.50 ERA. The Giants are quite pleased with his progress, and have plenty of confidence that their Game 2 pitcher can go the distance.
In a pinch, they can go to Red Ames (11-10, 2.68) or Hooks Wiltse (12-9, 3.27) with confidence.
ATHLETICS: They counter with quite a trio of hurlers. In Game 1, they’ll have the great Redskin Chief Bender on the mound. He is known as the innovator of the nickel change (now known as the slider), and we have no doubt he’ll employ it to confound the Giants’ batsmen.
And don’t think the Giants will see much relief in Game 2, as Eddie Plank takes to the hill. The 36-year old one-upped Ponce De Leon, finding a fountain of youth this year that enabled him to amass a record of 23-8 with but a 2.10 ERA.
And their 3rd pitcher in this Series is led the team in wins with 28. Jack Coombs (right) gives up more runs than the first two pitchers, but the boys tend to rally behind him, as they gave him a record of 28-12 this season.
ADVANTAGE: Mathewson is the best of the bunch, but the Athletics have more depth, as even their #4 pitcher, Cy Morgan, had a mark of 15-7 with a 2.70 ERA. I would give the slightest edge to the Athletics.
(October 14th, 1911) NEW YORK–We wrap up with a look at the outfields of the two teams.In the above photo you’ll see from left to right Bris Lord, Rube Oldring, and Danny Murphy.
ATHLETICS-As good as the infield is, the outfield contains no flat tires either. Left fielder Bris Lord has some pop in his bat, racking up 37 doubles. It is yet to be determined who got the better end of the Lord for Shoeless Joe Jackson deal Mack made last year, but I think it could well be Lord. In Center and batting 2nd the A’s feature Rube Oldring, a New York City native who should right at home at the Polo Grounds. Right field is patrolled by the steady Danny Murphy, who may have a bone to pick with this Giants team. They released him in 1901. The A’s took a flyer on him the next year and my has it paid off handsomely. He had a career year this year, batting .329 and punching in 27 doubles.
GIANTS-Speed, speed and more speed. The fastest outfield ever assembled in baseball history. They have no power (7 homers combined all year) but they are a terror on the base paths. Josh Devore leads them with an impressive 61 swipes. The small Devore (he’s only 5’6″ tall) has a .280 average but a .376 OBP, the Giants left-fielder and leadoff hitter loves to bunt and draw walks so that he can utilize his speed on the basepaths. In center field you’ll find Fred Snodgrass, who loves to get on base and create havoc as well. He had a .393 OBP this season and swiped 51 bases. In right you’ll find Red Murray, who has the best arm of any right fielder in baseball, and who isn’t scared to steal a base or two himself, racking up 48 of them.
ADVANTAGE: A slight nod to McGraw’s men, as their speed on the basepaths is unlike anything every seen on a baseball diamond. Plan on seeing them tormenting A’s catcher Ira Thomas all Series long.
(October 14th, 1911) NEW YORK–We’ve looked at pitchers and managers, not let’s take a look at infields.
ATHLETICS: There is a clear advantage here, as the Athletics $100,000 infield (above) is one of the finest of all time, and probably will be thought of that way 100 years hence! There are no weaknesses here except perhaps inexperience. At first base, you have Stuffy McInnis,only 20 years old, but whose enormous reach is matched only by his batting prowess. He hit .321 this year. At 2nd base, the A’s have a superstar in the making in Eddie Collins. At short, they feature the defensive wizard Jack Barry. If you hit a ground ball within his reach, you might as well start jogging for the dugout. Finally, at third base, you have the vaunted slugger Frank Baker. He hit an incredible 11 long balls this season, tops in the American League. Will the A’s employ that home run strategy, seen as dirty and ungentlemanly by the old timers, in this Series?At catcher, the Athletics employ Ira Thomas, who is vaunted for his excellent arm. One of the key matchups in this Series will be his arm versus the Giants fiery feet. The speedy Giants will be testing that arm early and often.
GIANTS: At first base, the Giants feature young star Fred “Bonehead” Merkle. His running error in the 1908 pennant chase has not yet been forgotten, but if he keeps playing like he did this season it will be a mere footnote on an illustrious career. Merkle hit .283 with 12 homers, 24 doubles, and 49 stolen bases. At 2nd base, the Giants feature Larry Doyle. He finished 3rd in the running for the Chalmers Award (the NL MVP award at the time), and is good at all facets of the game. He can hit for average (.310), power (12 Home Runs), and speed (25 triples and 38 stolen bases). At short, the Giants felt good enough about young Art Fletcher that they bid adieu to former shortstop Al Bridwell midway through the season. The gamble paid off handsomely, as Fletcher responded to his promotion with aplomb, batting .319. At third, the Giants feature a platoon of Art Devlin (.273) and Buck Herzog (.267). The one place in the infield where they certainly have an advantage would seem to be catcher, where the great Chief Meyers holds court. He hit .332 this season, and the Indian has acquired a reputation as calling quite a game.
ADVANTAGE: The teams are fairly even at first base, and both have superstars at second, and shortstop is a tossup. The one position where the A’s have a clear advantage is 3rd, where the champion Baker is quite an upgrade from the Giants platoon. But the Giants catcher is the great Chief Meyers, so they have the obvious advantage there. Overall, it would seem the Athletics would have the slightly better diamond minders, but the Giants are the only team in baseball who can compete with the $100,000 infield.
(October 14th, 1911) NEW YORK–Bris Lord has just stepped into the batter’s box to face Christy Matthewson (2 p.m. start time), and Game 1 of the 1911 World Series is underway! A record crowd is on hand here at Brush Stadium (aka the Polo Grounds). You can “Watch” it live here! I will be giving you a full report in either tonight or tomorrow morning’s edition of the Philly Sports Bulletin. For all of the scouting reports on the two teams, just scroll down.
Matty, Bender engage in duel for the ages!
Devore a hero!
Bender calls his pitch!
38,000 in attendance!
Series shifts back to Philadelphia!
Details in tomorrow morning edition!
The Giants edged the Athletics yesterday afternoon in front of the largest crowd to ever witness a baseball game. 38,281 baseball enthusiasts packed into the new Polo Grounds, and they were treated to a pitching duel between two of the finest hurlers of the stitched potato the game has ever seen. Why, the two twirlers are a combination of Cy Young and Thomas Edison, as they both have invented their own pitches: Bender the nickel change (later known as the slider) and Matty the fadeaway (later known as the screwball). Each tosser mixed these into their arsenal with great effectiveness, keeping the batters on the defensive all afternoon. As for the scene at the ballpark? Well, I’ll let Rex Beach, my contemporary at the New York Times, describe it.
The bleachers were banked solidly by 12 o’clock, for it was a great baseball day. The sun was slightly dimmed by a faint October haze, and the air was sharp enough to be invigorating. It was real hard cider weather, with just the right tang to it.
One noticed first upon looking down at the well kept field that a great shadow, cast by the south wall of the grandstand, was creeping out toward the visitors side, inch by inch. Later, as the game progressed, it was like the implacable shadow of defeat reaching out to engulf the Quakers. It crept slowly across the sward, and it was not until it touched the players bench occupied by Mack and his men that the Athletics weakened.
It was 12:45 when out through a huge whiskey sign in right field came the Elephants (the Athletics), to be met with an ovation (picture above). They came lackadaisically, however, with heavy step and heads down. It was like a funeral march. The Giants on the contrary came with a rush, Devore leading and Matty at his heels. The crowd gave tongue magnificently, and one could not fail to recognize the fact that baseball is the one legitimate outlet for the great American lung.
No man with blood in his veins could have watched the hand of the clock creep around toward the hour of 2 without yielding to the intensity of that multitude. It could be felt and it caused the heart to pound…Then came perhaps the most interesting moment of the game. It was that hush, pending delivery of the first ball, which can be heard. Matty split the plate, and, oh, what a yell! (Photo of the first pitch of the Series is at the top of the story. Notice the shadow Beach wrote of earlier.)
The Athletics drew first blood in the 2nd frame. Frank Baker led off with a single, then went to second on a Danny Murphy groundout back to the mound. A rare Chief Meyer passed ball sent Baker to 3rd, and first baseman Harry Davis (right) came to the plate. The 37-year old, filling in for an injured Stuffy McInnis, did the honors of knocking in the first run of the 1911 World Series with a single.
The Giants drew an equalizer in the 4th. Fred Snodgrass was hit by a pitch, then went to second on a grounder. Buck Herzog hit a grounder to 2nd baseman Eddie Collins, but Collins booted the ball, and Snodgrass, who had been running on what was a hit and run, came around to score.
The Giants nearly took the lead in the 6th, but Collins got a reprieve for his earlier mistake with some quick thinking at 2nd. With runners on first and third with two outs, the wily McGraw called for a delayed double steal. Buck Herzog took off for 2nd, and catcher Ira Thomas threw down. But the razor-minded Collins saw what devious plans the Giants had in store, and cut off the throw, sending it back home, where Snodgrass was so dead that his body was cooling as he reached the plate.
After an Art Fletcher groundout to lead off the bottom of the 7th, it was Chief versus Chief, the two finest Redskin athletes in America going toe to toe. The Giants’ Meyers got the upper hand, sending a screamer down the left field line, and when the dust settled, he was standing on 2nd. After Mathewson struck out, the Giants leadoff hitter Josh Devore came to the plate. Bender had been yapping at the Giants hitters all day, and with a 2-2 count on Devore, he started running his mouth again.
“I’m going to throw you a curved ball over the outside corner,” taunted the Chief.
“I know it, Chief,” Devore (left) answered back. Devore runs a boxing gym in Indiana during the offseason, and the pugnacious pugilist delivered a knockout blow on that next pitch, hitting one deep to left, scoring Meyers.
“I knew it would be a curve ball,” Devore told Mathewson after the game. “With two and two, he would be crazy to hand me anything else. When he made that crack, I guessed that he was trying to cross me by telling the truth. Before he spoke, I wasn’t sure which corner he was going to put it over, but he tipped me.”
The Giants had two runs, and with Matty on the mound, they might as well have had 20. He retired the last 11 batters he faced, the mighty throng roaring its approval all the while. The Series shifts back to Philadelphia, where these two superpowers will meet again on the 16th. Here’s the box score for Game 1, and we end with a few thoughts from Beach:
To be sure, the Quakers were on a strange field, in hostile territory, and were naturally a bit nervous at the start, so this opening victory does not settle the argument by any means. Monday’s game in Philadelphia may swing the odds back to even money again, but the Giants have the jump; first blood is theirs, and this triumph is liable to inspire them with a confidence which may prove a material factor in the struggle to come.
It was a great game, a great crowd, and a great day, and the issue was in doubt up to the last. What more could a fan desire?
(October 15th, 1911) NEW YORK– Connie Mack spoke briefly with reporters after yesterday’s game*. The game one loss doesn’t seem to have dampened his spirits one bit. “One swallow does not make a summer, you know. While we lost the opening game, it does not mean that we will lose the Series. My boys played fine ball, and a team that plays up to its season’s standards is in it until the finish. Mathewson has no terrors for is like he had in 1905. The lucky breaks of the game were against us today, but wait until next week: the Giants can’t get them all. McGraw has a fine ball team, and so have we. If we hadn’t we would not be playing for a world’s championship for the second time in two years.”
McGraw had little to say. On his way to a waiting taxi after leaving the clubhouse, he merely uttered, “We captured one game, and we expect to get the others.”
*actual quotes taken from 1911 NY Times article on game.
Game 2 of the 1911 World Series will be played this afternoon. If you’ve already got your ticket, then have fun at 21st and Lehigh! If not, join us here at 2 p.m. as we will carry the game live. Details forthcoming, as well as a look at today’s pitchers, Rube Marquard and Eddie Plank.
(October 16th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– ATHLETICS EDDIE PLANK. The Athletics will be looking to tie the Series at one game apiece this afternoon. No team wants to find itself in a 2-0 hole, knowing that they’ll be facing the legendary Christy Mathewson in Game 3, coming in with a full 2 days rest. And so the Athletics lay their hopes on the left arm of a 36-year old who grew up in Gettysburg, PA. Plank is known for his good sidearm sweeping curveball, and his long pauses on the mound. According to Eddie Collins, “Plank’s favorite situation is two men on and a slugger up. The better the hitter the better Eddie likes it. For, if a man has a reputation to uphold, the fans would egg him on, and he would be aching to hit. Plank would fuss and fuddle with the ball, with his shoes, and then try and talk to the umpire.” Collins, Plank’s roommate at the house on 2405 West Ontario Street, continued, “Plank is not the fastest, not the trickiest, and not the possessor of the most stuff, but he is just the greatest.”
There are some who question Mack’s decision to go with Plank instead of the great Jack Coombs (28-12 this year with a 3.53). But Plank is a nervous, excitable sort, and Mack seems to think he’ll be calmer in front of a friendly home crowd. Coombs, much cooler and even keeled, could care less where he pitches. He will shoulder the load at the Polo Grounds in Game 3.
GIANTS RUBE MARQUARD. One look at the name “Rube” Marquard and you’d think the Giants would be sending a country hayseed out to pitch Game 2. Not so. He was born in Cleveland, and is a city boy through and through. He got the nickname by a writer in Indianapolis who compared him with former Athletic great Rube Waddell. Of course, those similarities go no further than the diamond; Marquard doesn’t leave the hill to chase after fire trucks.
He has a blazing fastball, but prefers to use his forkball and a screwball he learned from Matty. “Any hitter can hit a fast one,” Marquard says, “But not many can hit slow ones.” Marquard, who was signed for the unheard of price of $11,000 in 1908, struggled in his first 3 seasons and was known as the “$11,000 Lemon” until this year. Many credit new Giants assistant coach Wilbert Robinson with turning Rube’s fortunes around. He went 24-7 with a 2.50 ERA this year, fianlly living up to the potential the Giants were looking for when they paid all of that money for him.
WATCH THE GAME HERE! We will be showing the game up on the big board at 2 p.m. today, very similar to the board the New York fans will be watching in Times Square. Be back here at 2 p.m. for first pitch!
–All quotes in the previous piece are actual quotes from the actual players. In some cases I have changed the case to make it present instead of past. A lot of info in this post was supplied by the book Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball. -ed.