One of Philadelphia’s finest citizens, Henry F. Ortlieb (for whom Ortlieb’s brewery is named) was robbed by a pack of bandits on his way out of Game 4 a few days ago. This from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
After rooting all game for Connie Mack’s team, Ortlieb, flushed with joy over the victory, was among the first to leave his seat when teh last Giant was retired on Eddie Collins throw to Davis. It was Ortlieb’s desire to avoid the crowd in the rush from the ballpark, and in doing so encountered the pickpockets while descending the stairs leading from the grandstand.
The thieves, who had evidently been watching the brewer and the large diamond in his necktie all through the game kept pace with him on the stairway. When he reached the bottom step, one of the pickpockets, who pretended it was an accident, lifted his overcoat from his arm and threw it in front of Ortlieb’s face. It was then that the brewer’s diamond was taken from his necktie, the theft being executed so cleverly that Ortlieb did not discover the loss until some distance from the baseball park.
We certainly hope those rapscallions are caught and brought to justice!
(October 27th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– After 5 games filled with nonstop suspense, the A’s decided to treat their fans to little more than a 2 hour coronation celebration yesterday. After giving up a double and a run to their ongoing nemesis Larry Doyle in the first, Chief Bender settled down and shut the door on the Giant hitters the rest of the way. The A’s meanwhile, started their assault in the 3rd inning, added some battery in the 4th, and in the 7th they flat out murdered Giants pitcher Hooks Wiltse. It was a complete and utter annihilation, and when the dust had settled, the A’s had a 13-2 victory. The following prose comes courtesy of today’s Inquirer:
For the second consecutive time the Athletics captured a world’s championship, last fall trampling underfoot the Chicago Cubs. It was a great victory, appropriate because won on the Athletics home field and before a home crowd, and spectacular because of the concentrated attack upon the National Leaguers…Even Gotham fans, awakened by their favorites’ gallant victory in New York, assembling legions strong at Shibe Park, sat back in their seats and smiled sickly. From a Giants standpoint, the defeat and windup of the Series was ludicrous. They were pigmies when facing the speedy curves of the redskin, while no Giant twirler could stay the onrushing Athletics.
Indeed, Chief Bender added to his legend. It was believed that Eddie Plank was going to pitch this game, since the Chief had just thrown Game 4 two days prior. But while playing catch, Bender walked over to Mack and said, simply, “I’m going to pitch and win the World Series for you.” As Bender would say after the game, “It’s only once in a century a chap gets a chance to clinch a world championship.” (Of course, if Coombs had shut the door on the Giants in the 9th inning of Game 5, it would have been twice in two years for him, as he won Game 5 in 1910). Mack knew that the Indian was ready, and made him the starter. He responded by throwing a complete game 4 hitter against this vaunted Giants lineup after only one day of rest.
The Giants continued the defensive ineptness that had haunted them all series, making 3 more errors. In their four losses of this Series, they committed an astounding 14 errors.
Jack Coombs was not at the game. His groin was so badly injured he had to go to the hospital. Connie Mack arranged for play-by-play bulletins to be transmitted as he laid in his hospital bed. He no doubt enjoyed what he heard.
Home Run Baker continued his sterling Series with 2 runs scored and an RBI. Right Fielder Danny Murphy more than made up for his poor throw to end Game 5, going 4 for 4 and scoring 3 runs. It was, fittingly, a complete team effort from the best all-around team in baseball. And there was a nice moment at the conclusion that showed just what a close-knit team this was. Stuffy McInnis had injured his wrist late in the regular season and had not gotten a chance to play in this Series. But with 2 outs in the 9th, Mack called time and inserted him into the game so that he would feel a part of the team. Bender threw to Art Wilson, who tapped it to third. Baker picked it up, fired to Mcinnis, and the Series was over. The Philadelphia Athletics were, for the 2nd straight year, World Champions.
Needless to day, Jim Nasium, cartoonist and sportswriter for the Inky jumped into the fray after Game 6 with his colorful style. There is little to add. A great column. He sums it all up beautifully:
Well, you can get back to work this morning, fellows; brush the two weeks accumulation of cobwebs off the old desk now and forget it. This morning the old White Elephant stands alone among the great throbbing world of baseball, and the Giants scalp is hanging in the tepee of Connie Mack. Our vengeance for that 1905 stuff has been glutted, and as a little extra glutting on the side we jumped in yesterday and made the finishing blow an awful carnage. 13 to 2; Wow!
Last evening there were about 20,485 persons around these parts who were grateful to the athletes of Connie Mack for dropping that game to the Giants in New York on Wednesday, and thus providing an afternoon of unalloyed pleasure for the home folks as a grand windup to the national frolic for 1911. What we have been pining for over here is just the gory sort of massacre that occurred yesterday, and we wanted it pulled off in our own backyard, where we could all sit around and pipe the stuff and get a full three dollars worth of gloating.
We were pining for a chance to sit and cheer while the enemy’s vital organs were being splattered all over the surrounding scenery, and these hair-splitting duels were beginning to give rise to a widespread but altogether mistaken view that the two teams were evenly matched. We busted that theory yesterday.
In addition to this, we rushed the whole Giant defense off its feet and made the whole crew look like a bunch of trolley leaguers on a barnstorming tour through the moustache-cup belt*. Now our bloodthirsty craving has been satiated, whatever that means. We are satisfied now to go into hibernation for the winter with the supreme honors of baseball tucked away in the bottom burea drawer.
*perhaps the greatest trash-talking sentence I’ve ever heard in my life. The above article was written in the October 27th, 1911 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
I wrote the 1911 World Series piece in “present time” because I thought that would bring 1911 alive. It was fun for me to think of the Series as if it were currently going on instead of looking back on it and writing it like some boring high school history text. Of course, in reality, it took place 100 years ago, and everyone associated has long since passed away. At the time of the Series, of course they didn’t know what the future had in store for them. We do know now. Let’s take a look at what happened to some of the more notable 1911 A’s players over the ensuing years.
The Athletics were in the midst of their first of two dynasties in Philadelphia. They had won the 1910 World Series over the Cubs, and now they beat the Giants to win another. They would hit the banquet circuit pretty hard that offseason. Home Run Baker was the most sought out athlete in America. The team had a fancy dinner at the Poor Richard Club, one of the most prestigious private clubs in the company, and which met at 239 Camac (The building where they partied is still standing and contains a law office now.)
The team won 90 games in 1912, but that was only good enough for 3rd place. They rebounded in 1913, winning 96 games and crushing the Giants again in the World Series. In 1914, they returned to the Series, where they were heavily favored against the Boston Braves. They were smoked in 4 games. There were rumors that the Series was fixed, but nothing ever came of them, and it seems more likely conspiracy buffs were just as active 97 years ago as they are now. Regardless, Mack had run into financial difficulty and decided to sell off all of his best players. The result was a collapse that can only be compared to the 1998 Marlins. The A’s went from 99 wins to 43 wins. It took over a decade for the team to recover.
Home Run Baker sat out the 1914 season in a contract dispute with Mack, then was sent to the Yankees. He never replicated his success with the A’s. He did play with Babe Ruth in NY, and was perhaps a little jealous of Ruth’s celebrity. “I don’t like to cast aspersions,” Baker later confided to a reporter, “but a Little Leaguer today can hit the modern ball as far as grown men could hit the ball we played with.” He became a coach on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He and Mack apparently settled their differences, for in 1925, he sold one of his players Jimmie Foxx, to Mack for a song. Foxx turned out to be a superstar. Baker was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.
Eddie Collins was shipped to the Chicago in 1915, and played on the 1919 Black Sox squad. He was never implicated as being involved, and stayed in the majors until 1930. Interestingly, he came back to Philly and was a pinch hitter on their 1929 World Series winning teams. He is the only Philadelphia major pro sports player I am aware of with 4 rings in any sport with the word “Philadelphia” inscribed on the ring. According to Bill James Win Share rating system, he was the greatest 2nd baseman of all time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
If you want to learn about Chief Bender, check out this great interview with his biographer Tom Swift. He was part of the max exodus out of Philly after the 1914 season, playing for the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League. He returned to Philadelphia to play two years on the Phillies. After his career was done, he served as a scout for Connie Mack from 1925 to 1950. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1953, a year before his death.
Rube Oldring had an interesting mess on his hands during the 1914 World Series. He was planning to get married when his ex-wife claimed desertion. He claimed he had never been married before, though strangely he had filed twice in the 1910 census, once as married and once as single. He was heckled mercilessly by the Boston fans, and had a miserable Series. The matter was settled out of court, and he remained with his “new” wife for the remaining 47 years of his life.
Jack Coombs had one more great year left in the tank, going 21-10 with a 3.29 ERA for the A’s in 1912. He battled typhoid for two years before Mack sent him to the Brooklyn Robins (aka Dodgers). He had one last hurrah in Brooklyn, where he and Rube Marquard teamed up to lead the Robins to the 1916 World Series. Coombs was the only Robins pitcher to get a win in that Series, as they fell to the Red Sox, 4 games to 1. He later became head baseball coach at Duke University, a position he served for 23 years. Duke’s baseball field is named after him.
Eddie Plank is probably the most underrated pitcher in Philadelphia sports history. I’ll be honest, I consider myself a pretty big sports nut and I hardly knew anything about him when I started this project. Come to find out, he was one of the greatest lefties in baseball history. He won 305 games as an American League pitcher, still an AL record for a lefty, and had a career ERA of 2.35. The winner of Game 2 of the 1911 World Series, he won the deciding Game 5 in 1913 by throwing a complete game 2 hitter. Like so many others, he left town after the 1914 World Series. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.
As for Connie Mack, there’s not much I can say that Shibe Park historian Bruce Kuklick didn’t say in our awesome interview.
It’s almost time to stand up and leave the ballpark. It’s been an incredible ride. For the people who have followed along, I hope it’s been half as much fun for you as it has been for me. For those who are just getting here, I will have a full encapsulation up on the site soon.
It’s been really cool getting to know the 1911 A’s and Giants, and I’ve had a ton of fun researching, particularly in going through old Inquirers. I also want to make mention of a book once again that has provided an incredible amount of insight to this Series. Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball is a terrific read, and had some amazing quotes. And it goes without saying that Baseball-Reference has been an incredibly integral part of this process.
We are not done yet. I will be back in the next day or two with an epilogue. Of course, at the time of this Series, none of these guys knew what destiny had in store for them. Their futures were as up in the air as yours or mine is today. That’s part of what made writing in the style of covering it live so much fun…I knew little of these guys as well, so it was all almost as fresh to me as it was when it rolled out of the paper 100 years ago. Some of the guys who played in this series went down in the history books as heroes (Home Run Baker and Christy Mathewson), others would go down in the history books as goats (Fred Merkle and Fred Snodgrass), and of course the vast majority of them would all but vanish from history. But the fun of running this site is that, for me and at least a few dozen other folks, they all came back to life for a couple of weeks.