Pitching Matchups for the 1911 World Series

(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.

Outfield Matchups for 1911 World Series

(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.

Infield Matchups for the 1911 World Series

(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.

Game 1 is in the Books!

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! 

Mathewson Outlasts Bender as Giants Take Thrilling Opener

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? 

Today’s Pitching Matchup: Marquard vs. 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.

Sellout Expected at Today’s Game! Ticket Line Extends Around Block!

(October 16th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– An enormous crowd is in line for tickets today at Shibe Park! Philadelphia fans are excited to see if Eddie Plank can even this Series at one apiece, and the line stretches around the block. This will be a sellout and then some, and plenty of fans will pay $2 and even $3 just for the right to stand inside the ballpark and watch the game! It has been said that ticket speculators are having a field day down at the ballpark, and that there have been tickets sold for as much as $11! (Actual photo of fans before Game 2 of 1911 World Series above.)

Can’t Make It To Game 2 of the 1911 World Series? “Watch” It Live Here!


(October 16th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– A recent technological advancement called the Playograph has made it possible to “watch” World Series games, even if you can’t make it to the ballpark, or even if you are in a completely different city. Thanks to the PSH Herald’s technological advances and the good people at backtobaseball.com, you can now join along with the thousands of fans in New York right now following Game 2 on a playograph outside of the New York Herald Building (above). Just click here and then click on “View Game”, and you can follow Game 2 of the 1911 World Series as it unfolds! You can read more about the Playograph here, in a fascinating (and short) article in the Yale Sheffield Monthly. You can see a closeup of that same board at the Herald Building below. We’ll have a full report on today’s game in tomorrow’s edition of the PSH Herald.

Frank Baker the Hero in Game 2; Plank is Unhittable

(October 17th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA –The two best teams in baseball went head to head again on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house at Shibe Park, and when it was over, baseball’s titans were tied at one game apiece. The A’s got off to a quick start, leadoff hitter Bris Lord tagging one to right field that right fielder Red Miller mishandled, allowing Lord to get to second. Oldring moved him along to third with a bunt, and then Lord scored on a passed ball. The Giants quickly countered, scoring in the top of the 2nd on a Herzog double followed by a Chief Meyers single off of Athletics starter Eddie Plank (left). The 6th inning is where the drama truly began. In the top of the 6th, Fred Snodgrass lined a ball right down the left field line. The speedy Snodgrass thought he had a sure double. But he seemed to get slowed by the mud around first base, and was gunned down at second. Christy Mathewson, writing in the Times, blamed the out on the Philly grounds crew.

“They resorted to a trick in preparing their field that reminded me of the bushes. They’d evidently wet down the baselines within a radium of about 20 feet of all the bags so as to slow our men up…The doctoring of the field did us little damage, except when Snodgrass made a hit to left field in the sixth inning and tried to get two bases on it. He slipped in the wet turf making the turn around first base and was caught easily at second.”

The grounds crew was not pleased with Matty’s assesment.

“Mathewson is saying what is not true,” said groundskeeper Joe Schroeder, “and he is doing it to find some excuse for the Giants losing the game.”

The rivalry seems to be heating up a bit. Just a few minutes later, Eddie Collins came up for the A’s with two outs and nobody on. He doubled to almost the same spot that Snodgrass had hit the ball moments earlier, down the left field line. He didn’t have any problems rounding first, and made it cleanly into second base. That brought up Frank Baker. Giants pitcher Rube Marquard spoke after the game about what he was thinking when Baker came to the plate.

“Baker is a bad man and I had been warned against him, and I had the right dope too, but at the last moment I switched, because I thought I was working it too hard. I struck him out in the first inning with three deliveries. The first was an incurve. The second was also an incurve and he fouled. For the third strike I gave him the same thing and got him. So that when he came up in the sixth, I fully intended to follow instructions and give him curved balls. But when I had one strike on him and he had refused to bite on another outcurve which was a little too wide, I thought to cross him by sending in a fast high straight ball the kind I knew he liked. Meyers had called for a curve, but I could not see it, and signaled for a high fast ball.”

Baker (right) took that fastball for a ride, sending it over the deep rightfield wall at Shibe (you can see a picture of Shibe here to imagine how far the ball went. Right center is a pretty good ways from home, when you consider that dead center is 505 feet.) The crowd went wild, the people cheering from the rooftops screamed so loudly they would have been heard at City Hall, had there not been thousands more people screaming wildly after watching the homer on a Playograph. The crowd howled, whistled, cheered, and even banged on the roof of the visitors tin dugout with their canes and feet. The Athletics took a 3-1, and that was all Eddie Plank would need. He gave up a mere two hits after the 3rd inning, with one of those being the one Snodgrass got thrown out on.

The other pitcher, however, was taking plenty of grief. Marquard had pitched a gem, allowing only 4 hits in 7 innings, but he had made the mistake of giving Baker a fastball, and his coach was not pleased. “A good pitcher isn’t supposed to give up a home run like that,” barked McGraw after the game. Mathewson ripped Marquard in today’s Times, as the headline of his column reads, “Marquard makes the wrong pitch”. There is little doubt that the great Matty will make no such mistake against Baker at the Polo Grounds today.

PREVIOUSLY: Mathewson leads Giants to victory in Game 1.

Today’s Pitching Matchup: Mathewson vs. Coombs

(October 17, 1911) NEW YORK–These two men hardly need any introduction, but we’ll give them one anyway, starting with the A’s right hander, “Colby” Jack Coombs.

PHILADELPHIA. Coombs immortalized himself in Philadelphia last year by winning 31 games in the regular season with a 1.30 ERA, followed by 3 World Series wins. Due to that performance alone it is doubtful the name of Jack Coombs will ever be forgotten in the City of Brotherly Love. This year, he was not quite as smashing, finishing with 28 wins but an ERA over two points higher, at 3.53. The Colby College graduate is one of the few educated men in the sport, and the bespectacled Coombs was thought to be heading into the world of chemistry until Connie Mack and a check for $2,400 changed his plans. Well, in 1910 he discovered the formula for getting the opposition out, but has he lost his magic? We’ll find out this afternoon if his above average fastball and devastating drop curve confound the Giants, or if 1910 was just a flash in the pan. And keep this in mind too: Jack swings a mean bat, and hit .353 on the season. One other note heading into today’s game: catching Coombs will be Jack Lapp, filling in for Ira Thomas.

NEW YORK. If there is a schoolboy in America who does not know the name Christy Mathewson, I should like to meet him. There are few bigger heroes in America than Matty, who has 255 wins since 1903, and an annual ERA that rarely pokes its head above 2. This season he was 26-13 with a 1.99 ERA in 307 innings pitched. He set a National LEague record for win in 1908 (37) that will be tough to break, now or ever. But he’s more than a great pitcher, he’s an American icon, endorsing everything from sweaters to leg garters. The Bucknell grad is handsome, smart as a whip, and such an impressive scribe that he regularly gets writing assignments from the New York Times. There is no bigger star in baseball than Christy Mathewson.

Of course, Matty nearly became a Philly native himself, though not with today’s opponent. After going 20-2 on a Norfolk, VA farm team in 1900, he was given a choice between going to the Giants or the Phillies. He went with New York, and what Philadelphia has missed out on the past decade it will get to know all too well today.

And so, at 3 p.m., we’ll get to see two of the best educated men in baseball square off against each other in the Polo Grounds. We will of course carry Game 3 live here on our Playograph.