(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.
(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.
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to today’s game between the AL Champion Philadelphia Athletics and the NL champion New York Giants. To watch today’s game in real time, just click here, look over your starting lineups, and then click “View Game” (Game takes about 10-15 minutes). We’ve got a packed house of 37,216 on hand to see the this pivotal game 3.
(October 18th, 1911) NEW YORK– William Penn and Ben Franklin were seen milling around the visitors clubhouse late yesterday afternoon. They were there to extend an invite to one “Mr. Frank Baker”, heretofore known as “Home Run”, to join that rare pantheon of Philadelphia immortals, men whose names and deeds shall be remembered in the city of Brotherly Love long after they are physically gone.
It is funny what makes men heroes in this game. We are not cheering their intellect, stamina, or charm. We are cheering their ability to lift a piece of lumber off their shoulder and hit a spheroid in an act that takes places in tenths of a second. And the later in the contest they can do perform this rather random act, the louder we cheer.
If there were any justice in this world, the real hero of yesterday’s ballgame would be the Athletics pitcher, Jack Coombs, who threw one of the greatest games in the brief history of this Fall Classic. After all, in 11 innings, the great Coombs pitched every bit as well as he did a year ago (when he won three games against the Cubs in the 1910 Series), allowing a mere 3 hits to this vaunted Giants lineup.
But perhaps part of the reason this game is so uniquely American is because we are a nation who loves instant gratification, and without a mythological past, we have to create our heroes on the fly. This combination of forces has created Philadelphia’s newest hero, now and forevermore.
He is no longer Frank Baker, young third baseman of the Philadelphia Athletics. He is Home Run Baker, the American Zeus who hit the 9th inning home run off the greatest pitcher in baseball (sorry, Cy) to change the flow and the feel of the 1911 World Series. If the Athletics go on to win this Series, he will never pay for a steak in the town of Philadelphia again.
After all, Game 3 seemed to be all but over. Sure the lead was only 1-0, but the Giants had found a way to thwart every A’s rally all afternoon. In fact, many Giants fans were headed for the exits, satisfied that their own hero was placing another feather in his cap. Through 8 innings, Matty had shut down the might Athletic lineup, and when Eddie Collins grounded out to Buck Herzog at 3rd to start the 9th, Giants fans began to discuss Game 4.
Mathewson gained two quick strikes on the left-handed Baker with curve balls. As we had learned the day before, the way to pitch to Baker was by nibbling around the plate. That is what made the next pitch so perplexing. The ink was hardly dry on the paper Matty had written that morning, questioning Marquard’s decision to throw Baker a fastball that he took out of the park in Game 2. And for some reason, Matty, perhaps thinking his fastball had a bit more sizzle than Marquard’s, tried to throw it past Baker. It is doubtful he will ever forgive himself. Baker, no doubt delighted by the straight avenue that ball was driving, swung the bat fiercely, and sent it flying the opposite direction even faster. As stunned Giants fans stared in disbelief, the ball flew through the light drizzle and the grey autumn air and cleared the right field wall (Polo Field right field wall can be seen below, with several Athletics lounging below it before the game began) by 15 feet and landed in the next to last row. As New York sportswriter Fred Lieb put it, the New York ballpark was so quiet you could hear “Baker putting his footprints in the dirt as he rounded the bases.”
The game was tied, and the momentum of the game and the Series was instantly changed. The Giants suddenly couldn’t handle routine grounders, and Matty lost the aura of invincibility he has worked so hard to create over the years. The game went into extras.
In the 10th inning, the bad blood that has been rising between the two teams in this season went from a simmer to a boil. With Fred Snodgrass (right) standing on second, a pitch got past catcher Jack Lapp and Snodgrass took off for third. Lapp quickly recovered, and rifled a shot to Baker. Perhaps angry about Baker’s hit the inning before, or perhaps desperate to earn the base that stands a mere 90 feet from home, Snodgrass came sliding spikes high. His sharpened spikes slashed Baker, and play was paused as Baker was tended to by
a doctor. The New York fans turned on Snodgrass, booing and hissing as he walked back to the bench after the out, disgusted by his lack of sportsmanship. Furthermore, they cheered when Baker took his place again at third base.
It was obvious at this point that New York had lost its cool. In the top of the 11th, the team fell to pieces. Collins singled to left, and Baker ran out an infield single. Giants third baseman Buck Herzog picked up the ball and threw it wildly and to first, and the A’s had men on 2nd and 3rd and no-one out. Danny Murphy hit a grounder to the shortstop Fletcher, but Art fumbled it. A run scored and all were safe. Harry Davis singled home a run and the A’s were up 3-1.
The Giants made a last ditch effort in the bottom of the inning. Herzog tried to make up for his awful day in the field (he had 3 errors) by leading off with a double. He got around to score on an Eddie Collins error. But with two outs, Beals Becker tried to reach 2nd on a steal, and Jack Lapp threw him out, the fifth baserunner Lapp threw out on this afternoon. A remarkable performance from a backup catcher against the fastest team in baseball.
And so the A’s won the most thrilling game of the Series thus far, 3-2, in 11 innings, and the Series shifts back to Philadelphia. There are talks of a long week of rain Philly, but perhaps it is just as well. For this is a game to be savored, discussed, and argued over for days and even years to come. As Mack told Lieb after the game, “That’s one game I’ll never forget if I live to be 100. I think I lived a lifetime during it.”
Game 4 was supposed to be played yesterday but field conditions have made play impossible, as a steady rain has been coming down in Philadelphia for the 24 hours, and still shows no sign of letting up. McGraw graciously offered to move the game to New York, but Mack declined this offer rather quickly. He knows what a difference the home crowd can make. Rains are expected for several days to come, so no-one seems to know when Game 4 will finally take place. But don’t worry. There’s plenty to talk about in the coming days. From Snodgrass’s slide to Baker’s celebrity status to the unusual mascots each team has, we’ll have plenty to discuss.
(October 20th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– The rivalry between New York and Philadelphia just heated up a bit, as Philly fans have made life so miserable for Fred Snodgrass that he has left the city and returned to New York until the rain stops. Snodgrass, as you may recall, slid hard into Frank “Home Run” Baker an inning after Baker’s dramatic game tying home run. The slide was so vicious that it produced gashes in Baker’s arm and leg, and tore his trousers from knee to hip. Even the home town New Yorkers thought it a dirty ply, and booed Snodgrass when he walked back to the dugout. Well, if you think the home town didn’t like it, you can only imagine what Baker’s Philly fans thought of it. They have so aggressively hooted Snodgrass since he got off the train that McGraw thought that Snodgrass should head back to New York until the rain stops for his own safety.
The center fielder’s absence from the Majestic Hotel started a wild rumor that he had been shot by a crazed A’s fan. There was no substance ot the rumor, but a crowd gathered at the Majestic until several Giants players came out and explained the situation. As for Snodgrass? Will he even play in Game 4 in Philly if this rain ever lets up?
“My goat is not for sale,” he says. They say the crowd tomorrow will have it in for me, but there’s no danger of my going up in the air.”
Another wild rumor went out that baker had suffered blood poisoning because of that fateful slide, but this was of course hogwash. Baker is resting peacefully at his home in North Philly, and is as pleased as anyone about these rains, which have given him time to lick his wounds.
IN OTHER NEWS: Tickets for Game 4 are almost impossible to come by here in Philadelphia, and several fans braved the thunderstorm last night in the doorways of Shibe Park in the hopes of getting their hands on some tickets. Scalpers are having no problems disposing of tickets for double their face value, and Game 4 will certainly be a sellout.
*notes for this article came from the October 20th, 1911 copy of the New York Times.
The two teams caught trains into Philadelphia after Game 3, and their reception in the City of Brotherly Love was radically different. The A’s were greeted as conquering heroes. Three bands were hired to welcome them to the North Philadelphia train station, and thousands of fans turned out to hail their heroes. The players walked with their wives towards their cars, and fans carried a large blue flag with a white elephant on it behind them, calling after Home Run Baker. He told them that he wasn’t hurt badly and that he’d be ready to play in Game 4.
The Giants got a very different reception when they reached the Reading Terminal station at 10:25 p.m. and headed for the taxis. Fred Snodgrass, who slid into Home Run Baker and sliced his arm and knee, will be a goat in Philadelphia as long as he is alive. The Giants are staying at the Hotel Majestic at Broad and Girard (above. You can see the lobby by clicking here.)
Info gathered from Frank “Home Run” Baker: Hall of Famer and World Series Hero as well as Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball.
(October 20th, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– A’s center fielder Reuben “Rube” Oldring will be playing the rest of the World Series with a heavy heart. He lost his sister Lilianne to tuberculosis yesterday. He was wired the news today while he was preparing for Game 4 of the Series. He saw his sister after Game 1, as she lived in New York. It has been reported that the two were very close, and Oldring is heartbroken by the news. He headed to New York for the funeral as soon as the game was postponed, and hopes to make it back for Game 4, whenever it does take place. Oldring has gone 2-12 thus far in the Series.
(October 21, 1911) PHILADELPHIA– Writing yesterday for the Toronto World, Ty Cobb said that the rains that have rendered Shibe Park unplayable are a positive for the Giants. Cobb thought the Series was over after the Athletics won Game 3, but says that the Giants have been handed a reprieve by the rains. Says Cobb:
McGraw has Mathewson, who has been rested four full days, and should be in even better condition than he was when the Mack men defeated him. Marquard has rested five days, and should be fit…The big point is that McGraw can send Matty or Marquard in…feeling certain that they have been rested sufficiently to be physically strong.
The opportunity to use Mathewson in two straight games undoubtedly works to the Giants advantage. This is definitely a team with two great pitchers and then three guys who are second tier. Had the game been played as scheduled, they would have had no choice but to use Red Ames, Hooks Wiltse, or Doc Crandall. None of them duds, but none of them Matty either. Now Mathewson, who went 3-0 in the 1905 World Series against these A’s, can aim for his 2nd win of this Series, and if he does so, tie this Series at 2.
As for Cobb? Well, the 24 year old center fielder is coming off a season for the ages. He hit .420, knocked in 127 runs, and stole 83 bases.
This is not the first time these two teams have met in the Series. In 1905, they went head to head, and the Series helped establish Christy Mathewson as a star. Mathewson won three games in the Series, as the Giants walloped the Athletics, 4 games to 1. Incredibly, all 5 games ended in shutouts. Mathewson pitched 27 innings, didn’t give up a single run, and in fact only allowed one runner to reach third base the entire Series. It has been to this point the most dominant performance by a pitcher in World Series history. Of course, he wasn’t the only Giants pitcher with success in that Series. Joe McGinnity (who retired in ’08) pitched 17 innings without giving up an earned run either! The 3 runs the A’s scored in Game 2 were all unearned, and they were the only runs they would score all Series. It was a dominant performance by the NL champs.
Some thought that the Giants performance in that Series was proof that they were the better team, and would win again in 1911. However, a quick look at the lineup cards indicated that this was an entirely different A’s team than in 1905. There were only 3 A’s position players starting who had started in that 1905 World Series, and they had added stars in Home Run Baker and Eddie Collins. As far as pitching, the A’s still had Chief Bender and Eddie Plank, but had added the great Jack Coombs. Today’s Chief Bender vs. Mathewson tilt is a rematch of Game 5 of the 1905 Series, won by Matty, 2-0. Will history repeat itself? We’ll find out this afternoon.