Welcome to Game 4 of the 1911 World Series

Welcome to Shibe Park, where after a 6-day rain delay, we are finally ready for some baseball! Today it will be Christy Mathewson on the hill for the Giants and Chief Bender pitching for the hometown Athletics. The A’s will try to take a 3-1 Series lead, while the Giants try to knot it at 2 apiece. There are over 33,000 in attendance here at Shibe. You can follow the action live by clicking here, then clicking “View Game”. I will be back with a full report on today’s game Tuesday morning. If you have missed the first three games, game recaps complete with photos can be found below. Enjoy!

Game 1.

Game 2.

Game 3.


Bender, Baker Lead Mackmen to Victory in Game 4; Now Stand One Away From Championship!

(October 25) PHILADELPHIA– Last year, after Chief Bender (left, in color!) knocked off Chicago in Game 1 of the 1910 World Series, Cubs manager Frank Chance quipped, “That Indian was almost inhuman. The greater the tension, the better he pitched. He fairly reveled in the tumult of the stands and often laughed like a pleased boy.” Yesterday, the most beloved Redskin in Philadelphia got the last laugh once again, as after a shaky start he gathered his wits and hurled a gem.

Mathewson held a 2-0 career record against Bender, and in the first inning it looked like he was ready to make it a trifecta. Bender was clearly rattled in the first, as he gave up a lead off single to Devore followed by a triple to second bagger Larry Doyle. Snodgrass entered to catcalls as a result of his infamous slide last week, but hit a sacrifice fly to knock in Doyle, and though the game was only a few minutes old, the score was already 2-0. But Bender settled down, and over the next hour and 40 some minutes the Giants would not cross home plate again.

The A’s fans did not sell out the ballpark, but they were plenty raucous. In the bottom of the first, when Home Run Baker came to the plate, they let out a hearty song through megaphones:

“What’s the matter with Baker?

“He’s all right!

“What’s the matter with Baker?

“He’s out of sight!

“He’s the boy with the old home runs.

“He’s landed two and there’s more to come.

“What’s the matter with Baker.

“He’s all right.”

Baker would add no home runs to his totals on this day, but he would do nothing to dim his star either. In the bottom of the 4th, with the A’s trailing 2-0, he blasted a double into left-centerfield. Baker’s continued domination of him obviously flustered Mathewson, as he then gave up a double to Danny Murphy to almost the exact same spot, and the A’s merely trailed by 2-1. Up to the plate came first baseman Harry Davis. A former bank teller, the 37-year old Davis was only in the lineup because Stuffy McInnis was injured. But he paid Mack back for the time in 1901 when Mack convinced him to leave the bank and come to the diamond, as he hit a double past Fred Merkle and down the right field line. The game was tied at 2, and the Shibe faithful were in a frenzy. A few batters later, Ira Thomas hit a sac fly to score Davis. The A’s had a lead they would not relinquish, adding a run in the 7th when (guess who?) Home Run Baker hit another double to score Eddie Collins. Bender had long since settled down, and his fastball was sizzling. “Who can hit a pea when it goes by with the speed of lightning?” lamented Giants left fielder Josh Devore after the game.

The Athletics now take a 3-1 lead into the Polo Grounds today for the Game 5 tilt, which will be between Plank and Marquard. If there is a game 6, it will be held at Shibe Park on Thursday.

And Now a Word From Some of Our Sponsors

Without their generous support, this coverage of the 1911 World Series would not be possible.

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*all of these ads taken from Philadelphia Inquirer during 1911 World Series.

Giants Come From Behind in 9th to Win Thriller; Did Doyle Touch Home Plate?

(October 26th, 1911) NEW YORK– It looked like this Series was shaping up to have a real Broadway ending. Rube Oldring (left, looking at camera), whose sister died a week ago, was one out away from being Philadelphia’s newest hero. In the 3rd inning of yesterday’s game, he blasted a 3-run shot deep into the left field bleachers off of Giants pitcher Rube Marquard, and the A’s had a 3-0 lead and Jack Coombs on the hill. It looked like the Series was over, and Philadelphia prepared for a celebration. But these Giants proved that their hearts were still beating, and they’ve got as much grit as any team in baseball. They scratched out a run in the 7th, and the 9th inning began with the Athletics up by a score of 3-1.

Coombs got Buck Herzog to ground out to short. The Athletics were now 2 outs away from victory. Art Fletcher came to bat with none but the 5,000 A’s fans in attendance cheering. Fletcher brought the other 28,000 kranks back to life with a double. But Chief Meyer grounded out to short. The A’s were now one out away from the championship trophy. Up came Giants pitcher Doc Crandall. Doc, the first pitcher that I’m aware of being used solely as a relief pitcher, had come in in the 8th inning and shut the A’s down. Of course, he’s also known for swinging a fair piece of lumber, and McGraw regularly uses him as a pinch hitter. Jim Nasium over at the Inquirer remarked on the feeling amongst Philadelphia fans as Crandall (pictured below, right) stepped to the plate with 2 outs.

Those persons in the audience who are in the habit of grabbing their lunch in the shadow of the Bill Penn statue could already hear the old cheese cloth rustling down the brown October trail, and it just wanted one more man to be retired…we weren’t particular about the form of retirement that might be chosen by the principals in the cast, and then the accumulation of red fire could be touched off and we could spend the balance of the evening laying in an assortment of headaches as a grand wind-up to the national frolic for the season of 1911. Came then the Crandall episode, and the fireworks and the headaches adjourned to meet again tomorrow evening. 

The “Crandall episode” my colleague refers to was a scorching double to center field (“One of the hardest hits of the Series” said Mathewson afterward) off a visibly tired Coombs. That brought home Fletcher. The score was now 3-2. The A’s were still one out from victory, though it was obvious that Coombs was spent and perhaps even injured. Mack had sent Chief Bender out to the hill in the 8th to try to convince Coombs to come out of the game, but Coombs refused (Mack, or course, is not allowed on the field during a game because he refuses to wear a uniform).

After the Crandall hit, Mack sent Ira Thomas out to try to talk Coombs into taking a rest. Josh Devore was coming up to the plate. He had struck out four times against Coombs in Game 2 and had done nothing in this game. Coombs wanted to finish the game and end the Series. Mack left him in and Plank watched from the bullpen.

Coombs delivered his first pitch to leadoff man Devore, who cracked a single to left field, and Doc beat Bris Lord’s throw to the plate to tie the game at 3. We were going to extra innings.

Mack was determined to allow Coombs to finish what he had started, letting him bat in the top of the 10th. He beat out a bunt to first, but pulled a groin doing so and had to be replaced by Eddie Plank when the two teams went to the bottom the tenth still tied at 3. Plank had been a hero in Game 2, but not on this day. Larry Doyle led off the inning with his 4th hit of the game, a double that landed in the left field corner. Fred Snodgrass bunted Doyle over to third. Plank tried to get the runner at third, but Doyle was too quick, and now there was a runner on third and no outs. The New York bugs were buzzing. Red Murray flied out weakly to short right field, and held Doyle at third. Up stepped Fred Merkle. The goat of that famous game against the Cubs in 1908, he now played the hero, sending a fly ball into right field, deeper than Murray’s. Danny Murphy ran up to make the catch and hurled the ball home. Doyle slid. The throw to catcher Jack Lapp was high. The New York crowd went wild. The A’s shuffled off the field. But wait…there had been no call from the umpire.

Home plate ump Bill Klem remarked after the game that Doyle never touched home, and had Lapp tagged him or if the A’s had made an appeal, he would have called him out. Thousands of delirious New York fans began to pour onto the field. A’s captain Harry Davis looked at McGraw to see if he should protest. McGraw made no move. No protest was made, and Klem walked away. The Giants had completed the come from behind victory, and cut the Series lead to 3-2. Game 6 is scheduled for today in Philadelphia. We’ll have live coverage at 2 p.m. In the meantime, we’ll also have more on this controversial play at home that ended the game.

Why Didn’t the Athletics Appeal the Final Play? Because Mack’s a Gentleman

Yesterday’s occurence was eerily similar to a play that occurred three years ago. On September 23rd, 1908, the Giants and Cubs were locked in a tight pennant race. Fred Merkle (left) stood on first and teammate Moose McCormick stood on 3rd. With two outs, Al Bridwell hit a single to drive in McCormick. The jubilant New York fans rushed the field, thinking their Giants had won. But Cubs 2nd baseman Johnny Evers noticed that Merkle had never touched 2nd base. He ran out, grabbed the ball, and running between Giants fans, went and touched 2nd base for the force out. He then told umpire Hank O’Day that Merkle had never touched second and that he was out, nullifying the run. O’Day agreed, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. The two teams ended the season tied, and the Cubs won a one-game playoff that never would have happened in Merkle had touched 2nd. Of course, he had left the field for his safety, and O’Day enforced a rule that had never been enforced before.

Yesterday, Merkle was again in the thick of it, lofting a fly ball near the right field line. Danny Murphy made the catch, then threw home to try to catch Doyle, who had tagged up on the play. The throw was off, but when he slid, Doyle missed home plate, sliding with one leg behind it and one leg over it by a foot. As umpire Bill Klem said after the game, “Usually I run to the dressing room when a game is over, but this time I stood at home plate for several seconds, waiting to see if the Athletic players would appeal…None of the the Athletics made the appeal, and as I was about to move away McGraw, in passing from the third base coacher’s box to the players bench, said to me, “Did you see it, Bill?'”

“I certainly did,” I said.

“What would you have done about it if they had appealed,” McGraw asked.

“I would have declared Doyle out if they appeal had been made, but none was made.”

Why had no appeal been made, when several members of the A’s, including Connie Mack, had seen the play? For one thing, there was basic safety to worry about. Giants fans would have torn the place to pieces had such a ruling been made. For another, first baseman Harry Davis, who saw that Doyle didn’t touch, couldn’t make it to Klem through the throng of fans rushing onto the field. But perhaps the best explanation is that Connie Mack is far more of a gentleman than Johnny Evers is. As he said yesterday evening on the train:

It was the most pleasing moment of my life when not one of them tried to take advantage of a cheap technicality. Lapp looked around at the bench to see if I had noticed. I could see him from the corner of my eyes. I did not give him a tumble and he rushed off the field with teh rest. Now, i couldn’t swear that Doyle missed the palte, but if he did, what difference did it make? He had plenty of time to scuttle along and in my mind the Giants were fully entitled to it. I’m glad that none of my men forced Klem to make a ruling that would have been a rank injustice to New York, probably precipitating a riot and taking a hard-earned victory from the true winners and perhaps given baseball a black eye. I’m mighty pleased that my team showed themselves true sportsmen.

And so, Larry Doyle will not earn the nickname “Bonehead” in the fashion of Merkle, not because he didn’t make a mistake, but because Connie Mack is a fine gentleman. Hoorah to a team with such a caballero for a manager!

*Once again, Mack’s long quote comes to us via the excellent Norman L. Macht book “Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball.” The other quotes come from the October 26th, 1911 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Welcome to Shibe Park for Game 6 of the 1911 World Series!

A crowd of over 20,000 is on hand at today’s Game 6 between the A’s and the Giants, with thousands more on nearby rooftops (below). The Athletics have brought out the Chief on merely one day’s rest, while the Giants must be saving Matty for a potential Game 7. They are tossing Red Ames. Ames was solid if not spectacular for the G-Men this year, going 11-10 with a 2.68 ERA. He entered yesterday’s game in the 4th inning and shut the Athletics down, allowing 2 hits and no runs in 4 innings of work. He is known for having a dramatic curve ball, which causes him to throw a lot of wild pitches. We’ll see if his wildness helps or hurts him this afternoon. To see the starting lineups and to watch the game, click here and then hit “View Game”.

A’s Win the World Series! Philadelphia Once Again Center of Baseball Universe!

(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.

Boxscore of Game 6.

Jim Nasium Says It All

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.

1911 World Series Epilogue

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.