Hello and Welcome to the 1929 World Series!

Yes, the Phillies are done but there will still be October baseball in Philadelphia! It’s time for our annual “Baseball Geek World Series”. We did the 1911 World Series last year and we had so much fun with it we decided to to it again. Again, I will be reporting as Hap Jackson, sports reporter for the Philadelphia Bugle. I will be reporting from the Series as if I’m there live, and we’ll be showing the games live on the Play-O-Graph. I’ll post tons of old photos and even a little bit of video of the 1929 tilt between the A’s and the Cubs.

And a bonus we’re adding this year: We’re going to get insight from Jack Rooney, a prof at LaSalle who grew up on 20th Street and whose parents sold rooftop bleacher seats for people to watch the World Series from. He actually recently wrote a book about it. There was a lot of controversy about that (Mack hated the rooftop bleachers) and it was all over the papers in the days leading up to the Series. Pretty incredible that we have a guy who was there (he was a 6 year old kid at the time) to talk to us about it. I published part of my interview with him in the Philly Post, but there is still plenty more you’ll read on here in the days to come from that great interview. We’ll start on Wednesday, with a look at the two teams, the AL champion Philadelphia A’s and the NL Champ Chicago Cubs. The first game will be played on Monday, October 8th. This was a great Series, with several superstars and a lot of drama, and one of the most memorable innings in World Series history. Going to be posting about it every day for the next couple weeks.

A Brief History of the Cubs and Athletics

October 4, 1929 (CHICAGO)- Hello there sports fans, Hap Jackson here. So glad you’ve decided to join us here at the Philadelphia Bugle for exclusive coverage of the 1929 World Series between the National League champion CHicago Cubs and American League champion Philadelphia Athletics. Let’s take a look at the history of these squads, starting with Chicago.

CHICAGO CUBS– The Cubs were founded as the White Stockings in 1871, though they didn’t play the next season due to the Great Chicago Fire.  In 1876, they became one of the charter members of the National League. Led by and later owned by Albert Spalding (founder of Spalding Sporting goods), the team was quite successful in the 1880s, and went through several name changes, first the Colts and then the Orphans.

In 1902, Spalding sold the team to Jim Hart, and they became known as the Cubs. Led by Tinkers, Evers and Chance, (Does any schoolboy in America not know the poem about them by heart?) the squad was the bee’s knees, winning 4 pennants and 2 World Series between 1906 and 1910. That includes the 1910 World Series, which they lost to Mack and the A’s, 4 games to 1. Therefore their last World Series win was way back in 1908. Can they end their 21-year drought this year? We’ll soon find out.

Strangely, the Cubs are both owned and managed by Philadelphia natives. The team is owned by William Wrigley, who took over majority ownership in 1921. They are led on the field by Joe McCarthy, who took over management duties in 1926.

PHILADELPHIA A’S– The A’s got their start in 1901 (There were other teams called the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1870s but none was a forerunner of this team). The new American League wanted a team in Philly to compete with the Phillies. Former Pittsburgh Pirate catcher and manager Connie Mack agreed to take over control of the team and purchase 25% of it. He convinced sporting good magnate Ben Shibe to become majority owner.

The team then went about poaching players from the National League, including the highly controversial signing of Nap Lajoie. The battle between the Phillies and the A’s for Lajoie was so acrimonious that he was finally sent packing to Cleveland. Less than 10 years after forming, the team was a dominant force in the majors, winning the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913, and getting upset in the 1914 Series. But after Mack sold all of his star players in 1915, the team tanked harder than any team ever has before, going 43-109 in 1915. They finished last 7 straight years before finally starting to right the ship in the past few years. In 1927, the A’s finished 2nd to the Yankees, and in 1928, they missed a pennant by 2 games. This year, they dominated, and cruised to the pennant, rocking Ruth and the Yankees by 18 games.

Cubs Manager Joe McCarthy and A’s Manager Connie Mack

October 4, 1929–(CHICAGO) We start with Cubs skipper Joe McCarthy. McCarthy was born in Philadelphia, and grew up idolizing Mr. Mack. He played baseball and took on a variety of odd jobs in Germantown as a young man. He had a 15 year career in the minors but never played in the majors. He managed Louisville from 1919-1925, when he was called up by the Cubs.

The 1925 Cubs had been managed by three different men and had finished last in the NL with a 66-86 record. McCarthy instantly turned the team around, and they went from 82 wins in 1926 to 85 wins to 91 wins to the 98 wins they accumulated in 1929. McCarthy stands by his players, but give him any lip and he’ll send you right out the door. He summed up his managing philosophy earlier this week in the Inquirer:

My philosophy in running a ball club, or in building it up, is that as long as a man is paid to run the club, he might as well RUN it. 

When veteran pitchers Grover Alexander, Wilbur Cooper, and Tony Kaufmann decided to get lippy with McCarthy in his first year, he gave ’em the old bum’s rush outta town. And don’t think that Chicago’s Big Cheese has forgotten it for a minute either!

You’ll find (current Cubs pitchers) Root, Blake, and Bush taking an active part in the Cubs’ preparations for the forthcoming World Series with the Athletics. You don’t hear much of those other three pitchers any more. 

There’s not much I can say that you don’t already know about the Tall Tactician, Cornelius McGillicuddy, aka Connie Mack. A former catcher with the Pirates, he took on the A’s head job in 1901, when they were founded, and has been there ever since. He managed the first A’s dynasty from 1910-1914, but then tore the team apart, and spent plenty of time at the bottom looking up at the top teams in the AL. In fact, they finished in last place every year from 1915-1921, then slowly started to build their way back to respectability.

You won’t find Connie spending any time in any juice joints, and he tries to recruit players who abstain from booze as well. He goes by the name Mr. Mack to his players, and is regarded as a living legend by nearly everyone, except for perhaps the sportswriters, who give him a hard time about his miserly ways (If you go to the Series next week, don’t expect to find any water fountains. You’ll pay for water if you want it.) But he is a beloved figure to most fans of the Philadelphia team, especially now that he has a team back in the World Series.


It’s Gonna Be a Chess Match

Athletics Story

by S.O. Grauley, staff writer, Philadelphia Inquirer. The following are excerpts from a wonderful piece on Connie Mack by S.O. Grauley in today’s Inquirer.

Connie Mack has regained his peak. After fifteen long, nerve-racking years, crammed with worries, brimful of disaster and invariably discouraging, the “Lean Leader” of the Athletics has again that honor which was his so many times when the famous White Elephants ruled the baseball kingdom.

Year after year, since the utter rout of his champions of 1914, Mack could never build a winner…He faced long bleak seasons of untold bitter disappointments and most discouraging endings. Seven times he finished the AMerican League season in last place.

Such a showing would have driven most baseball men to despair. Many would have tossed up their arms and and said, “What’s the use? Fate is against me.”

But Mack, like Ben Hur, who in the climax of the chariot race, was grateful for the grueling years at the oars of the galley, became hardened to those sneers. The elongated leader of the club had fait in his own convictions, own judgement and was firm in his determination to again prove to Philadelphians…that he could come back. Year after year, during those lean seasons when the Athletics were the door mat of the American League Connie often was assailed with the sneering remark, “Get another manager, youre too old to stay in modern baseball.”

But those who sneered and jeered at the silent man of the team, the man who has become famous again through his persistency to come back and win games by signaling his players’ movements in the field, via his famous scorecard, are now the first to acclaim this man, who is now nearly three score and ten, as the greatest manager in baseball.

That he and his wonderful team will go into the 1929 World Series bearing the good wishes of every local fan is quite evident. Timely hitting, good pitching, and a strong defense has carried the A’s to the American championship. Well managed, well balanced, and well executed plays enabled the Macks to sweep aside the Yankee menace and bring to Philadelphia a pennant so greatly desired.

Philadelphians always made much of the Athletics. Ever since 1901 when the American League swept east, planted a team here and there on the Atlantic coast, fans took to the new invasion. Here in Philadelphia the Athletics went over big…The fight between the new league and the National over players and the showing of the Athletics in the race brought Philadelphia fandom flocking to the gates of the new park out 29th street. So popular became the Mackmen that the expression of “Follow the crowd”, which the Inquirer had so timely suggested as a slogan, became famous throughout the land of baseball.

Twenty nine years of baseball. Seven pennant winners, six second places. Surely Mack has just cause to feel proud of this achievment. The Inquirer extends hearty congratulations to the Man Who Came Back.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

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Teams on Airplanes, West Coast Teams in Baseball’s Future?

CLEVELAND, Oct. 3, 1929 (AP Story)- An interesting story from the AP this week, really makes you wonder about the future of baseball. :

The Major Leagues of the future will transport their teams in airplanes and may…include one or two Pacific cities, believes Billy Evans, general manager of the Cleveland Indians. Evans gave his views in turning down an airplane company’s efforts to sell the Cleveland club a ship to fly around the circuit, although he was impressed by the amount of time that could be saved and the elimination of spending nights in train berths. 

And yes, that’s the same Billy Evans who made his bones for so many years as an umpire (left). His Indians finished the year the 1929 season with an impressive 81-71 record.

Wanna Go to Chicago for Game 1? Make it to There in Under 22 Hours!

1929 Chicago Cubs Starters

Here’s a bit of info on each member of the Cubs starting lineup. Links on their names will go to photos of each player. You can click on the pic above to see larger view. 

CATCHER: The Cubs had a disastrous season behind the plate, as numerous catchers went out with injuries. Zach Taylor will be their starter for game 1, but Mike Gonzalez, Earl Grace, Johnny Schulte, and Gabby Hartnett all played in more than 20 games as well.

FIRST BASE: Charlie Grimm mans the bag at first. “Jolly Cholly” as he’s known actually began his career with the Athletics in 1916 as a 17 year old. Ironically, while he is now playing against a team many consider the best of all time, that 1916 squad was the worst of all time. A .298 hitter, he’s even better known for his defense…and his vaudeville act. He’s a skilled left handed banjo player.

SECOND BASE: Rogers Hornsby may be 33 years old, but he certainly shows no signs of slowing down. Five years ago, in 1924 with the Cardinals, “The Rajah” had one of the most remarkable hitting seasons of all time, batting .424. That’s a record I don’t foresee being broken for some time to come. He and Cobb are the greatest pure hitters in the history of the game. And though he doesn’t have as much power as Ruth, he can still pop that old sphere over the fences, hitting 39 homers and knocking in 149 Runs this year, his first season with the Cubs. The only knock on Hornsby is his attitude, which is why he seems to bounce around the league. But make no mistake…he’s still one of the premiere players in the Bigs, and he’ll have a big impact on this Series.

SHORTSTOP: Considered the clubhouse leader, even at the young age of 23, Woody English is one of the few players on the squad who gets along with Hornsby, and his diplomacy has been vital in keeping the squad on even keel. A contact hitter and an average defensive shortstop, he batted .276 this season.

THIRD BASE: The Cubs have  journeyman Norm McMillan at third, probably the weak link on this team. He is an average hitter (.276 this season) and not particularly good in the field (led the NL in errors this year). His biggest claim to fame is that just over a month ago he hit the shortest home run in MLB history. The Cubs were playing the Reds, and the game was tied at 5 with the bases loaded. Let’s let Norm tell the rest: “I hit a ball that bounded over third base. It bounced foul and into the Cubs’ bullpen and slipped up inside the discarded jacket of relief pitcher Ken Penner, which had been lying on the ground about ten feet behind the base. As it turned out, the ball went up the sleeve of the jacket and while the Reds’ left fielder, third baseman and shortstop were all looking for the ball, we all raced home.”

LEFT FIELD: The Cubs outfield is incredible, as all three outfielders had over 100 RBIs this season, the only time in baseball history that has ever happened.* In left, they have Riggs Stephenson. Riggs is a question mark defensively thanks to a bad shoulder, but there is no questioning his offensive prowess. He put up a .362 average with a .445 OBP, with 17 homers and 110 RBIs.

CENTER FIELD: There are few legends in baseball bigger than Hack Wilson. As sportswriter Shirley Povich once wrote: “He was built along the lines of a beer keg and not unfamiliar with its contents.” Hack has even admitted, “I never played drunk. Hungover, yes, but never drunk.” Hack hits even harder than he parties. This year, he hit .345 with 39 dingers and 159 RBIs.

RIGHT FIELD: Out in left, the Cubs sport the fast, brash, and excellent hitting Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and was part of that Pirates team that won the 1925 World Series, so he’s got experience in these big games. He was traded to the Cubs in 1927, and has done a stadnup job, batting .360 this year with 15 Homers and 102 RBIs.

*As of 2012, it still has never happened again.

1929 A’s Starting Lineup

Here’s the A’s starting lineup for Game 1 and a brief bio of each player. Links on the names will take you to a photo of the player. 

CATCHER: The A’s have the best catcher in baseball, possibly the best ever, Mickey Cochrane. Was actually a better football player in college, but without an established pro league, he turned to baseball. Good thing for old Connie that he did. Cochrane won the MVP last year, and was none too shabby this season, either, with a .331 average.

FIRST BASE: At first base, the A’s have one of the finest young studs in the game Jimmie Foxx. The 21-year old man known as The Beast is just that, hitting .354 with 33 Homers and 118 RBIs this season. Many pitchers are scared of Foxx when he digs in, and prefer to give him a free pass. He had more walks than the Babe this season, and again. he’s only 21. This pretty boy (he’s a big fan of manicures and loves to cut off his sleeves to show off his muscles) is bound to get even better.

SECOND BASE: Short and feisty, second bagger Max Bishop doesn’t pack a lot of wallop, but they don’t call him “Camera Eye” for nothing: he led the majors in walks with 128. He struggled and only hit .232 this season, but had the same OBP (.398) as superstar Al Simmons, who hit .365. His job is to lead off and get on the pond so the sluggers behind him, such as Foxx, Simmons, and Cochrane, can get the 5’8″ sparkplug home, and he does a terrific job of it. In fact, in a game against the Yankees in April, he walked 5 times. Despite having zero official at  bats that game, he scored three runs. He’s also an excellent defenseman.

SHORTSTOP:  At shortstop, the A’s have one of the most unheralded players in the game, Silent Joe Boley. Boley spent the prime of his career in the minors, not because he couldn’t make the majors, but because nobody would pay the owner of his independent team enough to get him. The A’s fnally secured his rights in 1927, and he was the cat’s meow his rookie year. Unfortunately, since then he’s struggled with a “dead arm”, exacerbated when he was hit by a bottle thrown by Cleveland fans (who were aiming for a nearby umpire). He had a .251 average this year, and only played in 91 games, but he does play excellent defense when healthy. And don’t look to him for a postgame quote; he didn’t get the name Silent Joe for nothin’.

THIRD BASE: If anyone on this team has earned this, it’s third baseman Jimmy Dykes. Debuting in 1919, he has played on this team for many of its lean years. Only reserve catcher Cy Perkins has been on the team longer. Dykes is as versatile as anyone in the league, and once played seven positions (including pitcher!) in a single game. He has perhaps the strongest arm in baseball, and he’s none too shabby at the plate, either, hitting .327 this season with 79 RBIs.

LEFT FIELD: Sorry Babe Ruth, but the best outfielder in baseball plays his home games in Philadelphia. He was born with the name Aloisius Szymanski, but he’s better known as Al Simmons. Despite his unorthodox batting style (they call him Bucketfoot Al), he rips the rawhide off the ball. He finished the season hitting .365 with 34 long balls and a league-leading 157 RBIs. He is so smooth defensively that it looks as if he’s not trying. That has led to him (incredibly and absurdly) not being a fan favorite in Philadelphia, because the fans think he coasts. But Connie Mack sure loves him plenty. Listen to this glowing praise from Mack: “Simmons is one of the few players that spring up oncei n a decade with the baseball instinct. Other players of the type were Napoleon Lajoie, Honus Wagner, and the great and only Ty Cobb. When one says this he says it all.”

CENTER FIELD: In center is Mule Haas, who made huge strides in this, his sophomore season. A .313 hitter with plenty of defensive speed, he’s also got some power, as his 16 homers and 41 doubles can attest.

RIGHT FIELD: In 1926, Connie Mack sent Bing Miller off to the St. Louis Browns. He labored in the painful obscurity that is St. Louis Brown baseball, but hit well enough that in 1928 Mack decided to bring him back. It was a smart choice. He hit an impressive .331 this season, and despite being 34 years old, he also led the team with 24 stolen bases.