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.