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.

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.

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.