The 1912 World Series: Part Two
In the second part of this series on the 1912 World Series, I will recap the 3rd and 4th games between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants.
Despite playing eleven innings of thrilling baseball, the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants ended game two in a 6-6 draw. With Boston up in the series, 1-0, the series resumed the next afternoon at Fenway Park. Taking the bump for the home-side was 30-year-old right-hander, Buck Oâ€™Brien. Oâ€™Brien went 20-13 for Boston in only his second major league season, while posting an ERA of 2.58.Â Countering Oâ€™Brien for New York was Rube Marquard, the Giantsâ€™ sensational southpaw. For the second straight season in 1912, Marquard won 20+ games for John McGraw, going 26-11. On this day, he was looking for the first postseason win of his career.
Before the contest even began, Boston outfielder Tris Speaker was presented with the Chalmers Award for being the most valuable player in the American League. After an ovation from the sell-out crowd in Boston, Speaker was handed the keys to a Chalmers Model 30 automobile, which he gladly drove at high speeds around the warning track. This wouldnâ€™t be the only car given away during the series because the next day in New York, Giants 2B Larry Doyle would receive one for being named the MVP of the National League.
After a scoreless first, the opening run of the game was scored in the top of the second. Red Murray, who had hit tremendously in the first two games, opened the inning with a double to the gap in right-center. The Giants then played station-to-station; Murray was moved over to third on a Fred Merkle sacrifice, and was then brought home on a Buck Herzog sacrifice fly. The Giants led 1-0 after two innings.
Oâ€™Brien got himself into more trouble in the 5th. Herzog hammered a ball into left-field, and tried to stretch it into a triple. However, he slipped rounding second and stayed there with a double. Two batters later, with Herzog now at third, Art Fletcher lined a ball up the middle to give the Giants a two-run lead.
The stolen base, something the Giants did well, started to creep into the mind of Oâ€™Brien. He threw two pitchouts to the next hitter, Marquard, before Fletcher took off and stole second. With Fletcher dancing off second base, Oâ€™Brien lost control and walked Marquard. Josh Devore, the next man in the box, forced Rube out at second for out number two. Devore proceeded to steal second base while Oâ€™Brien was busy walking Larry Doyle to load the bases.
That brought up Fred Snodgrass, who could jam a dagger into the Red Sox with a base hit here. Scoring 2-plus runs against Marquard was tough any time he pitched, but he was on that afternoon and the Red Sox knew it. Oâ€™Brien gathered himself and threw a good pitch to Snodgrass, who in turn made excellent contact with the pitch and drove it into left field. Duffy Lewis didnâ€™t even have to move as the ball went straight into his glove.
For the Red Sox, it was disaster averted, but it wouldnâ€™t have mattered if they couldnâ€™t score a run. Marquard was holding the hitters, one through nine, in check and didnâ€™t appear shaken at all. Â The 35,000 fans at Fenway Park, the largest crowd ever to witness a baseball game in Boston, did their all to rattle the Giantsâ€™ lefty. Through six, the Red Sox only managed to produce four hits of Marquard and a big zero in the score column, but Red Sox manager/first baseman Jake Stahl tried to change all of that with one swing of the bat.
After getting the first two batters out in the seventh, Stahl stepped up to face Marquard. Midway through the at-bat, Stahl hammered a ball into left-field but this time, the Green Monster played into the visitorâ€™s advantage. The ball, which would have traveled out of many other ballparks, hit high off the wall for a double. The next batter, Lewis, flied out to Devore in right field. The fly ball was almost trouble for the Giants, as Devore almost collided with outfield â€˜mate Snodgrass, who was also running at full-speed while tracking the ball.
The 9th was the last chance for the Red Sox. With the score still 2-0; Marquard got the first out by inducing a pop-out off the bat of Speaker. Then the momentum shifted on a simple ground ball to Merkle at first base. Lewis hit a ball deep in the hole at first and, instead of running to the base, Merkle tossed it to Marquard covering the bag. The slow-footed Marquard couldnâ€™t get up the line quick enough and Lewis beat him to the bag for an infield single.
For the first time all game, the Red Sox had rattled Marquard and they took advantage. The number five hitter, Larry Gardner, roped a pitch down the first base line. The ball took a terrible Giants bounce off the barrier in foul territory and scooted past Devore. The hop allowed Lewis to score, but Gardner was held at second by the third-base coach, a bad judgment call that would hurt them on the next batter.
Stahl hit a one-hopper back to Marquard, who got Gardner hung up between 2nd and 3rd and threw him out. With two outs, Heinie Wagner grounded a ball to Fletcher at short. Fletcher, often criticized for his lack of defense, made a strong throw to Merkle, who dropped it, permitting Olaf Henriksen, who came in to run for Stahl, to reach third. On the very next pitch, Wagner stole second, putting two runners in scoring position with two outs for Red Sox catcher Hick Cady.
He ripped a line-drive into right field, for sure over the head of Devore. The crowd screamed in delight, sensing a victory. But the ball never hit the ground. Instead, Devore, running with his back towards the diamond, reached up and caught the ball, saving the game for the Giants with a fantastic catch.
With Game Two and Game Three being series classics, Game Four was going to have trouble living up to expectations.
The teams departed for New York City from Boston at six following Game Three, where on the mound, it would be a rematch of Game One. Boston ace Smoky Joe Wood had defeated Jeff Tesreau in Game One and the Giants were hoping for a different result in Game Four.
Early on, Tesreau displayed a lack of control as he did in the first game. He got behind the first two hitters of the game and allowed both to get on. However, Tesreau settled down and got Speaker to bounce into a double play that helped him get out of the inning without any damage.
Nonetheless, it was Boston who struck first in the second inning. Murray led off with a drive that went off the wall in right field for a triple. Tesreau got ahead of the next hitter, Lewis, but threw a 56-foot curveball that got away from Giants catcher Chief Meyers and the wild pitch allowed Murray to score. Tesreau rebounded and set the next three down in order, but Boston left the second up 1-0.
In the fourth, with the score still 1-0, Tesreau couldnâ€™t locate the zone again and walked leadoff man Larry Gardner. Stahl attempted to sacrifice Gardner over, but a poor bunt back to the mound forced the base runner at second base. Stahl then stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout. With a runner at third and two out, Cady bounced one up the middle past a diving Fletcher, counting Gardner to make it 2-0 Red Sox.
Again, Wood was on his game, striking out six through six. Through the first six innings, he was untouchable and New York looked lost at the plate. In the seventh, the weather, which was muggy for the first six innings, had changed and so had Woodâ€™s fortunes. After Merkle struck out to lead off the inning, Herzog singled sharply into left field. Wood got the next hitter to fly out, but Fletcher, whose play had improved dramatically throughout the series, doubled over first base, scoring Herzog for the Giants’ first run.
With Tesreau up, McGraw decided to pinch hit for him and sent up Bill McCormack. McCormack made his manager look wise by singling up the middle. Boston second baseman Steve Yerkes dove and slowed the ball from reaching the outfield but McGraw, coaching third base, sent Fletcher anyway. Yerkes recovered well and threw home to Cady, and the ball beat Fletcher by fifteen feet. Fletcher, under orders from a screaming McGraw, ran full speed into Cady and knocked him over. Cady hung onto the ball and the Giants left the seventh with only one run.
Cady, upset with the extreme contact made on him at the plate, expressed his displeasure to Fletcher and home plate umpire Cy Rigler. McGraw jumped in to defend his player and it seemed as if trouble was brewing. Speaker, who was himself in the center of a potential fight in Game Two, ran in from centerfield and began to voice his opinion. Both benches emptied to separate the parties and the game went on to the eighth.
New Giants pitcher Red Ames held the Red Sox in check during their half of the eighth, allowing another opportunity for New York in the eighth. Wood got the first two outs and appeared to have another when Snodgrass lined to Wagner in left. The ball tricked Wagner and it hit his glove and fell to the ground, allowing Snodgrass to reach first on an error. Murray, one of the Giantsâ€™ brightest stars in the series, stepped up and executed a perfect hit-and-run, putting runners on the corners with two outs for Merkle, who struck out the previous inning against Wood. Merkle fell behind and Wood used his devastating slow curveball to fan Merkle and again get out of a jam.
Boston added to their slim one-run lead in the ninth as Wood helped out his own cause. Cady had gotten two outs but put base runners at first and third for Wood, who singled over Merkleâ€™s head at first to bring home Gardner from third. Wood stayed in for the ninth and got the Giants to go 1-2-3, giving Boston a Game Four victory.
The teams would retreat back to Boston for Game Five the next afternoon, with Boston in control, two games to one. While Boston had the advantage, the series was far from over.