December 18, 2014

The Mother of All World Series Comebacks: Part I

November 13, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

After getting down three games to one, the Tampa Bay Rays faced what is commonly known as an ‘elimination’, or must-win game. Unfortunately for the Rays, they lost their first and only elimination game of the series, and the year was over. However, there was once a team that faced FIVE World Series elimination games! Not familiar with that series? Then you may want to read on for the incredible story.

In October 1927, the Chicago American Giants and the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants were set to play the 4th annual Negro League World Series. The Negro League World Series was a best of nine affair, with the first four games scheduled to be played in Chicago, followed by a three day travel break, then the remaining five in Atlantic City. The same teams had met in the 1926 Series, with Chicago winning five games to three, with two tie games.

Chicago had won the first half-pennant in the Negro National League, with the Birmingham Black Barons, after finishing a distance 5th in the first half, taking the 2nd half-pennant. Chicago had the best overall league record at 56-29, and they rolled over the Black Barons 4 games to none in the NNL playoffs.

The Bacharach Giants had won both halves of the Eastern Colored League schedule, and had an overall record of 54-35. Although they had no playoff games to worry about, Atlantic City still had some big challenges. Their 1926 ace pitcher, lefty Red Grier, who had no-hit Chicago in the ’26 Series, had been out all year with a sore arm. He finally pitched some in September, but apparently was not sufficiently healthy to be used in any meaningful games. Rats Henderson was their other ace, and with his 15-4 record, probably would have won the ECL ‘Cy Young’ award, had such a thing existed. However, now he too had come down with a sore arm, and was questionable for the series.

The Rosters:

Chicago American Giants (Manager – Dave Malarcher)

Pos, Player, B/T
C – Larry Brown, B/R
1B – Jim Brown, L/R
2B – Charlie Williams, R/R
SS – Pythias Russ, R/R
3B – Dave Malarcher, B/R
LF – Nat Rogers, L/R
CF/1B – George Sweatt, R/R
RF – Walter Davis, L/L

CF/SS – Stanford Jackson, R/R
C –James Bray, L/R
1B/3B/P – Buck Miller, R/R

P – Willie Foster, B/L
P – Willie Powell, L/R
P – George Harney, R/R
P – Webster McDonald, L/R
P – Rube Currie, R/R

Willie Foster is the only Hall of Famer, but Chicago was in the middle of an impressive 3-year run, and had several star quality players such as strong-armed catcher Larry Brown, third-baseman Dave Malarcher, hard hitters Walter Davis and Pythias Russ, plus a deep pitching staff with five quality arms.

Malarcher sometimes sat Nat Rogers, inserting the speedster Jackson in center, with Sweatt moving over to left field. One roster oddity – both Russ and Jim Brown had formerly been catchers, so Chicago had four players that could go behind the plate if needed.

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (Manager – Dick Lundy)

Pos, Player, B/T
C – Edward Jones, R/R
1B/OF – William Dallard, R/R
2B – Bert Wagner, ?/R
SS – Dick Lundy, B/R
3B – Oliver Marcelle, R/R
LF – Ambrose Reid, ?/R
CF – Chaney White, R/L
RF – Clarence Smith, R/R
IF – Milt Lewis, ?/?
C – Warren Duncan, ?/R

P – Rats Henderson, R/R (Injured)
P/OF – Luther Farrell, L/L
P/OF – Jess Hubbard, L/R
P – Hubert Lockhart, ?/?
P – Claude Grier, L/L (Injured)
P – Roy Roberts, ?/?

Not a single Hall of Famer on the roster, but plenty of stars, such as Dick Lundy, Oliver Marcelle, Chaney White, and Henderson. White was probably the best overall offensive player. Clarence Smith and Lundy hit for average, while Dallard and Lewis provided some home run power.

Lewis had been the starting second baseman until the glove man Wagner was acquired late in the season. Hubbard and Farrell were both good hitters, and had been seeing extensive work in the OF when not on the mound.

Game #1 – Saturday, October 1, 1927, Schorling Park, Chicago

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

1. LF – Reid
2. 1B – Dallard
3. CF – White, C.
4. 3B – Marcelle
5. SS – Lundy
6. RF – Smith, C.
7. C – Jones, E.
8. 2B – Wagner
9. P – Farrell

Chicago American Giants

1. 1B – Brown, J.
2. 3B – Malarcher
3. RF – Davis, W.
4. LF – Rogers
5. SS – Russ
6. CF – Sweatt
7. C – Brown, L.
8. 2B – Williams, C.
9. P – Foster

It rained the night before, and throughout the morning, causing field conditions to be poor, as the two lefties took the ball. In the top of the second, Marcelle led off with an infield hit up the middle that Williams gloved but couldn’t make a play on. Lundy bunted back to the pitcher Foster, sacrificing Marcelle to second. Smith then grounded hard to the right side, handcuffing Williams as the ball went off his wrist and into right field, scoring Marcelle.

In the bottom of the second, Rogers drew a leadoff walk. Russ sacrificed him to second, then Sweatt hit a hard grounder to Marcelle, who fumbled it, putting runners at first and third. Larry Brown hit a hard grounder to Dallard at first, who tagged the bag, then threw home too late to get Rogers.

In the Chicago third, the pitcher Foster led off with a double. Jim Brown doubled him home. After Malarcher flied to White in center, Davis singled to center, scoring Brown. Rogers was hit by a pitch, the ball glancing off his arm and hitting him in the mouth, splitting his upper lip. He was carried off the field, with Jackson pinch-running. Russ hit a ground ball to Lundy, forcing Jackson at second, but the relay throw to first was too late for the double play. In the meantime, Davis rounded third, and headed for home. The throw by Dallard was in time, but Jones missed the tag. Sweatt flied to center to end the inning, and the score was now four to one Chicago.

Atlantic City’s top of the fourth saw singles by Lundy and Jones, but they were stranded. In the bottom of the inning, after Larry Brown struck out, Williams singled to right and Foster followed with his second double of the game, sending Williams to third. Jim Brown hit a sac fly to center, and Chicago now led five to one.

A Reid walk and a Marcelle single put two on again for Atlantic City in the fifth, but again Foster got out of trouble. In the sixth, Jones and Wagner both hit safely, but the Bacharach’s still could not get a key hit.

Lewis pinch-hit for Dallard in the seventh, but his lead-off double was wasted. In the bottom half, Jim Brown singled to center leading off, Malarcher sac bunted to the catcher, and Davis lined one back over Farrell’s head into center to make the score six to one.

After one out in the eighth, Jones walked and Wagner doubled, but Foster struck out Farrell and got Reid to ground out, stranding two again. In the ninth, Lewis led off with a triple and came in on a ground out, making the final score Chicago six, Atlantic City two.

Both pitchers went the distance. Farrell pitched decently, giving up eight hits, a walk, and a couple hit batsmen, but the American Giants had put their hits together. On the other side, Foster was not at his best, giving up 13 hits and two walks, but he struck out eight, many of which came at key moments, to keep the Bacharach Giants off the board, as Atlantic City stranded 11 batters.

Star of the Game: Chicago first baseman Jim Brown went two for four with a double, two runs scored, and three RBIs.

Game #2 – Sunday, October 2, 1927, Schorling Park, Chicago

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

1. LF – Reid
2. 1B – Dallard
3. CF – White, C.
4. 3B – Marcelle
5. SS – Lundy
6. RF – Smith, C.
7. 2B – Wagner
8. C – Jones, E.
9. P – Hubbard

Chicago American Giants

1. 1B – Brown, J.
2. 3B – Malarcher
3. RF – Davis, W.
4. SS – Russ
5. LF – Sweatt
6. CF – Jackson
7. C – Brown, L.
8. 2B – Williams, C.
9. P – Powell

On Sunday, two right-handers opposed each other. The only other lineup adjustment for Atlantic City was to swap the seventh and eighth hitters. For Chicago, Rodgers had received several stitches in his lip, and was apparently still not ready to play, so Russ and Sweat moved up one spot each, with Sweatt moving to left and Jackson starting in center, batting sixth.

Chicago jumped out to a lead in their half of the first. After Jim Brown fanned, Malarcher and Davis both singled to left. Marcelle snagged Russ’ line drive and then threw to first to get Davis for the double play, but Dallard dropped the throw for an error. Sweatt drove a double to left, scoring two, and Jackson singled to center, scoring Sweatt. Larry Brown singled to right, with Jackson going to third, but Hubbard was able to induce a ground out from Sweatt, keeping the damage to three to nothing.

In the Chicago second, pitcher Powell singled then went to second on a passed ball. After Jim Brown grounded out to short, Malarcher hit a ball that deflected off of Marcelle’s glove right to Lundy, who nipped the runner at first, and it looked like the Bacharach’s might escape, but Davis came through with the big single to center to score Powell. Russ singled, but Hubbard was able to get Sweatt on a ground out to end the threat, and keep the score four to nothing.

Things then completely fell apart for Atlantic City in the fifth. Davis and Russ both singled, giving Chicago first and third with no one out Sweatt hit the ball right back to Hubbard, who threw home to get Davis, but Jones couldn’t make the catch and tag, and Davis scored on the error. Jackson then also hit back to Hubbard, who threw late to third, loading the bases. Larry Brown cleared the bases with a double to left, and Hubbard was done for the day, replaced by Lockhart. Williams also hit back to the pitcher, and this time it was Lockhart who bungled the play, trying to get Brown at third instead of taking the easy out at first. The American Giants then tried a delayed double steal, but Williams was thrown out, with Brown holding at third. Powell then singled in Brown to complete the scoring with Chicago now up nine-nothing.

The Bacharachs were able to get one in sixth driven in on a single by Dallard, but Jim Brown drove in two more on single in the seventh to complete the scoring.

Powell pitched a complete game, giving up just the one run on four hits, striking out five and walking three. Hubbard was pounded in his four innings for nine runs (seven earned) and 11 hits. Lockhart was charged with two runs in his four innings of work.

Star of the Game: Powell, who was also two for three with a run scored and run batted in.

Game #3 – Monday, October 3, 1927, Schorling Park, Chicago

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

1. CF – White, C.
2. 1B – Dallard
3. LF – Reid
4. RF – Farrell
5. SS – Lundy
6. 2B – Wagner
7. 3B – Marcelle
8. C – Jones, E.
9. P – Hubbard

Chicago American Giants

1. 1B – Brown, J.
2. 3B – Malarcher
3. RF – Davis, W.
4. SS – Russ
5. LF – Sweatt
6. CF – Jackson
7. C – Brown, L.
8. 2B – Williams, C.
9. P – Harney

Lundy selects Hubbard to start again! With Henderson and Grier both injured, Lundy was in a pickle. Farrell had only one day rest since pitching nine innings (36 batters), while Farrell and Lockhart had both just pitched four innings (25 batters for Farrell, 18 for Lockhart). The only other healthy pitcher was Roberts, who could have bouts of wildness, and who Lundy apparently didn’t trust. Lundy also switched White and Reid in the batting order, and inserted the left-handed hitting Farrell in right in place of Clarence Smith. He also dropped Marcelle down to the seventh spot. Malarcher went with the veteran spit-baller George Harney, but left the remaining lineup in tact, with Rogers still out. A rain the night before made the outfield grass especially slippery.

Chicago hit Hubbard hard in the second. After Russ grounded out, Sweatt legged out a double, then Jackson tripled over the head of Farrell in right. Larry Brown hit a dribbler right in front of the plate and was tagged out before he left the box. Williams blooped a single into right to score Jackson, then Harney rolled out to second, and Chicago was quickly up two-zip.

Atlantic City threatened in the third. Marcelle doubled to right leading off, then Jones hit a hard smash that went off of Jim Brown’s shins for an infield single. With first and third, no out, Hubbard was called out on strikes. Jones stole second, but White struck out swinging, and then Dallard fanned on four pitches.

In the Chicago third, Jim Brown singled to right, Malarcher walked, and Lundy decided Hubbard was struggling with the back-to-back starts, pulling him after 11 batters in favor of Roy Roberts. Davis hit Roberts’ first pitch into center, scoring Brown. Russ singled past Marcelle, scoring Malarcher. Lockhart then relieved Roberts, as Lundy saw a third straight game starting to get away from him. Sweatt continued the barrage, singling to left to load the bases with none still out. Jackson grounded to second where Wagner booted the ball, Davis scoring. Wagner recovered the ball and fired to the plate where Russ is tagged out trying to score from second. Now with first and second, one out, Larry Brown lined to Wagner, who flipped to Lundy to double off Sweatt at second and mercifully end the inning with Chicago up only five to nothing.

The Bacharach nightmare continued in the fourth. Williams grounded to Lundy, who threw high to pull Dallard off first for an error. Harney bunted out in front of the plate, and Jones throw hit Williams in the back of the neck, with both runners safe. With Jim Brown batting, Jones tried to pick Williams off second. Williams broke for third, and Lundy’s throw to Marcelle went past him and into the stands, allowing Williams to score and Harney to advance all the way to third with none out. Jim Brown popped up to Lundy, Malarcher fouled out to catcher, and Davis grounded to third, preventing the inning from being even worse than six – zero.

Sweatt scored Davis with a single in the seventh to complete the scoring, seven – nothing Chicago. Harney went all nine, giving up four hits, striking out eight, and walking just one. Hubbard lasted only two innings, giving up four runs, Roberts gave up a run without getting anyone out, and Lockhart gave up two runs (one earned) in six innings of relief.

Star of the Game: There were many. Harney of course, plus George Sweatt went three for four with a double, a run, and an RBI. Walter Davis went two for four with a triple, two runs, and an RBI.

Game #4 – Tuesday, October 4, 1927, Schorling Park, Chicago

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

1. CF – White, C.
2. 1B – Dallard
3. LF – Reid
4. RF – Smith, C.
5. SS – Lundy
6. 3B – Marcelle
7. 2B – Wagner
8. C – Jones, E.
9. P – Farrell

Chicago American Giants

1. 1B – Brown, J.
2. 3B – Malarcher
3. RF – Davis, W.
4. SS – Russ
5. LF – Sweatt
6. CF – Jackson
7. C – Brown, L.
8. 2B – Williams, C.
9. P – McDonald

The lefty Farrell comes back with two days rest, while Malarcher, up three games to none, doesn’t have to bring his ace Foster back on short rest, but pitches the right-handed submariner Webster McDonald. Lundy plugged Clarence Smith at cleanup in right, with Farrell pitching and dropping down to number nine in the order. Chicago didn’t make any changes to its winning combination except for the pitcher’s spot.

The American Giants tried to strike quickly in the first. Jim Brown led off with a single past short. Malarcher followed with a base hit to left, but Brown aggressively tried for third and was thrown out by Reid. Davis hit a smash to short that Lundy knocked down but couldn’t make a play on. After the three consecutive singles, Farrell finally got a batter out when Russ lined to left. Sweat rolled out 3 – 1 and the Bacharachs were out of the inning.

In their second, Atlantic City started off with Smith grounding out, but then Lundy doubled to left-center. Marcelle grounded to Jim Brown who booted it, giving the Bacharachs first and third with one out. Wagner hit back to McDonald who threw to second, but Williams came off the bag to instead throw to home, getting Lundy at the plate. Jones flied to Davis in right, ending the threat.

The Bacharach third started with Farrell plugging the right-center field gap. Farrell tried for third as the throw came from Jackson to Williams to Marcelle, and collided with Marcelle as the ball arrived, allowing the ball to roll into the stands, and Farrell to trot home.

More Atlantic City excitement occurred in the fourth, with Jim Brown falling down while trying to field Smith’s grounder. After the error, Lundy singled to center and when Jackson tried to get Smith at third, Lundy continued onto second base. Marcelle sent a foul fly down the right field line that Jim Smith snared, then turned and fired to home to get Smith for a double play, with Lundy holding at second. Wagner grounded to short, with Lundy getting in a run-down and being tagged out by Russ for the third out.

The American Giants got on the board in the fourth. After Sweatt flied to center field and Jackson popped to first, Larry Brown walked. Williams then singled to center and advanced to second as White threw to third. Pitcher Webster McDonald then singled thru the middle, scoring Brown. Jim Brown grounded out to end the inning with the score tied one – one.

In the Chicago fifth, Malarcher singled to center, and Davis followed with a double down the left field line. Russ walked, filling the bases with none out. Sweatt grounded to short, and Lundy threw home, but before Jones could tag the plate Malarcher barreled into him, knocking the ball toward the stands, and allowing Davis to also score with Russ to third and Sweatt to second. Jackson hit a fly to center field. Both runners tagged up, and White elected to throw to third to get Sweatt, but the ball eluded Marcelle, and Sweatt ran in to score another run. Larry Brown grounded to Lundy, who proceeded to throw wide of first for an error. Williams walked, then McDonald hit a grounder to Dallard at first, who tossed to Farrell covering, only Farrell missed connections with the throw, and Brown raced in from second while Williams moved to third. Jim Brown hit to Marcelle, who threw home to get Williams. Malarcher, the tenth man to bat in the inning, then grounded to Marcelle for the final out, with the score now six to one Chicago.

Jim Brown started the Chicago eighth with a Texas Leaguer to right. Malarcher grounded back to Farrell, but Dallard dropped the throw to first. After Davis flied to left, with Brown going to third, Malarcher stole second. Russ then doubled to left, scoring Brown and Malarcher, and Sweatt singled to left, scoring Russ. Jackson grounded out and Larry Brown flied out, but the score was now nine to one American Giants, and that was all the scoring.

Webster McDonald pitched nine innings, allowing just the one run on six hits, striking out four and walking one. Farrell went the whole way also, with a line of eight innings, nine runs (six earned) , 11 hits, 1 strikeout, and no walks.

Star of the Game: McDonald.

Now the series took a break, shifting back to the east to Bacharach Park in Atlantic City. Chicago needed just one more game to clinch, and had outscored Atlantic City 33 to 4! The American Giants would have their well-rested ace, Willie Foster, ready to go, followed by their ‘2nd ace’ Willie Powell, while Atlantic City would still be scrambling to find someone rested and healthy who could be effective. Things certainly didn’t look good for the Bacharachs. Still, they WERE going to be at home, and at this point, had nothing to lose, as they’d have to face at least five elimination games to overtake Chicago….

Comments

2 Responses to “The Mother of All World Series Comebacks: Part I”
  1. fred lockhart jr says:

    Hubert Lockhart (Prof) was my Grand Dad. Any additional information regarding his participation in the Negro Leagues will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Fred Lockhart Jr

  2. Fred – That’s great, thanks for posting. We’re just about to post his first major negro league season (1923) of data here at seamheads.com later this month.

    In the meantime there is some information on him here:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/nlb/player.cgi?id=lockha000joe

    If you have any information you can give us, such as which hand he hit with, which one he threw with, height, weight, etc. it would be greatly appreciated.

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