1919 All-Star Game: National League Wins Nail-Biter, Survives Late Rally
NATIONAL LEAGUE HOLDS OFF JUNIOR CIRCUIT
IN ANNUAL CONTEST OF GAME’S BEST
BOSTON, July 19.—In what seasoned cranks will view as the most competitive All-Star game since its inception three years ago, the National League gamely staved off a late rally by the American League to secure a 4-3 win and take the lead in the series. After plating a run in the top of the ninth thanks to a gift error by normally sure-handed second baseman Eddie “Cocky” Collins, and hits by substitute swatsmiths Emil “Irish” Meusel and Walter “Rabbit” Maranville that gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead, the junior circuit stormed back with a run in the bottom of the frame when Indians outfielder Elmer Smith poled a single to right that sent Babe Ruth scampering home from second.
That brought up Red Sox shortstop Everett Scott into the fray to a rousing ovation from half of the appreciative citizens of Boston, although the other half were less appreciative considering the pitcher tossing slants across the plate was their own man, erstwhile Braves hero Dick Rudolph, who once stymied the powerful Athletics in the 1914 Fall Classic and brought “The Hub” its first National League championship since the days of “Sliding Billy” Hamilton and Charles “Kid” Nichols.
Scott whipped the half-throng into a frenzy when he sent a safety to the same spot Smith found only a batter before, landing Scott on the keystone sack when right fielder Ross Youngs made an unsuccessful attempt to kill the potential tying run in Smith at third. With the winning run perched a spirited gallop away and Rudolph seemingly losing steam senior circuit skipper, Fred Mitchell, turned to Giants righthander Fred Toney to quell the uprising.
The tall Tennesseean was up to the task and sent the Red Soxed half of the crowd to their dinner tables with heads bowed in disappointment when he convinced Senators catcher Patsy Gharrity to send a fly ball into Youngs’ glove to end the contest. It wasn’t lost on this writer that the first and last men to hurl for the National League today once locked up in an epic battle on May 2, 1917 that saw Toney toss a 10-inning no-hitter against today’s starter, James “Hippo” Vaughn, who himself threw nine innings of hitless ball before losing the battle in the 10th.
This summer Vaughn was considered the most deserving N.L. slabman by the fans, so it was easy for Mitchell to assign the job of stifling the powerful A.L. lineup to his regular season ace. White Sox second sacker Eddie Collins had other ideas and began the game with a single to left, then came around to score on a ground out by Roger Peckinpaugh and base hit by Ty Cobb. That brought up Ruth to give Boston fans a glimpse of a duel that launched last year’s world’s series in Chicago when the two portsiders waged war from opposite dugouts.
The behemoth baby bruin fanned Ruth twice in three at-bats last September but the Baltimore native walked away with a 1-0 victory to give the Sox an early advantage in a world’s series Boston would eventually win. Vaughn’s slants bested the “King of Clout” again and he fanned him for the second out of the inning. Not one to wait around for the combat to come to him, Cobb struck out for second base with Ruth at the bat and made it without incident. When “Gorgeous George” Sisler rapped a single to left, Cobb raced home with the game’s second tally. Before George “Buck” Weaver could get comfortable in the box, Sisler took a page from Cobb’s book and headed toward second where he was met by the outstretched arm of Robins shortstop Ivan Olson, who tagged Sisler out with a perfectly delivered strike by catcher Ivey Wingo to end the inning.
For the second time in three years, Walter Johnson was the bugs’ choice to start for the American League and he continued to have trouble against his National League foes, surrendering the lead in the third inning when his old nemesis Rogers Hornsby reached him for a triple in the top of the third to score Heinie Groh, then came plateward on a hit by Casey Stengel to give the senior loop a 3-2 lead. Some might recall that Hornsby also belted a three-bagger against “Barney” in Game 2 of the first All-Star series three years hence that led to a 6-3 victory for the Nationals.
From the third frame on both managers paraded their stars in and out of the ball game without restraint or consequence until the final inning. Cincinnati lefty Walter “Dutch” Ruether was particularly difficult on the American Leaguers, allowing only two hits through three innings of work, and Jesse Barnes of the Giants and Harry “Slim” Sallee of the Reds combined for another three innings of scoreless ball before Rudolph was touched for a run in the ninth.
The juniors’ staff was equally effective—White Sox workhorses Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams held the National League at bay for nearly five innings, and John Picus “Jack” Quinn, Russell “Jing” Johnson and Allan Sothoron would have done the same were it not for Collins’ inopportune error on a ball hit by Brooklyn’s Jake Daubert with one out in the final inning.
Irish and The Rabbit followed with hits that gave the senior circuit a cushion ample enough to earn their second All-Star victory against only one for the American League. Collins’ performance at the bat was reminiscent of Ray Chapman’s perfect showing in 1917 for the second sacker reached base all four times he stepped to the plate. It’s regrettable then that it was his gaffe that effectively resulted in a loss for his team and league, but such is the game of base ball. The teams combined for 20 hits but only Sisler could join Collins among stickmen with multiple safeties. The remaining 15 hits were distributed among the rest.
An interesting development could have unfolded had the American League tied the game and sent it to extra innings for A.L. skipper Ed Barrow had run out of pitchers when he threw everything he had at the Nationals without regard for extra frames. When asked what he would have done in the event of a tie game after nine innings Barrow was succinct. “Did you see that big fellow out in left? He would have taken the ball without hesitation and gone as many innings as it took.”
Of course Barrow was talking about Ruth and though they haven’t always seen eye to eye, especially when it comes to Ruth’s primary position, the big lefty still takes the mound when asked. “Of course I would have pitched if Barrow had asked,” Ruth announced with his typical braggadocio. “I would have shown those bums over there what real pitching looks like.” Not taking kindly to Ruth’s boasts but wishing to remain anonymous a National Leaguer retorted, “Yeah, he’s such a great pitcher they turned him into an outfielder.”
That outfielder thwarted a potential opportunity by the senior circuit when he left his feet to stab a drive by Giants second baseman Larry Doyle in the eighth inning and reminded Boston fans of Duffy Lewis, who expertly navigated Fenway Park’s left field grounds from the time it opened until two years ago. What Ruth didn’t do at the plate or on the mound he made up for with that play in the field, and perhaps we should begin to refer to him as the “Governor of the Glove” or “Lieutenant of the Leather.”
Not surprisingly few were able to scatter without hearing from Red Sox owner Harry Frazee before all departed Boston. “My baseball plant was filled to capacity, which proves what I’ve been saying all along,” Frazee announced after the game. “I guaranteed that Bostonians would fill seats and practically begged the National Commission to reconsider their decision to reduce the series to only one game, but my pleas fell on deaf ears as usual. I find it interesting that the three-game series was cut to just one game in the same year that it was to be played at Fenway Park. Anyone who thinks Ban Johnson isn’t behind this is delusional, drunk or both. And I know drunk when I see it.”
Next year’s game is scheduled to be played in Boston as well, but at Braves Field, a much larger venue that might warrant a switch back to the old format. No doubt we haven’t heard the last from “Handsome Harry.”
The Great Tradition Continues!
Cast Your Vote For The 1920 All Stars!
The Voice of the Fan—YOU—will be heard!
Every once in a while, a tradition is commenced that defines a turning point in the life of an institution. A generation ago, that tradition for the game of Base Ball was the World’s Series, pitting the two greatest teams in the greatest sport in the world to face off for the right to be declared Champions.
In this generation, it is now known to all that the tradition that has changed the face of the institution of Base Ball is the All-Star Game, pitting the collective acumen of the greatest base ball players in the world, representing every team in the two great leagues, against one another to show which league is the superior of the other.
On Saturday, July 17, 1920, the greatest stars in The Game will convene at Braves Field in Boston to play in the fourth annual All-Star Game. And the starters, including three pitchers, for each side will be selected by YOU, The Fan!
Because this is YOUR game. It belongs to YOU. Tell the world who the greatest players in The Game are in the Year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Twenty.
Do not delay! Vote for the 1920 All-Star starters and pitchers today!
Voting will be open until 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time on November 8, 2013. The managers will round out the rosters, the games will be played using OOTP 14, and the game account and box score will be posted over at Seamheads.com.