1920 All-Star Game: American League Throws Haymaker and Knocks Out Senior Circuit
AMERICAN LEAGUE THROWS HAYMAKER
AND KNOCKS OUT SENIOR CIRCUIT
BOSTON, July 17.—The American League came out strong in the first round of today’s match at Braves Field and before the senior circuit knew what had hit it it was staggered, bleary eyed and bereft of strength. After only two frames the junior circuit had effectively put the contest out of reach, plating two tallies in the first and another pair in the second that put the senior loop on its heels.
For the second straight year this city had the great honor of hosting the annual mid-summer spectacle, this year with the Nationals’ Braves enjoying the honors. It’s unfortunate that the throng saw little of their hometown heroes, although some once wore the local colors and were shown appreciation by the 30,000 who watched.
With the patrons barely settled in to their seats, Eddie “Cocky” Collins began the skirmish with a hard single to left field off National League ace Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was making his third start in All-Star game history.
Ray Chapman followed with a grounder to third that erased Collins at second, but “Gorgeous George” Sisler poled a double to deep right-center field and Babe Ruth dropped a safety in front of Casey Stengel in right to plate both Chapman and Sisler. Alexander retired “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and Tris Speaker to end the attack, but he and his crew were already down 2-0.
The Polish slants of Stanislaus Kowalewski, better known to enemy batters as Cleveland Indians spitball ace Stanley Coveleskie, kept the National League at bay in the first, then the skies opened and drenched the field for a half hour before play resumed. The soggy turf did nothing to dampen the A.L.’s spirits and they picked up right where they left off to extend their lead in the top of the second to 4-0. White Sox third sacker George “Buck” Weaver slapped a hit down the right field line and raced to third with a three-bagger before Stengel could corral the pill and return it whence it came.
Coveleskie’s regular battery mate, Steve O’Neill, grounded a hit that shortstop Zeb Terry snared but not in time to retire either runner, as Weaver scampered home with the third tally of the contest and O’Neill alighted on first. A bunt by Coveleskie, grounder by Collins and a wild heave by “Old Pete” that eluded catcher Verne “Stinger” Clemons gave the junior loop its fourth run.
Notable by his absence was Cubs shortstop Charlie Hollocher, who’s been laid up with a stomach ailment for the least few days and was replaced in the starting lineup by his teammate, Terry. Had Hollocher been healthy and in uniform it’s probable that he would have gotten to O’Neill’s ball sooner and perhaps recorded an out. But it’s highly doubtful that Charlie would have manufactured six runs of offense all by his lonesome, and that’s exactly what his team needed.
Coveleskie’s damp tangents were bothersome throughout and only Cy Williams, George “High Pockets” Kelly and Burleigh Grimes could tickle his spitball properly. Unfortunately they touched him with no one on base and all three died on the cushions without so much as advancing. The rest of the tilt was mostly uneventful, although there were flashes of leather that received some nice applause from the stands.
Grimes entered the game in the third, his face covered in familiar stubble and his cheek full of slippery elm, and surrendered a triple to Ruth, but escaped without allowing a run. The A.L. broke through again in the fourth when O’Neill recorded his second safety of the contest, then came plateward on a two-base hit by Ken Williams, who batted for Coveleskie. The damage might have been worse had Stengel not pegged a perfect strike to Frankie Frisch at third to nab Williams for the second out.
Another saliva ball artist, John Picus “Jack” Quinn, entered the fray and showed the senior circuit’s swatsmiths that Coveleskie isn’t the only wet pitch maestro with an unpronounceable name. Born Joannes Pajkos, the native of what is now Czechoslovakia held the National League to two hits through three frames, allowing sixth inning singles to Williams and Stengel before retiring Kelly to end the threat. Having faced Poland and Slovakia for six frames Pat Moran’s squad can be forgiven for thinking the Great War was still raging.
Keeping with the international flavor Moran tossed neutral southpaw Dutch Ruether into the mix and he allowed the junior circuit’s sixth and final run in the top of the seventh inning on O’Neill’s third hit, a single by pinch hitter Harry Heilmann, a free pass to Collins and a fly ball by reserve shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh. It was actually Charles “Babe” Adams who tossed the pitch that Peck drove to right, but the run was penciled into Ruether’s ledger as it was his runner who scored.
The remainder of the contest was settled by A.L. hurlers Carl Mays and Urban Shocker, another slab man who has a wet pitch in his arsenal and a surfeit of letters in his real name—Urbain Jacques Shockcor. The Nationals countered with Adams and Rube Marquard and all four hurlers acquitted themselves well, combining for five scoreless innings between them.
White Sox skipper Bill Gleason had no difficult decisions to make, but the “Kid” ensured that most of his men got a chance to participate, including fan favorite Harry Hooper, the brilliant Red Sox right fielder. Senators legend Walter Johnson was left on the bench, keeping him from his third All-Star appearance, as was Red Sox portsider Herb Pennock, but it’s difficult to criticize Gleason for sticking with hurlers who were effective throughout.
Moran thrilled the locals by sending Braves Walton Cruise and Hank Gowdy into the battle, and Gowdy received extra appreciation when he swatted a base hit off the sidearm slants of deposed hurler Carl Mays, who many have not forgiven for forcing his way out of Boston last year. Braves righthander Joe Oeschger saw no action and was probably better for it the way the American League was swatting the ball around the yard.
O’Neill was named the game’s outstanding player and should he make the team again next year will no doubt receive a king’s welcome when the game is held at Cleveland’s Dunn Field.
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