1921 All-Star Game: Players, Crowd Honor Chapman Before American League Earns Decisive Win
PLAYERS, CROWD HONOR CHAPMAN BEFORE
AMERICAN LEAGUE EARNS DECISIVE WIN
CLEVELAND, July 16.—A stirring tribute to the memory of Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman, the popular player felled by a Carl Mays pitch last August, was the highlight of today’s All-Star contest between the National and American Leagues at Dunn Field. While both teams performed admirably and put on a rousing show for the fans, the affair will be remembered for its emotional pregame homage to Chapman, who died tragically on August 17 of last year.
Only a handful knew what was coming as Cleveland manager and center fielder Tris Speaker, one of Chappie’s best friends, played his cards close to his vest. He let the players and coaches from both teams in on it, as well as umpires, magnates and other officials, but the overflow crowd knew nothing of the tribute until it actually happened.
When the American Leaguers took the field for the first time they did so without the accompaniment by a shortstop, leaving the position momentarily vacant. The crowd let out a roar for the team followed by a palpable buzz as they wondered what was going on. Each member of the junior circuit squad then removed his cap, faced the area where Chapman once dominated and bowed their heads in silence. The National League players lined up in front of their dugout, caps removed and heads bowed in silence. The crowd, quickly realizing what was happening, followed suit and the park fell silent.
After an amount of time, the length of which no one bothered to record, the Tribe’s starting shortstop Joe Sewell ran from the dugout to join his comrades on the field and fill the shortstop vacancy. It was then that the throng rose to its feet and gave the men a rousing ovation that may go down as the loudest in baseball history. The young shortstop filled in admirably for the felled Chapman last season, earning the Forest City’s appreciation and respect, and his play so far this season has earned him the right to stand where Chapman once stood.
The game itself more than lived up to the events that led up to it. White Sox ace and spitball artist Urban “Red” Faber began the tilt on the hill for the American League and gamely stifled the Nationals in the first, allowing only a single to Frankie Frisch. “The Fordham Flash” was put out on the bases by Ross Youngs, who grounded into a force out, then was tossed out at second two batters later on a steal attempt to end the inning. Another moist ball maestro, Brooklyn’s Burleigh Grimes, started for the senior circuit and had the spit knocked out of him by the AL’s sluggers.
“Gorgeous George” Sisler led off with a double, moved to third on an Eddie Collins ground out and scored on a safety by Babe Ruth. Harry Heilmann, who walked prior to Ruth’s hit, followed Sisler to the plate when Speaker, who was starting only because Ty Cobb is still recovering from a spike wound to his knee, poled a single between Frisch and shortstop Rabbit Maranville to give the Americans a 2-0 lead. Irish Meusel fielded the ball cleanly and fired a strike to catcher Frank Bruggy, but the “Slug” got under the tag. Ruth and Speaker moved to third and second on the toss, but Joe Sewell wasn’t able to send either man home when he grounded to first. Jack Fournier was playing shallow and Ruth would have been dead to rights had he tried to score.
But another member of the hometown Tribe, Larry Gardner, rapped out a two-bagger that plated both runners and gave the junior circuit a comfortable 4-0 advantage. “Ol’ Stubblebeard” retired Severeid to end the threat, and then the senior circuit went to work on Faber. Fournier legged out a triple to begin the second inning, and Meusel drove him home with a grounder to deep short that Sewell handled but not in time to retire anybody. With Cy Williams at the plate, Meusel pilfered second, then advanced to the hot corner when Williams bounced to Sisler.
Maranville coaxed a walk out of Faber and promptly stole second, and both he and Meusel scored on a hit by Bruggy to cut the Speakers’ lead to 4-3. The AL went scoreless in the bottom of the frame, then both squads went without a run in the third. Faber set the NL down again in the top of the fourth, his final inning of work, but Grimes surrendered his fifth run of the contest in the bottom of the inning when Sisler doubled in Gardner. Browns slugger Ken Williams, who walked in Faber’s stead, also dashed homeward but died at the plate when Meusel made another perfect peg to cut him down.
There was potential for controversy at the top of the fifth when Yankees slinger Carl Mays was called into the game, but the fans reacted the way they did when Mays made his first start in Cleveland after his errant pitch fractured Chapman’s skull and led to his death—they respectfully applauded, perhaps realizing that hating the man would do no one any good. Mays rewarded them with three strong frames, marred only by a run that scored in the seventh when Ruth dropped an easy fly ball off the bat of Youngs with Frisch standing on third. Frisch might have scored anyway, but the run was definitely not earned.
At the time it appeared as if the miscue would merely serve as a small blemish in the record books, as the American League had tallied five times in the bottom of the sixth against Pirates hurler Wilbur Cooper to take a 10-3 lead. Catcher Hank Severeid led off the frame with a base hit to left, then Mays bunted him over to second. National League skipper Wilbert Robinson ordered Cooper to intentionally pass Sisler and set up a double play opportunity, but “Cocky” Collins thwarted the strategy by shooting a hit to right field that scored Severeid.
The highly competitive Cooper tried to maintain his composure but his emotions betrayed him and he walked Heilmann on four straight pitches to load the sacks with Americans. Ruth grounded to Fournier to send Sisler home, then Speaker lined the pill past Hornsby at second and knocked in both Collins and Heilmann. Robinson went to the mound to remove Cooper, but the “Baby Pitcher” refused to surrender the ball until he was given a second chance to work his way out of the jam. However, Sewell continued the assault with a hit that scored his teammate and manager, and Gardner followed his tribesmen with a safety of his own that could have sent Cooper into a delirious rage had Youngs not cut Sewell down at third for the final out of the frame.
Uncle Robbie’s boys refused to lie down and pulled themselves closer in the eighth when they plated three runners during George Mogridge’s time in the box. The Senators’ southpaw was deliberate as usual, trying the lull the senior circuit’s batters to sleep with long stretches between deliveries, but the Nationals were more than happy to wait Mogridge out. Fournier poled a two-base hit down the first base line, and moved to third on a Meusel fly ball to deep center field that “The Grey Eagle” hauled in after a long sprint. Austin McHenry, the Cardinals’ budding luminary, batted for Williams and belted a hard liner that would have plated Fournier had it not taken a straight and true route to Gardner’s glove.
Dave “Beauty” Bancroft entered the fray as a replacement for Maranville and shot the pill past Collins to drive Fournier in and cut the deficit to 10-5. Bruggy drove a double between Ruth and Speaker that sent Bancroft home and ended Mogridge’s day. Another Cleveland man, Duster “The Great” Mails, was summoned into battle to stanch the bleeding, but Billy Southworth came off the bench and rudely greeted Mails with a base hit to center that sent Bruggy home for the third run of the inning. It was at that point that Ruth may have saved the game for the American League.
Frisch blasted a drive to left that sent the “Colossus of Clout” racing toward the wall at full speed. As he was about to collide with the barrier, Ruth leaped into the air with his arm stretched to its limit and corralled the sphere before it left the yard. A great roar erupted from the stands and the new “Lord of Leather” was escorted to the dugout by a chorus of cheers and hearty slaps on the back from his temporary teammates. With the score at 10-7 going into the final regulation at-bats, Speaker sent Mails out for another inning, but he lasted only one batter before the pilot handed the ball to the “Schoolboy Phenom,” 21-year-old Waite Hoyt of the Yankees.
With Youngs on first following his second hit of the tilt, Hoyt coaxed a ground ball out of Hornsby that should have been an easy twin killing, but Sewell muffed it much to the locals’ consternation, and both runners were safe. Hoyt continued to force NL swatters to pound the ball into the dirt—Fournier bounced back to the pitcher, and Max Carey and McHenry grounded to Sewell. Youngs scored on Carey’s grounder, but Hoyt preserved the win for the junior circuit.
Tris Speaker was named the game’s outstanding player, a fitting choice considering the atmosphere.
Cast Your Vote For the 1922 All-Stars!
Make Your Voice Heard!
Every April, baseball springs forth from the doldrums of winter to rekindle our interest in all things warm and green. And as spring melts into summer, the baseball world becomes more abuzz with the excitement of seeing the Game’s brightest stars all assembled on a single field to play what has become the most anticipated and important match during the regular season. It is the All-Star Game.
On Tuesday, July 11, 1922, these most stellar of stars will gather at Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, to play in what can be rightly called the “Midsummer Classic.” And the starters, including three pitchers, for each side will be selected by YOU, the loyal and knowing fan! Voting is taking place RIGHT NOW!
Vote for the 1922 All-Star starters and pitchers here:
Voting will be open until 3:00 a.m. EDT on December 6, 2013. At that time, we will count up the votes, put together the rosters, and sim the game.
To learn more about the Retroactive All-Star Project, visit SABR.org/retroactive-all-star-project/about.
— Chuck Hildebrandt