June 22, 2018

Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown: Roots

November 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 



This is the eighth in a series of reports on a simulated playoff of the sixteen “original franchise” teams. The results of the first-round American League “brackets” are in NOTES 459-461. The first results of the NL brackets are in #462-464. See NOTES #459 for the background and “ground rules.” In the first playoff among the “Elite Eight,” the Tigers won and moved on to face the winner of this series for the right to play in the final series.


I imagined this game was played in Cleveland at old League Park — 290? down the right field line – only after it was over. You’ll see why.

The Indians sent out Stan Coveleski, who won two games in the Indians’ exciting seven-game series against the Red Sox; his mound opponent would be Chief Bender, hero of the A’s equally exciting seven-game duel with the Orioles in round one.

The Indians got on the scoreboard first when Tris Speaker poked one out in right. Jimmie Foxx’ mammoth HR in the second — in its early years, League Park was 505 feet in deepest left center — tied it at 1. But in the third, the Indians unloaded on Bender, and the game was never close again. Lou Boudreau, perhaps upset at batting ninth, led off with a homer. Shoeless Joe Jackson singled and stole second but was still there after two outs. The third out came only after back-to-back HRs by Albert Belle and Hal Trosky, 5-1 Tribe.

Trosky homered again, this time off Coombs in the fifth, to make it 6-1, and after the A’s scratch across a run in their sixth (Al Simmons with a double), the Indians teed off again, this time the victim being Dave Stewart. Sandy Alomar doubled and Boudreau homered — again. Jackson tripled, Nap Lajoie singled him home, and after Nap stole second, Belle knocked him around, and it was 10-2. Mickey Cochrane’s HR in the 7th off Jim Lemon, with Frank Baker aboard, ended the A’s scoring. But the Indians had a bit more to do. Eddie Plank had retired five in a row, when Jackson beat out a single. Back-to-back doubles by Lajoie and Speaker, and Belle’s single (giving him 4 RBI), wrapped it up, 13-4.


It was Lefty Grove and Addie Joss, both 0-1 in round one, facing off in the second game. This time the A’s broke on top. Jimmy Dykes beat out a hit, and moved up on Cochrane’s grounder. With two out, Maxie Bishop singled in the first run, Simmons followed with a single and Jimmie Foxx walked. Then Willie Wells singled to make it 3-0.

The Indians got one run back in their fourth, on Speaker’s single and Manny Ramirez’ double. But the A’s made their lead three again in the sixth, on hits by Bing Miller and Jimmy Dykes, and Cochrane’s sac fly. Lou Boudreau’s solo HR in the 7th made it 4-2. Then in the 8th, with Dennis Eckersley taking over for Lefty Grove, Belle’s infield hit was followed by a long Trosky HR, to tie the game.

In the A’s ninth, Jose Mesa took over for Joss. Mickey Cochrane singled, and Rickey Henderson homered, to make it 6-4 A’s. Eck tossed a perfect ninth and the series went to Philly, or maybe KC, or Oakland, tied 1-1.


Jim Bagby, 2-0 in the first round games, took the hill for Cleveland. Rube Waddell, 0-1 vs the O’s, had the ball for the A’s.

This game started off looking a lot like Game One. Albert Belle homered to lead off the second, and after Trosky walked, the Indians’ Negro League draftee Ernest Wilson homered, making it 3-0. The lead was stretched to 5-0 in the fourth. Wilson’s hit to Dykes at third was bobbled. Larry Doby singled “Boojum” to third, then stole second. Waddell then balked in a run, but it didn’t matter, Carlos Delgado followed with a long single,

But the A’s couldn’t solve Bagby. Bing Miller’s double in the fifth, just their second hit, and Cochrane’s single plated their only run. Bagby gave up five hits and walked just two, to run his tournament record to 3-0. The A’s wasted their good relief pitching; Boudreau singled home Doby to make the final score 6-1, but the Tribe managed just two hits the last five innings. Good enough, and they were up 2-1 in games.


Columbia is where the A’s played before Shibe was built. I don’t know the dimensions, but the capacity was just 9,500, so I’m guessing that it was small than Shibe’s 360-515-360 L-C-R. But how far away were those 10-feet high wooden fences?

Bob Feller and Vida Blue drew the starting assignments. The A’s went on top in the third, when Cochrane singled and Max Bishop singled. But Feller fanned Simmons and Foxx flew out.

Albert Belle cleared the fences with a two-run blast in the Indians’ fourth. Trosky followed with a triple and a sac fly later it was 3-1 Tribe. Four more runs the next inning put this one out of reach, the way Feller was scattering the A’s hits. Boudreau singled and came all the way home on Shoeless Joe Jackson’s triple. Lajoie plated Jackson with a sac fly, and after Speaker singled, Belle connected again, off Plank, 7-1. The third big inning, in the top of the ninth, featured Belle’s third 2-run shot of the day, and another 2-run dinger, by Al Rosen, off Fingers. 12-4, with Reggie Jackson collecting three of the A’s 8 hits, including a pair of doubles.


Looking for a home win to stay alive, the A’s moved to Oakland-Alameda County Stadium and grew mustaches. Game Five would be a rematch between Stan Coveleski and Chief Bender.

With clouds gathering overhead — this game would only go six innings before the rains came — Jimmie Foxx put the home team up 2-0 with a first-inning bomb after Al Simmons’ single. Indian Bob Johnson — that’s his nickname, he’s an Athletic — homered in the third to make it 3-0, and it looked like Coveleski’s streak might finally be coming to an end.

But not so fast. Boudreau started the A’s third with a single and moved to third on Shoeless Joe’s double. Lajoie brought them both home with another double, and Tris Speaker made it three two-base hits in a row to tie the game. Belle’s long fly to left was caught, ending that streak, but Trosky picked it right up, another double to put the A’s in front. Sandy Alomar’s two-out single made it 5-3 and knocked out Bender.

In the fourth, the Indian bats continued to sizzle. Al Rosen greeted Colby Jack Coombs with a homer. Boudreau walked, Jackson singled, and Lajoie, trying to bunt them up, drew a walk to load the sacks for Speaker. Spoke could only get one in, with a sac fly, but Belle drove in two more with — you guessed it, a double. Now it was 9-3. Alomar’s HR made it 10 for the Tribe, while the A’s could only scrape up two more runs off Coveleski before the skies let loose and ended it, 10-5.

So the Indians move on to face the Tigers. This is a good Tribe team, very solid defensively, with a lot of punch. Shoeless Joe, Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker are a terrific 1-2-3 in the lineup every day, and Belle and Hal Trosky follow up nicely. But they needed just six innings from their bullpen in this five-game series, and half of that was tune-up work. The A’s just couldn’t get their offense in gear. So it is the Indians who move on to the Final Four.

The above is an excerpt from Issue #466 of Gene’s Notes From the Shadows of Cooperstown. To read the rest of the issue (or past issues), click here.

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