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In the 1912 World Series, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Giants four games to three (with one tie).

This dramatic series showcased great pitching from Giant Christy Mathewson and from Boston fireballer Smoky Joe Wood. Wood won two of his three starts and pitched in relief in the final game. In the deciding game, Boston rallied for two runs in the tenth inning thanks to two costly Giants fielding misplays.

Mathewson started three games, completed all three, and compiled a 0.94 earned-run average for the Series. He got two losses and a no-decision for his efforts.

Nearly all of the games were close. Four games in this Series were decided by one run. A fifth ended in a tie. A sixth was decided by two runs. Game 7 was the only one with a margin greater than three runs. Two games, including the decisive Game 8, went to extra innings. In Games 1 and 3, the losing team had the tying and winning runs on base when the game ended.

This was the first Series that was decided in the last inning of the final game, in "sudden death" fashion. It was also the first Series where a team within one inning of losing came back to win. The next time a team that close to elimination recovered to win was Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. Other World Series that have ended with a Game 7 (or in this case, Game 8, due to the tie) going to extra innings include the Series of 1924, 1991 and 1997. Other World Series won by the home team in its last at-bat in a Game 7 include the Series of 1960, 1991, 1997, and 2001.

This was one of only four World Series to go to eight games, and the only best-of-seven Series to do so. While the 1912 Series was extended to eight games due to a tie game being called on account of darkness, the 1903, 1919 and 1921 World Series were all best-of-nine affairs that happened to run eight games.

The 1912 Series was plagued by rumors that Game 7 was not played entirely honestly. Some observers, including famed Boston sportswriter Tim Murnane, theorized that Wood's terrible start and the Sox's poor outing were deliberate. The idea was that the Red Sox threw the game in order to play another game to make up for the gate receipts they did not receive from Game 2. No proof was ever offered nor charges filed, but it was one more episode of public suspicion that would haunt several Series in the 1910s. Baseball's problems with gambling did not come to a head until the infamous 1919 World Series and the Black Sox scandal. The charge that the Red Sox would have wanted Game 8 in order to increase their income is a weak accusation, because from the very beginning in 1903, the players have only earned Series money from the first four games. That rule exists precisely to prevent the kind of shenanigans suggested by the rumors.

Summary

Matchups

Game 1

Managers John McGraw and Jake Stahl at the 1912 World Series


Tuesday, October 8, 1912 at Polo Grounds marker in New York, New Yorkmarker

New York struck first. Josh Devore walked with one out in the third and advanced to third base on a single by Larry Doyle. After Fred Snodgrass struck out, Red Murray's single scored Devore and Doyle for a 2–0 Giants lead. Boston cut the lead to 2–1 in the sixth on a triple by Tris Speaker and an RBI groundout by Duffy Lewis. The very next inning, the Red Sox scored three runs. Boston's runs came on an RBI double by Harry Hooper and a two-run single by Steve Yerkes. In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants scored a run and had the tying run on third and the winning run on second, but Smoky Joe Wood, 34–5 on the season, struck out the last two batters to earn a 4–3 Boston victory. Wood pitched a complete game, striking out eleven Giants. After the game, Wood would say, "I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body."

Game 2

Wednesday, October 9, 1912 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

An error by Giants shortstop Art Fletcher led to Boston scoring three unearned runs off Christy Mathewson. Another error by Fletcher, who failed to tag out Harry Hooper on a stolen base attempt, scored Boston's fourth run in the fifth inning. In the top of the eighth, Boston returned the favor, and New York struck for three runs. Left fielder Duffy Lewis' error allowed Fred Snodgrass to reach base to open the inning. Snodgrass scored on a double by Red Murray, and two batters later third baseman Buck Herzog hit a two-run double to give New York a 5–4 lead.

The Giants' lead was brief. Art Fletcher's terrible day continued, with his third error allowing Larry Gardner to reach base and Duffy Lewis to score from second. This tied the game 5–5. In the ninth inning, Boston relief pitcher Charley Hall, who had replaced Ray Collins in the eighth, got the first two outs but proceeded to walk Snodgrass, Larry Doyle, and Beals Becker consecutively. With the bases loaded, Red Murray grounded into a forceout and the Red Sox escaped. Boston would go quietly in the bottom of the ninth, setting up extra innings. Fred Merkle led off the Giants tenth with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Giants a 6–5 lead. Christy Mathewson, who pitched the entire game for New York, came back to the mound in the bottom of the tenth with a chance to win the game and even the Series at one game apiece, but Tris Speaker, who hit .383 in 1912, got a base hit to center field. Becker threw the ball in to cutoff man Tillie Shafer, who threw to the plate, but catcher Art Wilson dropped the ball—New York's fifth error of the game—and Speaker, who was credited with a triple on the play, scored to tie the game 6–6.

New York had one last chance in the top of the eleventh. Snodgrass led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. He was then thrown out attempting to steal second. After Doyle struck out, Becker drew a walk, but he was also thrown out attempting to steal second, ending the inning. After the Red Sox went down in order in the bottom of the eleventh, the game was called on account of darkness, tied 6–6. Boston retained their one game to none lead in the Series. Baseball's National Commission ruled that the players were not entitled to their regular share of the gate receipts due to the game not being played to a conclusion—a decision that caused much discontent.

Game 3

Thursday, October 10, 1912 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

In the top of the second, Red Murray doubled to center. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Merkle and scored on a sacrifice fly by Herzog, giving the Giants a 1–0 lead. Three innings later, Herzog doubled and scored on a single by Fletcher, stretching New York's lead to 2–0. It would stay that way until the bottom of the ninth. Rube Marquard, who pitched a complete game for the Giants, got Speaker to pop up to start the inning, but then gave up a single to Lewis and an RBI double to Gardner, making the score 2–1. First baseman (and team manager) Jake Stahl grounded to Marquard, who threw out Gardner at third base for the second out, Stahl reaching first base. Manager Stahl then took himself out of the game and replaced himself with pinch-runner Olaf Henriksen. The next Boston hitter, Heinie Wagner, reached on an error by Merkle, with Henriksen, representing the tying run, advancing to third. Wagner, the winning run, then stole second to get into scoring position. The next batter, Hick Cady, lined out to right field to end the game. New York hung on for a 2–1 victory and evened the series at one game apiece.

Game 4

Friday, October 11, 1912 at Polo Grounds marker in New York, New Yorkmarker

The Red Sox won 3–1 on a complete game, eight-strikeout effort by Wood. Boston took a 1–0 lead when Gardner tripled in the second inning and scored on a wild pitch. Boston made it 2–0 on an RBI single by Cady in the fourth. In the seventh, Herzog singled and scored on a double by Fletcher to cut the lead to 2–1, but in the top of the ninth inning Wood helped his own cause with an RBI single, and the Giants went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

Game 5

Saturday, October 12, 1912 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

The Red Sox scored two quick runs in the bottom of the third inning against Mathewson: Hooper led off with a triple and scored on another triple by Yerkes. The next batter, Speaker, reached on an error by Giants left fielder Doyle, allowing Yerkes to score. That would be all Boston pitcher Hugh Bedient needed. Merkle would double and come around to score in the seventh inning to make the score 2–1, but Bedient retired the last seven Giant hitters in order to finish his three-hit complete game. Boston now led the series three games to one and was one victory away from a championship.

Game 6

Monday, October 14, 1912 at Polo Grounds marker in New York, New Yorkmarker

Boston pitcher Buck O'Brien, who had pitched well in Game 3 but lost to Marquard, started again in Game 6 and was shelled for five runs in the bottom of the first inning. After left fielder Josh Devore led off the inning with a groundout, Doyle singled, and Snodgrass struck out, five Giants hitters in a row hit safely, with Buck Herzog scoring on a steal of home. The inning didn't end until O'Brien picked Fletcher off first base. Marquard would take over from there, throwing a complete game for his second victory of the series, the Giants winning 5–2. New York stayed alive, but Boston still led the series three games to two.

Game 7

Tuesday, October 15, 1912 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

Wood, who had pitched and won Games 1 and 4 for the Red Sox, started Game 7 with a chance to win a championship for Boston. However, in a replay of Game 6, the Giants blew the game open in the first inning. Seven of the first nine Giants batters reached base, and six of them scored. New York would cruise from there, winning the only truly lopsided game of the series 11–4. This game featured two "bounce" home runs, one from Gardner of the Red Sox and another from Doyle of the Giants. This type of play, where a ball lands in fair territory and goes over the wall on a bounce, was changed by rule to a ground rule double in 1930. Game 7 also featured an extremely rare unassisted double play by an outfielder. Tris Speaker, who was known for playing an extremely shallow center field, caught a liner by Fletcher with one out in the top of the ninth inning, and proceeded to step on second to double off Wilson.

The series was tied three games apiece, setting up a decisive Game 8 for the championship.

The game was delayed because of a demonstration by the Royal Rooters, the primary Red Sox fan organization of the day, because their normal seats on Duffy's Cliff had been double-sold to other fans. The Red Sox claimed a "clerical error", though some speculate it may have had something to do with the rumors of game-fixing. The Royal Rooters were lined up along the left field foul line, since they did pay. They were not satisfied, however. Their leader, Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy, led a further demonstration after the game at the Red Sox offices, and called for a boycott of Game 8. The onfield incident is referenced in the song Tessie by the Dropkick Murphys

Game 8

Christy Mathewson, warming up before a game


Wednesday, October 16, 1912 at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker

The location of this game was determined by a coin flip, which the Red Sox won. Because this game was scheduled at the last minute as a makeup due to the Game 2 tie, as well as the game-fixing rumors and the boycott by the Royal Rooters, the riveting finale of the 1912 World Series was played to a half-capacity crowd at Fenway.

Mathewson would pitch for the Giants, and Hugh Bedient would start for the Red Sox. In the Giants' third inning, Devore led off with a single and advanced on groundouts by Doyle and Snodgrass, and then scored on an RBI double by Murray. New York would hold on to the 1–0 lead until the bottom of the seventh inning, when Stahl singled with one out and Heinie Wagner drew a walk. Henriksen entered the game to pinch-hit for the pitcher, Bedient, and doubled to left to tie the game at one. Harry Hooper flied out to center to end the rally.

Smoky Joe Wood, who had taken a pounding the day before for Boston, replaced Bedient as pitcher. Wood and Mathewson, still pitching for the Giants, would match zeroes in the eighth and ninth innings, and the game would go to extra innings tied 1–1. In the top of the tenth, Murray doubled with one out and scored on an RBI single from Merkle. Wood struck out Herzog and got the Giant catcher, Chief Meyers, to ground out to end the inning, but the game went to the bottom of the tenth with the Giants leading 2–1 and three outs away from a World Series victory.

Clyde Engle, pinch-hitting for Wood, led off with an easy fly ball to Fred Snodgrass in center field. Snodgrass dropped the ball, and Engle reached second base. Hooper flied out to center — Snodgrass making a fine running catch right after his error — but Engle advanced to third. Yerkes was then inexplicably walked by the control-expert Mathewson, putting the winning run on base. Tris Speaker, who hit an even .300 in the 1912 World Series, popped up foul on the first base side, but neither first baseman Merkle nor pitcher Mathewson nor catcher Meyers could get to the ball. Fred Snodgrass later claimed that the Red Sox bench jockeys disrupted the players' timing. According to Harry Hooper (who would have been on that bench), Mathewson called for catcher Meyers to take it, but he couldn't reach it and it fell to the ground. Speaker then shouted, "Well, you just called for the wrong man, and it's gonna cost you the ball game!" Given new life, he singled in the tying run, and Yerkes advanced to third base. Mathewson walked Lewis intentionally, setting up a force out at every base, but the next hitter, Larry Gardner, hit a fly ball to Devore in right field. Yerkes tagged and scored, and the Red Sox had won the 1912 World Series. Fred Snodgrass' error would go down in history as "the $30,000 muff", that being the difference between the winning and losing shares.

Composite box

1912 World Series (4–3–1): Boston Red Sox (A.L.) over New York Giants (N.L.)

Series quotes

Notes

References

  • Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend, by Timothy M. Gay. University of Nebraska Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8032-2206-8.
  • Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 41-47)
  • Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2120. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.
  • Ritter, Lawrence. The Glory of Their Times.
  • Vaccaro, Mike. The First Fall Classic: The Red Sox, the Giants and the Cast of Players, Pugs and Politicos Who Re-Invented the World Series in 1912. Doubleday, 2009, ISBN 0385526245, 978-0385526241


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