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In the 1920 World Series, the Cleveland Indians beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, then known interchangeably as the Robins in reference to their manager Wilbert Robinson, in seven games, five games to two. This series was a best-of-nine series, like the first World Series in 1903 and the World Series of 1919 and 1921. The only World Series triple play, the first World Series grand slam and the World Series home run by a pitcher all occurred in this Series.

The triple play was unassisted and turned by Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss in Game 5. Wambsganss, playing second base, caught a line drive off the bat of Clarence Mitchell, stepped on second base to put out Pete Kilduff, and tagged Otto Miller coming from first base. It was the second of fifteen (as of 2009) unassisted triple plays in major-league baseball history, and it remains the only one in postseason play.

The fifth game also saw the first grand slam in World Series history (hit by Cleveland's Elmer Smith) and the first Series home run by a pitcher (Cleveland's Jim Bagby, Sr.). And in that same game, Brooklyn outhit Cleveland but lost 8–1.

Cleveland had won the American League pennant in a close race with the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. The Sox's participation in the Black Sox Scandal the previous year had caught up to them late in the season, and their star players were suspended with three games left in the season, when they were in a virtual tie with the Indians. The Yankees, with their recently-acquired star Babe Ruth, were almost ready to start their eventual World Series dynasty. For Cleveland, it would prove to be one of their few successes in a long history of largely either poor or not-quite-good enough clubs.

Summary

Matchups

Game 1

Tuesday, October 5, 1920 at Ebbets Fieldmarker in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker

Game 2

Wednesday, October 6, 1920 at Ebbets Fieldmarker in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker

Game 3

Thursday, October 7, 1920 at Ebbets Fieldmarker in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker

Game 4

Saturday, October 9, 1920 at Dunn Fieldmarker in Cleveland, Ohiomarker

Game 5

Sunday, October 10, 1920 at Dunn Fieldmarker in Cleveland, Ohiomarker

The Cleveland Times ran the following article on Sunday, October 10, 1920. recounting Game 5 and Wambsganss' triple play:
Wamby Makes Unassisted Triple Play
  • CLEVELAND, Sunday Oct. 10, 1920 - Bill Wambsganss' unassisted triple play highlighted the most unusual game in World Series history today and helped the Cleveland Indians to a wild 8–1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins. Elmer Smith hit a grand slam and Jim Bagby also homered as the Indians took the lead in games three to two. The triple play and grand slam were unprecedented in World Series history and Bagby became the first pitcher to homer in a World Series. "I've been in baseball 40 years," Robins manager Wilbert Robinson said, "and I never saw one like this." The first Indian to face Burleigh Grimes was Charlie Johnson, who singled. He stopped at second on Wambsganss' single. Then Grimes fell fielding Tris Speaker's bunt, loading the bases. Then Smith hit a 1–2 pitch over the right field screen for a 4–0 lead. In the home fourth, Doc Johnston singled to center and moved up on a passed ball. After Grimes put Steve O'Neill on, Bagby homered into the center field stands. Pete Kilduff began the top of the fifth with a single to left center. When Otto Miller singled to center, Speaker's quick throw to third drove Kilduff back to second. That brought up reliever Clarence Mitchell, who went six for sixteen as a pinch-hitter this season and sometimes fills in at first base and in the outfield. A left-handed hitter, he drove the ball toward right center. Second baseman Wambsganss moved slightly to his right, tipped onto his toes, sprung a little bit and grabbed the ball with his gloved hand. Never hesitating, he continued to second base, easily doubling Kilduff. Then when Wamby turned to throw to first base he saw Miller frozen directly in front of him. Reaching out, Wamby tagged Miller easily. The crowd was silent momentarily, then, realizing what had happened, broke into thunderous applause. In the Brooklyn eighth, Ernie Krueger singled to center. But Mitchell grounded to first baseman Johnson, who started a double play. Thus, Mitchell made five outs in two at-bats.


Game 6

Monday, October 11, 1920 at Dunn Fieldmarker in Cleveland, Ohiomarker

Game 7

Tuesday, October 12, 1920 at Dunn Fieldmarker in Cleveland, Ohiomarker

Composite box

1920 World Series (5–2): Cleveland Indians (A.L.) over Brooklyn Robins (N.L.)

Notes

References

  • Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series. 1st ed. New York: St Martins, 1990. (Neft and Cohen 82-86)
  • Reichler, Joseph, ed. (1982). The Baseball Encyclopedia (5th ed.), p. 2128. MacMillian Publishing. ISBN 0-02-579010-2.


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