Monday, October 3, 2016

A Pennant Comes to Brooklyn - Part III

Since Boston and Philadelphia were playing a second straight doubleheader on Tuesday, October 3rd, their first game began before the Giants-Dodgers contest got started in Brooklyn. The Phillies scored once in the fourth and when center fielder Dode Paskert, hit a home run in the fifth, things looked good for the home team.  Although the Braves cut the lead in half in the seventh, it seemed like Philadelphia would stay ahead when Boston's Ed Fitzpatrick hit an “ordinary” ground ball to Philadelphia's substitute shortstop, Milt Stock.  However, the ball got past Stock, hit the glove of Brave center fielder, Fred Snodgrass (opposing players typically left their gloves on the playing field while at bat), causing Paskert to also muff it. The tying run scored on the play, followed shortly thereafter by the go-ahead score.  Boston wasn't done, scoring two more times in the inning on their way to a 6-3 victory, pushing the Phillies to the brink of elimination.

Jeff Pfeffer

As the Phillies' pennant hopes began to crumble, Nasium of the Philadelphia Inquirer noticed the posting of a “one-sided and suspicious looking score” from Brooklyn.  “Suspicious” is a subjective term, but if the game was “one-sided,” at the outset, it was in favor of the Giants.  In their first at bat, New York got three hits which along with three Brooklyn errors, put the Dodgers behind 3-0 before they even came to bat.  While Brooklyn made up one run in the second, the Giants got it back in the top of the third, aided by another Dodger miscue.  Down 4-1 in the bottom of the inning, however, the Dodgers got their act together and scored four times, to take a 5-4 lead.  New York still wasn’t done, and they rallied against Jeff Pfeffer, who relieved Sherrod Smith in the fourth, tying the game at five.  Things didn’t stay that way for long when with two out in the fifth, Brooklyn's Ivy Olsen drove in Mike Mowrey for a 6-5 Brooklyn lead.  At some point during the bottom of that inning (accounts differ) John McGraw stormed off the field and wouldn’t return for the rest of the season.  He wasn’t the only unhappy Giant.  Art Fletcher and Rube Benton had words earlier in the contest, and Buck Herzog was reportedly so annoyed with New York’s pitching, “it looked as if he was going in and pitch himself.”

George "Possum" Whitted

With a 6-5 lead and Pfeffer now in command, the Brooklyn added single runs in the next three innings while holding the Giants to a meaningless tally in the 9th.   At the end of Brooklyn’s 9-6 win, the Phillies and Braves were tied in their second game.  Erskine Mayer had started for Philadelphia against Lefty Tyler, and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead on George Whitted’s home run.  Whitted had sprained his ankle in the first game and was basically playing on one leg, since this was literally the last ditch for Philadelphia.  In the sixth, Mayer struck out the first two Braves, but Joe Wilhoit hit one that Whitted could only limp after, ending up on third before scoring the tying run on Bert Niehoff’s “inexcusable boot.”  Even though the Dodgers game was over, many Brooklyn fans remained in the stands, while the players changed into their street clothes and sat in the locker room, “silent and watchful.”  Another gathering, this one at the Brooklyn Daily Times offices, which had followed the Brooklyn game on a message board, stuck around, hoping for word of a pennant won. The waiting must have seemed like an eternity, but finally there was good new when in the Boston seventh, a double by Dick Egan and a throwing error by Philliess’ third baseman Bobby Byrnes allowed the Braves to take 2-1 lead.  Any hopes of a Philadelphia come back ended in the eighth when Boston scored four times.

Wilbert Robinson

Finally at about 5:30, in the time it took for the score to reach Brooklyn by telegraph and for a reporter to run to the locker room, the Dodgers learned they had won the 1916 National League pennant race.  “Like a thunderstorm, the riot broke out,” as some players threw things, while the eyes of others welled up with tears.  In response to a demand from his players, Wilbert Robinson tried to say something but “just gurgled.” Outside in the gathering twilight, the fans didn’t wait for the final result to start celebrating.  When the Braves scored in the 7th, “pandemonium broke loose,” and most of the crowd left “laughing, grinning from ear to ear,” while some staid business men were reported to have “skipped along merrily.”  It was an “inspiring scene,” but supposedly nothing like the “demonstration” at the Brooklyn Daily Times offices.  The news that Boston had taken a 6-1 lead was greeted with a roar so loud “the air was shattered.” Those who swore, “swore hard,” and those who laughed “laughed hard.”  Finally, the growing darkness and thoughts of supper and “angry wives and mothers” sent “the devotees of the only game in the world away from the most pleasant sight of the ages.”  1916 may not have been baseball's greatest season, but it was definitely baseball at its best.

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