Before we return to the thrills of the '29 WS I need to write a little about the lineup of this A's team. It was an offensive powerhouse, batting 3-4-5 were:
Mickey Cochrane, C (a good hitting catcher :), possibly the best catcher of all time)
Al Simmons, LF
Jimmie Foxx, 1B
All 3 plus Lefty Grove went into the Hall of Fame. I have read that at any given time in the big leagues there are about 20 guys who will eventually go to the Hall of Fame. Well, the A's had 4 of them and the Cubs had this 3-4-5 for their lineup:
Rogers Hornsby, 2B
Hack Wilson, CF
Kiki Culyer, RF
All 3 also Hall of Famers.
So the A's and Cubs had big bats. But a lot of the magic of this series revolves around pitching.
Back to the action:
The A's are up 1-0 in the series due to Howard Ehmke's gem. In game 2 Connie Mack started his #2 ace, George "Moose" Earnshaw. The A's jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Jimmie Foxx became the first player in history to hit a home run in each of his first 2 WS games. After 4 and 2/3 Earnshaw was pulled, he was charged with 3 runs in the 5th. For relief, Mack opted for his injured but dominant starting pitcher Lefty Grove. In scuba class they taught us "beware of the injured animal, that is the dangerous one." I think this move was Mack sort of feeling out what he could get out of Grove. What he got reminds me of that game 5 in the ALDS in 1999 when an injured Pedro came out of the pen with the score 8-8 and no hit the Indians for 6 innings to win the series. A very similar result for Grove, 4 and a third innings, 3 hits, no runs. A's up 2-0 in the series.
The starter for game 3 was...George Earnshaw again! Here I see some serious strategizing by Mack. If he was advanced enough to know that he wanted righty-righty matchups for his starters all the way through the series, he was also advanced enough to know that starting his pitcher on 1 days rest in the WS is almost desperation. I think this and the other choices for starting pitchers in the '29 WS show how low on starters the A's were. In game 3 Earnshaw pitched a complete game but lost 3-1.
Game 4 Here we go!
If I could get into a time machine and watch 1 game from the past, I know I would go to October 1929, but I don't know if I would go to game 1 or game 4.
After 3 games the series is 2-1 A's. I think the momentum for the winner of a 2-1 game is huge. Remember in 2003 when the Yankee's were up 2-1against the Marlins starting game 4? Torre put Weaver into a tie game in the 11th instead of Rivera. Weaver lost and the Yankees never won again in that series. In my mind it is the worst managerial mistake Torre ever made.
Connie Mack's starter for game 4 was Jack Quinn. Jack Quinn was born Johannes Pajkos in 1883 in Austria-Hungary. He could change his name but not his age, he started this game 46 years old. The oldest WS starter in history. Jamie Moyer started a game as a 45 year old a couple of years ago. Again I see starting a 46 year old as a sign that Connie Mack doesn't have much for pitching in this series. Jack Quinn threw the spitball but the Cubs must have been finding the dry side of the ball because they tagged him for 6 runs. The next pitcher was Rube Walberg, the decent lefty who never got a WS start. Walberg gave up 1 in the 6th, Rommel gave up 1 in the 7th, so in the middle of the 7th it is 8-0 Cubs. The series looks to be on the verge of being tied and the A's appear out of starters.
Now is the point where I use this story to remind my kid never, never, never give up.
Here are the ABs as they happened in the bottom of the 7th:
Al Simmons led off with a home run (8-1)
Jimmy Foxx, single
Bing Miller, single
Jimmy Dykes, single, scores 1 (8-2)
Joe Boley single, scores 1 (8-3)
George Burns (pinch hitter) pops out (1 out)
Max Bishop, single, scores 1 (8-4)
Bam Bam Bam, can you feel the momentum shifting? It is momentum of planetary proportions.
Here is where I can't tell exactly what happened. Different sources tell the story differently. Mule Haas hits a deep fly ball to center field. Hack Wilson either takes a bad line to the ball or loses it in the sun, but it sounds like it was a catchable ball that Wilson just couldn't catch. (reminds me of that play in game 5 of the 2000 ALDS against the Yankees when T Long couldn't get under what appeared to be a catchable ball, from where I sat in the far left field corner of the 3rd deck)
This play resulted in a 3-run inside-the-park homer. Score now 8-7 Cubs.
Mickey Cochrance, BB
Al Simmons, single (2nd hit of the inning)
Jimmy Foxx, single, 1 run scores (8-8, tie game!)
Dykes, double 2 runs score, 10-8 A's!
If only George Burns would have stuck to comedy, he accounted for 2 outs in the greatest inning in WS history.
10 runs in the bottome of the 7th for the A's! Never give up.
Now what does Connie Mack do for the last 2 innings? Of course, stop the parade of clowns coming to the pitcher's mound for both teams. Bring in the wounded shark. It's time to go for the kill. Lefty Grove pitched the last 2 innings, struck out 4 of the 6 batters he faced, and got them all out.
Don't let anyone tell you the Bartman play caused the worst Cubs postseason collapse in history, it happened in 1929 against the A's. If you look in the dictionary for the word "comeback" you should see a picture of the 1929 A's.
Again Connie Mack has to think pretty hard about which pitcher he will start. He goes back to Ehmke. See if he can get those magic beans to turn into a beanstalk one more time.
After 3 and 2/3 I guess Mack must have thought there was no more magic in that arm, because he pulled Ehmke with the score 2-0 Cubs and put in his other lefty starter Walberg in relief. Mack really doesn't trust too many of his pitchers, using mainly starters in relief. But Walberg does a fine job pitching 5 and a 1/3 solid innings giving up 2 hits and no runs. In the bottom of the 9th, Mule Haas hits a homer then Bing Miller hits a walk off double. A's win the game 3-2 and the game 4-1!
Check out Mack's starters for this series, 2 starts by a guy he tried to cut, 2 back to back starts by his one legit starter, 1 start by a guy who was 46. And the A's won in 5. It seems like it's time to see the A's jumping around on the field at the end of a WS again, doesn't it? Go A's.