1929 World Series

1929 World Series

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1929 World Series

The 1929 World Series between Connie Mack’s A’s and Joe McCarthy’s Cubs featured the infamous seventh inning of Game Four which may rank as the worse inning in Cub history.

In that fateful frame, the Cubs somehow managed to blow a seemingly insurmountable eight-run lead thanks to Hack Wilson losing two balls in the sun. This allowed the A’s to score ten runs [!] in the home half of the inning, and in doing so, the A’s snatched a 10–8 victory from the jaws of a near-certain defeat. A Cub victory would have evened the Series at two games apiece. The highlight – or lowlight, from a Cub perspective – was when center fielder Hack Wilson lost Mule Haas’ fly ball in the sun for a fluke three-run inside-the-park home run, bringing the A’s to within a run at 8–7. And it was all down-hill from there…

The Athletics won the first two contests at Wrigley Field. The Cubs took Game Three behind Guy Bush’s tough pitching. They now had veteran staff ace Charlie Root scheduled to take the mount for Game Four, and 22-game-winner Pat Malone ready for Game Five. The final two games would be back at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs had been nearly unbeatable that summer, at 52-25. They were down 2-0, but things were looking up for the Cubs as Game Four loomed.

The North Siders had given Root a nice eight-run cushion as the fourth game entered the seventh inning. Nine more outs was all Root needed and the Series would be tied at two games apiece. Al Simmons, Philadelphia’s slugging left fielder, led off. On Root’s third offering, “Bucketfoot Al” hit a home run to left that cleared the roof. The shutout was lost, and the home town Philadelphia fans finally had something to cheer about.

Next batter Jimmie Foxx singled, and then Bing Miller hit a fly ball to center. A staggering Hack Wilson lost it in the sun, and it fell in for a single with Foxx taking second. Singles by Jimmy Dykes and Joe Boley scored Foxx and Miller to make it 8-3. A bad start to the inning, but the worst was yet to come…

With runners on first and third and nobody out, George Burns pinch hit for pitcher Eddie Rommel. He was quickly dispatched on a pop fly to shortstop Woody English, with the runners holding. Max Bishop, who had hit only .232 during the regular season, then singled to left, scoring Dykes, and sending Boley to third. Suddenly the Cubs lead had been cut in half. McCarthy headed to the mound, took the ball from a frustrated Root, and waved in veteran lefty Art Nehf from the bullpen to face the left-handed-hitting Mule Haas.

What happened next is best described by Scott Ferkovich in his SABR Bioproject article on the 1929 World Series:

“In center field, Wilson adjusted his cap and dark sunglasses, the better to peer in against the blinding beams of the sun. One out, runners on first and third, 8-4 in favor of Chicago. Mule Haas, who had hit 16 home runs in 1929, sent Nehf’s first fastball on a line toward center field. Wilson drifted back. Despite his sunglasses, he again lost the ball in the glare. It soared over his head and rolled to the fence. The desperate outfielder ran the ball down, Boley and Bishop scoring. Haas, defying his nickname, sprinted like lightning around the bases. Wilson heaved a late throw in, and Haas slid into the home dish in a cloud of dust. The Cubs had blinked, and the score was suddenly Chicago 8, Philadelphia 7, with only one out.”

“The 36-year-old Nehf, winner of 184 games over 15 seasons, walked Mickey Cochrane. McCarthy, for the second time in the inning, marched out to the mound, and Nehf, for the final time in his big-league career, marched off of it.”

“Enter pitcher ‘Sheriff’ Blake. Al Simmons, back in the saddle for the second time that inning, singled to left. Foxx did the same, scoring Cochrane to tie it. McCarthy yanked the ball from Blake and tried his luck with Pat Malone, who plunked Bing Miller with his first pitch. Jimmy Dykes doubled, driving in two more to put the Athletics up by a deuce.”

“The Shibe Park crowd was delirious with delight. Strikeouts by Boley and Burns brought the frame to an end, but the book had already been written. Athletics manager Connie Mack brought in Lefty Grove, winner of 20 in 1929, to start the eighth. He fanned four of the six batters he faced. At 3:42 pm, Rogers Hornsby flied to left for the final out of the game. Wilson was left on one knee in the on-deck circle. What had looked like a 2-2 Series tie had suddenly become a three-games-to-one Athletics lead. Chicago never recovered. They lost the Series the following day in equally heartbreaking fashion, when Philadelphia scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to wipe out a 2-0 Cubs lead.”

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Gary Livacari

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Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the 1929 World SeriesWikipedia page; and from Scott Ferkovich in his SABR Bioproject article on the 1929 World Series

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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