In the 1912 World Series, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Giants four games to three, with one tie.
The eighth and final game was played on Wednesday, October 16, 1912, at Fenway Park in Boston. The attendance was 17,034. The location of the game was determined by a coin toss, which the Red Sox won.
In the game, Boston rallied for two runs in the tenth inning to win the game and the Series, thanks to two costly Giants fielding misplays.
In the fifth inning, Giants second baseman Larry Doyle hit a long drive to right but was robbed of a possible home run by Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper, who made a great running catch in front of the low fence.
My paternal grandfather, Thomas Gordon Smith, witnessed the catch, as he told me years afterward.
Hooper’s catch was described as follows by Red Sox pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, their ace (who pitched in the game in relief), in an interview for the classic book by Lawrence Ritter (who “moonlighted” as a finance professor at the New York University school of business) The Glory of Their Times:
Larry Doyle hit a terrific drive to deep right center, and Harry ran back at full speed and dove over the railing and into the crowd and in some way, I’ll never quit figure out how, he caught the ball — I think with his bare hand. It was almost impossible to believe, even when you saw it.
Red Sox center fielder Tris Speaker, one of the greatest outfielders of all time, called Hooper’s “running, leaping catch,” as he described it, “one of the greatest catches I ever saw.”
This accords with what my grandfather told me. “I was at the World Series game when Harry Hooper caught the ball and fell into the stands,” he said.
To return to the overall game, and its dramatic denouement.
Smoky Joe Wood, who had taken a pounding on the mound the day before, entered the game in the eighth inning in relief of the Boston starter, Hugh Bedient. Christy Mathewson was pitching for the Giants.
The game went into extra innings with the score tied at 1-1. The Giants scored a run in the top of the tenth inning, making the score 2-1 in their favor. They were three outs away from a World Series victory.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, the Red Sox rallied for two runs to win the game.
The last half of the tenth featured a famous misplay, “Snodgrass’s muff.”
Red Sox pinch hitter Clyde Engle (batting for Smoky Joe Wood) led off with an easy fly ball to Fred Snodgrass in center field. Snodgrass dropped the ball, and Engle reached second base. The next day’s New York Times described the play as follows: “And now the ball settles. It is full and fair in the pouch of the padded glove of Snodgrass. But he is too eager to toss it to [left fielder Red] Murray and it dribbles to the ground.”
The next batter was the above mentioned Harry Hooper, he of the miraculous fifth inning catch. He flied out to deep center — Snodgrass making a fine running catch, right after his error — but Engle advanced to third.
Red Sox second baseman Steve Yerkes was walked by Mathewson, putting the winning run on base.
The next batter was center fielder Tris Speaker (a future Hall of Famer). He lifted a foul popup on the first base side, but Giants first baseman Fred Merkle, pitcher Mathewson, and catcher Chief Meyers allowed the ball to fall untouched in foul territory. Snodgrass later claimed that Red Sox bench jockeys had disrupted the players’ timing.
Given new life, Speaker singled home Engle to tie the game 2–2, Yerkes advancing to third. Mathewson walked the next batter, left fielder Duffy Lewis, intentionally, loading the bases.
The next batter, Red Sox third baseman Larry Gardner, flied to Josh Devore in right field deep enough for Yerkes to tag up and score, and the Red Sox won the game and the Series.
The Boston outfield consisted of Duffy Lewis, left field (famous for “Duffy’s Cliff”); Tris Speaker, center field; and Harry Hooper in right. It is considered one of the best outfields of all time.
(How is it that the Red Sox seem to usually have great outfields? They had a pretty good one in the fifties when I was a young fan: Ted Williams in left; Jimmy Piersall in center; and Jackie Jensen in right. Then, later, there were the outfields comprised of Red Sox stars such as Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, and Dwight Evans, in various combinations.)
From a Wikipedia article, at
Fred Snodgrass’s error went down in history as “the $30,000 muff”, a reference to the difference in the winning and losing shares, $29,514.34. (Note: this figure was calculated with respect to the total amounts of the two teams’ shares.) After the series, Snodgrass tried to explain, saying “I didn’t seem to be able to hold the ball. It just dropped out of the glove, and that was all there was to it.”
Christy Mathewson later wrote that “As I look back upon the 1912 series, when we lost to the Boston Red Sox, I see it was the same. Pitchers, outfielders, the whole team collapsed under the strain.”
My grandfather was age 27 at the time of the final game of the 1912 Series. He was employed as a bank teller in Boston. See photo below.
Thomas Gordon Smith (1885-1967)
Harry Hooper’s catch is not often written about, but it was one of the all time great catches.
I would like to mention two of my favorites.
Opening day at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967 pitted the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox. Rookie Billy Rohr was the Red Sox starter; it was his first Major League game. He was pitching a no hitter through eight innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Tom Tresh led off for the Yankees. He hit a long drive to left field. Left fielder Carl Yastrzemski, who was playing shallow, made a remarkable over the shoulder, tumbling catch to preserve the no hitter.
Yastrzemski’s catch is viewable on YouTube at
Unfortunately, Rohr lost the no hitter when the next batter, Elston Howard, singled.
Then there was the catch that Dwight Evans made in Game Six — game six of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, that is.
In the top of the eleventh, with Ken Griffey on first, Joe Morgan hit a deep drive to right field that looked to be headed over the fence. Evans, however, made a spectacular catch near the visitors’ bullpen to rob Morgan of a homer, then he made one of his herculean throws to double Griffey off first. The first baseman was none other than Carl Yastrzemski.
Evans’s catch is viewable on YouTube at
— Roger W. Smith