September 23, 2012
The score was 8-0 when Al Simmons (left) came up in the 7th inning of Game 4. The Bruins had knocked old Jack Quinn out of the box, and not treated relievers Rube Walberg and Eddie Rommel too kindly either. Charlie Root had stifled the White Elephants bats all game, and was cruising toward an easy victory.
“The Athletics had acted more or less like wooden Indians for six innings, and I think I was never in better form in my life,” said Root after the game. “My curves were breaking sharply over the corners of the plate and my control was good.”
But Simmons led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a monstrous shot that landed on the roof in left. As John McCullough of the Inquirer wrote, “Oh sweet, oh refreshing, oh salubrious sound! In the clean, clear crash of well seasoned ash against resilient horse-hide! To the heart of the fan far sweeter than the tinkle of ice in a tall frosted glass, or the melody of an instrument with 10 strings.”
As the ball cleared the left field wall, Jimmy Dykes turned to Connie Mack, who was sitting next to him in the dugout, and said, “Well, we won’t be shutout anyway.”
“That was nothing to disturb one,” said Root. “Al is likely to hit a homer off of anyone and we still had a 7-run lead to work on.”
No-one on the dispirited A’s bothered showing up at home to slap Simmons on the back, not even the batboy. But Jimmie Foxx claimed afterwards that the homer sparked the A’s. “We had played dead for six innings, and then decided it was time to wake up.”
Wake up they did. Wrote McCullough, “The sand lots never produced a more unexpected, unkind, or sanguinary seventh inning than that which young Mr. Simmons ushered in with such vigor and dispatch.”
Foxx followed Simmons with a single. Up came Bing Miller. He lofted a lazy fly ball into center that should have been the first out of the inning. But Hack Wilson lost it in the sun, and there were now runners at first and second and nobody out. Jimmy Dykes rapped a single to left, then Boley hit one to right. The bats were alive, the crowd was electric, and Root was in trouble.
The score was now 8-3. George Burns popped out to short for the first out of the inning, and any Cubs fans in the ballpark relaxed a bit. But Max Bishop followed that up with another single to score Dykes, and Root was done. In came reliever Art Nehf. Arthur Neukom Nehf, you may recall, was the winning pitcher in the deciding games of both the 1921 and 1922 World Series. He would not be a winner this time.
The crowd was in a frenzy as Nehf warmed up and prepared to pitch to Haas with men on first and third. It was about to get louder. Mule Haas connected on a Nehf fastball and sent it screeching towards center field. Hack Wilson was right there. It appeared that the rally would be quashed.
Was there still a belief in a Sun God, you can believe that Philadelphians would be building a splendid new temple today. Hack Wilson (right) began for the ball, then went back, then threw his hands up in frustration. He had lost his second one in the sun. The ball came down right in front of him, then scattered through his legs. The barrel chested wonder started after it, but it teased him, rolling a few feet ahead of him all the way to the wall, and Stephenson in left had to come all the way over to pick it up. Meanwhile, Athletics were circling the bases and the crowd was losing it’s collective mind. Into the safety of home came Boley, in came Bishop, and in came Haas.
“They howled. They screamed,” wrote McCullough. “They threw soft seats at each other and committed mayhem on each others hats. Up out of the caverns of the stands there welled a terrific roar, wordless, jumbled, ecstatic. Whistles, yells, howls, the drum fire of hand-clapping and the rumble of pounding feet.” It was reported that excited cops fired blanks into the air.
As Haas rounded third, Dykes pounded the back of the person next to him. “He’s goin’ to make it! He’s goin’ to make it!” In all of the excitement, he didn’t realize he was violently thrashing the 67-year old Mack on the back, and the coach fell to the dugout floor.
“I’m terribly sorry,” said Dykes as he reached for Mack’s hand to lift him back up. The delighted Mack would have none of it. “It’s all right, Jimmy. Everything’s all right! Isn’t this a wonderful rally!”
Still, the Cubs clung to an 8-7 lead with one out. Up stepped the mighty Cochrane. Nehf had no interest in negotioating. He quickly walked him. Now Al Simmons, who had started the inning, came back up to the plate. The crowd at this point was in pure bedlam. Not since Tulip-mania in the Netherlands in 1637 had so many people succumbed to such madness all at once.
Nehf was replaced by Sheriff Blake, who was brought in to plug the dam with his fingers. It was no-use. The dam burst, and the onrush continued. Simmons got his second hit of the inning, a single, and Foxx followed suit. Foxx’s single scored Cochrane, and the game was tied. Out went the Sheriff, and in came Pat Malone. He decided to further incite the crowd by immediately pelting Bing Miller with a pitch. Up came Jimmy Dykes, who only moments earlier had sent his manager spilling to the dugout floor. If Mack hadn’t forgiven him then, he sure as heck did after this at-bat.
CRACK! The ball went hurtling into left. Riggs Stephenson took off after it. The Cubs were now desperate for a great defensive play, something to turn the tide. Stephenson dove for the ball…and it bounded off the edge of his glove, then dribbled out and hit the ground. Had heavy artillery gone off in the crowd, you would not have heard it over the din of the Philly faithful. Simmons scored for the second time in the inning, as did Foxx. The A’s were up 10-8. The A’s had collected 10 runs in the inning. Until then, the Cubs had earned one out. Malone, furious, then sent both Joe Boley and George Burns packing, but the damage had been done.
As if the Cubs weren’t dispirited enough, trotting out to the mound for the front of the eighth was Lefty Grove. He made mincemeat of the shellshocked Bruins, striking out four of the final six batters, and allowing only one ball to leave the infield. That was a fly to right by Rogers Hornsby which Bing Miller easily grabbed for the final out of the game. The A’s have a 3-1 Series lead. And Cubs fans have to wonder if they’ll have to wait ’til next year for their 21-year World Series drought to come to an end.