September 21, 2012
“We want beer! We want beer!” chanted the Philadelphia denizenas as President Herbert Hoover made his way to his front row seat at Shibe for Game 5. Well, the crowd didn’t just want beer, they needed an illegal ice-cold beverage after the heart-stopping thriller at Shibe that would have knocked Carrie Nation off the wagon with it’s intensity.
The Cubs had their backs up against the wall after that devastating loss in Game 4, but instead of withering into winter the Bruins stood up to fight behind their man Pat Malone, who was crushed by Mack’s men in Game 2. There would be no repeat, as Malone’s combination of fastball and curve absolutely dominated the A’s for 8 innings. The A’s managed two measly singles and only one man to get as far as second base. The Cubs, meanwhile, got to Ehmke in the 4th, with 4 straight hits bringing home Kiki Cuyler and Riggs Stephenson and sending Ehmke to the showers. In came Rube Walberg, the 32 year-old who had been discovered at age 25 while throwing chunks of coal at fence posts at his brothers coal yard in Seattle. To the Cub hitters he was as hard to crack as anthracite, as he racked up 6 strikeouts in 5.2 innings while allowing only two hits.
And so it went until the 9th, the Cubs leading 2-0, the A’s a mere three outs away from boarding a night train out of B&O Station and rolling to Chicago. Philadelphia Mayor Harry Mackey watched the 9th anxiously with the President and his wife. Unlike the President, Mackey is quite the baseball fan, having played for Lafayette’s diamond squad in 1890, and he seemed fretful as Malone kept sending A’s back to the dugout with their tails between their legs. No Mayor wants to have his home team look this feeble before the President.
It certainly didn’t do his pride any good when pinch hitter Walter French opened the bottom of the 9th with a strikeout. Up stepped Max Bishop. Bishop is the finicky sort, the type of fella whose numbers don’t always look supreme but who always ends up on base when it matters most. And “Camera Eye”, as he’s known, didn’t disappoint in the pinch here, shooting a single down the left field line.
Up stepped birthday boy Mule Haas, hoping to celebrate his 26th birthday with champagne. Malone took a deep breath. He was still only two outs away from swinging the momentum and the home field advantage back to Chicago. He had been told that Haas didn’t like them high and inside, so he was determined to deliver a pitch there. He did. Haas liked it. SMACK! As the Philadelphia Bulletin reported:
With shocking vigor he whammed the ball over the right field fence!
Had every seat in Shibe Park been carefully wired and equipped, a high voltage current suddenly turned on could not have brought that crowd to its feet more instantly than that steaming drive.
Among the first up was the President. With Mayor Mackey he followed the flight of the ball.
“What…what is it?” asked Mr. Hoover.
“It’s a helluva fine drive, if you ask me!” shouted the Mayor. “I agree,” smiled the President.
The stands let loose a roar. When the ball shot over the wall the fans cut lose with vocal violence that was enough to flatten the grass.
In Game 4 it had been Haas who had delivered the memorable blow that Hack Wilson misplayed in the sun. After Mule’s joyous circling of the bases to tie up Game 5, Mack pulled him aside and said, “Well, they can’t say that Wilson misjudged that one.”
Malone fumed on the mound. Catcher Zach Taylor ran out to the hill, but instead of calming his pitcher, the two began to yell at each other. Up stepped the Mighty Cochrane. He dribbled one weakly to second. Two down, nobody on base. It looked like this game was headed for extras. But Bucketfoot Al Simmons had other ideas. WHACK! Simmons sent one screaming towards right center. The crowd rose. It smacked off the scoreboard in center and bounded back onto the playing field. Wilson played it perfectly off the carom and held the Polack to a double. Pandemonium overtook the crowd for the second straight game. Malone intentionally walked the dangerous Foxx to get to Bing Miller.
The 34-year old Miller has played on some awful teams in his career. The dreadful 1922 A’s, the despicable St. Louis Browns for two years. And now, after years playing in front of empty stadiums on dead-end teams, he approached the batter’s box with 2 outs, 2 on, in the bottom of the 9th inning of the World Series with 30,000 people, including the President, on their feet. He worked the count to 2-2. Miller looked to the dugout. He said after the game that Mr. Mack indicated to him to look for the curve. He choked up and did so. In came the pitch. The 6-foot right hander swung. It went soaring over the head of Hornsby into right center. Cubs’ right fielder Cuyler described the hit.
I will never forget the sensation I had when Miller hit that ball. I was playing for him in the middle of right field. Wilson was playing a little to the right of centerfield. And Miller hit that ball on a line exactly halfway between us. Neither one of us had a chance to get it. It was tough to stand there absolutely helpless and see that ball go careening out to the wall and know that the end had come and the Series was over.
Simmons came bounding around third, leaping high into the air as he did so, exultant. Mayor Mackey shot out of the Presidential box and headed for home to greet the heroes. (That’s him, bottom right, in the photo below). The A’s were champions of the World for the first time since 1913!
Mayhem in the stands. The players rushed onto the field as the Cubs trudged slowly off of it. The President and his wife were both on their feet, cheering on the champions. And the grand old man, Connie Mack, was right in the middle of it. After the game, he said, “I was on a train half way back to Chicago when suddenly Mule Haas drove the ball clear of the fence. If it hadn’t been Haas it would have been someone else, for this team is the gamest that ever played baseball.”