Ian Desmond’s second-inning single on Sunday was the first postseason hit for a Washington baseball team since Joe Cronin in 1933’s World Series. I didn’t know that, and I spend like 30 percent of my waking hours looking at old newspaper stories about the Senators. So it’s a safe bet that most of the Nats weren’t aware of Cronin’s near-heroics, either.
Still, a reporter asked Desmond after the game if he were aware of his hit’s historical significance and his new link with Cronin. Desmond considered the question.
“Good old Joe,” he reminisced. “No, I’ve got no idea about the history, to be honest. I wish I did. But I think there’s gonna be some new history in Washington from here on out.”
As for good old Joe, the Nats’ player-manager had gotten his fateful hit in the 10th inning of the fifth and final game of the 1933 World Series, not long after arguing with the men in blue about a disputed Mel Ott homer in the top of the 10th that wound up with an outfielder in the bleachers.
“Into the last of the tenth went the Nats, to tie the score or lose the series,” Shirley Povich later wrote. “Fate again was merely teasing Washington fans. With two out, Joe Cronin singled and Heinie Manush walked, to put the tying run on second base. Several kingdoms for a hit by Joe Kuhel.
“Out there on the mound stood the Cuban Adolph Luque, the fire that coursed through the veins of the veteran was tempered by the demand for coolness. He slipped over a strike on Kuhel. Strike two Kuhel missed. A called ball. The next pitch dipped low and outside, even as Kuhel swung — and missed.
“It was all over. The Giants had won. The Nats had lost. No need now to catch that 8:50 train to New York.”
No need indeed. And so Good Old Joe would be the last District batsman to find a safe landing spot in the greensward for lo these three score and nineteen years since that woeful day. And now, new history.