In 1933, Washington couldn’t overcome Giants, Carl Hubbell


Travis Jackson of the Giants squares to bunt during the 1933 World Series at the Polo Grounds. It was the last time a team from Washington reached the World Series. (AP)
October 4, 2012

The last time a Washington baseball team qualified for the postseason, in 1933, legendary Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich was there to record what happened. The following column, from Oct. 9, 1933, was republished in the 2005 book “All Those Mornings . . . At the Post,” a collection of Povich’s best work compiled by former Post sports editor George Solomon.

Solomon wrote the column’s introduction.

Well, now, that was a World Series for you. Go back to the days of the Hitless Wonder White Sox of 1906, the prewar triumphs of the Phillies, Braves and Red Sox, finger through the postbellum records of the Yankees, Cardinals and Athletics and you will find no Series more pleasing to the eye than the World Series of 1933.

The Washington Senators lost the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants, four games to one, in what would be the team’s last appearance in the Fall Classic. For the next 40 years, Povich covered a losing team. But as Red Smith once said of Povich’s years with the second division: “You learn baseball by covering the last-place team, not the first. You learn through their mistakes and young players talk to you about them.” Povich put it simply: “You learn to detach yourself — after all it’s only a game. Thus, you can have some fun.”

Thrills, indeed, were a dime a dozen at the Polo Grounds and Griffith Stadium. And at $3.90, $5.50 and $6.00, the fans were saturated with sensations. Recall to mind those scores of the 1933 World Series — 4 to 2, 6 to 1, 4 to 3, in 10 innings. Thus did victory and defeat hang by a slender thread. One pitched ball, one batted ball separated the winner from the loser in four of those five games.

Giants had what it takes

Those Giants had what it takes, no doubt of that. And there is a measure of consolation for the Nats in the fact that they were beaten by a great ballclub, making its own breaks and capitalizing on them to the fullest extent.

To Manager Bill Terry, of the Giants, no credit can be denied. To Manager Joe Cronin, only sympathy. It was a case of Terry’s ballteam making Terry’s strategy and masterminding letter perfect by its execution. Cronin’s ballteam, in the language of the press box, made Cronin look bad by its futility.

The Nats, pride of the American League, the team that won the pennant by one-run victories, were met, in the World Series, by a foe using the same steel. The Giants, too, were a one-run ballclub, getting the breaks by making them, and they made more breaks than the Nats.

Hubbell in hero role

And when, in years to come, they search the records for the hero of the 1933 World Series, there will be no dispute as to his identity. Carl Hubbell will leap out at them from the pages of baseball history — the hero by popular acclaim and by the might of his deeds. No doubt, there.

No single ballplayer ever entered upon a World Series assignment with quite the responsibility that confronted Hubbell. And no ballplayer ever fulfilled Terry’s. There you have it — the difference between the Nats and the Giants of 1933. Washington had no Hubbell.

Washington came to learn that the aura of invincibility erected about Hubbell was no myth. Behind him, he had a supposedly weak team, virtually dependent on superpitching that Hubbell could give it. And Hubbell did give the Giants the fullest of his screwball and fast curve to inspire his mates with a sensational pitching feat in that first game, to win in 11 innings that fourth game that was the turning point of the series.

Took it on chin

Personally, I took it on the chin. After those first two defeats of the Nats I came back for more, in my own stubborn way — and got it. Oh well, my opinions never sold for more than three cents at any corner news stand, or by carrier boy. So don’t be too harsh with me.

Before the Series, I was wondering what the Giants were going to use for base hits. Now I know. They used Washington’s pitching for base hits. What became of Washington’s great pitching? New York base hits, that’s what it became. And what became of Washington’s great hitting? Strikeouts, pop-ups and double plays, that’s what.

So, I’m tucking my chin behind my shoulder the next time. I can take it — but it hurts.

October 9, 1933

The Washington Senators lost the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants, four games to one, in what would be the team’s last appearance in the Fall Classic. For the next 40 years, Povich covered a losing team. But as Red Smith once said of Povich’s years with the second division, “You learn baseball by covering the last-place team, not the first. You learn through their mistakes and young players talk to you about them.” Povich put it simply, “You learn to detach yourself — after all it’s only a game. Thus, you can have some fun.” — George Solomon

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