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Bringing Back the Senators

Harris, Johnson Bring Nats Their First Title

Friday, October 10, 1924: Nationals 4, Giants 3

Compiled by J.J. McCoy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 11, 2004; 1:22 AM

From the Oct. 11, 1924, edition of The Washington Post:

JOHNSON IS HERO AS NATIONALS WIN DECISIVE GAME OF WORLD SEREIS, 4-3; CITY IN CARNIVAL, CELEBRATES VICTORY

World Series Game 7: at Washington





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Wow. Though witnesses to the 1975, 1991 and 2001 world series most commonly suggest comparison, baseball historians can't help but wonder whether Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis didn't call it right: After a seventh game which extended (as the first game did) to 12 innings to conclude a series which featured four one-run games (and a total scoring differential of one lone run), the commissioner wonders rhetorically to sportswriter Fred Lieb whether the '24 Series might be "the highest point of what we affectionately call our national sport," and even frets wistfully whether the sport can ever again compare to the drama and excitement of these contests.

In Washington, President and Mrs. Coolidge along with some 31,665 others thrill to the second three-hour battle of the '24 Series. Bucky Harris -- the player/manager himself being the offensive hero of the game -- first works the angles by starting 23-year-old righthander Curly Ogden (season 9-5, 2.75 ERA) against Virgil Barnes (16-10, 3.06 ERA), pulling him after he fans Freddie Lindstrom and walks Frankie Frisch. In comes lefty George Mogridge (16-11), in a move intended to keep lefty and future Hall of Famer Bill Terry on the Giants' bench.

Bucky Harris drops a dinger into the temporary seats in leftfield for a 1-0 lead. In the sixth, a single ties it at 1-1, and Harris brings in Firpo Marberry (11-12 with 15 saves, 3.09 ERA) for his fourth appearance of the series. A base hit and two costly errors give the Giants the lead, 3-1. In the eighth, pinch-hitter Nemo Liebold (1 for 1 with a run scored) doubles and catcher Muddy Ruel singles. A walk loads the bases for Harris, who hits a hard bounder to third base that takes a bad hop over future Hall of Famer Lindstrom's head and rolls down the leftfield line as the tying runs score. Walter Johnson (W; 23-7, 2.72 ERA), loser of two games now pitching on one day's rest, comes in to hold New York. With one out in the last of the 12th, Giants reliever Jack Bentley(16-5, 3.78 ERA) gets Ruel to pop up near home plate, but veteran catcher Hank Gowdy steps on his discarded mask -- which he cannot shake from his shoe -- and the ball falls untouched. Ruel uses the reprieve to collect his second hit, a double, before Johnson reaches first on shortstop Travis Jackson's error. Earl McNeely then hits a grounder at Lindstrom, and the ball takes another improbable bounce over the future Hall of Famer's head, Ruel tearing home with Washington's first World Series championship.

As The Post's sports editor Norman Baxter records: "Washington won. So did Walter Johnson -- baseball world champions both -- but the man who made possible the victory -- over which thousands of Washington enthusiasts yesterday afternoon went into paroxysms of joy -- was Stanley Raymond [Bucky] Harris.

"The heart of a lion, the soul of a leader, the nerve of a born gambler, the tact of a diplomat, the brain of a master tactician and the courage of a great fighter carried the youthful manager (3 for 5 with a home run, run scored and three RBI) to the great finale of a great World Series yesterday in the 12th inning when, with one man down, Earl McNeely singled and made the score: Washington, 4, New York 3.

"Harris was the rock that would not yield. He stood in the breach while his infield crumbled about him and white of face brought back within his halting colleagues the courage and skill that seemed about to desert them for the first time since late June.

"With virtually no aid from his teammates and supported mainly by his will to win, he drove three runs across the plate -- one with a homer -- when three runs meant the game, $50,000 [2204 equivalent: $550,000] and the title of world's champions."

Related headlines:

GIANTS AND GRIFFMEN BATTLE HARD FOR 12 INNINGS TO WIN SERIES

The Posts' Frank H. Young concludes: "'World's champions, 1924.' That's what the fighting Nationals will have tacked across their manly breasts when they take the field next season. And don't let anyone tell you that they have not earned the right to do so. The title was won yesterday in a 12-inning thriller, 4 to 3, which will probably be verbally played over more times than the Civil War has been refought. Undoubtedly, it ended the greatest series ever staged and Washington fans will not hesitate in saying that it was won by the greatest team ever gathered together. This may not be true, but now is no time to start any arguments along this line."

CRAZED BY THRILLS, MAD MOB ENGULFS HEROES AFTER GAME

"While a brown October sun, casting its big shadow over the stadium of baseball war, was curling up for the evening at precisely 5:04 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Earl McNeely, the best bargain at $50,000 ever put over, bludgeoned his way to everlasting fame with a hit that was heard 'round the world and started the greatest public demonstration ever enacted in the Nation's Capital or anywhere else. . . . With less than 10 seconds after McNeely's hit -- scoring Muddy Ruel, the Nationals' catcher, with the deciding run -- 35,00 men, women and children, delirious with joy, broke into a bedlam on the field that had never been duplicated in point of volume and intense excitement in the annals of sporting history."

WHIRLWIND OF JOY SWEEPS CAPITAL IN BIG DEMONSTRATION

"The whirlwind of joy which swept over Washington yesterday immediately after Earl McNeely had driven in the run that made the nationals world champions continued to rage until well after midnight. It subsided then only because a baseball-crazed city had yelled itself hoarse and stopped from sheer exhaustion.

"In spontaneity and unadulterated enthusiasm the demonstration yesterday afternoon and last night exceeded anything of its kind in the history of Washington. It was an Armistice Day and Mardi Gras blended into one. It was the thrilling outburst of a city's joy which knew no bounds. It was wonderful."

'TOO HAPPY TO TALK,' GRIFFITH TELLS CROWD

"Clark Griffith, president of the club which infected the city with the madness of joy, was brought out of the jam after the big game by friends and found his way to the small porch of the club's office. There he was met by his little daughter, Thelma, who was crying. To calls for a speech, Griffith lifted the little girl up to the crowd and said: 'I'm too happy to make a speech, people, but it happened just as I wanted it to, with Walter Johnson winning it for us.'"

JOHNSON'S BLAZING TRIUMPH A FITTING CLIMAX, HARRIS SAYS

In the column attributed to Bucky Harris, the manager says "it's hard to analyze my feelings, but the biggest thrill I've gotten out of the biggest moment of my life was the glorious comeback of Walter Johnson, who put the finishing touch to the finest World Series game I ever played in, the best I ever looked at, or even read of -- probably the most dramatic World Series game ever played."

HARRIS USED ALL BUT TWO NATS PLAYERS IN SERIES

"Of the 23 eligible players on the Washington team, only two, [Paul] Zahniser and [Pinky] Hargrave, failed to get into the World Series. Up until yesterday, when he started on the hill, [Curly] Ogden had also failed to get into the classic."

NAT HURLERS RELEASE 163 PITCHES TO GIANTS

"The four Washington hurlers who took part in yesterday's game of 12 innings released four less pitches than did Walter Johnson [in Game One] over the same route. A total of 163 pitches were thrown by the local hurlers. A quartet of Giants moundsmen sent the ball plateward 150 times. Chiefly on account of Johnson's great work in the last three innings, in which he struck out five men, the number of strikes hurled by the National moundsmen exceeded by 12 the total of 38 by the New York pitchers."

GIANTS HAD BETTER RECORD THAN NATS AFIELD AND AT BAT

"The Nationals won their first World Series despite the fact that they were outbatted and outfielded by their New York opponents. The final averages show that the Giants batted .261 and fielded for a mark of .980, while the Nationals hung up a batting average of .246 and a fielding figure of .964. Bill Terry, Giants first baseman, was the leading individual hitter with an average of .429 for five games. Roger Peckinpaugh, crippled [Senators] hero, compiled a mark of .417 for four games and was second on the list, but Joe Judge, playing in all seven games, was the real batting king of the Senators with a .385 mark."

HOSTS JAM AVENUE AND CHEER WILDLY WHEN GRIFFS WIN

"Jamming Pennsylvania Avenue so that automobiles were forced to use the streetcar tracks, approximately 8,000 baseball fans worked themselves into an emotional frenzy before the conclusion of the simulation of the baseball classic yesterday on The Post's magnetic scoreboard.

"[Earl] McNeely's single that scored [Muddy] Ruel and brought the world's championship to the Washington team also 'blew a valve' for The Post crowd and made the 'sky the limit' for hats, coats and pent-up emotions."

HOUSETOPPERS, WARNED, WATCH FULL GAME

"Fearing many person might be hurt in a collapse of one or more of the housetops adjacent to the ballpark, Building Inspector John W. Oehmann and several policemen yesterday warned houseowners and occupants and the several hundred fans on top of the buildings of the danger of collapse from too much weight. The warning may have scared some of those on the housetops, but there was no wild scramble down. 'It's a waste of time,' a policeman said. 'The only thing that'll bring that crowd down is for the house to fall down.'"

PRESIDENT, REJOICING WITH NATS, FELICITATES BOTH BALL TEAMS

"President Coolidge, immediately after returning yesterday to the White House from the final game of the World Series, issued this statement:

"'Of course I am not speaking as an expert or as a historian of baseball, but I do not recollect a more exciting World Series than that which as finished this afternoon. The championship was not won until the 12th inning of the last game. This shows how evenly the teams were matched. I have only the heartiest of praise to bestow upon the individual players of both teams.

GREAT DINNER, GAME ON ELLIPSE PLANNED AS CITY CELEBRATION

"Washington's wild impromptu celebration of victory was climaxed last night by an announcement by [District] Commissioner Rudolph of plans for a citywide official victory celebration. . . . A dinner, attended by as many hundreds as are able to crowd into the largest dining room in the city, and later a great public reception probably will be part of the celebration. But greater than that from the viewpoint of a victory-drunk city is a proposed baseball game to be played between two teams made up entirely of members of the world's champions."

WALTER WINS SOUTHERN TRIP FOR BEATING GIANTS

Some 47 years before Disneyworld opens, "in recognition of Walter Johnson's success in winning the last game of the World Series, the citizens of St. Petersburg have subscribed a fund to offer Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their family a roundtrip [vacation] to St. Petersburg this winter."

NATS' VICTORY KEEPS YOUNGS FROM ALTAR

"Ross Youngs, Giants outfielder, was to have married Miss Dorothy Hildegarde Pienecke at 8 o'clock tonight at St. Paul's Church, Brooklyn. The wedding had to be postponed until tomorrow night and the bride-to-be passed the day notifying the 100 guests of the change."

This Day in Washington Baseball History:

1925: For game three of the World Series, it's clear but bitterly cold in Washington following a rainstorm that caused the game to be rescheduled. President Coolidge throws out the first ball. The Pirates hold a slim lead, 3-2, after six innings. A walk and two singles score two in the eighth inning for Washington, and Firpo Marberry (8-6) closes it. Joe Harris has two hits for the third time; he'll lead the Senators by hitting .440. Sam Rice makes a controversial game-saving play in the eighth inning, tumbling into the stands in the right corner to spear a long drive by Earl Smith. About 15 seconds later he emerges with the ball. Despite the Pirates' arguments that a fan might have given it to him, ump Cy Rigler calls Smith out. Questioned about it for the rest of his life, Rice leaves a letter, to be opened after his death (in 1974), in which he states: "At no time did I lose possession of the ball."

1933: Having led the Senators to the American League pennant, future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin is rewarded with a three-year contract extension as player-manager.

Number of days since the Washington Senators last played: 12,063

Number of days till 2005 Opening Day at RFK Stadium: 186

Compiled from various sources, including The Washington Post, "The Baseball Timeline" and BaseballLibrary.com.

 


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