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Bringing Back the Senators

Nationals Clinch Washington's First Pennant

Monday, September 29, 1924: Nationals 4, Red Sox 2

Compiled by J.J. McCoy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 29, 2004; 2:11 AM


Game 155: at Boston

Nats win! Nats win! For the first time in the franchise's 24 seasons (and number one of what will prove to be three times among the first 71 years of major-league baseball in Washington), the Senators today clinch the American League pennant by beating the Red Sox 4-2. The three-time defending champion Yankees, their hopes washed away with their rained-out game in Philadelphia, drop to 2-1/2 games behind the Nats with but two games remaining.

Fred 'Firpo' Marberry delivers six shutout innings of relief to help the Nationals win their first American League pennant. (Baseball Hall of Fame)

Washington Senators The District has been without major league baseball for more than 30 years. Look back at a visual history of the Washington Senators.

Fred "Firpo" Marberry -- a prototypical relief pitcher in an era preceding much acclaim for what will come to be known as closers, but who'll later be ranked by baseball author and statistician Bill James as the 15th-best player in Washington major-league history -- is the number-one guy today as he wins the decision and most of the credit for six strong, shutout innings over the Sox.

As the Post's baseball beat writer Frank H. Young touts: "By triumphing over the Red Sox today, 4 to 2, the good ship Washington, piloted by the youthful skipper, Stanley [Bucky] Harris, has finally reached the American League port of Pennantville.

"On 23 previous years she had started on the same voyage over baseball's uncharted seas, but each time until this season the fans waiting on the shore for her arrival have done so in vain. Heretofore she has been unable to buffet her way through and 'any port in a time of storm' has been good enough for her, while frequently she has been washed into the Dead Sea.

"But this was another year. The same patient family of fans, enlarged perhaps by the addition of children and grandchildren of those who first watched her in 1901, has again been anxiously waiting for her to reach port and this time it has not been disappointed.

"The 1924 Washington entry is practically the same as that of last year, but a different pilot has been at the wheel, Stanley R. Harris, a mere stripling. But what Bucky lacked in experience he made up for in fight and, when the going got rough and it looked as though his ship would be swamped, instead of taking in sail he added on more and simply forced his men to bring the old boat through to her ultimate destination.

"It was largely his 'do-the-thing-which-can't-be-done' spirit that kept his ship in the race and brought it home first, and the young pilot tonight could be president of the United States if he wanted to, provided the matter was up to a vote of the fans.

"Had there been anything 'yellow' in the Washington make-up, the Yankees would now have their fourth consecutive championship tucked away, for twice they have been on their heels right along, but Harris and his men on all occasions when necessary have been able to rise to dizzy heights and shake them off.

"This town was not big enough to hold the Washington players tonight. For this one night there is no such thing as training rules in the Harris camp.

"'The sky's the limit, boys,' said Buck after the game, 'go to it, but remember that hard, serious work starts again tomorrow and we have another tough job on our hands before we are through for the year.'

"Perhaps never in the history of baseball was such a spectacle seen as when the last Red Sox was out in the ninth inning today when a crowd of 15,000 fans cheered the Nats as they left the field. Clark Griffith, the veteran owner; Harris; and Walter Johnson, famous pitching ace who will take part in his first World Series after 18 years in the big leagues; were given individual ovations that were long and deafening.

"Pandemonium broke loose as the game ended, fans rushing onto the field by the hundreds to surround the Nationals. Joe Judge was almost mobbed by fans who wanted the ball which gave the Nats the flag as a souvenir, but the first sacker held on to it and gave it to Walter Johnson, who in turn gave it to President Griffith.

"'I wouldn't take a million for it,' said the Old Fox, who had left his box near the third-base line to go in and congratulate the players. Griffith was forced to bow right and left to the frenzied fans, who gave him a round of cheers.

"It was a red-letter day for every man on the team, only two of whom -- [Roger] Peckinpaugh and [Nemo] Leibold -- had ever before had a taste of being on a pennant-winning combination.

"Fred [Firpo] Marberry, relief pitcher of the Nats who held the Red Sox scoreless for the last six innings today, was the hero of this deciding game. He has acted as relief pitcher in all three games played here in this series and has worked in 50 games for the Griffmen this season. Tom Zachary was none too effective in the first three innings, but Marberry stopped the Sox," limiting them to four hits and no walks with two strikeouts in six innings.

Offensively, every starter but Ossie Bluege gets a hit. With two outs in the first, Sam Rice singles, steals a base and scores after catcher Steve O'Neill's pickoff throw bounces off him and into left field. With two dead in the second, consecutive singles by Peckinpaugh, Muddy Ruel, Tom Zachary and Leibold score a pair. Harris doubles and scores in the eighth, also turning a pair of double plays in the contest.

In related headlines:


In Boston, "'the Washington team deserved to win the American League pennant because it has fought one of the most courageous fights in the history of baseball.' This was the parting shot of Clark C. Griffith, president of the Nationals, early tonight, shortly before he and Manager Bucky Harris boarded a train for Washington.

"'We have now won the American League pennant,' continued Griffith. 'Naturally we are a happy lot, just like one big family, everybody tickled. We are going after the World Series and realize in that connection that we are going up against the hardest club in the majors. The [National League champion New York] Giants have wonderful ballclub and are at their very best when the stakes are heaviest. I have no fear of the ballclub cracking even though we are not as experienced as the Giants. We will give our best and it will be a series which Washington at least will long remember."


"High officials of the nation [tonight] joined with Capital folk in rejoicing over the winning of the American League pennant by the Washington baseball team. Gratifying expressions came from every avenue of the Capital's life.

"Immediately after hearing the news, C. Bascom Slemp, secretary to [President Calvin Coolidge], telegraphed his congratulations to Manager Bucky Harris. 'Heartiest congratulations to you and your team for your great work in bringing Washington its first pennant,' the telegram read. 'We of Washington are [proud of you and behind you. On to the world's championship.'

"This was expressive of the sentiments of cabinet officers, church dignitaries, District officials and business and professional men. It expressed the sentiment [of] citizens here who have waited many years for the honor that has come at last. And sentiment akin to it will be expressed by the president, it was indicated, when the boys come marching home. The president is to deliver a welcome address to the club [in two days]."


In Chicago, "President Ban Johnson of the American League tonight telegraphed Stanley [Bucky] Harris, 28-year-old manager of the triumphant Washington club, his hearty congratulations. And he added that he had unbounded faith in Harris' ability to win a world's championship from the [National League champion] New York Giants."


In Chicago, "President Ban Johnson of the American League tonight selected Tom Connolly and William Dinneen as the American League's umpires in the World Series starting in Washington [in five days]. Connolly, a veteran of 24 years' service, has officiated in six World Series. At the time the foregoing dispatch was received, no word had come from [NL] President [John] Heydler as to his selection of umpires to represent the National League in the World Series."

Ironically, in four years NL President Heydler proposes the novel concept of a designated hitter (or "10th regular"), contending that fans are tired of seeing weak-hitting pitchers come to bat. He also suggests the incorporation of a DH will improve the quality of play and speed up the game.


In New York, "Old George 'Hooks' Wiltse, National League hurler in bygone days [1904-'15], rather than [future Hall of Famer] Hughie Jennings, former Detroit manager and now pitching coach and assistant manager of the Giants, deserves a large measure of the credit for the rise to fame of Stanley [Bucky] Harris, youthful manager of the Washington Nationals.

"So said John L. Corbett, former business manager of the Buffalo Internationals, in commenting today on [reports] quoting Tom Harris, Stanley's father, on the rise of the youngest pennant-winning team leader in modern major-league baseball history. And numerous other men support Corbett's contention.

"'George Wiltse had spoken to [current Giants manager] John McGraw about Harris' abilities on several occasions [but] instead of Stanley's going from Buffalo to Reading and then on to Washington as reported,' continued Corbett, 'Stanley played for Buffalo all of 1918 and through the 1919 season right up until the date of his departure for the Washington club. . . . Several players, among them Harold Janvrin [career infielder, 1911-'22] and a cash consideration were given by Clark Griffith for Harris, and I think old Clark figures he made the best deal that he ever got in baseball.'"

This Day in Washington Baseball History:

1880: The Washington Nationals lose, 4-2, to the Metropolitans at the Polo Grounds in the first professional game played in Manhattan. Polo, conversely, is actually never played at the Polo Grounds.

1905: Washington's Charlie "Piano Legs" Hickman commits a record five errors at second base.

1913: Walter Johnson (season 36-7 with two saves, 1.14 ERA) wins his last decision and 11th shutout of the year, defeating the league champion Athletics, 1-0, on George McBride Day, a day honoring the Nationals' shortstop and team captain (season .214, 1 HR, 52 RBI). The Big Train finishes with 243 strikeouts in 346 innings, including 29 complete games.

1915: In the nightcap of a doubleheader, the Senators whip the Athletics, 20-5, pounding pitcher Tom Sheehan for 21 hits in eight innings. Some 45 years later, Sheehan will manage the San Francisco Giants for 98 games.

1927: In a 15-4 win over Washington, Babe Ruth hits two home runs to tie his 1921 record of 59.

1933: With the Giants in the stands at Yankee Stadium, the Senators pile up a 5-0 lead over the Yankees, and then bring in the reserves to score an 8-5 win. The Nats' Heinie Manush (season .336, 5 HRs, 95 RBI) collects a double, homer and three RBIs lead the Nats attack. For the Yanks, Ruth has a triple and Lou Gehrig keeps his consecutive-games streak alive, playing nine innings after getting married at noon today in New Rochelle.

1934: New York splits a doubleheader in Washington as Ruth homers for the final time as a Yankee.

1935: Against Washington, Jimmie Foxx slams his 35th homer in the fourth inning to give the A's a 4-2 lead. After the Nats tie, Double X hits his 36th in the seventh to put Philadelphia in the lead. Washington retakes it, but the A's score four more to win, 11-8. Washington's Buddy Myer (season .349, 5 HRs, 100 RBI) bats 4 for 5 to edge out Cleveland's Joe Vosmik (.348) for the AL batting title. In Cleveland's doubleheader, Vosmik pinch-hits in game one, making an out and planning to take the rest of the afternoon off. When he hears that Myers is hot, he plays, going 1 for 3 to "lose" the title. Foxx finishes at .346.

1963: Washington beats Chicago, 9-2, as the White Sox' Dave Nicholson fans for the 174th and 175th times, a new MLB record.

1969: Boston's Rico Petrocelli blasts his 40th home run, a new AL-season record among shortstops, as the Red Sox beat the Senators, 8-5. Petrocelli is hitting .301 with only 14 errors afield.

Number of days since the Washington Senators last played: 12,051

Estimated attendance at the Montreal/San Juan/Monterrey Expos' last home game: 12,382 (September 26, 2004)

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



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