This World Series Keeps Getting Better
This was always going to be a terrific World Series, what with the two ancient franchises, the Cardinals and the Red Sox, and their history of three previous Series.
The Series kept getting more interesting, necessarily in technical brilliance but in the misplays that have determined the last three games – a wild throw, an obstruction, a pickoff.
Before we go any further, let’s put Kolten Wong’s pickoff in perspective. The pinch-runner for the Cardinals was caught off first base to end the fourth game very late Sunday evening.
An entire World Series once ended with a runner caught trying to steal second base. That was George Herman Ruth, who took it upon himself to try to steal with two outs and nobody on in the seventh game, with the Yankees trailing the Cardinals, 3-2.
The batter was merely Bob Meusel, who was hitting only .238 for the Series but was the cleanup hitter. Lou Gehrig was on deck. The Babe was easily thrown out, tagged by the Cards’ player-manager Rogers Hornsby. The pitcher was Grover Cleveland Alexander, working in relief.
Over the years, the legend has persisted that Alexander was hung over after pitching the day before, but he later denied it.
If the Babe can end a Series with a gaffe, Kelton Wong can surely end a game by straying too far off first with the superb Koji Uehara pitching.
I was looking forward to this Series if only because of the epic Series of 1946, the first I remember, with its returning service veterans, plus the matchup between Stan Musial and Ted Williams, and Enos’ Slaughter romp home in the seventh game.
What makes that memory so strong is that the World Series stood by itself in those days, with no post-season tournament beforehand. (The Cardinals had survived a league playoff after tying Brooklyn, but that’s a different category.)
These moments – the Babe’s blunder, Slaughter’s romp, Bob Gibson’s pitching in 1967, Manny Ramirez’ hitting in 2004 – stand out because they happened in the World Series, not in that growing amorphous blob that MLB and the networks call the post season. Kolten Wong’s pickoff and Will Middlebrooks’ inadvertent obstruction in the third game will stand up precisely because they happened in the World Series.
Ruth’s final out:
Box scores from 1926:
Alexander’s side of it, recently posted by the historian John Thorn:
10/28/2013 03:26:57 am
well, strictly speaking, there wasn't nobody on, because by definition Ruth was on first. In the autobiography with Bob Considine, Ruth says that Ed Barrow called that "the only thing Ruth did on a baseball field that I disagreed with" or words that effect.
10/28/2013 05:42:45 am
Ruth had great instincts, baseball intelligence, although one of those links notes that Ruth succeeded on only 51 per cent on his attempted steals. He played the outfield and ran the bases very well -- much like Roger Maris in his two great seasons with the Yankees.
10/28/2013 11:26:47 am
Your report on the Babe caught stealing,reminded me of a tale my Dad used to tell, the sports writer Bugs Baer, wrote after a failed steal by a player who roomed with Babe Forrest awhile, "There was larceny in his heart, but his feet were honest."
10/28/2013 11:30:03 am
I am not sure who Babe Forrest is, you would have to ask Steve Jobs and auto spell. "Babe for a while."
10/28/2013 12:32:45 pm
I can't figure out any of Mr. Jobs' gadgets.
10/28/2013 03:58:44 pm
You know that it is a great World Series when my wife called my attention to the story of the “first ever” obstruction call to end a World Series game.
10/29/2013 04:29:58 am
Alan, you're right. We encountered that in our swath through the Berkshires a few summers ago.
10/29/2013 03:05:54 am
Great history lessons, George et al. It is indeed a rich rivalry we're treated to this year. Personally, I'm always happy to see the Cards (if it can't be the Mets!) playing in October as my one and only World Series ticket was Game 4 of the '64 series, when Ken Boyer hit that memorable grand salami to beat the Yanks 4-3. I believe Tim McCarver hit .478 that Series, and this will be his last in the broadcast booth, we're told. To Alan Rubin's comment about living in the Berkshires, I live in the part of Connecticut that is about 60% Red Sox Nation, and it's all good. Baseball needs all the passion it can muster, as long as it's positive. But there is, I agree, something very special about pre-expansion rivalries. As well as masterful pitching, as we witnessed last night. I am grateful for all of this. It is a long winter.
10/29/2013 04:32:31 am
Pete, great to hear from you. I agree. I have been thinking, during the earlier four-hour games, that I might as well enjoy it because it's a long time til the next set of games...in March. Now I can pay more attention to soccer games, but I admit, I am not looking forward to nights without baseball. GV
10/29/2013 05:50:19 am
10/29/2013 07:34:13 am
Wow, what memories, Alan -- Lou, Satchel and Larry. What a time. An extraordinary turning-point in US society and sports. You have seen a lot, including now the slow but inevitable growth of futbol here in the US, which has obviously captured your own imagination. Not to mention your passion. Those five hour drives at night are brutal! As for Pratt & Whitney, I live in Glastonbury, just outside of Hartford and have neighbors and friends who are current or retired P&W employees. Great chatting!
10/29/2013 07:51:56 am
10/31/2013 02:26:50 pm
11/1/2013 01:34:20 am
Dear Altenir: The museum is right in the old neighborhood near the ball park at Camden Yards - for when the three of you visit the USA.
11/4/2013 03:03:19 am
11/4/2013 03:51:26 am
4/29/2014 11:07:49 pm
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.