Yesterday, I took a look back at the 1915 World Series and today, for your pregame NLCS reading, I thought I would take a look back at another potential World Series rematch. This would be the 1916 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
This was a World Series that is often overlooked. And after reading about it, I can see why. It was a five-game affair that was poorly played and left one prominent sportswriter saying that future World Series should be called off because the American League was just too good.
The Brooklyn Dodgers won their first NL pennant since 1900 in this season in somewhat disputed fashion. The Dodgers were in a tight race all season with the defending champion Phillies, leading by just one game with three left.
But on October 3, the Dodgers beat the Giants at Ebbets while the Phillies were swept at home by the Reds. Giants manager John McGraw accused his players of laying down against the Dodgers, saying that they favored the team managed by former Giants coach Wilbert Robinson. The Phillies filed a formal protest to NL president John Tener, which went nowhere.
The Dodgers had a pitching staff that led the NL with a 2.12 ERA with Jeff Pfeffer leading the way with a 25-11 record and 1.92 ERA.
Left fielder Zack Wheat and first baseman Jake Daubert were the Dodgers big hitters. Wheat posted an OPS+ of 150 and Daubert finished at 133. Right fielder Casey Stengel was at 127.
Boston had won 101 games in 1915, but won just 91 in 1916, two games better than Chicago. Manager Bill Carrigan had most of his World Series winning team from the previous year return with the notable exception of Tris Speaker who had been traded to Cleveland.
The 21-year old Ruth led the Red Sox pitchers with a 23-12 record and a 1.75 ERA.
As in 1915, there wasn't much of a break between the regular season and the start of the World Series. The Dodgers (aka the Robins) finished their season on October 5 and the Series started in Boston (again at Braves Field to get a bigger crowd) on October 7.
The Red Sox were heavy favorites to repeat as champs and sportswriter Hugh Fullerton predicted that the Dodgers would win only one game in the series, and it would be Game 3 because Jack Coombs would start that game.
The game was a mess. Brooklyn made four errors leading to three unearned runs for the Red Sox. Brooklyn also grounded into three double plays and hit into a fourth when a runner was cut down at home trying to score on a fly ball.
The Dodgers rallied for four runs in the ninth, but Carl Mays came in to relieve and got one out, Daubert, and that saved the game. Boston 6, Brooklyn 5.
Game 2 was two days later as the teams couldn't play on Sunday. The game turned out to be an epic as Ruth matched off against the "weak link" of the Dodgers staff, Sherry Smith. Smith has an ERA of 2.34 on the season.
Brooklyn came out of the gate with a first inning inside the park homer from Hy Myers. But that would be all that Ruth would give up. Boston tied the game in the third on a triple from Everett Scott and an RBI ground out from Ruth.
Then came the goose eggs. The Dodgers had a first and third, one out situation in the top of the 8th, but Smith grounded into a fielder's choice that resulted in an out at home and Ruth worked out of the jam.
The Red Sox had their first two batters reach in the bottom of the ninth on a double by second baseman Hal Janvrin and then pinch hitter Jimmy Walsh reached on an error. First baseman Dick Hoblitzell lined out to center fielder Myers and he was able to throw out Janvrin at home. Bonus cantos beckoned.
And the game remained tied until the bottom of the 14th when Gainer pinch hit for Larry Gardner with runners on first and second and singled to left to score the winning run. Boston 2, Brooklyn 1. No World Series game would reach 14 innings until Game 3 of the 2005 Series between the White Sox and Astros. The 1916 "marathon" lasted 2:32, while the 2005 game lasted 5:41.
There was no day off before Game 3 at Ebbets Field. And as Hugh Fullerton predicted, Brooklyn did win behind the pitching of Coombs, who finished his career 5-0 in World Series games. However, only 21,087 Brooklyn fans bothered showing up. The stadium seated about 25,000 at the time.
Brooklyn led 4-0 after five innings with a 2-run triple by shortstop Ivy Olson being the key hit. The Red Sox got three back on a Harry Hooper triple and a homer by Gardner. Robinson turned to Pfeffer for the last 2 2/3 innings to finish the game. Brooklyn 4, Boston 3.
Whatever momentum Brooklyn built up in Game 3, quickly disappeared in Game 4. The Dodgers scored twice in the bottom of the first off of Dutch Leonard, but the Red Sox reclaimed the lead in the top of the second on a 3-run inside-the-park homer by Gardner off of Game 1 starter Marquard.
The teams moved back to Boston for Game 5 without a day off and Brooklyn seemed to prefer to get the Series over with. Shore matched up against Pfeffer.
Although the Dodgers got a 1-0 lead in the second on a passed ball that let a run score, Boston tied it up in the bottom of the second and then took a 3-1 lead in the third on two unearned and coasted to a 4-1 win. Shore gave up just three hits. Boston 4, Brooklyn 1.
In his series postmortem, Fullerton reveled in his picking the correct winner of each game and decried the World Series for its commercialism (mainly because there were numerous arrests near the park for ticket scalping) and accused the Dodgers of "dogging it" in the final game after they fell behind. "It was perhaps the tamest and most hopeless game ever played in a world's series," Fullerton wrote.
The National League was widely regarded as inferior to the American League in the 1910s and the NL won just two World Series in this decade: the 1914 Miracle Braves sweep over the A's and the 1919 World Series win by the Reds over the White Sox.
Fullerton interviewed Christy Mathewson, who at that point was the Reds manager, about the series. "I don't know whether the best team won or not, but I am satisfied that the worst team lost. You've got to give it to Brooklyn -- they finished the game -- and it looked to me as if that was all they were trying to do."
So when the 2008 World Series comes to a conclusion, try to look back at it with more fondness than Fullerton and Mathewson did about the 1916 World Series.
Then again, Fullerton and Mathewson covered the 1919 World Series, so they hadn't yet begun to become truly disappointed.