Dodgers Drop Another Thudder, now down 2 games to None; The Way Back Machine Shows us 1916

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, Oct. 25. The Dodgers didn’t get the split they needed in Boston and find themselves needing to win all 3 upcoming games in Los Angeles to have any chance at winning their first World Series in 30 years. Also today, we will take another look at a World Series the Dodgers lost while Woodrow Wilson was campaigning for his second term as our president.
David Price continues to improve his playoff legacy. At the same time, J.D. Martinez keeps making other teams wonder why they ignored him during the past offseason. The only runs Price gave up were two in the visiting 4th, giving the Dodgers a temporary 2–1 lead. With two out in the home 5th, 9th-place hitter Christian Vazquez and leadoff man Mookie Betts singled. While that was bad enough, a walk to Andrew Benentendi loaded the bases. Ryu left the game at that point. Steve Pearce walked, forcing in the tying run. Then Martinez had the decisive hit, a two-run single to right giving the Dodgers a 4–2 lead. As starter Hyun-Jin Ryu faltered, manager David Roberts went to the well once too often with Ryan Madson. This was a curious choice as Madson pitched poorly in game 1. He blamed the frigid weather conditions and said he had to alter his mechanics to cope with them. After his latest failure, the Red Sox were in business. Price lasted 6 innings giving up just 3 hits to go with the two runs which scored in the 4th. Nathan Eovaldi handled the 8th as he did in game 1. That was followed by a smooth 9th for closer Craig Kimbrel.
In the third of our series of profioles of World Series games past, we again take to the Way Back Machine. We go all the way back to 1916, farther than we have ever gone to profile any World Series game. A few words about the times are in order. As the World Series began, Woodrow Wilson, once governor of New Jersey was campaigning for his second term. It was an election he would win under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” World War I was making Europe into a Hell on earth and the United States would find it necessary to intervene the following April. In 1916 the Easter Rising had occurred in faraway Ireland. Songs like “The Boys of the Old Brigade”, “God Save Ireland” “Kevin Barry,” “The Men Behind the Wire,” and “The Fields of Athenry” are still sung today where the Irish heritage is strong. I’ve sung a couple of these at St. Patrick’s Day parties not knowing they dated back to 1916. Closer to home, a family might own a victrola or phonograph. I’ve only seen one of those in working order, and saying it worked is something of a reach. I’ve touched the discs of that day in my uncle’s basement. They were thick as dinner platters and just as easy to shatter. The machine ran when somebody cranked it for all they were worth. The lucky owners played records by Al Jolson, John MacCormack (for me the best tenor who ever lived,) Henry Burr and Billy Murray who was known as the Denver Nightingale. His reedy tenor voice belted out “Hello Hawaii, How Are You,” celebrating the fact that the military could communicate by radio from America across the vast Pacific. Murray also recorded with the American Quartet while Burr joined the Peerless Quartet. All singers I have mentioned here can be found on youtube if interested. Years would have to pass before the songs of these great singers would be heard on radio. The truly amazing fact is I can listen to the music of 1916 as I write this piece, a kind of magic nobody would have believed at the time. My grandmother had a neighbor who called radio “Witchcraft” and wouldn’t own one. A family with a musical member and considerable money might own a piano rather than a victrola. Pianos by Stark, Schulz Company or Adam Schaaf could be had, though I haven’t been able to unearth how much one cost. A Ford Model T was going for some $500.00, a fabulous sum in the terms of the day, nearly 12 thousand bucks by our reckoning of money. Roads were nearly nonexistent, so baseball was much more localized than it is now. As today, the Red Sox were facing the Dodgers-but these Brooklyn Dodgers had been temporarily renamed the Robins in homage to their roly-poly manager Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson. He was built along my lines but an inch taller. It was a rare man who was taller than six feet in those days.
The game we will consider is game 2 of that World Series. It was played at Braves Field which held more fans than the almost new Fenway Park. When the series moved to Brooklyn, their stadium was even more pristine. Ebbets Field had opened in 1913, a year after Fenway. Its name was also the name of the team owner Charles Ebbets. Before the series, Ebbets arranged for seats which Boston fans might have if they wished to take the train trip to Brooklyn. Only when they reached the field did the “Royal Rooters” (Red Sox fans) find they had gotten some of the worst seats Mr. Ebbets had available. The Rooters kicked mightily, as a writer of the day might have said but Ebbets paid them no heed. He had reason to be upset with how game 2 turned out.
After losing game 1 on a Saturday, the teams rested as Sunday baseball was taboo in Boston then. The Dodgers’ pitcher for game 2 on Monday afternoon was Sherrod Malone “Sherry Smith, a 25-year-old from Georgia. He was a lefty as was his opponent. The foe was a boy of 22 who was already a pitching ace for the Red Sox. As a child in a Baltimore orphanage he was known as George Herman Ruth. His first boss in the minor leagues called him “Babe” and the name stuck. Little else would stick to Babe Ruth as he grew older and raised Cain off the field. While Smith had a 114-118 lifetime mark, he threw the game of his life against Ruth in game 2 of the Series. Ruth had won 23 games in 1916 and would better that with 24 a year later. The teams were deadlocked at 1-1 through 13 innings with both starting pitchers still firing away. This would be unthinkable in today’s baseball environment. The Dodgers put up a run in the first and got no more the rest of the way. Their run scored on an inside-the-park home run by Hy Myers. The Red Sox tied it in the third as Ruth hit an RBI grounder. This was years before he began hitting Ruthean home runs and earning nicknames like “Bambino” and “Sultan of Swat.” A simple grounder got the job done. Meantime the Royal Rooters were singing as British football and boxing fans do now. The game ended in the 14th with the players almost unable to see the action. Del Gainer struck a pinch-hit single to bring the winning run across. When the dust had settled Boston had 7 hits against 6 for Brooklyn. Incredibly, the 14-inning affair wrapped up in 2 hours 32 minutes, which is about 4 innings today when the World Series comes around. Of course there were no commercials or extended breaks to lull the fans to sleep. With lighted stadiums still two decades away, the game was played in daylight. As dark as it was, the umpires were very reluctant to call the game which would have meant a replay and would play havoc with train and hotel schedules. No World Series game would last as many innings until 2005 when the White Sox beat the Astros in 14 innings. They would go on to sweep the Astros in 4. The Mets and Royals played a game which went 14 just a decade later in 2015.
If you wish a particular World Series game to be portrayed in this forum, please make contact through the Facebook group “Baseball as I See It” or on twitter @baseballmandon.” I am hoping to profile games that aren’t as well-known as game 6 of the 1975 or 1986 World Series. If the present series ends in a sweep, I could write a weekly World Series Game of the Week feature through the winter depending on the interest of our readers. Any ideas will be considered. All decisions are final.


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