Max Blue / Historic Teams
In 1916, America was at peace with the world, but just barely. A ghastly war was raging in Europe, and despite heroic efforts by President Woodrow Wilson to prevent it, the following year would see the U.S. enter the conflict. In the summer and fall of the year, Wilson, while campaigning for a second term, was entertained with the rest of the nation by a riveting National League pennant race featuring a desperate season ending charge by the New York Giants that resulted in the longest consecutive game winning streak in baseball history. The STREAK tells the story.
By Max Blue
On a dreary Friday afternoon, September 29, 1916, 43 year-old John McGraw, manager of the Giants, stands in the third base coaching box at the Polo Grounds, swearing at his catcher Lew McCarty over there on first base, who has just smacked a single to left. Had he been coaching first, the 150-pound McGraw with the temperament of an Irish bull terrier would probably have his hands around the neck of his dim-witted second-string catcher who outweighs him by a good 50 pounds. What McGraw needs just at this time is an out, because it is the bottom of the fourth, the Giants are leading the Boston Braves 1-0, it is raining, and it is so dark McGraw can not see the Braves' outfielders. Three more Braves' outs would give the Giants their 26th consecutive victory and keep alive their slim chance to win the National league pennant.
McGraw is no stranger to winning streaks, in 1904 his Giants won 18 straight; in 1907, 17; in 1912, 16 on a road trip in May of this year, his team ran off 17 wins in a row. McGraw knows what it takes to keep a winning streak going.
With six games to play, the Giants trail the leading Brooklyn club by five games, four on the loss side, but there is still hope, McGraw never stops hoping, he knows the clock never runs out on a baseball game, though it may on the season. He never stops reminding his players that when they hit a pop fly in fair territory, two outcomes are possible, the ball will either be caught for an out, or it will fall safely. It is the duty it is the sacred duty of the man who hits the ball, especially if he plays for John McGraw, to assume the ball will fall safely, therefore the player must run as fast as he can, on the chance that he will make an extra base. This is the way John McGraw played the game in a 16-year playing career, McGraw reached base 46.6 times for every 100 times at bat, a figure exceeded in major league baseball history only by Ted Williams (48.3) and Babe Ruth (47.4). McGraw demands no less from his players. He also demands that his players play smart take advantage of every game situation. Lew McCarty should have known that the game situation just now required him to strike out as quickly as possible so the Giants could record three Boston outs in the top of the fifth inning and make this an official game, the 26th consecutive Giant win.
After playing the Braves a double-header tomorrow, the Giants will go to Brooklyn on Monday for a season ending four-game showdown with the Robins who among other things, are struggling to find their true identity when they win they are called the Superbas, when they lose, the Dodgers. History has recorded their fate. For more than three weeks McGraw, who is sometimes called "Little Napoleon", and also "Mugsy", but more often Mr. McGraw, has been driving his Giants day after day to win. He has almost convinced them that they will never lose again six more wins and they will have run the table, going undefeated for the final 33 games of the season. When they showed up for work at the Polo Grounds on September 7 their record was a dismal 59 wins - 62 losses, if the rain would hold off for just three more Braves' outs, the Giants would stand today at 85 wins - 62 losses. But it is not to be. McGraw is a powerful force on the ball field, but even he cannot control the weather. Shortly after 4 o'clock umpire William J. "Lord" Byron, the one after Hank O'Day that McGraw hates above all other umpires, calls the game off, much to the disgust of McGraw who is ready to continue play in a torrential downpour, which is close to actual conditions. McGraw chides himself for not scheduling a 2 P.M. start instead of the normal 3 P.M. With games averaging a little over an hour and a half, there is rarely a problem, but this is the hurricane season on the East Coast, and he should have taken it into account. If this game is not completed, the only way it could be made up is to play three games tomorrow, which McGraw takes seriously enough to discuss the possibility with Braves manager George Stallings. Playing a game on Sunday would only be allowed if it were an exhibition game played for charity.
McGraw is fuming. He needs this game; he must have this game. He has a long list of things he does not trust, including hotel clerks, telephones, and left-handers, but his hate list is short umpires, bad hops, Republicans, and rain the things he cannot control. McGraw has been manager of the Giants since 1902, and since that time has won 1,235 games. His first full year as manager was 1903, and in the 13 years since then he has averaged 93 wins per season, winning five pennants which would, and should have been six but for the perfidy of umpire Hank O'Day who called Fred Merkle out for failing to touch second base 12 hours after the game ended, costing him the 1908 pennant. McGraw would go on to manage the Giants for another 17 years, and become the all-time winningest manager in National league history with 2,763 wins, and a winning percentage of .586. But the 1,948 losses eventually took their toll and McGraw died young, a year after retiring from the game in 1933.
But this story is about the streak, and McGraw's team, a motley collection of unlikely heroes, none of whom would ever appear on the 100 best players of the century list. For three magical weeks in the fall of 1916 they were unbeatable, achieving the longest winning streak in baseball history. In this time they actually played 28 and a half games, counting today's four-inning rainout they also beat the Yankees in an exhibition game and played a 1-1 tie with Pittsburgh, called after eight innings because of rain. All the games, including nine double-headers, were played at the Polo Grounds. Night games were unheard of. The average time of game was 1 hour 44 minutes. For the entire time, including the exhibition game, and all the double-headers, McGraw used exactly the same lineup and batting order, except for the two catchers. And the pitchers! Ah, the pitchers. Does anybody remember these names? Pol Perritt 6-0, Jeff "the Ozark Mountain Bear" Tesreau 7-0, Ferdie Schupp 6-0 with three shutouts, Rube Benton 5-0, and Slim Sallee (off the sick list) 2-0. Using a bewildering array of "moist" balls, curves, and fast balls, with pinpoint control (33 walks in 245 innings) they turned in 23 complete games, including 10 shutouts, and 7 one-run games. They were aided by a superb defense that played 15 errorless games (compared to the opponents' 3), and executed 15 double plays.
Giants - 122 runs, 229 hits, 19 errors; Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston - 33 runs, 146 hits, 53 errors.
The New York Giants, September 7 to 30, 1916 if they don't win it's a shame. Let me tell you about that streak.
Game one. Thursday, September 7. It looks like another Giant loss. Zack Wheat, batting cleanup following right fielder Casey Stengel in the Brooklyn lineup, whales a home run into the right field grandstand to lead off the second inning, and Brooklyn left-hander Nap Rucker throws blanks at the Giants through 5 innings. In the 6th the games gets ugly the Dodgers begin to dodge. With two out and two on due to free passes, Giant shortstop Art Fletcher grounds weakly to short where Ivy Olson boots it to load the bases for Benny Kauff, "the Ty Cobb of the Federal league", playing centerfield for the Giants in 1916. Benny manages a swinging bunt to third for an infield hit that ties the score. Next comes the big first-sacker, switch-hitter Walter Holke, the only rookie in the Giant lineup, who raps a single to left for two runs, and a 3-1 Giant lead. Holke's hit opens some eyes because he is playing in only his fifth major league game. McGraw has found the final piece. Catcher Bill Rariden completes the Dodger misery with yet another infield hit, and the Giants win 4-1 when left-hander Ferdie Schupp pitches no-hit, no-run ball after the second inning. Fred "Bonehead" Merkle, now with the Dodgers, and the man Holke replaced, makes the last out.
Standing of the Clubs, Friday, September 8, 1916
Won Lost P.C.
Philadelphia ...... 75 49 .605
Brooklyn .......... 74 51 .592
Boston ............. 71 51 .582
New York ......... 60 62 .492
Pittsburgh ........ 61 67 .477
Chicago ........... 59 73 .450
St. Louis .......... 56 75 .427
Cincinnati ......... 51 80 .389
Game two. Friday, September 8. The Giants treat the best pitcher in the National League, Philadelphia's Grover Cleveland Alexander as if he were a plate of chopped liver from a local deli, raking him for 13 hits and 9 runs (5 earned) in 7 innings on the way to a 9-3 win behind Jeff Tesreau who, in addition to his darting "moist" ball, contributes a home run to the festivities. Game two of the scheduled twin bill is postponed because of rain.
Games three and four. Saturday, September 9. Thirty five thousand noisy New Yorkers roar their approval as lanky right-hander Pol Perritt goes the distance twice, beating the defending champion, and league leading Phillies, 3-1 in game one, then changes his shirt, and blanks them 3-0 in game two, besting Chippewa Chief Bender. Art Fletcher seals the game one win with an 8th inning steal of home. Who are these guys?
Sunday, September 10. Baseball is not usually played in New York on Sunday because of certain laws, but the laws are relaxed if the game is played for sweet charity, so today the Giants square off against the American league Yankees before 20,000 fans, and a few movie cameras. John McGraw is not easing up, even for an exhibition game, and goes with his regular lineup, including starting pitcher Ferdie Schupp, going with two days' rest. Ferdie goes three and two thirds before turning it over to veteran right-hander Fred Anderson who breezes to a 4-2 Giant win, helped by a homerun from "Little Benny" Kauff who it is hard to believe can generate so much power from his 5'8", 157 pound body, especially when he chokes up on the bat like that.
In 1916 everybody chokes the bat, the amount depending on your position in the batting order. Leadoff hitters choked up 3'', numbers 3, 4, 5, and 6 hitters, at least an inch. It is one reason why games move so fast there are few strikeouts, pitchers work fast, and aim for the middle of the plate, not worried about homeruns; this means few deep counts, and explains the inordinate number of complete games.
Game five. Monday, September 11. The Giants are back to their job of pounding the Phillies. On the tide of a 6-run 4th inning rush, featuring a base-clearing three-run triple by catcher Bill Rariden off Eppa Rixey, and another homer by "Little Benny", the Giants coast to a 9-4 win behind Ozark Jeff Tesreau. McGraw's twirlers pitch long, and they pitch often.
Game six. Tuesday, September 12. The 5,000 or so Giant rooters who come out to see the team win their sixth straight game, 3-2 against the last place Cincinnati Reds, are treated to an odd sight. Standing across the field, in the disguise of a Cincinnati uniform is a man who over the last 15 years has pitched 373 victories for the Giants, not including the 3 shutouts in 5 days against the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1905 World's Series. Yes, it is Reds' manager Christy Mathewson, swapped, along with 3rd baseman Bill McKechnie, to the Rhinelanders in June for their manager, Buck Herzog, now batting second and anchoring 2nd base for the Giants. Herzog, who McGraw has made field captain, accounts for the Giants' first run with an RBI double in the 1st inning after the Redlegs got off to a 2-0 lead. Davey Robertson, Giants' right fielder, and number three hitter, ties the game with an upper deck homer to right in the 4th, and the winning run scores in the 5th while pitcher Rube Benton hits into a double play. After the 1st inning, left-hander Benton hands the Reds a string of eight goose eggs.
Games seven and eight. Wednesday, September 13. In game one, young Holke settles the issue with a bases-loaded 6th inning triple off Reds' ace Fred Toney, and Ferdie Schupp, back again with two days rest, makes it stand up with a 3-hit shutout. Not counting the exhibition game, the skinny lefty has now thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings. The Giants do not waste time in game two, scoring 5 runs in the first inning which turns out to be enough when Giants rookie right-hander "Columbia George" Smith pitches into the 6th, and then hands off to Pol Perritt who silences the Reds thereafter. Giants - 6, Cincinnati - 4.
Game nine. Thursday, September 14. The Giants find a new way to win: base on balls, stolen base, single to center. It works in the 1st when Robinson scores on a hit by Zimmerman, and again in the 4th when Kauff is plated on a hit by Holke. McGraw has pried third baseman Heinie Zimmerman, the veteran RBI man, away from the Cubs in a late season trade for "Laughing Larry" Doyle, and installed him in the cleanup spot. It may not be a coincidence that the streak began a week after Zimmerman joined the team. The Reds squeeze out a run in the 8th, but it is not enough. The Ozark bear hunter, back again on two days rest, is using his "moist" ball, which dives as it approaches the plate, to perfection; only four fly balls are hit to the outfield. Friday's game is rained out.
Games 10 and 11. Saturday. September 16. Game one is easy as Rube Benton holds Pittsburgh to two runs, and the Giants put the game away with a 5-run lucky 7th, winning 8-2. Game two is another story. The Giants are blanked into the 8th by slim Pirate left-hander Wilbur Cooper, and trail 3-0 as McGraw uses four pitchers trying to keep the game close; three Giant double plays help. The Giants take advantage of a Pittsburgh error to score two in the 8th on a ground out from Buck Herzog, and a two-out single to center by Davey Robertson. They win it in the 9th on a walk-away two-out smash up the middle by leadoff man George Burns after the tying run scored on a passed ball. Tesreau pitches the 9th for the win. Twenty two thousand fans are delirious.
Game 12. Monday, September 18. After a Sunday day of rest, the Giants and Pirates are back for another double-header. The Giants manage to score only three runs all day, but prevail when Ferdie Schupp and Pol Perritt hold the Pirates, and the fearsome Honus Wagner, who McGraw always said was the best ball player he ever saw, to only one. Schupp wins the opener 2-0 on hits by McCarty and Zimmerman. The nightcap is called after 9 innings because of rain with the teams tied 1-1. The Giants' run comes on a 5th inning inside-the-park homerun by Benny Kauff. Honus Wagner ties it with a 9th inning sacrifice fly. McGraw is inconsolable.
Games 13 and 14. Tuesday, September 19. For the third time in four days the Giants and Pirates square off in a twin bill. The Giants put aside the number 13 jinx quickly, winning game one easily, 9-2, behind Fred Anderson and Rube Benton. With batting help from Georgie Burns and Benny Kauff they take the nightcap 3-1 behind Jeff Tesreau. Kauff homers in both games. The New York Times beat writer said Benny's second game four-station clout was slammed so hard that it arrived limp and breathless into the upper deck boxes. New York fans show respect for a fading warrior when they applaud every appearance of 8 time-National league batting champion Wagner now nearing the end of his celebrated career. In the six games, the 42-year old "Flying Dutchman" goes 1 for 17 but drives in the game tying run in the only game the Pirates didn't lose.
Game 15. Wednesday, September 20. The Giants add the Chicago Cubs to their victim list, scoring the winning run on a 7th inning three-bagger by Lew McCarty. Ferdie Schupp, pitching on one days' rest, sees his 27 consecutive scoreless inning streak stopped, but goes the distance again to win 4-2, the Cubs' second run scoring on two giant errors.
Game 16. Thursday, September 21. Pol Perritt, with two days' rest, blanks the Cubs 4-0, the Giants scoring single runs in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6th. The 2nd inning run comes when catcher Bill Rariden hammers a pitch into the flower bed in deep right center. It was Bedford Bill's only homerun of the year, and one of only 7 hit in a 12-year major league career.
Game 17. Friday,September 22. Southpaw Slim Sallee comes off the sick list to give the gritty Giant pitching staff a lift with a 7-hit shutout of the Cubs, and the Giants win 5-0, equaling an early season 17- game winning streak which was achieved entirely on the road, and was thus less appreciated by local fans. Today's game is highlighted by two double plays, and numerous circus plays by Zimmerman, Fletcher, and Herzog who "scoured the infield of hits until it was as clean as a newly polished kitchen." Batting muscle is furnished by Robertson, Rariden, and Kauff.
Games 18 and 19. Saturday, September 23. The Giants turn their attention to the St. Louis Cardinals, and thump the Birds twice, 6-1 and 3-0 in 7 innings when play is stopped by rain. Jeff Tesreau and Rube Benton handle the pitching. Umpire "Lord" Byron gets into the act by sending Giant pitcher Bill Ritter into oblivion, and later Cardinal manager Miller Huggins, who puts on a splendid display of verbal gab before leaving the field. Zimmerman drives in runs in both games.
Games 20 and 21. Monday, September 25. After their usual Sunday rest, the Giants come back to beat the Cardinals two more times before 10,000 cheering spectators, establishing a new world's record for successive games won, breaking the old mark held by Frank Bancroft's 1884 Providence Grays. In the opener, Ferdie Schupp fires a 2-hitter, and the Giants hang on for a 1-0 nail-biter, the winning run scoring in the 4th inning on a wild throw as the Giants are held to only 3 hits by St. Louis rookie right-hander Lee Meadows. The record breaking nightcap is easy as the Giants jump on Joe Lotz for 5 early runs, and breeze to a 6-2 win behind Pol Perritt.
Game 22. Tuesday, September 26. The Giants, playing loose and easy, stretch the record with another comfortable win over the hapless Cardinals. Slim Sallee takes only an hour and 35 minutes to dispatch the Birds 6-1, and contributes two hits and an RBI to the fun.
Game 23. Wednesday, September 27. The Giants pull one out. Unheralded Cardinal rookie left-hander Bob Steele comes within one pitch of ending the streak, but with two on, two out, and two strikes on the hitter, makes a mistake to Buck Herzog who triples off the right field wall to tie the game at two. Steele heaves a ball over catcher Mike Gonzalez' head, allowing Heinie Zimmerman to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. McGraw uses a committee of pitchers. Fred Anderson' s moist ball is all over the place, and the Giants are lucky to trail by only two when McGraw yanks him after two and one third innings he had yielded 6 hits and 2 walks. Rube Benton holds the fort for four and two thirds, then hands off to George Smith for two. Bill Ritter pitches the 10th, and gets the win.
Integrated baseball is not an issue in 1916, and nobody questions Gonzalez' presence on the Cardinal roster though he clearly is of African descent. He is called "the swarthy Cuban."
Baseball is like a flowing river, veterans drifting downstream to an ocean of retirement, rookies boldly swimming against the current, seeking the limits of their abilities. For those in attendance it is easy to acknowledge the achievements of the old-timers as they drift on down, but to spot the potential future star, struggling to make his mark, is a different story. New Yorkers following the improbable Giants'streak, were quick to cheer the aging Honus Wagner as he passed through. They most likely missed the 20 year-old Cardinal rookie second baseman, Rogers Hornsby, who managed only 3 singles in 21 at bats in the six Cardinal defeats. Hornsby would go on to become one of the greatest offensive forces the game has ever seen, winning 7 National league batting titles, including the all-time major league record high .424, set in 1924.
Games 24 and 25. Thursday, September 28. After 18 straight games against teams below them in the standings, the Giants must play the final 9 games of the season against teams above them. Five against Boston, and 4 against Brooklyn. They begin the stretch in fine fashion, Jeff Tesreau and Ferdie Schupp throwing 18 ciphers at the Beantowners as the Giants win 2-0 and 6-0. The opener is settled on a home run by Davey Robertson, and the nightcap sees two baseball rarities, a near no-hitter by Ferdie Schupp, scored on in only one of his last 50 innings pitched, and a grand slam inside-the-park homerun by Benny Kauff.
At the end of the day, New York sports writers take a deep breath, and allow that there is yet a way, though convoluted, that the Giants could win the pennant. They would never consider this if they had not become convinced, like everyone else, that the Giants will never lose again. It is like this:
Standings of the Clubs - Friday, September 28, 1916
Club Won Lost To Play
Brooklyn 90 58 6 - Philadelphia, 2 New York, 4
Philadelphia 88 57 8 - Brooklyn, 2 Boston, 6
Boston 84 60 9 - New York, 3 Philadelphia, 6
New York 84 62 7 - Boston, 3 Brooklyn, 4
If the Giants run the table, Boston is eliminated for they would have 63 losses. Philadelphia must lose 6 of 8, and Brooklyn must lose 1 of 2 to Philadelphia assuming 4 losses to the Giants. It is possible. McGraw tells his club to forget about what is past, they are beginning a 7-game season, and they must win them all.
On Friday the weeping heavens save the Braves, and leave the Giants doing some weeping of their own. The Giants lead 1-0 behind Pol Perritt, with one out in the bottom of the 4th, but it is so dark at 10 minutes till four, and the rain is coming down so hard, that Lord Byron calls a halt over the intemperate beefs of the desperate McGraw. The game can not be made up. Across the East River in Brooklyn the game between the Robins and the fighting Phillies has also been washed out, and will be played as part of a double-header tomorrow, the first game beginning at 10:30 in the morning.
Game 26. Saturday, September 30. Everybody is scoreboard watching, all 28,000 fans and the peanut vendors. The game begins with the knowledge that the Phillies have trounced the Robins 7-2 in the morning game to take over the league lead. The Giant's Rube Benton takes a clue from Ferdie Schupp, and throws a second straight one-hitter at the Braves' slumbering bats, extending their consecutive scoreless inning streak to 31. They have yet to score in the series. Riding triples by Burns and Fletcher, the Giants score two in the 7th, and two in the 8th to win 4-0. The Giants are down to a five-game season.
Strike three. Saturday, September 30. Game two. The Braves seem helpless against left-handers, and Slim Sallee has three days rest, so he swaggers to the mound for McGraw. For three innings Sallee stifles the Braves, but the scoreless streak ends in the fourth when the unthinkable happens: steady shortstop Art Fletcher makes a wild throw to allow two runs to score. The Giants fight back to tie in the 5th, Lew McCarty's triple furnishing the muscle. In the 7th "Big Ed" Konertchy, the Braves' first baseman, the man who had broken up both Ferdie Schupp's and Rube Benton's no-hitters, singles to center. Braves' third baseman Red Smith takes two strikes then begins to foul off pitches as Sallee tries to put him away. Tension mounts as Smith gains confidence with each swing, and Sallee seems to sag. The sixth foul ball of the at bat is a long fly into the left field grandstand, and suddenly the crowd senses doom. Even Sallee seems to know, as he stalks around the mound muttering to himself. Captain Herzog comes in to talk with him, try to settle him down. Finally he throws the pitch, and immediately knows it was a mistake. Smith measures the approaching ball, shifts his weight in a practiced motion, and swings with all the strength he owns. It is a home run off the bat, and the Giants trail 4-2. It is the first home run surrendered by Giants' pitching since Gavvy Cravath of the Phillies belted one more than three weeks ago. It is also the first time in three weeks that the Giants have given up four runs in a game. But the worst is yet to come. Sallee's next pitch to Sherree Magee is also belted into the left field grandstand. Back-to-back homers! McGraw calls on Tesreau to stop the bleeding, but the brutal pace finally proves too much the Ozark bear hunter is out of steam he faces 4 batters and they all smack hits. Braves' shortstop Rabbit Maranville is all over the place to snuff every Giants' rally. Final score: Boston 8, Giants 3. The streak is over.
Across the river at Ebbetts Field in Brooklyn, Robins' right fielder Casey Stengel sparks his team to a big win over the Phillies with a 1st inning home run off Phillies' ace Pete Alexander. In 1916 Alexander, a 33-game winner with 16 shutouts, is virtually unhittable, except when he pitches in New York. Recall on September 8, in game 2 of the streak, the Giants shelled the great Alexander for 13 hits, and today in Brooklyn, in a game that could have put the Phillies in the catbird seat, "Old Pete" fails again. There are those who claim New York teams hold an edge because visitors are dazzled by New York nightlife. There are those who say the Giants' shiny streak owes more than a little to the great whiteway. Perhaps. But who is to say the hometown Giants were tucked in by nine?
In any case, at the end of the day the Giants are cooked. Five games back with four games to play. Where do they go from here? They go to Brooklyn.
One of John McGraw's friends, if he has any, is Wilbert Robinson, manager of the Robins, an old teammate when they played for the Baltimore Orioles back in the gay nineties. On the other hand, McGraw has no use for Pat Moran, manager of the Phillies. The Giants are out of the pennant race. McGraw is in a position to help his friend "Uncle Robby" whose team enters play with a one game lead on the Phillies who are playing a double-header in Boston today. To suggest this to McGraw would be to invite a punch in the nose. McGraw plays to win. Period.
McGraw sends out his ace Ferdie Schupp who has given up only three hits in his current 23 scoreless inning stretch. Pitching for the Robins is "Long Jack" Coombs who in 1910, while twirling for the Philadelphia A's, pitched three complete game world's series victories against the Chicago Cubs.
The Giants load the bases with two outs in the 1st inning, and Benny Kauff, who batted in 24 runs during the streak, goes to war against Coombs, fouling off pitch after pitch, exceeding a half dozen before Coombs finally puts him away with a diving spitter that gets Benny lunging. After that Coombs toys with them, throwing a mixture of stuff "not hard enough to break tissue paper." The Giants fall 2-0 when Schupp's sterling defense lets him down. When was the last time anybody saw Art Fletcher boot a grounder? The Giants have a 2-game losing streak. The Robins edge closer to the pennant when the Phillies split in Boston.
On Tuesday the unimaginable happens. McGraw loses control of his team. The Giants play loose and carelessly. They ignore their manager's signals, Pol Perritt more than once goes into a windup with a man on first or second, Captain Buck Herzog makes repeated trips to the mound to scold first Rube Benton, then Pol Perritt for indifferent pitching. The Robins score 9 runs. McGraw can't stand to watch, he leaves the dugout in the 4th inning. He announces that he is disgusted with the Giants' play, and will not be associated with such shenanigans. The Robins would have won the pennant in any case because the Phillies fold in Boston, losing both games, but the Giant players did not know this while the game in Brooklyn was in progress.
The Giants gather themselves to win the next day when the pennant race was over and they lost the final game of the season on Thursday, but McGraw is long gone. When he left the field on Tuesday he headed straight for the racetrack in Laurel, Maryland, looking for a hot tip or playing a hunch. He was through with baseball.
When the Black Sox scandal broke after the 1919 world's series, the Chicago players were not the only ones booted out of baseball. Rube Benton, Buck Herzog, Heinie Zimmerman, and Benny Kauff were all fingered as in on fixes from time to time. Zimmerman and Kauff were banned for life.
John McGraw got over his pique. He came back to manage exactly the same team that won 26 straight games for him in September 1916 to the 1917 National League championship, winning 98 games for a 10-game edge over the Phillies. Brooklyn won only 70 games, and dodged to 7th place. The Giants lost the world's series 4 games to 2 to the same Chicago White Sox team that disgraced baseball two years later.
* * *
In 1940, America was at peace with the world, but just barely. A ghastly war was raging in Europe, and despite heroic efforts by President Franklin Roosevelt, the following year would see the U.S. enter the conflict. In the summer and fall of the year, Roosevelt, while campaigning for a third term, was entertained with the rest of the country by a riveting American League pennant race featuring a desperate season ending charge by the New York Yankees. The year 1940 was the only year between 1936 and 1943 that the Yankees did not win the pennant. They lost because they had trouble beating the St. Louis Browns, the symbol then and for all time of baseball futility. Jaybird and Me tells about one of those Yankee losses to the Browns in the summer of 1940.