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The Big Six Chronicles

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  • The Big Six Chronicles

    Here is what I possess to contribute to BBF's understanding and acknowledgement of my favorite pitcher, Christy Mathewson (if I wasn't Tyrus4189Cobb I'd be MattytheMaster). I am still completing it, posting a little at a time so people can read to their leisure and not have to absorb an overwhelming 1000 word post. I will also be adding more once the framework is set. The same stuff was posted by myself in the "Christy Mathewson Thread," but it received no attention, much to my frustration because people constantly whine about this forum's loss of intellectual historical input. I hope more people will come to recognize Matty as the crafty master he was, long forgotten. The next post starts part one of The Big Six Chronicles.

    -SABR Bio here
    -SABR's Twenty Greatest Blunders of the Deadball Era (only a mention)
    -Bill James' and Rob Neyer's Guide to Pitchers
    -Ray Robinson's Matty: An American Hero (this is the biggest one)
    -Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch
    -Micharl Hartley's Christy Mathewson
    -Mike Vaccaro's First Fall Classic
    -Various clippings from early 20th century papers/periodicals (usually used in Robinson's , Neyer/James', or Hartley's books)
    -Knowledge I've accrued over time

    Contents (work in progress)
    Post #2-27……….Mathewson's Bio
    Post #28………….Pictures of Matty (work in progress)
    Post #33…………Legacy
    Last edited by Tyrus4189Cobb; 02-18-2016, 06:32 AM.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    Part One

    Christy was born in the secluded hamlet of Factoryville, Pennsylvania in 1880. Growing up under very religious parents in the simple near-rural life of a mining town, Christy was instilled with certain values. For one, he appreciated modesty. From his Baptist parents, who desired for him to be a preacher, he also adopted anti-Sunday baseball stance, which would stick with him for the next many years and force managers to carefully rotate him.

    At the age of 15 Christy was developing into the strapping, handsome physique of his father Gilbert. For one dollar a game, he played for the Factoryville team alongside and against much older boys. At college age, he enrolled at Keystone. Here enjoyed football more than baseball, according to Ray Robinson's Matty. To earn money for school, Christy played for the Honesdale team over the course of 1898's fair summer. In 1899 his pitching garnered attention from Taunton, MA. Ray Robinson also hypothesizes that it is here where Christy learned the importance of defeat. Christy would later claim that while you gain from a win, you learn everything from losing. I believe it is in Taunton, where he pitched well for a dying club that didn't fully pay their pitcher, where Christy developed his mentality for losing. In later year, Christy added to his thoughts on losing: always acknowledge the loss, but don't let it get to your head. In your head, ask yourself why you lost and try to come up for reasons that caused it, even if you don't believe them. This way, Christy proposed, you knew the next time you could get more out of yourself.

    In 1899, Christy also joined Bucknell University. He continued his success as a great kicker for the football team. In the classroom, he was known as an intellect. Fraternity brothers of Phi Gamma Delta looked up to him. Christy’s athleticism, looks, wit, and charming personality could’ve been used for a poster boy for the successful all-American college male. His influence was so appealing that John “Phenom” Smith immediately raised his proposed salary after watching Christy play spectacularly in football game against Penn State. Christy quickly accepted the contract to play for the Norfolk team in the summer of 1900. He performed well enough to attract the attention of both major leagues. Rumors spread that Connie Mack, in his enthusiasm for great pitching staffs, wanted Christy. However, Christy dropped out of Bucknell for the New York Giants. Andrew Freedman bought Christy, now becoming the “Mathewson Boy” or “Matty,” for $1500 (the Hall of Fame chronicles say $1000).

    Thus started a Herculean career. I should highlight Matty’s approach to pitching before I get in to his Giants days. Matty was half workhouse half pacer. His large 6’1” frame gave him the ability to last for a long time on short rest. However, even in his college days, Matty realized the importance of pacing himself. Pitching with a large lead or with no one on base meant Matty wasn’t going to nitpick. Like other witty pacers before him, Matty knew he was expected to finish every game he started. Such situations called for Matty to throw for contact with lesser velocity. The fielders, not him, would pick up the slack. For those times where he was pitching in a pinch, Matty tells in the eponymous self-written book that he would then use his control to his advantage. Batters were given pitches (precisely located with Matty’s inhuman control) that were difficult to discern between ball and strike. Using his superior memory of batters’ weaknesses, Matty fed hitters pitches they couldn’t hit in precise locations so they ended up swinging for the out. During such times, Matty relied on the famous fadeaway, now the screwball. Batter trembled knowing this pitch could come at any moment, though Matty himself said he didn’t throw more than a dozen per game. The constant threat certainly worked as a psychological advantage for a pitcher who was difficult to hit to begin with. The Sporting News also says that Matty had a vast repertoire of pitches he could dance in every direction.

    John McGraw didn’t manage Matty until 1902. Before that the Giants featured a plethora of managers. McGraw brought stability to the Giants. For the next two decades, the Giants would be McGraw. He controlled virtually everything on the field with explosive temperament (sometimes purposefully exaggerated for strategy). He took an instant liking to Matty, for he was the ideal pitcher in his eyes. At any moment Matty was ready to accept a workload and would execute with uncanny control. In fact, Matty was the only pitcher McGraw gave full discretion to call his own pitching game. Unfortunately, McGraw’s in-game dictatorship had a negative side. Matty believed, which he openly published in a 1915 magazine article, that the multiple World Series Giants downfalls were due to McGraw’s constant micromanaging. Matty attributed the downfalls to the players’ inability to think for themselves in a pinch because they were always so reliant on McGraw.
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


    • #3
      Part Two

      1902 marked the beginning of a strange relationship. McGraw’s thick, complex personality had been shaped by loss after loss of family member from disease. How an angry, rule-picky, authoritarian managed to befriend the likes of a gentle intellect must be recorded as the “stranger” part of the saying “stranger things have happened.” Within a few years, the two became lifelong pals and even resided together in a complex of upper New York. While Matty enjoyed reading, golf, and being a renowned checkers player, McGraw indulged much more in the finer things of turn-of-the-century New York, something that couldn’t be said of most denizens especially the large influx arriving from Europe. McGraw consorted with all of New York’s well-to-do: restaurant owners, actors, tycoons, and even the occasional bookie. Regardless of the differences, the two would be forever bound by friendship.

      Things changed under McGraw’s rule. The Giants were growing stronger and as a result, more New Yorkers were becoming fans. The increased revenue pleased owner John T. Brush, who had replaced the obnoxious Andrew Freedman beginning with the 1903 season. People progressively attended Polo Grounds to get a glimpse at the hype. One game of watching the exploits of Roger Bresnahan, Art Devlin, Bad Bill Dahlen, and Hooks Wiltse converted them to rooters as boisterous as the rest. The unfailing rotation of Joe McGinnity and Christy Mathewson drove the Giants’ popularity through the roof. Durable McGinnity pitched so gracefully with that underhand delivery. Collegiate Matty appealed to even the most pompous of the upper class.

      Amidst the typical ranks of spitting, cursing, dirty, boozing, womanizing ball players was now a successful, handsome young male with a good head on his shoulders. Fielders who committed errors weren’t scolded but patted on the back. “Next time,” Matty would console them. Matty remained faithful to his darling wife Jane unlike the brothel-frequenting stereotypical player. Checker players from around the nation issued challenges to Matty, which he usually won. Teammates asked for his in-game advice. They begged him to play cards or games with them, to which Matty always complied. Instead of despising him for being McGraw’s pet, they elected him as the unspoken captain. He could mediate any problems between them and McGraw or Brush. As for fans, onlooking teammates marveled at his way of entertaining supporters even if he wasn’t in the mood. Of course, he so convincingly chatted with them that one might of thought Matty was some long-lost friend. Journalists of the fledgling sportswriting career openly praised New York’s new hero. Writers like Fred Lieb and Grantland Rice adored Matty in their writings, heaping on positive adjectives as if it were nothing. To Rice, Matty was “the knightliest of all the game’s paladins.” Only Frank Meriwell, the fictional college athlete perfectly donning every righteous attribute one could have without being holy, could overcome Matty’s gentlemanly appeal. Furthermore, Matty opposed Sunday baseball (a promise made to his mother), something the religious New Yorkers appreciated.

      The Giants captured consecutive pennants starting in 1904. Despite the financial success of the interleague postseason the year before, McGraw and Brush refused to pit their ball clubs against an inferior American League club, pennant winners or not. Out of this boycott would come regulatory rules for the series presided over by the National Commission. A 1905 championship series would be mandatory.

      The Giants reached the brink of world championship once again in 1905. This time, it can be said that Matty led the way. McGraw never hesitated to hand pitching duties over to his friend. Since switching to catcher, Bresnahan began ingeniously collaborating with Matty. Still, it was Matty’s memory of hitter’s weaknesses that paved the way for pitch calls. By now Matty was the Giants’ most beloved star. Every game he started began with deafening cheers; the distraction prompted him to walk out sometimes ten minutes after the fielders took the field. Pinpoint control guided Matty’s pitches to Bresnahan’s glove. In 338 innings, Matty walked only 64 batters. He shut out opposing teams eight times, pitching entire games in brief 90 minute adventures. Beside winning 31 games, Matty allowed only 1.28 earned runs for every nine innings.
      "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


      • #4
        Part Three

        Connie Mack, most likely still sour for not getting Matty five years ago, took it upon himself to shut up the boasting McGraw. If his “inferior” club could take McGraw’s in a best-of-seven, surely spectators would began to think of the American League as equal if not greater. To take down the Giants, giant not only in name but influence, could hand McGraw the bitter spanking he so deserved.

        Though Game One occurred in Philadelphia territory, fans excitedly cheered during Matty’s warmups. They had heard all of the hype from whatever meager media they had access to; now it was time to see if Matty would live up to the test. Mack started Eddie Plank, completely ignored by home fans during his warmups. Sure, Plank was the durable control artist like Matty. He was the ace of the A’s. Could he compete with his NL counterpart?

        What ended up as a profitable series (for the owners’ pockets and for baseball’s national popularity) came from none other than Matty. Matty lived up to his reputation as a pitcher who performed best in the clutch. In six days the A’s managed zero runs in all three games against Matty. Even in the deadest days of the dead-ball era, Matty stands alone in World Series pitching accomplishments. Performances by Gibson, Larsen, Koufax, hell, even Pete Alexander echo through the halls of postseason lore. Matty’s legacy has been robbed by lack of footage, age, and living fans.

        Thanks to Matty, McGraw was able to walk straight up to Mack and give a firm handshake whilst looking Connie square in the eye. His New York club proved just how meager the fledging AL was. They got lucky against Pittsburgh in 1903. True major league quality was proclaimed only by those teams in the NL circuit.

        Following the series, Matty’s popularity reached untold bounds. The mid-20s gentleman from Factoryville had risen to the top, his legendary career still underway. Matty never equaled his 1905 World Series romp, but he would become an essential cog in the future postseason endeavors of the Giants. Unfortunately, his parts seemed to come at the unluckiest of times. For now, McGraw fixed his eyes on winning a third straight pennant in 1906.
        "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


        • #5
          Part Four

          Very rarely do triumphant bouts in the highest echelon of the sporting world precede immediate decline. The Giants would experience their first of many pitfalls after the the 1905 Series. An outstanding 96-56 record in 1906 didn’t tell the whole story. Matty lost a lot of his edge due to an early season diagnosis of diphtheria. McGraw mustered over 260 innings out of him, but they were plagued with a degree of struggle. Compared to the ailing performances of other members of the staff, Matty still maintained the position as a beacon whenever he started. Other injuries to Giants players contributed to the growing annoyance of McGraw. Chicago took the pennant in a mind-boggling 116 wins. 1907 proved no different; the Cubs won the World Series and left the Giants in fourth place. The following year was much more successful. New York finished second behind Chicago with a 98-56 record. Again, the numbers don’t tell the story, for that was the same year the Giants fell to the unlucky side of the infamous Merkle incident. The win cost them the pennant, which Chicago took for a third time by winning one more game than New York. They won the World Series for the last time.

          Scorers credited 37 of New York’s 98 wins in 1908 to Matty. After a dissapointing 1906 season, Matty pitched quite well in 1907. By 1908, he was back as the league’s premier pitcher. As testimony to McGraw’s preference to use his friend, Matty appeared in a third of the Giants’ games to hurl almost 400 innings. His five saves led the league. New York had adopted a mentality that every situation was a Matty situation. Well, almost. The bizarre 1908 debacle is explained in much more detail in Cait Murphy’s Crazy ’08 as well as in depth from The Giants’ point-of-view in Ray Robinson’s Matty, which is what I’ll draw from. Matty imploded for four runs in the last game of the 1908 season. With Chicago up 4-1, Frank Chance called for Mordecai Brown to relieve Jack Pfiester (dubbed “The Giant Killer”). The bases were loaded for Matty in seventh. As capable as Matty was with a bat, McGraw removed him for a lame Larry Doyle who was suffering from a bum leg. Only one run came from the situation, with no help from Doyle, and the Giants ended the game in a 4-2 loss. Matty gloomily sauntered to the dugout and remained there for hours reflecting the bad fortunes of playing a game that should’ve been won a month ago. Fans outside the clubhouse lingered to welcome Matty with applause, to which Matty humbly accepted in a brief address. “I did the best I could, but I guess fate was against me.”

          Losing that decisive game hardly compared to the loss the Mathewsons experienced in 1909. Younger brother Nicholas Mathewson was believed to have Matty’s potential. Neither Michael Hartley nor Ray Robinson provide much insight in their biographies, so Nicholas’ mindset is unclear. Lack of psychiatric care and records further muddle the mindset. Only one thing is for certain: Nicholas was sick. Despite his athletic skill, he attended only to his schoolwork during his stay at Lafayette college. He complained of sickness without showing any sign of physical ailment other than fatigue. Something intangible bewildered him. Whatever mental illness affected Nicholas prompted him to take his own life in February of 1909.

          None other than Matty found his brother’s body. Funeral arrangements were made, and for the rest of the offseason people speculated on Matty. Already brooding from the disappointing 1908 finish, finding his brother’s body could have shattered Matty’s psyche. Not much can be known what Matty thought during this time. Raising his three year-old son, consoling himself and his family over Nicholas, and balancing the pressure of New York redemption in a city depending on him.

          Perhaps it was good that this happened to Matty and not someone else. Perhaps it was only Matty, with his reputation as a the clutch pitcher who performed best in the pinches, the man so admired as a model collegiate gentleman, so shining an example of American youth, who could come back from the depths and dominate as he did in 1909. New York did not win the 1909 pennant, but without Matty they never would have stood a chance. Equaling his marvel 1905 season, Matty retained a 1.14 ERA with a 25-6 record. The despair following Nicholas’ death and the 1908 finish may have served as a perpetual clutch situation in Matty’s mind.
          "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


          • #6
            Part Five

            Not much changed in 1910 either. Matty’s persistent excellence garnered him more and more respect nationwide. Baseball nuts in the farther reaches of the country learned of Matty, possibly gaining fictional prestige by unintentional word-of-mouth. Newspapers, primitive telephones, telegrams, and communication wires spread the regality of New York’s Matty. In Giants-opposing areas like Chicago, Pittsurgh, and other dells peppered in Cubs or Pirates territory, fans still admired Matty. Sportswriters continued their praise for the beloved Matty, which only helped exhibit Matty in Herculean fashion in the more rural states. Grantland Rice offered convictions that Matty stirred “an indefinable lift in culture, brains, [and] personality” in baseball.

            Yet again Matty did it for New York in 1911. He was also accompanied by a blossoming Rube Marquard, team captain Larry Doyle, and new batterymate Chief Meyers. At long last the team managed to reach another World Series. The odds were in their favor, for it would be the same team Matty burned in 1905 as their opponent. Mack was back, sporting an infield he valued at 100,000 dollars. His team had lost one (to Matty) and won one by Game Three. Marquard was on the losing end of a 3-1 Game Two because of a Frank Baker two-run homer that broke the 1-1 tie in the sixth. Other than that, the Giants were still looking very good on paper.

            On paper. Matty stung Marquard for the Baker homer. McGraw specifically cautioned Marquard to avoid “them chin-highs” to Baker. Baker’s power made him a home run an unusual home run threat in the dead-ball era. Following the loss, an article published with Matty as co-writer pointed the finger at Rube. It blamed the loss on him for foolishly pitching to Baker what shouldn’t have been pitched. Not only did it anger Marquard, it gave Philadelphians a jabbing point to attack Matty for poor sportsmanship. It’s worth mentioning that Matty actually didn’t write the article but the real writer, a chap named Wheeler, falsely accredited him. Matty’s refusal to acknowledge this indicates that while he would never go out of his way to openly criticize a teammate (we’re talking about the guy who patted fielders on the backs after errors), he didn’t mind burning someone for stupidity. McGraw always told his players that he expected physical mistakes; the mental ones were the ones that would be dealt with. Maybe after all those years the notion and rubbed off on Matty.

            “Will the great Mathewson tell us exactly what he pitched to Baker?” appeared as a line in the papers the day after Game Three. Marquard’s ghost-written inquiry retaliated Matty’s blows with more sting than Matty originally handed out. The day after he criticized Marquard for pitching a high one to Baker, Matty lost an eleven inning bout at home the A’s due to a home run by Baker, which would forever replace Baker’s first name with the nickname “Home Run.” Matty was on the verge of another A’s shutout in the ninth inning. Baker represented the penultimate out for Philadelphia. Disobeying the Series’ orders from McGraw, Matty threw high heat to Baker.

            Though he crept on hypocrisy and disobeyed McGraw, Matty handed Baker the very pitch Marquard offered the day before to lose the game. However, it’s important to remember that McGraw gave Matty full discretion in pitching. Matty delivered time and time again via superior academic knowledge of simply where to throw what pitch. There’s also the slim chance that Matty, occasionally cocky even in down-to-the-wire situations, wanted to show Marquard how it’s done: you fool a hitter in serving his strengths complimented with his weaknesses, you appropriately challenge them. Matty was better than the kid McGraw had obtained for 11,000 and he was going to rub it in his face.

            All speculation. Matty’s senses most likely told him Baker wouldn’t expect his favorite pitch in such a situation after feasting off it the day before. From where third baseman Buck Herzog stood, Baker struck out on the pitch before the fastball. A ruling against Matty further played into Matty’s misfortunes in crucial moments; it was determined that the “strikeout pitch” was knicked by Baker. Living a second life, Baker capitalized on the high fastball. He sent in somewhere in right field, a very tricky area of the Polo Grounds, to tie the game 1-1. Matty eventually lost the game in the eleventh following back-to-back errors by Art Fletcher and Buck Herzog. The Giants mustered a run in the bottom half, one short of keeping it going. Matty and Jack Coombs had both pitched eleven innings with one earned run in the 3-2 contest.

            SABR includes the back-to-back blows in its list of the 20 worst deadball blunders. The Giants did not come back once they were down 2 games to 1. The Series resumed six days later due to rain. New York took a 10-inning Game 5 victory only to lose the Series the following game. Had the Giants lost prestige losing to the same “inferior” team they whooped six years ago? McGraw and his damaged pride sulked off the field with a promise to return stronger in 1912.
            "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


            • #7
              Part Six

              Author Mike Vacarro goes into greater detail of the 1912 World Series in The First Fall Classic. Being my favorite baseball book, I will restrain from diving into its detailed depths and write from the events pertaining to Matty. However, if one wishes to learn more of an event that isn’t given justice, or just wants to read a helluva book, look to that one.

              Still the most popular player on the team, Matty didn’t solely carry the team as in years passed. A powerhouse lineup stole over 300 bases thanks to McGraw’s tactics. New addition Jeff Tesreau hurled nearly 250 quality innings. It was Marquard, though, who had earned his keep. Surpassing the infamous nickname of “11,000 lemon,” Marquard won 26 games (19 of them consecutive) in a year that bolstered a (questionable) Hall of Fame career. Also as occasional starters were still Hooks Wiltse and Red Ames. The five of them combined constituted the best pitching in the National League.

              Under the reaches of McGraw, it surprised no one that the Giants won 103. It only fueled the ongoing rage to love the Giants (or hate them if your allegiance lied elsewhere). Only Captain Matty could capture the admiration of both factions. Players everywhere asked him to represent their interests versus management following the suspension of Ty Cobb after he assaulted a heckler. New York’s upper society rarely talked baseball, but when they did mention McGraw and his cast of rascals, it was usually to point out Matty’s superb qualities.

              At home, Matty’s son Christy Jr. had turned six. The Mathewsons and the McGraws continued living together in the same complex. The men went to work together and returned to the same housing. Mutual admiration filled them. McGraw was more likely to spend his nights away at a opulent restaurants, casinos, or operas. Matty preferred quaint literature, time with his family, logic games; all the qualities resembling a more stimulated individual.

              Matty brought these qualities to the field. Throughout the 1912 season his performance remained “Matty.” Whether completing a game or coming in for relief, Matty’s sharp mind had gotten so accustomed to hitter subcategories to a degree of allowing him to map their weaknesses within the first at-bat. Rookies like Giants’ George Burns were told to sit on the bench and learn whatever they could. Most of it came from Matty’s visuals on the field, which is why McGraw left Matty alone to do his work.

              Matty’s main Series opponent was Smoky Joe Wood. An ambience of power preceded the name “Joe.” Smoky was on a fast track to stardom. This season would also be his greatest: 34 wins in 344 innings, ten of them shutouts, with an ERA under 2.00. Had he remained healthy, his future tangles with Walter Johnson would have been matchups for the ages. In fact, Wood beat Johnson in a 1-0 contest to end Johnson’s 16-game win streak and continue his own (which would also last 16 games). For all his accomplishments, Wood’s speed did not impress McGraw. Mugsy sought psychology in pitching. A pitcher as great as Smoky would not have been given the discretion of Matty to pick his pitches.
              "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


              • #8
                Part Seven

                As with 1911, The Giants had to face a team McGraw scoffed at less than a decade before. Baseball did not hold a 1904 Series because of McGraw’s refusal to play the lesser Boston club. Again it was time to see if he would have to eat humble pie. Boston’s 1912 club boasted the Speed Boys, the greatest outfield ever assembled in Lewis, Speaker, and Hooper. The brand new Fenway Park favored hitters with its deep pockets at odd places, a pestilence for New York. The yet-to-be-flattened park also featured asymmetrical grooves, lumps, and bumps for outfielders. Only Duffy Lewis mastered the necessary maneuvers of left field’s invisible incline. “Duffy’s Cliff” was Fenway’s biggest on-field attraction before The Green Monster. Speaking of attraction, the Red Sox had climbed the ranks of popularity in the city. The self-proclaimed Royal Rooters attended nearly every game in the same seating section. Of these hundreds of die-hards was even Boston’s mayor, John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, the namesake for his grandson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

                Game One went underway in a Wood vs. Tesreau matchup, illustrating McGraw’s peculiar preference of not starting Matty for opening events, perhaps because the situation wasn’t clutch enough. The Giants dropped the opener to the Sox, but proved they could tag the invincible Wood for runs. Matty started Game 2, another eleven-inning postseason game. The Royal Rooters weren’t unfamiliar with Matty because of his bouts against the Braves. As usual, he received ovation in enemy territory. Still, they did not want him nor the Giants to do well. They got just that: trouble quickly ensued in the first inning. Like the year before, Matty’s left infield flailed. Steve Yerkes was induced into a grounder that was “one of the easiest chances in the world for a big leaguer” according to Matty. Shortstop Art Fletcher flubbed it. Buck Herzog took the cue in the next play, screwing up a tapped bunt by Speaker. As Viccario mentions, Matty never hollered at a teammate for misplay. However, in this global stage so early in the game, Matty refused to hide his annoyance, shooting a “withering stare” at Herzog.

                New York’s misfortunes caused the game to end in a tie. They committed five errors, three by Fletcher, and one which allowed the 5-4 game in the eighth to come to a tie. Tris Speaker shot a line drive towards center fielder Beals Becker, but it zipped right past Becker’s head. Matty endured the entire eleven innings and watched six runs, all unearned, cross home. Darkness forced the teams to call a tie.

                Come Game Seven, the Sox were ready to clinch their second title. As fate would have it for the Giants, Wood imploded that day. New York won 11-4, but there is more to the story: the Red Sox, like the dirtier-colored Black Sox years later, were quite divided off the field. For the most part, it was the Southern Protestants (Speaker and Wood) vs. Northern Catholics (many other players), though other teammates were part of either faction based on friendship (an ironic foreshadow of the World War that was to come). Following a Game Six loss, several Sox players entered a brawl over heated arguments. They were also sick of the stingy owner James McAleer, who even coerced player-manager Jake Stahl to start a sickly Buck O’Brien to ensure a Game Seven at Fenway. Once Game Seven arrived, a sickened Smoky Joe Wood may have thrown the game, which was much harder than the fastball he threw that day. Fred Snodgrass described it as “a lob. Like something you’d get in batting practice, only slower, and softer.” Wood’s lazy fielding added to the dire circumstances. In only one inning, Wood relinquished six runs, forcing Charley Hall to pick up an eight-inning relief job.

                The teams remained in Boston for the final game the next day. New York had caught the world’s biggest break. The Series could have been clinched two games ago. Now the master Matty would start the final game against Hugh Bedient. But we are talking Matty, which means as much as he did for the Giants, the Giants’ fate would not give back. In the eight, a 1-1 score called for Boston relief. Coaxed by Jake Stahl the night before, Wood took the duty, appearing in his fourth Series game, the first one ever against the legendary Matty. The game stretched to the tenth, where Fred Merkle, a goat four years prior, screamed a hit off a low Wood fastball to score the potential winning run. Matty took the mound with a one run lead in the last of the tenth. One run was all Matty ever asked for his teammates. He verbally expressed that he only needed a lead to get them the win. Today it wouldn’t feel like enough.

                Several sources take the time to specially mention Matty’s fatigue somewhere around Game Eight. Compared to the youthful promise he was over a decade ago, Matty’s constant pitching duties had accelerated his aging. His presence still vivified the crowds, but something was amiss in the man. Sportswriters gradually admitted his strained features. Matty’s demeanor had unintentionally darkened not in conversation, for he was always the charming conversant, but somehow his movements slowed, tired. The very frame of his muscular body now appeared fragile. Getting through nine innings drained him much more than ever. For the first time, his right side shot pains from pitching. His time was coming, he knew it.

                Matty decided that time would not be today. New York, his teammates, and McGraw depended on him to deliver. So he approached the mound for hopefully one more inning of anguish as New York’s tool in the pinches. Pinch hitter Clyde Engle struck a pop fly for Fred Snodgrass, who took his turn in causing angst for Matty. For the rest of their days, those present couldn’t figure out how Snodgrass did it, even himself. The flyball was very elementary. Snodgrass jogged over to camp under the ball, stuck a glove out, and dropped it. Just like that. Fenway exploded. Matty’s demeanor shattered. He kicked the ground, cursing Snodgrass, cursing his luck, cursing baseball. Even in this Game Eight, New York blunders and excellent Boston play had forced the game into extras.
                "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


                • #9
                  Part Eight

                  No one except Fred Snodgrass has ever cost his team then saved it in consecutive plays to the extent he did in that tenth inning of Game Eight, 1912. It was as if the skill needed to make the Engle pop fly was stored to the make the next play. Failing to secure Engle cost New York a crucial out. We tend to remember his failure, yet I have never seen anyone mention except contemporaries what he did next. The Next batter Harry Hooper whirled around on Matty’s pitch for what would’ve been a triple the day before, the day after, or ten years later. At that very moment against Snodgrass, Hooper’s scorched hit plopped into Snodgrass’ glove for an out. Engle was almost doubled up. Snodgrass’s incredible catch was marveled at by every fan, player, and journalist. McGraw himself, not one to dole out hyperbolic compliments, believed it was the most impossible, greatest catch ever. In an era of more footage, it would’ve been right there next to Mays’ 1954 play. Matty had finally caught a break. He courteously extended a cheer to Snodgrass.

                  New life wasn’t to be basked in for long. After issuing a walk, Matty faced Tris Speaker with one out and men on first and second. The first pitch fooled Speaker, who popped up another simple one for New York’s fielders. Merkle motioned towards this foul drifter, but Matty freaked. It can only be assumed that a flash of a 1908 boner created an instance where instinct overcomes reason. Matty yelled, “Chief!” several times, meaning he wanted the catcher Chief Meyers to put it away. Merkle backed off. Meyers was too far and the call too late for him to have a prayer of catching it. Matty sank to the deepest parts of sporting despair. How many times had he provided a win for his club? How many of those times were in the pinches? Now when his team needed him most, he failed them. Speaker was Boston’s strongest hitter, one of the strongest hitters in the league. That was their chance. Matty blew it.

                  He offered Merkle some words at first, though no one knows what he said. It didn’t matter. Rejuvenated Fenway stood as Speaker approached the plate with second life. After so much turmoil in eight games, that last one was the final straw. Matty hung a curve for Speaker. A ripped ball to right field tied the game. Desperate to proceed with at least a tie, Matty intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases in vain hopes of a double play. The next batter Larry Gardner did the opposite: he flew out to for a sacrifice fly to score the winning run. That was that.

                  Matty took the loss a personal blow to everything he was. In the clubhouse, he consoled Snodgrass for the miff. Matty took the blame for the loss because of his calling off Merkle. He took the usual helm of a team guru and gave a speech, allowed interviews, and played card games with his teammates as they rode back to New York on the train. Only writer Ring Lardner caught a glimpse of how Matty really felt. In the small frame between the Boston crowd’s jovial celebration as the winning run crossed and right before Matty heaved a sigh and wore the mask of leader for the sake of his teammates, Lardner saw just enough to capture Matty’s true situtation.

                  “There was seen one of the saddest sights in the history of a was a spectacle of a man, old as baseball players are reckoned, walking from the middle of the field to the New York player’s bench with bowed head and drooping shoulders, with tears streaming from his eyes, a man on whom the team’s fortune had been staked and lost, and a man who would have proved his clear title to the trust reposed in him if his mates had stood by him in the supreme test...was Christy Mathewson.”

                  As mentioned before, Matty looked very gaunt for a man his age. How many years had been shaved in his duty as the Giants’ hero, the duty which called for him to physically strain his body and force his mind into composure for the sake of New York’s morale?
                  "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


                  • #10
                    Part Nine

                    Biographer Ray Robinson writes that the winter of 1912 marked another eclectic point of Matty’s life. Already a published writer, Matty co-wrote a mildly successful play called “The Girl and The Pennant.” He would go on to pursue more literary endeavors ending in 1917 with a children’s book called Second Base Sloan.

                    The 1913 season was not as exciting as the two before it. The Giants had claimed yet another pennant in 101 wins headed by the league’s most formidable team directed by the most formidable manager. Matty was brilliant as usual. In 300 hundred innings, he posted league-leading figures along with 25 wins. Always known for his control, 1913 was the 32 year-old’s best year: only 21 walks, meaning less than one was issued per nine innings. The one thing revealing his advancing age was the lowered number of strikeouts.

                    The Giants were New York at this time. Since the formation of a World Series, McGraw’s gang had captured five pennants, six if it weren’t for Merkle. Brooklyn’s group fell to the basement every year, so the most non-Giants New Yorkers swerved to the newly renamed Yankees. It would be another decade before the Yankees would rival the Giants. Still, it couldn’t be denied that their popularity was growing, if not to at least get a break from McGraw. In their rare exhibition bouts against the Giants, the Yankees fell to the losing side. They also didn’t have any star names like the Giants; there was no delight in rooting for a Larry Doyle or a George Burns steal a base or a Matty to cheer on. Well-to-do New Yorkers preferred the Giants. When fans talked baseball, they talked the Giants.

                    The Series against the A’s was Matty’s last as a pitcher. By now it was rather clear that the American League was just as capable as the National League despite what naysayers believed. Winning this one came more out of the desire to avoid going home as the losers for a third consecutive time. The two teams already had considerable history with each other, from trades to postseason dealings.

                    Matty won Game Two to set the series at one apiece. Both teams had been shut out by Plank and Matty. The A’s poised for a win in the bottom of the ninth after an error, a hit, and a sacrifice. Matty induced back-to-back grounders which allowed his fielder to nail the winning runs at home. That fielder was none other than long-time pitching mate Hooks Wiltse, playing first base for an injured Fred Snodgrass. Wiltse was responsible for both throws at home which allowed Larry McLean to tag the winning run. The Giants scored a trio of winning runs in the top of the tenth, allowing Matty to finish the 10-inning shutout. He did so in three quick outs.

                    Unfortunately, Matty lost the final game of the series in anticlimactic fashion. The Giants simply couldn’t score runs, but they had no problems allowing them through crucial errors. They slapped two measly hits off Plank in Game Five. Philadelphians went home ecstatic once again, leaving New Yorkers to sulk in misery. For all their success against other teams, they simply faltered when it mattered most and New Yorkers wanted all the country to see the glory of their team. To this point, McGraw masked his emotions with a seemingly heartfelt congratulations to Mack. How sincere it was remains in question, for shortly afterwords he fired pitching coach and longtime friend Wilbert Robinson, who became the rival Dodgers’ manager the following season. The two bickered over miscommunicated running signs during the Series.

                    A return to Factoryville was in order for Matty. Here he spent his days with family, ignoring the baseball world’s calls. The recent World Series loss had been particularly devastating to him. As much as he loved the sport, he was momentarily fed up with it. Unlike his leave of the 1912 Series, Matty didn’t attempt to hide his frustration. It was directed to no one in particular, merely the Giants’ fate. On the train ride home, distracting himself was more difficult than usual. After all, he was to turn 33 his next season, old for a pitcher by 1910s standards. How long could his body sustain 300 inning performances? As if he weren’t worried last season, he was now one year older, the arm 300 less innings effective, the mentality another season shot from the Series loss.

                    The thunderous Federal League was growing. Could it recruit a weakened Matty with the call of money?
                    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


                    • #11
                      Enjoyable stuff. Big6 forgotten? Forsooth sirrah. I know Bill James cuts him a bit, but let's all be clear, he was one of the greatest.


                      • #12
                        Matty was master of them all.
                        Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
                        Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
                        Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
                        Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
                        Robin Bill Ernie JEDI


                        • #13
                          I'm glad some people posted to this. I was getting worried. I'll have more up soon
                          "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TomBodet View Post
                            I know Bill James cuts him a bit,
                            A little too much, IMO.
                            1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                            1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                            1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015

                            The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                            The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History


                            • #15
                              You touch on 2 immortal storylines of Bigsix' career, the 1908 pennant race and the '12 Series. You hear allegations about that WS being fixed a little, who knows? Good stuff.


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