2.23.2010

GRIPPING FROM START TO FINISH


PIRATES AND SENATORS STAGE UNFORGETTABLE OPENING ACT

By C. Jedediah Butterworth
Base Ball Freescriber

October 3, 1924

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Did we really just witness that? It began with President Coolidge wishing Walter Johnson luck, and thirteen innings and nearly three hours of utter tension later, the 27,000 at Griffith Stadium and countless more following Game One on electric boards around the nation were rendered speechless.

The parade of bands and dignitaries seemed endless before game time, and all it did was swell the suspenseful knot in everyone's throat, for this was a matchup that seemed nearly even when jotted down on paper. It was a cool, sunny afternoon in northwest Washington, perfect for sharp play, and the press rows around me were a-clatter with banging typewriter keys.

The Big Train began his twirling day as if he had his namesake to catch at the station, dispatching the first nine Pirates with rapid ease. Kremer was a bit looser with his dexterity, but was able to escape a pair of minor pickles in the first three frames.

The 4th told a different tale, though. Carey opened with a line single and stole second on Ruel. Grimm singled him plateward, but a ferocious arm-bullet from Nemo Leibold finished Carey at the plate to ignite the crowd. The Pirates were just sharpening their cutlasses, though. After Moore walked, Cuyler sizzled a ball to deep left-center, scoring the first two runs. When Smith singled on the next pitch it was 3-0 Pittsburgh, and the park fell into a funereal silence.

Judge ended that mood quickly, though, with a booming double to lead off the last of the 4th. A walk to Goslin, Bluege single and pair of well-timed force-outs gave the Nats two tallies right back, and the teeming horde was engaged in the contest again.

Three quiet innings followed, Kremer and Johnson matching outs, until Maranville led the 8th with a double. A Kremer bunt moved him along, and after a Carey walk, Grimm plated the run with a force grounder, due to Harris putting the middle infielders back. The 4-2 score seemed to depress the locals yet again, and it wasn't until Rice singled with one gone in the last of the 9th that they stirred back to life. Bluege grounded out, and then Harris had a strange hunch and removed himself for left-swinging Richbourg. Lance waited for a fastball that agreed with him, then mashed it deep to center. The ball sailed over the head of Carey as Richbourg slid into third with a triple! It was suddenly 4-3!

Here was Peckinpaugh now, bouncing a ball out to Wright to end the game—except Wright booted it and Richbourg scored the tieing run! Johnson then stayed in the game and doubled, but little Peck had to stop at third. The moment Babe Adams was summoned from the Pirate bullpen, Tate batted for Ruel, popped out, and the game was going into extra chapters.

With daylight on the wane and all nerves on the edge of a blade, Adams and Johnson then did their finest work of the year, each holding the other scoreless for three innings. For the Train it was actually four, and even though he was straining to finish each frame out there, Harris was clearly reluctant to go to his wobbly relief corps of Russell, Marberry and Speece.

He didn't need to. For in the last of the fateful 13th, Goslin led with a single, his first safety of the Series. Rice and Bluege both skied out, and up came backup second sacker Tommy Taylor, forced to enter the contest when Bucky shockingly pulled himself from the lineup and produced Richbourg's incredible triple.

Taylor miraculously did the same! Clubbing a ball high and deep to center field! Carey was off with the crack but couldn't get to the wall in time, the sphere skipping merrily off the top of the barrier and bounding away from Carey! Here came Goslin, running around third and into the arms of waiting mates for the game-winning run!

What a spectacle! What a World Series opener! It was hard to see Taylor being swarmed on the field through the cloud of flying straw hats, and by the time I reached the Senator club house with my assistant, it was stuffed to capacity and we were forced to wait for quotes in the outside tunnel.

But there was nothing really that needed to be said. Only remembered.

PGH 000 300 010 000 0 - 4 7 1
WAS 000 200 002 000 1 - 5 10 0

W-Johnson L-Adams GWRBI-Taylor

EDITOR'S NOTE: Last night's live "Tweet-cast" of this Game One was a rousing success. Game Two will be Tweet-casted right here TONIGHT night at 10 p.m. Eastern time, 7 Pacific, with the other games continuing at that same time through the week, and full accounts appearing on this site the following morning.

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