A Century-Plus of Giant Achievements

The Giants won their eighth world championship in 2014. (via Tom Musbach)

The Giants won their eighth world championship in 2014. (via Tom Musbach)

Led by a dominating starting pitcher, the Giants won the World Series. They did it just last Wednesday. They did it 109 years ago.

This year’s was the eighth World Championship in the history of the Giants franchise; they won five while based in New York and have taken three — all in the past five years — since their 1958 move to San Francisco. This moves them into a tie with the Boston Red Sox for fourth in championships won, behind only the Athletics (nine), Cardinals (11) and Yankees (27).

Madison Bumgarner and Christy Mathewson neatly bookend those titles, each having delivered overwhelming pitching performances in three Series games. In between, the Giants have fielded an impressive roster of October heroes: John McGraw. Bill Terry. Carl Hubbell. Mel Ott. Willie Mays. Buster Posey. Here’s a look at how they earned their everlasting glory in those eight Fall Classics, counting backwards.

2014: Giants 4, Royals 3. Bumgarner’s Series.
You don’t need much reminding about this one. If it wasn’t an all-time classic — five of seven games were outright blowouts — it was awfully entertaining. Remarkably, it was the only time the Giants have ever won the World Series in Game Seven: among their other seven victories, there were three sweeps, three other victories in five games, and one glorious 5-3 victory in the brief period in which the World Series was best-of-nine. When the Giants get to the World Series, they tend to make short work of their opponents. Not this time.

Of course, the story of the series was really the story of Madison Bumgarner, as Dave Cameron tweeted:

The Giants also received huge contributions from Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, who between them tallied 24 of the team’s 66 hits — including six of their 14 extra-base hits — while scoring 13 of the Giants’ 30 runs. In a series with a less dominant pitching performance, either one might have been a reasonable choice for MVP. (Sandoval already has one World Series MVP award on his mantelpiece, about which more below.) It’s easy to make a similar comparison between them and the other hitters:

Giants Offense in 2014 World Series
Pence and Sandoval .436 .483 .600 1.083
Other Giants hitters .230 .298 .284 .582

The rest of the offense failed to distinguish itself, but didn’t have to.

The series was close in its final game tally, four games to three, and its final run total, 30 runs scored by the Giants against 27 by the Royals. But only two of the games were close. Other than the Royals’ 3-2 victory in Game Three and the Giants’ 3-2 victory in Game Seven, the games were decided by five or more runs.

2012: Giants 4, Tigers 0. Holding Those Tigers.
The template for victory in 2012 was quite different. Sandoval ambushed the Tigers with a monster Game One, going 4-for-4 with three RBI en route to a convincing 8-3 Giant victory. The pitching staff then combined for back-to-back shutouts in Games Two and Three, with terrific performances from Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, convincing door-shutting by Sergio Romo, and a brilliant, hitless two-and-a-third bullpen innings from Tim Lincecum. All of a sudden, the Tigers were down 3-0.

The Tigers failed to score in either the first or second inning of Game Four, bringing their consecutive scoreless innings streak to 20. They finally got on the board in the third inning, when Miguel Cabrera swatted a two-run blast off Matt Cain. This gave them their first lead of the series, 2-1. It lasted for only nine outs. In the sixth inning, the Giants counter-punched, as Posey struck back against future Cy Young winner Max Scherzer with a two-run homer of his own. Delmon Young tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot.

The score remained knotted at three at the end of regulation. At this point in the playoffs, Tigers manager Jim Leyland had decided to consider lefty Phil Coke his de facto closer, despite his huge platoon splits: that year, Coke’s OPS against right-handed hitters was 345 points higher than his OPS against lefties. (For his career it’s a more modest 170 points.) Coke had struck out the side in the ninth, and Leyland left him in to start the 10th. The first hitter, righty Ryan Theriot, singled, and the second, lefty Brandon Crawford, bunted him to second. Switch-hitter Angel Pagan then struck out, and Coke had a chance to get out of it. But righty Marco Scutaro singled in Theriot, and the Giants had a 4-3 lead. Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the inning, and that was that.

Sandoval won the MVP award, though his contributions were relatively muted after his huge Game One. The real star was the Giants pitching staff, which allowed the Tigers just six runs in four games, even though none of them pitched more than seven innings. Manager Bruce Bochy went to his bullpen often and freely, spread innings around smartly, and the Tigers’ bats simply never woke up.

2010: Giants 4, Rangers 1. End of the Drought.
The Rangers were appearing in the first World Series in the history of the franchise, which had begun as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. By contrast, Giants fans had reasonably fresh memories of the World Series: Their team had lost in 2002, 1989 and 1962 since last hoisting the trophy in 1954.

At first, the less experienced team had the better of it, the Rangers scoring in each of the first two innings against Tim Lincecum, who had won the Cy Young Award in each of the previous two seasons. With midseason pickup Cliff Lee on the mound for Texas, only two years removed from his own Cy Young Award, it was reasonable to think that might be enough.

But what might have seemed like a pitchers’ duel quickly turned into a laugher. The Giants tied it in the third inning, and then the floodgates opened in the fifth, as Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez provided back-to-back doubles, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff hit back-to-back RBI singles to knock Lee out of the game, and Juan Uribe greeted new pitcher Darren O’Day with a three-run homer. The Rangers cut the lead to 8-4, but would get no closer, as the Giants won 11-7.

Game Two was much closer at first, as Cain was just slightly better than C.J. Wilson, twirling 7.2 scoreless innings to Wilson’s six-plus innings of two-run ball. But after Wilson gave way to his bullpen, the Giants unleashed hell once more, with a seven-run eighth inning that removed all doubt.

Game Three moved from AT&T Park to Arlington, and the Rangers greeted their home fans with a victory, winning 4-2 behind Colby Lewis in a game that featured a partial redemption for O’Day, who picked up a hold for retiring the only batter he faced.

But the following game removed all doubt of the Series’ ultimate outcome. Bumgarner threw eight innings of three-hit shutout ball and homers by Huff and Posey gave him more than enough margin. The Giants’ 4-0 shutout set the Rangers reeling, facing the prospect of a must-win Game Five at home, to be followed by two more possible games back in San Francisco.

Game Five was a rematch of the Game One starters, and this time they lived up to their billing, matching each other zero for zero through six innings. Then, in the seventh, Lee gave up a three-run homer to Edgar Renteria and Lincecum gave up a bases-empty shot to Nelson Cruz, and that was it for either team. The Giants won 3-1, and won the Series 4-1. Renteria was the MVP, having gone 7-for-17 with six runs scored and six RBI, but thanks to their dominant pitching, the Giants might have won without him.

In their three championships in five years, the Giants actually saw remarkable turnover in their lineup and pitching staff. These are the only Giants to have appeared in all three of them:

Giants Hitters in World Series, 2010-2014
Pablo Sandoval 47 9 .426 .460 .702 1.162
Buster Posey 61 4 .230 .288 .328 .616
Madison Bumgarner 6 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Tim Lincecum 4 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Giants Pitchers in World Series, 2010-2014
Madison Bumgarner 5 0.25 36.0 5 31 0.53
Tim Lincecum 5 2.25 20.0 5 23 0.80
Jeremy Affeldt 8 1.04 8.7 2 4 0.69
Sergio Romo 6 0.00 6.0 0 10 0.50
Santiago Casilla 5 0.00 3.3 0 3 0.00

Whatever they do with the rest of their careers, Bumgarner and Sandoval are two of the greatest October Giants ever, Lincecum has continued to contribute despite declining stuff, and Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean deserve credit for managing to keep winning despite a revolving door of supporting cast members.

1954: Giants 4, Indians 0. Dusty and Willie.
This World Series is most famous because of “The Catch,” which you’ve probably seen before: Willie Mays running full out with his back to home plate to snag a booming 425-foot line drive hit by the Indians’ Vic Wertz into the deepest part of the Polo Grounds, the deepest center field in baseball.

The Giants were heavy underdogs. The Indians had gone 111-43 during the regular season, a record. Their starting rotation included future Hall of Famers Early Wynn, Bob Feller and Bob Lemon, and their lineup included the 1953 AL MVP Al Rosen and the future Hall of Famer Larry Doby. The Giants were hardly slouches — they had won 97 games themselves, and Willie Mays had won his first MVP that year — but the rest of their lineup was far less star-studded.

Game One squared Lemon against Sal Maglie, who earned his nickname — “The Barber” — with his propensity for pitching so far inside that he gave the batters a close shave. Maglie was 37 and probably the Giants’ number three starter, but ace Johnny Antonelli had started the last game of the season, so Giants manager Leo Durocher slated Antonelli for Game Two and put the ball in Maglie’s hands.

He did not get off to a good start. He hit the first batter of the game, Al Smith. Second batter Bobby Avila singled, and three batters later, Wertz hit a booming two-run triple, and the Indians appeared to be in business. But Maglie held tough and yielded no more ground. In the third inning, his batters turned three singles and a walk into two runs and a tie ballgame. That was where it stayed until the eighth inning, which began with a Doby walk and a Rosen single. Wertz, who was 3-for-3 with both Indians RBI to that point, strode to the plate, and the Giants took out Maglie.

They brought in Don Liddle, and Wertz hit a ball that would have been a home run in any other park in baseball. But he had the misfortune to hit it in the cavernous Polo Grounds in Manhattan, where 23-year old Willie Mays could cover as much ground as any fielder in the history of baseball. Mays caught the ball and fired it back into the infield as Doby tagged up and took third; with a poor Mays throw, he might have scored. Durocher brought in Marv Grissom, who ended the inning three batters later, with no damage done.

The game went into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Wertz hit a double, and then was bunted to third. Grissom intentionally walked right fielder Dave Pope, who had come in on a double switch, then proceeded to strike out Bill Glynn — also double-switched into the game — and induced pitcher Lemon to line out to first to end the inning. (If you thought Ned Yost was reluctant to pinch hit, be glad you don’t have to root for a team managed by Indians skipper Al Lopez.) In the bottom of the 10th, Lemon walked Mays, who then stole second base. With a base open, Lemon intentionally walked Hank Thompson. That was when Durocher went to his bench and called on pinch hitter extraordinaire James “Dusty” Rhodes. As Durocher wrote in his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last:

He hit a lazy fly ball down the right-field line, which, at 258 feet, was the shortest fence in baseball. The ball kept drifting back, the Cleveland right fielder leaped, and the ball just barely dropped into the stands. Dusty Rhodes had a home run and 3 rbi to show for his five seconds at the plate, and we had our first victory.

It was a hell of a game. The others in the Series couldn’t live up to the drama. Game Two began in similar fashion, as the Indians jumped out to an early lead with a leadoff home run in the first inning, but their hitters couldn’t put away Antonelli, who scattered another seven hits and six walks in nine innings of one-run ball. In the fifth inning, Rhodes pinch-hit again and delivered a single to tie the game, and Antonelli contributed an RBI groundout of his own. Rhodes stayed in the game and added a home run in the seventh, and the Giants won 3-1.

The Indians couldn’t muster much in Games Three or Four. In Game Three, the Giants scored the first six runs of the game and held on as the Indians belatedly rallied for two; in Game Four, the Giants scored the first seven runs of the game and held on as the Indians scored three in the fifth and one in the seventh. In Bumgarner-like fashion, Antonelli notched the save in Game Four by pitching the final five outs of the World Series. (Rhodes pinch hit in the third inning of Game Three and had a two-run single. On his next at-bat, the thoroughly spooked Indians intentionally walked him.)

Wertz had done all he could, collecting eight hits and two walks in 18 plate appearances, but his teammates couldn’t do anything against the Giants pitchers. Worse, the vaunted Indians staff had come up far short, with a collective 4.84 ERA. Manager Lopez never called on Feller to throw a single pitch. The World Series MVP Award would not exist for another year, but there is little doubt who would have won it: Rhodes, the man who drove in seven runs in seven plate appearances, one third of the total runs the Giants scored in the series.

It was the only World Series Willie Mays would ever win.

1933: Giants 4, Senators 1. Then, as Now, an Ace Lefty Rules.
Neither team had been to the World Series in nearly a decade: the Senators’ last pennants had come in 1924 and 1925, and the Giants had not finished in first place since doing so four times in a row from 1921 to 1924, when they had lost to these very Senators. Since then, both teams had fallen on hard times — though that was a condition to which the Senators were far more accustomed. The Giants had won nine pennants and three championships in 28 years from 1905 to 1932, while the Senators were the butt of a gag: “Washington — first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.”

The Senators were undeniably strong in 1933, having won 99 games and boasting a balanced offense featuring future Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, Heinie Manush and aging Sam Rice. The Giants countered with an offense led by Mel Ott and player-manager Bill Terry, but the best player on the team was probably Carl Hubbell, who won the National League MVP award for 1933 after throwing 308.2 innings in 33 starts and 12 relief appearances, leading the major leagues in ERA (1.66), FIP (2.53), WHIP (0.982), shutouts (10), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.32). It was not hard to predict that the Giants would lean on him in the World Series, and that he would be tough to beat. They did, and he was.

In Game One, Ott started the scoring with a two-run homer in the second inning off Lefty Stewart, a puzzling choice to start the first game of the World Series — the Senators had won the pennant by seven games, and Stewart was a 32-year-old journeyman with a career FIP of 4.33. Both runs were actually counted as unearned, thanks to the first of three errors committed by unlucky Senators second baseman Buddy Myer.

Stewart managed to get out of the first with no further harm, but after giving up three straight singles to start the third, he was replaced, and the Giants ended the frame leading 4-0. Hubbell kept the Senators pretty well in check, allowing two unearned runs on five hits and two walks, striking out 10. The Giants won 4-2.

Game Two matched the Giants’ second best starter, Hal Schumacher, against Alvin “General” Crowder, who led the Senators staff in innings pitched. Washington’s Goose Goslin struck first with a solo home run in the third. But the Senators’ slender 1-0 lead would not prove to be enough; Crowder ran into a sixth inning buzzsaw that the Rangers and Indians might have recognized. After a sacrifice bunt, a double, an intentional walk, and seven singles, the Giants had scored six runs and led the game 6-1. That would be the final margin, and the Senators already had their backs to the wall.

Game Three was in Griffith Stadium in Washington, where the home fans got to watch Senators starter Earl Whitehill outduel Freddie Fitzsimmons, Whitehill twirling a shutout as Fitzsimmons yielded all four Senators runs, including a three-hit, two-RBI game by Game One goat Myer.

But for Game Four, the Giants gave the ball to Hubbell. He did not disappoint, though Senators starter Monte Weaver, making the only postseason start of his career, pitched the game of his life. Weaver gave up a fourth-inning home run to Bill Terry, but that was all he’d allow through the end of regulation; meanwhile, in the seventh, Hubbell’s error on a bunt allowed the tying run to score. The game went into extras and both pitchers stayed on the hill. It ended in the 11th. Giants third baseman Travis Jackson bunted for a hit, and after a sacrifice, Blondy Ryan singled him home, making it 2-1. Hubbell then singled, which knocked Weaver out of the game and indicated that there was no way Hubbell was coming out.

He took the mound in the bottom of the inning with the score still 2-1 and immediately faltered, allowing a single followed by a bunt single. The Senators, following the book, bunted their runners over; the Giants, following the book, intentionally walked Luke Sewell to load the bases and bring the double play into play. With pitcher Jack Russell up to the plate and the bases loaded with only one out, player-manager Joe Cronin sent up Cliff Bolton to pinch hit. He promptly grounded to shortstop. It was a game-ending double play.

After all that, Game Five was almost anticlimactic. Neither Schumacher nor Crowder made it through the sixth inning in their rematch. With the score tied 3-3, the Senators inserted Russell, and the Giants countered with Dolf Luque, one of the first Cubans to play in the major leagues, who by that point was 42 years old. In his first postseason appearance since the 1919 World Series — pitching for the Reds against the Chicago Black Sox — Luque was masterful, throwing 4.1 innings of scoreless ball. The game again went into extra innings, and Ott again went deep, hitting a solo home run to make the score 4-3. Luque got the final three outs in the bottom of the inning, and that was that.

1922: Giants 4, Yankees 0. The Subway Stops for the Giants.
In three straight seasons from 1921 to 1923, the New York Giants faced the New York Yankees in the World Series. These were true Subway Series, and though there was a third team in New York — a fairly hapless bunch named the Dodgers, after the act of dodging trolleys — it sometimes seemed like there were no other teams in baseball than these. The Yankees, of course, had Babe Ruth, who in 1922 hit 35 home runs and batted .315/.434/.672 — and that was a down year for him. The Giants had their manager, John McGraw, who had played for the great Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s, who had elevated small ball to an art form. He was imperious and had a fearsome temper that was hinted at by his nickname, “The Little Napoleon.” Furthermore, both teams had a Meusel brother: Bob Meusel played for the Yankees, and Emil “Irish” Meusel played for the Giants. Four years before the debut of the teenage Mel Ott, these Giants could not win a slugfest with the Yankees. But if it were a low-scoring affair, they might have a chance.

The Game One matchup was between the Yankees’ Bullet Joe Bush and the Giants’ Art Nehf. Bush had earned his nickname as a fireballing young man, but, now 29, had hurt his arm and invented a fork ball. Like Nehf, he had a long career as a league-average pitcher. This day, the two matched zeroes until the sixth, when Nehf yielded an RBI single to Ruth. He gave up another run on a comedy of errors in the seventh: He threw the ball away attempting to force a man at second, and on the very next play, the Yankees hit a sacrifice fly to right and the right fielder immediately committed another error. But even after all that, it was still only 2-0, Yankees. In the eighth, the Giants eked their way onto the scoreboard with four straight singles to tie the game. That knocked out Bush. Waite Hoyt came in, and the first batter he saw, Ross Youngs, hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. That wound up as the winning margin.

Game Two is famous for an unusual reason: nobody won. The Giants’ Jesse Barnes and the Yankees’ Bob Shawkey both went 10 innings when this happened:

Umpires George Hildebrand and Bill Klem called Game 2, tied 3-3 after 10 innings, on account of darkness, resulting in a tie, even though observers figured there were at least 45 minutes of solid daylight left. Irate fans pelted the field with seat cushions and bottles, but the decision stood. Starters Jesse Barnes and Bob Shawkey went the distance, and both allowed eight hits, three runs and two walks. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had nothing to do with the decision to call the game, ordered that the gate receipts of $120,000 be donated to military hospitals for disabled veterans.

The two teams started all over the following day, with Hoyt making his first start of the series, facing Giants journeyman Jack Scott. Hoyt was, as I’ve written, more of a solid contributor than a true ace, and that was about the level of his performance in this game, as he gave up 11 hits and two walks in seven innings. He scattered them fairly effectively, allowing just two unearned runs in the third and an earned run in the seventh. But Frankie Frisch, perhaps the Giants’ best hitter, was in the middle of both rallies, hitting a sacrifice fly in the third and an RBI single in the seventh. And Scott made it stand up, pitching one of the best games of his life, allowing four hits and no runs in a complete game shutout, one of only 12 in his 12-year career. The Game Score of 80 was his 10th highest ever. The rest of his career was pretty similar to the rest of Don Larsen’s; like Larsen, he timed his career game well.

It was 2-0 Giants, and Babe Ruth had failed to make his presence felt, having gone just 2-for-11 in the first three games of the Series. In the fourth game, the Giants sent up Hugh McQuillian, a midseason acquisition from the Dodgers. The Yankees countered with the fearsome Carl Mays. As I’ve written:

It’s hard to talk about just how good Carl Mays was without mentioning that he killed a man from the mound, Ray Chapman, the only major leaguer ever to die after being struck by a pitched ball. That tragedy was caused in part by the key to Mays’ success, his difficult-to-read submarine motion; his SABR bio quotes Baseball Magazine’s description of Mays’ pitching motion looking “like a cross between an octopus and a bowler.”

Mays had already won two World Series rings with Ruth when they were teammates in Boston in 1916 and 1918; he was not very good in 1916, but was brilliant in 1918, when he notched two victories against the Cubs, allowing just two runs in two complete-game victories. He was very good again in 1921, as a Yankee against these Giants. But in 1922, he made just one start, Game Four, and faltered.

McQuillian was bailed out in the early going. He gave up two runs in the first inning and it might have been worse if center fielder Bill Cunningham hadn’t thrown out Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp trying to stretch a single into a double. (Wally Pipp had not yet gotten Wally Pipped; Lou Gehrig would not become the Yankees’ regular first baseman until 1925.)

The Yankees hung onto their 2-0 lead until the fifth, when Mays fell apart, allowing four runs on four singles and a double, getting out of the inning only by picking Ross Youngs off of first base. It was 4-2 Giants at that point, and that slender two-run margin proved to be just enough. McQuillian allowed a solo home run to Yankees second baseman Aaron Ward in the seventh inning, but that was the last of the scoring from either team. As the fourth game ended, the Giants held a commanding 3-0 lead in the Series.

Game Five was a rematch of Nehf and Bush. Once again, Nehf was slightly better. Down one run in the eighth, the Giants scored three runs on back-to-back RBI singles from George “High Pockets” Kelly and substitute center fielder Lee King, and Nehf pitched his fifth 1-2-3 inning of the game to close out the Series.

1921 Giants 5, Yankees 3. Ruth Sits, Giants Win.
If the 1922 Series is famous for including a tie, the 1921 Series is famous for being one of the longest ever played. The World Series was best-of-nine from 1919 to 1921. In 1919, the Black Sox lost to the Cincinnati Reds five games to three; in 1920, the Indians beat Brooklyn five games to two; and in 1921, the Giants beat the Yankees five games to three. Then it went back to a best-of-seven, and the Giants proved they could win in that format, too.

Many of the players were the same as they would be in 1922, but the stars generally performed better one year earlier. In the first game, Carl Mays pitched a complete-game shutout, defeating Giants right-hander Phil Douglas. A first-inning RBI single from Ruth was all the scoring that Mays would need, but the Yankees got him two more runs later in the game anyway. The second game was another 3-0 shutout victory for the Yankees, as Hoyt outdueled Nehf. Bob Meusel closed the scoring by stealing home.

The Giants were in trouble. And the third inning of the third game made it look like the Yankees were about to make short work of them. They scored four runs on three singles and two walks off Giants starter Fred Toney. The Giants replaced Toney mid-inning and brought in Jesse Barnes, and he stanched the bleeding. Then the Giants offense woke up in the bottom half of the third, coaxing back-to-back bases-loaded walks from pitcher Bob Shawkey and altogether scoring four runs of their own. The Yankees replaced Shawkey with Jack Quinn, and it was a whole new game. In the seventh, the Giants batted around and scored eight runs. The final score was 13-5, and all of a sudden, it looked like a series.

Game Four was a rematch of the starters from the first game, but this time, Douglas outpitched Mays as both pitchers went the distance and the Giants won 4-2. But Hoyt did his part and beat Nehf 3-1 in Game Five, the second straight game in which both starters completed their games.

Game Six was a lot like Game Three: Toney was once again terrible, this time getting knocked out in the first inning, getting only two outs and giving up three runs. Barnes again relieved him, and again was quite effective, giving up just two runs while pitching 8.1 innings. And once again, the Yankees’ starter was just as bad: Harry Harper gave up three runs and got himself knocked out in the second inning. Ruth was held out of the game; he had suffered an elbow injury in the second game and his doctors had ordered him not to play any more. The Giants won 8-5 in an ugly game, and evened the Series at three games apiece.

Game Seven would have been legendary if it were a best-of-seven series. As it was, it was awfully good. Once again, Douglas and Mays both completed their starts. The Giants got their second and winning run of the game in the seventh inning partly because of an error by second baseman Aaron Ward. Once again, Ruth was out of the lineup, and the Yankees struggled.

Game Eight was the final Nehf-Hoyt battle. The Giants scored the only of the game in the first inning. Dave Bancroft walked, Ross Youngs walked, shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh’s error allowed Bancroft to score. Hoyt took the loss despite allowing no earned runs, and Douglas tied his teammate Barnes with his second win of the series.

Here are the Giants who played in both of those World Series against the Yankees:

Giants Hitters in World Series, 1921-1922
Irish Meusel 49 7 .306 .333 .510 .844
Frankie Frisch 47 8 .362 .415 .426 .841
Ross Youngs 41 5 .317 .442 .390 .833
Frank Snyder 37 5 .351 .351 .459 .811
Jesse Barnes 13 3 .308 .308 .308 .615
High Pockets Kelly 48 3 .250 .294 .271 .565
Dave Bancroft 52 7 .173 .214 .192 .407
Earl Smith 14 0 .071 .133 .071 .205
Art Nehf 12 0 .000 .200 .000 .200
Giants Pitchers in World Series, 1921-1922
Art Nehf 5 1.71 42.0 16 14 0.95
Jesse Barnes 4 1.71 26.3 8 24 0.99

Over the two years, the Giants got a pretty balanced attack on offense thanks to the contributions of Youngs, Frisch, Meusel and Snyder, and Nehf did a very good job matching up with the Yankee staffs. He isn’t an immortal, but the Giants wouldn’t have won without him.

1905 Giants 4, Athletics 1. Matty’s the Man.
The first World Series the Giants ever won was the second World Series ever played. (The 1904 World Series was canceled because manager John McGraw didn’t want his Giants, who had won 106 games in the regular season, to play in it.)

Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics had a superb pitching staff, led by future Hall of Famers Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank and Chief Bender. But Waddell, depite leading the league in wins and ERA, missed the World Series. As Dan O’Brien writes in his SABR biography:

After another Waddell victory over Young at Boston on September 8, the A’s headed back home to Philadelphia. While changing trains in Providence, Waddell and teammate Andy Coakley engaged in a friendly scuffle over a straw hat. Rube fell and injured his shoulder. His season was over, with the exception of two ineffective appearances in the last two days of the regular season, and he did not appear in the Athletics’ five-game defeat to the New York Giants in that year’s World Series. Not everybody believed the straw hat tale, however. Rumors were rampant that gamblers had paid Waddell to sit out the series.

Whatever the reason, it was a tough pill for the Athletics to swallow, particularly given the performance of the pitcher who replaced him, Andy Coakley.

Then again, the Giants had future Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity in their rotation, along with the fine shortstop Bill Dahlen and Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan. Their third pitcher was Red Ames, but he would pitch only one inning in the Series. Mathewson and McGinnity would pitch all the rest.

Of course, Plank and Bender pitched the first two games for the A’s, against the Giants’ top two of Mathewson and McGinnity. In Game One, Matty twirled a shutout, allowing just four hits and striking out six with no walks. Plank allowed 10 hits, two walks, a hit by pitch, and four stolen bases in nine innings, and he was lucky to allow only three runs.

But the A’s got their revenge in Game Two, as Chief Bender twirled a four-hit shutout of his own, and McGinnity was saddled with the hard-luck loss, allowing three unearned runs thanks to errors on first baseman Dan McGann and catcher Bresnahan.

With the Series knotted at one game apiece, the the Giants sent Mathewson back to work on two days’ rest, while the A’s countered with Coakley, who allowed two runs in the first, in part due to an error on second baseman Danny Murphy. That is where the score stayed until the fifth, when, after a walk, a single, and an intentional walk, Murphy kicked another ball. Two more singles and two steals later, the Giants had scored five runs (two earned). In the ninth, the Giants scored yet another unearned run off Coakley, thanks to yet another error on Murphy. Coakley had allowed nine runs, three of them earned, and the Giants had won by the same score as a forfeit, 9-0. Mathewson had pitched brilliantly, again shutting out the A’s on four hits.

McGinnity and Plank both pitched complete games in Game Four, each allowing five hits and zero earned runs. But Plank was saddled with an unearned run when A’s third baseman Lave Cross booted a ground ball to lead off the fourth: a flyball, a weak grounder and a single later, the Giants had the only run of the game, and they defeated Plank 1-0.

Mathewson pitched the fifth game on a single day of rest. He was clearly tired from overwork, because this time, while pitching a third complete game shutout, he allowed a whole five hits and struck only four. Chief Bender gave up earned runs in a complete game loss, the first scoring on a double play, the second scoring on a groundout, and the A’s lost the deciding game of the Series 2-0.

When it was all over, the Athletics had batted .155/.186/.187 and had committed seven errors, four by Murphy, and the pitching staff had allowed 15 runs, only eight of which were earned. Meanwhile, the Giants had batted .216/.294/.261, and the staff had allowed only three runs, none of which were earned, allowing them to claim the World Championship with an ERA of 0.00. Mathewson had pitched 27 of his team’s 45 innings, allowing 13 hits and no runs.

And that is why Christy Mathewson is an all-time legend.

Statistics from Baseball-Reference.com

Alex is a writer for The Hardball Times, and is an enterprise account executive for The Washington Post.
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You forgot one little detail about 1954. After Wertz flied out, Liddle (having been relieved by Marv Grissom), strode into the dugout, tossed his glove on the bench, and said “Well, I got MY man.”

J. Fox
J. Fox

In the 1954 section, in hindsight Al Lopez should have lifted Bob Lemon for a pinch hitter. But to add some perspective, Lemon was pitching a very good game and as a converted infielder he was a good hitter as pitchers go


Two ideas about Lefty Stewart in 1933 game 1: Washington punted game 1 vs. Hubbell hoping to win 2 and 3 with their 1 and 2 pitchers (like this year’s debate against putting your best against Kershaw). Or Cronin had him scouting the Giants late in the year hoping to pull a Connie Mack with Howard Ehmke. Between his next-to-last regular start (9/21) and the W.S. he pitched one game on 9/28 vs NYY (NYG had day off). During that time NYG played only at the Polo Grounds and Ebbetts for 9 games that he could have scouted.


Great rundowns! Thanks!

Marc Schneider
Marc Schneider

Lemon had a career BA of .232, OPS of .674 and hit 37 home runs. He was no slouch at the plate-at least ocmpared to most pinch hitters.

Marc Schneider
Marc Schneider

I believe the Giants and Yankees actually were sharing the Polo Grounds during the 1921 and 1922 Series. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. So you could get off at the same stop for all the games.


lopez was on every team


You’re missing Javy Lopez on the 3 team chart. Big contributions from a LOOGY.

Great rundown, I really appreciate the historical research.


I wouldn’t have believed it unless I looked it up. Lopez did not pitch in the 2012 World Series.


Great article, but there’s a curious oversight in the 2012 synopsis. You mention that Sandoval went 4-4 in Game One, but you don’t mention that three of the hits were home runs, which is probably what most people remember about the series, and probably what most people will remember about Sandoval’s career unless he someday does something equally (or more) spectacular.

Marc Schneider
Marc Schneider

I know current Giant fans don’t want to hear about past failures but I can’t help mentioning that the Giants came thiis close to having another famous victory-obviously, the Willie McCovery line drive to Bobby Richardson to end the 1962 Series. Interestingly-at least for me-is that this game was featured in three separate “Peanuts” cartoons as Charles Schultz was a Giants fan. In each of these, Charlie Brown sits despondently and quitely and then exclaims “oh, if McCovey had only hit the ball three feet to the side.” In the subsequent strips, it was two feet, then one foot. I… Read more »

Cliff Blau
Cliff Blau

You left out their 1888 and 1889 World Series triumphs.

Marc Schneider
Marc Schneider

It wasn’t on Fox so it didn’t count.

Michael Schilling
Michael Schilling

And in those days, Tim McCarver had to come all the way to the stadium to annoy viewers.

Chad Kecy
Chad Kecy

I *so* did not miss Tim McCarver this year. I think Harold Reynolds did a pretty good job!

Chad Kecy
Chad Kecy

Great read! I actually wouldn’t have minded if their WS losses were included as well.