Pivotal World Series Plays
Ailing Babe Bunts to Start Rally
1921 World Series Game 5: New York Yankees @ New York Giants
Spearheaded by arguably the greatest season any major league batter ever had, New York's American League franchise won its first pennant. For the third straight season, 26-year-old Babe Ruth led the league in runs scored with 177 and in RBIs with 168. After a 1920 season when he hammered an unheard of 54 homers, he socked 59 in '21. Finally, Babe again led the league in walks with 145.
When John McGraw's New York Giants won the National League pennant by 5 1/2 games, the 1921 World Series became the first to be played entirely in one park - the Polo Grounds, which Miller Huggins' Yankees had shared with the Giants since 1913.
With the teams alternating daily as home team in the Best-of-Nine Series, the Yankees won the first two games before the Giants evened the series by copping Games 3 and 4.
An incident in Game 2 affected the Yankees' chances of winning the Series. Ruth scraped his elbow badly on the scrabbly infield when he slid into third with the second of his stolen bases in the 5th inning. The cut worsened by the day and eventually became in­fected. He played in Game 3 but scraped the elbow again sliding into a base and left the game in the 8th inning of the 13-5 Giant triumph. Ruth had to get the elbow drained of pus, and the Yankees announced that he would miss the rest of the Series.
Not surprisingly, Babe ignored the orders of the team physician and played in Game 4. His arm was bandaged, and he held it out stiffly at an angle to his body as he ran. He hit a single early in the game and his first World Series home run in the 9th, but the Giants won.

L-R: Babe Ruth in 1921; Miller Huggins and Waite Hoyt; Art Nehf
Joe Vila of the New York Sun questioned whether Ruth was seriously hurt. "Ruth possibly enjoyed the trick he played on the fans by going into the game (Game 4) after the report had been spread that he had been forced out of the series by an operation on his 'infected elbow.' ... According to official information Saturday (after Game 3), the Babe had been seriously injured and the Hugmen would have to worry along without him. But Ruth, with a bandage around his elbow, surprised everybody in the stands by taking his place in left field and by hammering the ball for a single and a four-bagger. Further reports of the Bam­bino's indispositions will be taken with plenty of salt."
When Ruth was shown Vila's column at the ballpark the next day, he went to the ground-level press section and shouted at Vila. Other sportswriters stopped him from attacking Vila as Ruth shoved his left elbow forward and yelled, "Why don't you take a picture of this and put it in your paper?"
Ruth took the field again for Game 5. His arm was still bandaged with a tube draining the wound. To make matters worse, one of his legs was strapped because of a muscle tear he suffered in the final weeks of the regular season. When he stepped to the plate in the top of the first, the crowd cheered almost as much as it had when he ran out to the outfield the day before. He struck out swinging hard.
The Giants got a run off Yankee starter Waite Hoyt in the bottom of the 1st. The Yanks countered with a run in the 3rd off Art Nehf. So the score was tied when Babe led off the 4th. He surprised everyone in the park when he bunted down the 3B line for a single.
Yankee captain and SS Roger Peckinpaugh spoke of Ruth's bunt afterward. "A bunt was the last thing in the world the crowd and the Giants expected from Babe. With a bad leg, it might have been the wise thing to have Babe try to drive the ball out of the lot and let him walk around the bases, but he did the wiser thing. He bunted and beat out Nehf's throw, though the play was close and the Giants kicked at the decision."
Then RF Bob Meusel smacked a double to left field that scored Ruth all the way from first. After sliding into home, Babe got to his feet, stumbled to the dugout, and collapsed from the infection and the exertion of speeding around the bases.
The Yankees added another run in the inning on Aaron Ward's sacrifice fly that scored Meusel, who had moved to third on Wally Pipp's ground out.
Peckinpaugh: "On Bob's double, the Babe made home, and he ran on his nerve, for when he reached the dugout, he could hardly stand. But after a doctor fixed up the torn tendon, the Babe ran out to his position in the field, and that illustrates his mental attitude toward this World Series. We bow to him. He's simply a marvel, and his actions speak for them­selves. I merely want to add the tribute of a fellow player."

L-R: Bob Meusel, Aaron Ward, Wally Pipp
Ruth insisted on returning to left field for the bottom of the inning. He played the rest of the game but struck out in his only plate appearance. Hoyt shut out the Giants the rest of the way, scattering 10 hits, to even the Series at 2-2.
It proved to be a phyrric victory. Babe's participation in the remaining games was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance in Game 8 as the Giants swept the last three games.
References: Babe: The Legend Comes to Life, Robert W. Creamer (1974)
"Babe's Century," Bill Francis, Memories and Dreams: The Official Magazine of the Hall of Fame, Spring 2021