Pivotal World Series Plays
Fortune Shines on the Senators - Twice!
1924 World Series - Game 7 at Griffith Stadium, Washington DC
Bottom of the 12th: The Washington Senators and the New York Giants are tied 3-3.
Washington's great righthander, Walter Johnson, had entered the game in the top of the 9th and shut down the Giants for four innings. "The Big Train" had started and lost games one and five.
Would this finally be the inning the Senators break through? They would have to do it starting at the 8th spot in the order against southpaw Jack Bentley, who was starting his second inning in relief.
Wouldn't it be great to get the leadoff man on? many fans must have mused. But 3B Ralph Miller grounded harmlessly to 2B Frankie Frisch.
The crowd of 31,667 that packed Griffith Stadium groaned further when C Muddy Ruel lofted a foul high over the plate. As C Hank Gowdy settled under the ball, he tripped on his mask. The horsehide dropped untouched in foul territory.
55 years later, Giants 3B Freddie Lindstrom recalled the play this way.
"Gowdy, our catcher, threw his mask aside and went after the ball. It looked like an easy one. But then the wind began carrying the ball back toward the plate and Hank moved with it. It still looked like an easy out. But then one of those fluke things happened. As he moved under the ball, with his glove up waiting to make the catch, Hank stepped right into that mask, lost his balance, slipped and fell, and the ball came down on the grass alongside of him.
"By that time, I suppose, even a callow, eighteen-year-old boy like myself, who knew nothing about fate, should have begun to see the light. Washington was supposed to win this game and that's all there was to it."
New York fans must have had flashbacks to 1912 when the Giants failed to catch an easy pop foul in the bottom of the 12th in Boston. That helped the Red Sox rally to score the run that won the Series.

L-R: Walter Johnson, Jack Bentley, Hank Gowdy, Freddie Lindstrom
Given new life, Ruel rifled the next pitch inside third base for a two-bagger that doubled his hit total for the game and the Series.
Could the beloved Johnson be the hitting hero as well as the winning pitcher? As he did in the tenth when he flied to center, he again got wood on the ball, sending a hard grounder to shortstop. Travis Jackson, who led the Giants in errors with 58, 31 more than the next culprit, Frisch, fumbled the horsehide for his second error of the game. (A future Hall of Famer, Travis had a horrible day, going 0-6 at the plate.) Ruel stayed put at second base.
Lindstrom: "[Jackson] said later that Ruel, coming down the line from second, had obscured the play for a moment and made him lose the cadence of the ball for just that split second. ... I was standing there with my hands on my hips wondering what could possibly happen next. I soon found out."

L-R: Muddy Ruel, Travis Jackson, Earl McNeely, Clark Griffith
Up came CF Earl McNeely, 0-for-5 on the afternoon. Since he was a righthanded batter, 3B Lindstrom was undoubtedly deciding whether he would throw to 2nd to start a double play if a grounder came to him or step on 3rd and throw to 1st for the twin-killing.
McNeely, a 26-year-old rookie from Sacramento CA, had played in just 43 games for Harris but hit .330. He now had a chance to earn a spot in the pantheon of Senators' heroes.
Earl fouled the first pitch. Then fans groaned again as he rapped a grounder straight at Lindstrom - a sure double play. But the ball hit something - a pebble, a hard piece of mud, an angel's toe, who knows? - and bounced high over Freddie's head into left field to send home Ruel, running as he never ran before, with the winning run. The Senators had won their first World Series!
Lindstrom: "Bentley ... got McNeely to hit a ground ball down to me. Well, it happened again. The ball hit a pebble - maybe the same darned pebble that Harris' ball had hit [in the eighth inning to drive in the tying run] - and took a big kangaroo hop over my head and went out into left field. And here's Muddy Ruel charging down from second base with the winning run. You know, I don't think he could have scored if Irish Meusel in left field had anticipated my not taking the ball. If Meusel had been running in the moment the ball was hit I don't think Ruel, not a fast runner, a slower runner in fact, would have even tried to score. But Meusel had no way of knowing that thing was going to bounce the way it did. By the time he got to the ball it was too late. ... The game was over.
Meusel didn't bother to throw home but continued running in with the ball. "The rest of the Giants stood motionless and stunned and in the next instant the crowd swirled over the field and blotted out the quiet men in gray and the leaping ones in white." (New York Times)
Ruel scores the winning run.
Ruel scores the winning run as the Senators and their fans go wild!
Pandemonium broke out. Fans hurled hats, scorecards, seat cushions, and even briefcases into the air. Thousands rushed onto the field. Many danced on the dugout roofs and on the field, refusing to leave for more than an hour as darkness descended.
President Calvin Coolidge, known for being humorless and taciturn, stood in his box on the first base side, waved his scoreboard, and even managed a "thin smile." Sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote, "A close observer reports that the vocal cords of Mr. Coolidge twitched."
Senators player-manager Bucky Harris zigzagged to safety in the home team dugout, where Johnson embraced him in a bearhug. A group of fans, gathering at the Nats dugout, rushed to the clubhouse where they were met by a police cordon, the mass piling up. Senators president Clark Griffith had to be rescued from the jam by friends. He found his way to a small porch outside the clubhouse office. Beseeched to give a speech, Griffith said: "I'm too happy to make a speech, people, but it happened just as I wanted it to, with Walter winning it for us."
Washington's great LF Goose Goslin quoted Griffith as saying that God had been on the Senators' side in the 7th game.

Film footage of Game 7