1925 - Game 7: Washington Senators @ Pittsburgh Pirates
The World Series champions from the Nation's Capital weren't expected to defend their AL crown.
- But the Yankees began the season without Babe Ruth, who suffered an intestinal abscess that kept him out until June. As a result, Miller Huggins' team endured a losing season (the franchise's last one for over 40 years) and a seventh place finish.
- So the Senators, with basically the same lineup as in '24 and with the oldest team in the league, won the pennant by 8.5 games over the Philadelphia A's. The main addition to Bucky Harris's club was veteran spitballer Stan Coveleski from Cleveland, who tied 37year-old Walter Johnson for most wins on the club with 20. The Big Train would have had more but missed five weeks with influenza.
- Griffith also acquired another "old" hurler, Dutch Ruether, on waivers from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ruether added 18 victories.
- But the MVP of the league was SS Roger Peckinpaugh, 34, who hit .294 and impressed the sportswriters with his versatility and leadership, the epitome of the "team player."
In the Senior Circuit, the Giants' four-year reign came to a halt.
- After his team lost to New York in '24, Pittsburgh owner Barney Dreyfus traded three popular regulars that he thought spent too much time partying, Rabbit Maranville, Charley Grimm, and Wilbur Cooper, to the Cubs for three players who were not their equals in talent but brought more serious attitudes. "I got rid of my banjo players," Dreyfus declared.
- Bill McKechnie's Pirates batted their way to the crown, with a team average of .307. Seven of the eight regulars hit .308 or better with the eighth one no slouch at .298.
- The pitching staff lacked a star but still racked up the second-best ERA in the league, 3.87.
- The Bucs' victory margin was the same as the Nats', 8.5.
Clinching the pennants early allowed both managers to set up their pitching rotations for the Series.
- For Washington, that meant Johnson in Game One and again in Game Four with the possibility of pitching Game Seven if it went that far.
- For the Pirates, 19-game-winner Lee Meadows would oppose The Big Train with Vic Aldridge, 15 wins on his slate, toeing the slab for Game Two.
Dignitaries at start of 1925 World Series
L-R: Honus Wagner, Bill McKechnie, John McGraw, Walter Johnson,
Babe Ruth, Nick Altrock, Christy Walsh
Managers Harris (L) and McKechnie receive roses before Series starts
- Wednesday, October 7 @ Pittsburgh: Senators 4 Pirates 1
WP: Walter Johnson; LP: Lee Meadows
- Thursday, October 8 @ Pittsburgh: Pirates 3 Senators 2
WP: Vic Aldridge; LP: Stan Coveleski
- Saturday, October 10 @ Washington: Senators 4 Pirates 3
Alex Ferguson; LP: Ray Kremer
- Sunday, October 11 @ Washington: Senators 4 Pirates 0
WP: Johnson; LP: Emil Yde
- Monday, October 12 @ Washington: Pirates 6 Senators 3
WP: Aldridge; LP: Coveleski
- Tuesday, October 13 @ Pittsburgh: Pirates 3 Senators 2
WP: Kremer; LP: Ferguson
President Calvin Coolidge during moment of silence at Griffith Stadium for Christy Mathewson, who died the day the 1925 Series started
Game 7: Thursday, October 15 @ Pittsburgh
- Heavy rain postponed Game 7 for a day.
- Harris wouldn't have hesitated to send his ace, The Big Train, to the hill for the deciding game on two days but now Walter would enjoy his normal three days rest. After all, he had allowed only one run in two complete game victories. However, he still suffered from a charley horse he incurred running out a double in Game 4 and was still walking with a limp.
- Johnson's recovery was aided by a soaking rain that caused Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to postpone Game 7 from Wednesday to Thursday. He said, I hate to call it off knowing that fully 15,000 of this crowd are from out of town and under heavy expense in staying over another day. At the same time, the field's condition is such that the players would be risking injury to go out there.
- The extra day allowed McKechnie to start his own two-game Series winner, Vic Aldridge, who got a second day of rest since winning Game 5.
Unfortunately, the weather did not improve by Thursday.
- Chilly rain again fell before the scheduled first pitch at 2:30. The grounds crew used sawdust to sop up puddles in the infield even before the teams took the field. Few in the assembled crowd expected the game to be played. But Landis didn't want to disappoint the fans yet again. So he let the game begin and continue even though conditions were worse than the day before.
- Fans milled in the hotel lobbies trying to decide if they should make the trip to Forbes Field. When it became clear that the rumor of postponement was false, they hurried to the park and pushed through the gates, many missing the long top of the first inning.
- Any hope that the rain would move out failed to materialize. It got worse as the game continued. With no lights on any major league field in that era, visibility became an issue as the afternoon wore on until you couldn't see the outfielders from home plate. The field became a quagmire. The players were "vague and shadowy figures."
- New York Times writer James R. Harrison would call the setting a perfect day for water polo.
Washington Nationals Lineup
Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup
Forbes Field during 1925 World Series
- The crowd of 42,856, boosted by numerous temporary seats Dreyfuss had erected to satisfy demand, let out a big cheer when Aldridge strode to the mound. But whether it was difficulty gripping the wet ball or nerves or both, Vic was not the same P he had been in Games 2 and 5.
The ground booed Rice as he came to bat because of the disputed catch in Game 3. After hitting a hard shot foul down the LF field, he bounded a 0-2 single over 2B.
Bucky Harris flied out on the first pitch to Barnhart in LF.
Vic's 3-0 delivery to Goslin went into the dirt and got away from C Smith, Rice taking 2B. After a called strike, The Goose walked.
With Joe Harris at the plate, another wild pitch advanced Sam and Goslin. The Pirate infield gathered around Aldridge to try to calm him. But he walked Harris to fill the sacks.
Harris was a "battle-scarred veteran of the First World War" whom Griffin signed to
spell the 31-year-old Judge at 1st and play some outfield.
McKechnie brought his infield to the edge of the grass. Judge scared the crowd with a long fly into RF that went foul. He then walked, forcing home Rice.
With the count 1-2, Bluege smacked a sharp single to LF, Goslin scoring and the other runners advancing a base each.
Johnny Morrison, making his third appearance in the Series, replaced Aldridge. Peckinpaugh hit a grounder to SS Wright who threw to Moore at 2B for an apparent out. But home plate umpire McCormick ruled catcher's interference to put Roger on first with all the runners advancing a base. Joe Harris crossed the plate to make it 3-0.
The Pirates' woes continued as Moore juggled Ruel's grounder, Judge scoring. One writer explained the 2B's woes like this: If you ever tried to grasp a slippery piece of soap in the bathtub you have a faint idea of how Eddie Moore acted on Ruel's bounder ... The pill just wouldn't stay in Moore's hands.
With the sacks still full, Johnson struck out swinging on an 0-2 wide curve.
Johnson led the Senators with a .433 batting average, albeit on 97 ABs in his illness-shortened season.
Batting for the second time in the inning, Rice flied out to LF.
- The Pirates employed a strategy of bunting on the wet field to test Johnson's bad leg. After fouling one off, Moore got one down on the second try, but Walter thew him out.
Working slowly and in pain, the Big Train fired one to Carey, who smacked a double into RF to send the crowd into an uproar. Carey had more incentive that the other Pirates because Johnson had plunked him twice in Game One.
Cuyler struck out on three pitches, the first over his head.
Barnhart also fanned on three straight.
The crowd applauded Johnson as he left the field.
- Bucky Harris got a hold of a Morrison offering and drove it deep to RF, but Cuyler snagged it as it was about to go into the stands.
Carey then made a nice catch of Goose's short fly to CF.
Displaying a wide curve ball, Morrison got Joe Harris to ground out to SS.
- Traynor bounced a full-count pitch back to Johnson, who threw high to first but Judge tagged the bag ahead of the runner.
Wright singled to CF as the rain began again.
McInnis also got a base hit to CF to excite the assemblage.
But the mild threat ended when Smith grounded to 2B Harris who tagged McInnis, then threw to Judge at 1B to complete the DP.
- With some reporters already wondering when the game would be called because of darkness, Judge shot a single to RCF.
Bluege tried to sacrifice, but the ball went foul. He then popped out to Moore.
Peckinpaugh hit a fly on which Cuyler made a sensational diving catch into the swamps of RF but threw wildly past 1B in an attempt to double up Judge. So Joe took 2B.
Ruel also hit the ball hard, but Carey raced back and gathered it in.
- Morrison hit for himself and hit a low liner to CF that Rice could not get to.
Moore followed with a long drive to LF for a double, Morrison sprinting home all the way from 1B.
Manager Harris came in from 2B and patted Johnson on the back.
But Carey smacked the first pitch past Harris to score Moore as the crowd cheered wildly. 4-2
On a hit and run, Cuyler grounded to Peckinpaugh who threw him out at 1B, Carey taking 2B.
Catching Ruel asleep, Carey, who stole 46 bases during the season, took 3B without a throw. Barnhart then dropped a Texas Leaguer into RF to make it 4-3.
Traynor forced Barnhart, Peckinpaugh to Harris.
Wright popped up to Harris.
- It was still sprinkling and very dark, making it hard to follow the ball.
Morrison continued twirling curves. Johnson flied to Carey in LCF.
With the crowd letting him have it again, Rice singled past 1B McInnis.
Harris looked at strike three, then walked to the bench kicking.
Morrison threw nothing but big drop curves to Goslin, who singled into LF to send Rice to 3B. Goose took 2B on the throw to 3B.
Joe Harris drove a double to RF to extend the Nats' lead to 6-3.
Judge flied to Cuyler.
- Continuing the Pirates' strategy of swinging at the first pitch, McInnis rapped a single to LF.
Smith propelled what seemed like a sure hit to CF, but Rice made a shoestring catch, forcing McInnis to race back to 1B.
hitting for Morrison, lofted a fly to Goslin.
- Ray Kremer, the loser in Game 3 and victor in Game 6, took over the pitching duties.
Traynor robbed Bluege of a hit by leaping high and spearing his bounder and throwing him out.
Peckinpaugh grounded out 6-3 on the first pitch.
Carey made a nice catch of Ruel's low fly.
- The crowd gave Carey a hand because of his two hits. He immediately lashed the first ball into RCF for two bases.
Cuyler smashed a fast ball into LF for a double to make it 6-4 as rain fell steadily.
Barnhart struck out swinging.
Traynor fouled out to Ruel.
Bucky Harris caught Wright's pop-up.
The story is told that Judge Landis walked over to Washington owner Clark Griffith's box after five full innings and said, "Congratulations, you're World Champions. I'm calling this game at the end of the inning." But Griffith didn't want a tainted title, perhaps thinking about an angry mob of Pirates fans invading the field. So he declined the commissioner's offer, and the teams played on.
- Johnson hoisted a popup that Wright took in back of 2B.
Rice hit a slow hopper to SS Glenn who threw him out.
Harris struck out swinging for the second time in the game.
- McInnis crashed a long fly that Goslin gathered in.
Smith also drove one to LCF, but Rice raced over to snag it.
Kremer fouled out to Ruel.
- The crowd put up umbrellas, and the bleacherites covered themselves with newspapers in the pouring rain.
Goslin smashed one of Kremer's offerings back at him, but the hurler grabbed it and threw him out at 1B.
Joe Harris lifted a foul down the LF line that Traynor pulled in by the boxes.
Cuyler almost misjudged Judge's fly (easy to do in the gathering darkness) but caught it after a hard run.
- The fans took the occasion of the seventh inning stretch to cheer for a rally.
But the inning started inauspiciously when Moore hit a high fly that Peckinpaugh settled under. But, with rain pelting his face, he muffed it for a twobase error, his seventh error of the Series. Unfortunately for Washington, he wasn't finished yet. Harris walked over from 2B and patted his SS on the back.
Carey made the Nats pay with his third double - and fourth hit - of the day, this one down the LF line. Moore scored to make it 6-5 in favor of the visitors. LF Goslin would swear to his dying day that the ball landed foul and stuck in the mud. He suspected the umps lost track of the ball in the darkness.
Cuyler sacrified Carey to 3B, 1-4.
With the infield in, Barnhart grounded to Harris, who held Carey at 3B and threw to 1B.
Just when it appeared Johnson would strand the runner on 3B, Traynor whacked a triple to RF but, with mud splashing from his spikes, was thrown out at the plate, 9-4-2.
So the final game went into the 8th tied at 6.
- Traynor threw out Bluege.
Peckinpaugh made amends for his error by smashing a HR into the LF stands in front of the scoreboard. His mates carried him into the dugout and pummeled him in their glee.
Traynor robbed Ruel of a hit with a remarkable stop on a sharp grounder.
Smith caught Johnson's foul near the plate.
- With the rain falling steadily, Traynor gave Wright a towel to wipe off his bat. Johnson walked in to confer with Ruel.
Wright fouled out to Judge who made the catch despite the distraction of a fan tossing a paper ball into the air.
Johnson asked the umpire for some sawdust and took it back to the mound himself to
help dry the slippery rubber.
McInnis flied to Rice.
With two outs and no one on and an 0-2 count on the batter, the Pirates started their winning rally when Smith doubled to RCF. Yde ran for Smith.
McKechnie sent up Carson Bigbee to hit for Kremer. He delivered with a double over Goslin's head to tie the game.
With the crowd in an uproar and Johnson clearly struggling, Moore drew a walk - the Bucs first free pass of the afternoon.
Carey then grounded to Peckinpaugh who threw to 2B for the forceout but the umpire ruled that Harris was off the bag - Roger's eighth error of the Series, a record that stands to this day.
The game was held up again while more sawdust was spread around the pitcher's mound. Each batter wiped his bat as he came to the plate in the pounding rain.
Cuyler worked the count to 2-2. He then took what Ruel and Johnson thought was strike three. But as they started to walk off the diamond, McCormick yelled "ball three." So Johnson delivered again, and Kiki poled the horsehide nto the crowd in RF. Everyone thought it was a grand slam, but the umpires ruled it a ground rule double. Still, the Pirates took their first lead, 9-7.
Barnhart popped to 2B Harris.
- Journeyman southpaw Red Oldham, who had appeared in only 11 games for the Pirates that year, ascended the treacherous mound to try to seal the championship with his crossfire deliveries. Bigbee stayed in the game in LF, and Johnny Gooch took over behind the plate. Water coursed off the brims of felt hats in gentle rivers, according to one writer.
Rice tried to bunt but missed for strike two. He then took a sweeping curve for strike three, protesting that the ball was low.
Bucky Harris popped up to Moore.
Goslin complained about strike two as the crowd howled. Then he took strike three to end one of the most controversial games in World Series history.
The crowd broke from the stands and swarmed onto the field as they did after a college football game.
The Pirates became the first team to rebound from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series.
A massive, spontaneous parade of revelers streamed down Fifth Avenue from the Oakland neighborhood where Forbes Field was located to downtown, where confetti rained from the buildings.
Harrison's New York Times lead summarized the afternoon well.
In the wettest, weirdest and wildest game that fifty years of baseball have ever seen, the Pirates today proved their right to the mud-horse, twilight and all other championships of the national game. ...
Water, mud, fog, mist, sawdust, fumbles, muffs, wild throws, wild pitches, one near fist fight, impossible rallies - these were mixed up to make the best and the worst game of baseball ever played in this country. Players wallowing ankle deep in mud, pitchers slipping as they delivered the ball to the plate, athletes skidding and sloshing, falling full length, dropping soaked baseballs - there you have part of the picture that was unveiled on Forbes Field this dripping afternoon. ...
In a grave of mud was buried Walter Johnson's ambition to join that select panel of pitchers who have won three victories in one world's series. With mud shackling his ankles and water running down his neck, the grand old man of baseball succumbed to weariness, a sore leg, wretched support and the most miserable weather conditions that ever confronted a pitcher.
- 282,830 fans paid a record $1,182,754 to see the seven games. The players shared in the proceeds from the first four games.
- A large crowd of youngsters greeted the Senators when they arrived at the train station.
- AL President Ban Johnson, who didn't attend the Series, sent a telegram to Bucky Harris. You put up a game fight. This I admire. Lost the series for sentimental reason. This should never occur in a world series. Ban subsequently made it clear that he was referring to the skipper sticking with Walter Johnson much too long. The AL president also wired congratulations to McKechnie.
- Landis was also upset at what he had read in columns written by Washington players-turned-journalists for the Series. He called Bucky Harris, Ruel, Peckingpaugh, and others and ordered them to apologize to the umpires for critical remarks that appeared in print. The players made the meeting that the Commissioner arranged, but Bucky replied that he was too busy to attend.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia ranks the seventh game of the 1925 World Series as the second greatest in franchise history. You should be able to guess the #1 game. (Does the name Mazeroski mean anything to you?)
Next in this series: 1926 Cardinals-Yankees
References: The World Series, David S. Neft & Richard M. Cohen (1990)
The Seventh Game, Barry Levenson (2004)
The Washington Senators, Shirley Povich (1954)