Pivotal World Series Plays
Two Dropped Balls Do in the Giants
1912 World Series Game 8: New York Giants @ Boston Red Sox
The Series went to an eighth game because of a tie called by darkness.
Situation: Bottom of the 10th; the Giants lead 2-1 after scoring a run in the top of the inning off Red Sox ace Smoky Joe Wood, who entered in the top of the 8th.
Giants manager John McGraw still has his starter and money pitcher of 12 years, Christy Mathewson, on the hill.
 was heading to the mound as McGraw came in from the 3rd base coaching box as the teams changed sides. The manager put his hand on his ace's shoulder, but neither man needed to say anything.
2B Larry Doyle, the Giants captain, jogged in front of Christy and shook his fist in anticipation of victory. Matty told the second sacker, "I'll float my old arm out there right after the ball if I have to in this inning. I'll win the game."
Boston manager Jake Stahl sent righthand batting Clyde Engel to hit for P Joe Wood. After taking a called strike, Engel swung at the next pitch, another rising fastball, and lofted a high fly to LCF as the crowd groaned. Clyde fired his bat down in disgust, and 2B Doyle yelled, "That'one of 'em!" loud enough to be heard in the press box. The other voice was Snodgrass's yelling "I got it! I got it!" as he called off LF Red Murray, who some thought had the easier play. Obeying one of McGraw's fundamental rules, "If the centerfielder believed he could catch the ball, he caught the ball," Red took a knee to stay out of Fred's way. Fred settled under the ball and dropped it. Hustling all the way, Engel ended up on 2nd. Normally so cool, Mathewson swung his gloved hand in a small gesture of frustration.
Giants Manager John McGraw 1912Giants P Christy Mathewson
L-R: Smoky Joe Wood, John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, Jake Stahl
In New York, fans following the game on the big boards were puzzled when Engel's name was displayed at 2nd base. One fan called out, "A fellow named Engel hit a double off Matty? That can't be." When E8 was posted on the board, another fan yelled, "Surely it had to be a hard play. They are notoriously difficult scorers in Boston, you know."

New Yorkers follow the action on the "Playograph."
Three thousands miles across the continent, fans congregated outside the Los Angeles Times building to obtain telegraph reports of the action in distant Boston. The predomi­nately male audience included a gray-haired woman with a perpetual smile. When asked whom she rooted for, she replied, "I'm for the Giants." When a chauvinist guessed that she picked them for their uniforms, the lady set him straight. "No, sir. I root for them because my son plays for them. He's the center fielder. His name is Fred Snodgrass."
If Fred was moping over his embarrassing blunder, he didn't show it. With the crowd in a frenzy, Harry Hooper twice tried to sacrifice but didn't succeed in laying one down in fair territory. So with two strikes, he smashed a ball to LCF that should have tied the game. But the Boston rightfielder, who had robbed Doyle of a homer in the 5th, was now denied himself on a diving catch by Snodgrass. As Harry remembered years later, "Ninety-nine times out of a hundred no outfielder could possibly come close to that ball. But ... Snodgrass ran like the wind and dang if he didn't catch it. I think he outran the ball. Robbed me of a sure triple." Engle ran to 3rd after the catch. Mathewson again waved his glove at Snodgrass, this time to acknowledge a spectacular play.
Participants in the 1912 World Series were still talking about the Snodgrass catch years later.
John McGraw in 1931: "It was so impossible, it was hard to describe."
Tris Speaker, the Red Sox Hall of Fame centerfielder, in 1949: "I saw thousands of games, and I never, ever saw a catch like that before or after. It was a like a magic trick."
Red Sox PH Clyde EngleGiants CF Fred SnodgrassRed Sox RF Harry Hopper
L-R: Clyde Engel, Fred Snodgrass, Harry Hooper, Steve Yerkes
The already-strange inning got even weirder. First, Matty tried to work the corners to 2B Steve Yerkes but walked the .252 hitter on a 3-1 count.
Next up was CF Tris Speaker, eager to atone for his misplay in the top of the inning when he tried for a shoestring catch but missed, allowing the go-ahead run to score. He had gone 4-for-11 against Mathewson in the Series for a swell .363 average.
Needing a strikeout or popup to keep the tying run at 3rd, Christy got the latter when Speaker swung at the first pitch, a curve that broke inside, and lofted the ball between first base and home plate in foul territory. Accounts vary as to what happened next. Some say 1B Fred Merkle, perhaps day­dreaming of his RBI hit in the top of the inning, froze and didn't move quickly toward the ball. Others say Matty yelled for C Chief Bender to take the ball. What is clear is that the catcher couldn't get to the ball, which dropped foul closer to first base than to home plate to give Tris new life as some in the crowd laughed before a hearty cheer broke out. Mathewson had to put aside any thoughts of self-pity because he should have retired the Sox 1-2-3 to preserve the victory. Speaker yelled, "Well, Matty, you just called for the wrong man. Now it's gonna cost you the ball game!" Tris backed up his words by lashing the next pitch, a hanging curve, over 2B Doyle's head on one big hop to Josh Devore in rightfield. Engle scored the tying run, and Yerkes scampered to 3rd. Speaker took second on the unwise throw-in over the cutoff man's head.
Red Sox CF Tris SpeakerGiants 1B Fred MerkleRed Sox LF DUffy Lewis
L-R: Tris Speaker, Fred Merkle, Duffy Lewis, Larry Gardner
McGraw ordered an intentional walk to LF Duffy Lewis to set up a forceout at home. That brought 3B Larry Gardner to the plate, he of the two errors in the 2nd inning, sore finger, and 5-for-27 batting mark (.185) for the Series. With the infield drawn in, Gardner worked the count to 3-1, then smashed Matty's 27th pitch of the inning and 124th of the game deep into right field. As soon as the ball left the bat, Matty threw up his hands and left the mound. Yerkes tagged up and Engel, now coaching 3rd, got ready to send him home. Devore caught it almost at the fence, but his desperation peg home had no chance. Player-manager Stahl, waiting on deck, threw up his hands to signal Yerkes that he didn't have to slide. C Meyers turned away without trying for the ball as Steve crossed the plate with the run that gave the Red Sox their second World Championship in as many tries.
Across the continent in Los Angeles, someone asked, "Who committed the error on En­gle?" right after the final score was posted. The announcer checked his reports and yelled back, "The centerfielder. Snodgrass." At that moment, one of the spectators fainted. Adie Snodgrass finally came to on her way to the hospital and whispered, "My poor boy."
New York Globe
writer Sid Mercer, sitting in the Fenway Park press box with tears streaming down his face, dictated his account of the game to a telegraph operator.