Pivotal World Series Moments
Harris Pulls Fast One on McGraw
1924 World Series Game 7: New York Giants @ Washington Senators
One the greatest battle of wits in World Series history began before the game even start­ed. Giants manager John McGraw went with right-hander Virgil "Zeke" Barnes, the loser in Game 4. Senators player-manager Bucky Harris pulled a fast one on his older counter­part by employing a strategy concocted in owner Clark Griffith's office that morning.
Managers Bucky Harris and John McGraw
Managers Bucky Harris and John McGraw at beginning of 1924 World Series
Harris Warms Up Ringer
With everyone expecting him to start left-hander George Mogridge, who had won Game 4, Bucky instead warmed up righty Curly Ogden, who had yet to appear in the Series. Since Curly had the fourth most starts on the club, the choice seemed reasonable, especially since Ogden had compiled a 2.58 ERA that was over a run less than Mogridge's 3.76.
But Bucky had no intention of letting Ogden pitch to more than a few batters. Mogridge would take his place in the first inning. If McGraw then switched to a right-handed lineup, he would lose a number of possible pinch-hitters. But if he decided to do that, Harris would bring in right-hander Fred "Firpo" Marberry. "I intend to outsmart McGraw," Bucky told Griffith.
McGraw turned in a lineup card with young Bill Terry, a left-handed batter, playing first base and hitting fifth. Bill would eventually fashion a Hall of Fame career, but he had hit just .239 in his first full season in the bigs. However, "Memphis Bill" had blistered Washington pitching for 6-for-12 with a triple and a home run, which is why McGraw put him in the cleanup spot.
Harris figured he had a better chance of cooling off Terry with a left-hander while also putting Irish Meusel, a .310 batter from the right side in '24, on the bench. Kelly moved from first base to center field. McGraw didn't think Bill could hit southpaws and usually sat him against lefthanders.
Senators P Curly OgdenSenators P George Mogridge
L-R: Curly Ogden, George Mogridge, Bill Terry, Irish Meusel
Washington fans couldn't believe their eyes when Curly Ogden took the mound–a jour­neyman who had won only nine games all season and was making his first appearance in the Series. Some must have wondered, "Has Bucky gone mad?" But they would soon see what their skipper had up his sleeve.
Harris Switches to Southpaw
The leadoff batter for the Giants was 3B Freddy Lindstrom. Ogden struck out the right-handed batter on three pitches, the last a wide curve. Curly then started walking toward the bench, but 2B Harris called him back to pitch to switch-hitter Frankie Frisch. When Frank­ie walked, Harris made his move. He replaced Ogden with George Mogridge as he intend­ed to do all along. The southpaw had been warming up secretly under the stands.
Ross Youngs, a lefty, struck out on a wide curve. Then 3B Tommy Taylor threw out George Kelly to retire the side.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead in the fourth thanks to Harris's home run.
Giants Break Loose in 6th
Mogridge shut out the Giants until the sixth. Then the National League champs decided to tire him out by waiting for walks and the strategy worked. Ross Youngs led off with a base on balls. With the count 3-and-1 on George Kelly and the pitcher needing to get one over, McGraw called for a hit and run that worked perfectly, a single over second base that sent Youngs easily to third.
Harris left Mogridge in the game because left-handed-hitting 1B Bill Terry was the next batter. But the last thing McGraw needed was a ground ball or a strikeout. So as Terry started for the plate, Mugsy called him back and sent up righthanded-batting Irish Meusel to hit in his place. Harris countered by bringing in his righty, Marberry, as the crowd, led by President Calvin Coolidge who was waving his arms, stood and cheered.
Harris had praised Marberry. "He has a wonderful fastball and the heart of a lion." Bucky used the big Texan (6-1, 190) like today's managers use closers. In fact, some writers call Firpo "the first modern relief pitcher." Harris brought him in to save tight games, replacing a tiring starter with a fireballer whose pirouetting delivery made pick­ing up the ball difficult.
Giants 3B Fred LindstromSenators reliever Firpo MarberryGiants OF Ross Youngs
L-R: Freddy Lindstrom, Frankie Frisch, Firpo Marberry, Ross Youngs
Giants Take Lead
But that move backfired on the Washington skipper. Irish Meusel hit a sacrifice fly to send home the tying run. Another right-handed batter, Hack Wilson, singled, Kelly scooting to third. Then consecutive errors on grounders by 1B Joe Judge and SS Ossie Bluege scored Kelly and then Wilson to put the Giants ahead 3-1. Two of the three Giants runs were unearned. The McGraw Men could smell a world championship especially after Barnes mowed down the Senators 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Neither team scored in the seventh, and the Giants couldn't add to their lead in the top of the eighth. Barnes hit for himself, then took the mound again in the bottom of the inning. Bringing in a reliever for the tiring starter never occurred to McGraw in that era when a starter was expected to "finish what he started."
Senators Rally to Tie
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, 32-year-old diminutive journeyman Nemo Lei­bold, hitting for Taylor, rapped a double down the left field line–the biggest hit of a major-league career that would last only one more year.
That brought up C Herold "Muddy" Ruel, who was 0-for-18 in the Series. Muddy recall­ed, "I hadn't made a hit in the whole series, and I could feel the crowd sigh as I came to the plate." He singled off Kelly's glove to send Leibold to third.
Rookie C Bennie Tate, with only 13 hits for the year, batted for Marberry and squeezed a walk out of the tiring Barnes. Mule Shirley ran for Tate. McNeely hit a fly ball to left field but not deep enough to score Leibold.
To the plate strode Harris. He had made all the managerial moves but now had to come through as a hitter. And that he did, jumping forward in the batters' box and slapping a bounder that seemed headed for Lindstrom's glove but suddenly hit a pebble or something and skipped over his head into left field. Leibold and Ruel scored to tie the score and propel the crowd into delirium. Bucky stopped at second with a double.
McGraw took out Barnes–some might say several batters or an inning too late–and brought in Nehf who induced Rice to ground to Kelly to end the inning.
Giants 3 Senators 3
Was there any doubt what hurler Harris would bring in for the top of the ninth? With the crowd chanting, "We want Johnson!" "Old Barney" strode to the mound amid tremendous applause.