Pivotal World Series Plays
Pirates Rally against Big Train in the Rain
1925 World Series Game 7: Washington Senators @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Rain that started before the game continued to pour down as the gripping contest went to the 8th tied at six. Commissioner Kennesaw Landis refused to call the game as the crowd put up umbrellas, and the bleacherites covered themselves with newspapers.
The bottom of the 7th ended in exciting fashion. The Senators' revered ace Walter John­son, who had already beaten the Pirates twice in the series, was laboring to hold onto the 6-4 lead as he battled the weather as well as the National League champs. Pirate fans in the crowd of 42,856 - which was boosted by temporary seats - cheered for a rally during their 7th inning stretch. But they groaned when 2B Eddie Moore lofted a high popup that SS Roger 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. Player-manager Bucky Harris walked over from second base and patted his shortstop on the back.
CF Max Carey smacked his third double - and fourth hit - of the day, this one down the LF line. Moore scored to cut the visitors' lead to 6-5.
LF Goose 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.
Kiki Cuyler sacrified Carey to third, 1-4. With the infield in, LF Clyde Barnhart grounded to Harris, who held the runner and threw to first. Just when it appeared Johnson would get out of the jam with no further damage, Pie Traynor whacked a triple to RF but, with mud splashing from his spikes, foolishly tried for an inside-the-park home run only to be easily thrown out at the plate.
Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain LandisSenators P Walter Johnson 1925Senators SS Roger Peckinpaugh
L-R: Commissioner Landis, Walter Johnson, Roger Peckinpaugh, Bucky Harris
With the score tied in the top of the 8th, Peckinpaugh made amends for his error by smashing a homer into the LF stands in front of the scoreboard. His mates carried him into the dugout and pum­meled him in their glee.
The weather conditions were growing more intolerable. With night baseball over a decade away, there were no lights to turn on.
Reporter Damon Runyan wrote: "The outfielders were outlines, vague and shadowy. Twice Walter Johnson asked for a delay that he might get sawdust to scatter around the pitching mound. The base lines were channels of mud." Rain was dripping from the Big Train's chin as he pitched.
SS Glenn Wright fouled out, and 1B Stuffy McInnis flied out. With two outs and no one on and an 0-2 count on the batter, the Pirates started their winning rally when C Earl Smith doubled to RCF. Emil Yde ran for Smith.
Pirates manager Bill McKechnie sent up veteran Carson Bigbee to hit for P Ray Kremer. "Skeeter," as the part-time 5'9" outfielder was called, must have had trouble seeing Johnson's fast balls. Nevertheless, in another instance of the unpredictability of baseball, Bigbee 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 pulled off the bag - Roger's eighth error of the Series, a record that stands to this day. From goat to hero and back to goat in less than an inning.
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 C Muddy Ruel and Johnson thought was strike three. But as the Nats started to walk off the diamond, home plate umpire Barry McCormick yelled "ball three." So Johnson delivered again, and Kiki poled the horsehide into 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 for the third out.
Pirates C Earl SmithPirates PH Carson BigbeePirates P Red OldhamWashington OF Goose Goslin
L-R: Earl Smith, Carson Bigbee, Red Oldham, Goose Goslin
McKechnie surprised most Pirate fans by his choice of a pitcher to nail down the championship. Journeyman southpaw John "Red" Oldham, an August pickup from Detroit who had appeared in only 11 games for the Pirates that year, ascended the treacherous mound to try to seal the championship as "Water coursed off the brims of felt hats in gentle rivers," according to one writer.
Midway through the 1925 season, Pittsburgh owner Barney Dreyfuss invited Fred Clarke, the manager of four Pirate pennant winners in the first decade of the century, to be an advisor to McKechnie, who had played for Clarke from 1910-1912. Fred served as what today would be called "a bench coach," offering advice to the manager and individual players. One of the maxims Fred preached to Bill for the World Series was that you have to take chances to win.
The Senators couldn't have written a better script for a comeback - the top of their order facing a second-line reliever. But the Pirate skipper was counting on Oldham's familiarity with the Washington hitters from his years with the Tigers. In particular, Red had been effective against the first three batters he would face in the ninth: Rice, Harris, and Goslin.
Baffled by Red's crossfire deliveries, Rice, a future Hall of Famer who hit .350 during the season, was called out on strikes, and Harris popped out. That brought up Washington's last hope - left-hand hitting Goslin, another future Cooperstown inductee. Red fed the Goose four slow curves. When Goslin complained about strike two, the crowd howled. When he took strike three, the crowd broke from the stands and swarmed onto the field as they did after a college football game.
The Pirates thus became the first team to rebound from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series.