Golden Baseball Magazine

The Ultimate Game

This series presents the final game of each post-season series that went all the way.
Until 1946, that means World Series Game 7s (none of the best-of-nine World Series went the full length).
1931 - Game 7: Philadelphia Athletics @ St. Louis Cardinals
Pennant Races

After the hitting explosion of 1930 when National League hitters averaged .303 and Junior Circuit batters hit .288, the owners decided to take some of the rabbit out of the baseball. The National and American League averages dropped to .277 and .279 respectively.

Picked to defend their 1930 National League championship, the St. Louis Cardinals made few changes for 1931.

  • Righthand pitcher Paul Derringer was recalled. He would win 18 and lose only eight in '31.
  • Branch Rickey decided to keep outstanding prospect Dizzy Dean in the minors for another year.
The Cards started strong and never let up.
  • After moving in and out of first place the first weeks of the season, the Redbirds took over the top spot on Memorial Day and never gave it up.
  • Gabby Street's club led the league in both runs scored (5.3 per game) and runs allowed (4.0 per game).
  • They won the pennant by 13 games over the New York Giants.

L-R: Chick Hafey, George Watkins, Pepper Martin, Walter Roettger
The eight-man lineup had no weak links.
  • The lowest batting average among the regulars was C Jimmie Wilson's .274.
  • The top hitters were OF Chick Hafey (.349) and 1B Jim Bottomley (.348).
  • Hafey also led the club in RBI with 95 and HRs with 16.

The pitching staff boasted six hurlers with double-digit wins.

  • Wild Bill Hallahan led the club in victories with 19.
  • In addition to Derringer's 18 wins, Burleigh Grimes won 17 while Jesse Haines won 12, and Flint Rehm and Syl Johnson added 11 each.

The Philadelphia Athletics won their third straight American League flag.

  • Like the Cards, they took control early and never looked back.
  • An incredible 17-game winning streak put them up five games on May 25.
  • They were never headed again, finishing 13.5 games on top of the Yankees.

The A's also led their league in runs scored (5.6 per game) and runs allowed (4.1).

  • Lefty Grove had as good a season as any pitcher in history, winning 31 and losing four.
  • George Earnshaw went 21-7 while Rube Walberg also had 20 wins with 12 losses.
  • OF Al Simmons led the hitters with a .390 average and 128 RBIs.
  • 1B Jimmie Foxx topped the club with 30 homers, eight more than Simmons.

Sportsman's Park 1931 World Series
Series Results
  1. Thursday, October 1 @ St. Louis: Athletics 6 Cardinals 2
    WP: Lefty Grove; LP: Paul Derringer
  2. Friday, October 2 @ St. Louis: Cardinals 2 Athletics 0
    WP: Bill Hallahan; LP: George Earnshaw
  3. Monday, October 5 @ Philadelphia: Cardinals 5 Athletics 2
    WP: Burleigh Grimes; LP: Grove
  4. Tuesday, October 6 @ Philadelphia: Athletics 3 Cardinals 0
    WP: Earnshaw; LP: Syl Johnson
  5. Wednesday, October 7 @ Philadelphia: Cardinals 5 Athletics 1
    WP: Hallahan; LP: Waite Hoyt
  6. Friday, October 9 @ St. Louis: Athletics 8 Cardinals 1
    WP: Grove; LP: Derringer
Neither side was able to take more than a one-game lead in the Series.
  • Grove outpitched Derringer in Game One, but the Cards evened the count the next day behind "Wild Bill" Hallahan's brilliant three-hit shutout.
  • A travel day and a rain delay allowed Grove to start Game 3, but this time veteran Burleigh Grimes outpitched him.
  • George Earnshaw, the Game 2 loser, twirled a two-hit shutout to even the series at two games apiece.
  • The A's got to Hallahan for nine hits, but the wiggled out of jams, leaving eight runners stranded for the 5-1 triumph.
  • Back in St. Louis, the Athletics capitalized on a throwing error to score four unearned runs in the fifth and coasted to an 8-1 win behind Grove.

Fans gather in downtown St. Louis to listen to Game 4 on the radio.

Game 7: Saturday, October 10 @ St. Louis

Despite the Indian Summer weather and the prospect of a sensational deciding duel between two ace righthanders, only 20,805 attended the Saturday afternoon game.

38-year-old Burleigh Grimes, one of the last legal spitballers, took the hill for the Cardinals. He was hurling with a battered little finger on his right hand, hurt by a line drive in Game 3. It was his seventh World Series start, beginning with three in 1920 for the Dodgers against Cleveland and two more times for the Redbirds in 1930.
The Athletics countered with 21-game winner George Earnshaw.

Philadelphia Athletics Lineup
Max Bishop 2B
Mule Haas CF
Mickey Cochrane C
Al Simmons LF
Jimmie Foxx 1B
Bing Miller RF
Jimmy Dykes 3B
Dib Williams SS
George Earnshaw P
St. Louis Cardinals Lineup
Andy High 3B
George Watkins RF
Frankie Frisch 2B
Pepper Martin CF
Ernie Orsatti LF
Jim Bottomley 1B
Jimmie Wilson C
Charlie Gelbert SS
Burleigh Grimes P

Paul Derringer

Jesse Haines

Flint Rehm

Syl Johnson

Managers Gabby Street
and Connie Mack

Lefty Grove, Game 1 winner


Burleigh Grimes, Game 7 starter

George Earnshaw, Game 7 starter

1st inning
  • Grimes started strong, getting Max Bishop to foul out to third and Mule Haas and Mickey Cochrane to ground out 4-3.
  • The Redbirds jumped out in front with two runs off Earnshaw. Andy High hit a Texas leaguer over SS Dib Williams' head. George Watkins blooped a pop fly back of 3B that Williams couldn't reach. Frankie Frisch then bunted the runners over 5-3. That brought up Pepper Martin, the hitting star of the series with 12-for-21. Earnshaw uncorked a wild pitch that scored High and sent Watkins to third. Martin then walked and promptly stole second - his fifth steal of the series. Ernie Orsatti, substituting for Chick Hafey, struck out, but C Mickey Cochrane dropped the ball. When Cochrane threw to first to get the batter, Watkins came home from third. When 1B Jimmie Foxx's throw back to the plate got away, Martin wound up on third. With a chance to add to the lead, 1B Jim Bottomley struck out swinging. St. Louis 2 Philadelphia 0

    George Watkins scores the Cardinals second run.
2nd inning
  • Al Simmons singled to RCF before Jimmie Foxx flied to RF Watkins. Bing Miller then singled to LF, Simmons stopping at 2nd. Jimmie Dykes bounced to Andy High at 3rd, who got a forceout at 2nd. Grimes got out of the inning by getting Williams to ground out to SS Charlie Gelbert.
  • Jimmie Wilson walked on four pitches but was immediately erased when Gelbert bounced into a 5-4-3 twin-killing. Grimes struck out with the bat on his shoulder.

3rd inning

  • Earnshaw bounced out 5-3 before Bishop walked. But Wilson picked off the runner with Haas at bat. Mule then flew out to deep RF, Watkins catching the ball with his back against the wall.
  • The Redbirds doubled their lead when High singled, and Watkins swatted a homer onto the roof of the RF pavilion. Earnshaw then set down Frisch on a fly to CF, Martin on a pop to 2B, and Orsatti on a strikeout.
    Connie Mack said after the game: "Earnshaw gave Watkins a fast ball, the same kind of a ball that he had in his game at Philadelphia when he retired Watkins on four fly balls in four times up. This time, however, instead of keeping the ball high, he got it a little bit lower than he should have pitched it. It was just where Watkins wanted it."
    St. Louis 4 Philadelphia 0

L-R: Andy High, Frankie Frisch, Al Simmons, Jimmy Foxx

4th inning

  • Grimes breezed through the middle of the A's order. Cochrane grounded to 2B, Simmons bounced to SS, and Foxx went down swinging.
  • The Cards followed suit. Bottomley struck out. Wilson grounded out 6-3, and Gelbert popped to 1st.

5th inning

  • The A's threatened when Miller smashed the first pitch for his second high bounder between the mound and 3B. In a decision that would be second-guessed, Mack let Earnshaw hit for himself. The result was a snappy 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.
  • "Big George" continued his consecutive batters retired streak to nine since Watkins' homer. Grimes, High, and Watkins all grounded out.

6th inning

  • Baffled by Burleigh's spitter, Bishop lunged at several deliveries before taking a third strike. Haas flew out to deep CF, and Cochrane grounded to Martin.
  • Earnshaw continued to mow down the Cards. Frisch unsuccessfully tried to bunt his way on, 1-3. Martin bounced to SS, and Orsatti went down looking.

7th inning

  • Still strong, Grimes fanned both Simmons and Foxx before Miller singled off Gelbert's glove into CF. But Dykes joined the whiff party to end the inning.
  • Earnshaw's streak reached 12 when Bottomley popped to Cochrane, Wilson flew to CF, and Gelbert fanned. The A's ace ended his tenure on the mound by retiring the last 15 Cardinals he faced.

8th inning

  • Grimes struck out Williams but, showing signs of tiring and working more slowly, walked Phil Todt, who pinch hit for Earnshaw. Bishop tried to duck a pitch but the ball bounced off his bat to 3B High to send Todt to 2nd. When Haas walked, Bill Hallahan began to warm up in the Cardinal bullpen. Cochrane then smashed a liner that Grimes knocked down and threw to Bottomley to escape the jam.
  • Southpaw Rube Walberg took the mound. In a move that would never happened today, Street let Grimes hit for himself. The crowd gave him a big hand as he walked to the plate, where he struck out. After High beat out a bounder that Williams failed to handle at 2B, Walberg pitched carefully to Watkins and walked him to give Cardinal fans hope of adding an insurance run or two. But Frisch popped to 3rd. Then Martin strode to the plate for a last chance to add to his series-record 12 hits, all of which came in the first five games. But Pepper struck out swinging.

9th inning

  • Grimes walked Simmons. But he got Foxx to foul out to Wilson. Miller hit a grounder to SS Gelbert that looked like a sure double play, but 1B Umpire McGowan ruled Miller safe on a close play as the Cards started to gallop off the field in victory. With Hallahan throwing furiously in the pen, Dykes walked, and Williams bounced a single over High's head into LF to load the bases. Doc Cramer pinch hit for Walbert and smacked a single to CF to score Miller and Dykes to cut the lead in half. Street then summoned Hallahan to face the left-hand hitting Bishop. Max flied to CF Martin to bring the World Series championship back to the National League for the first time in five years.

Teams leave the field after Game 7.
Postgame Comments
  • Gabby Street proclaimed, "I have just realized the ambition of my life. This is the greatest day of my life. I've always wished I could manage a world's championship ball club, but I didn't think I could do it at my age. Pitching was the turning point. We had the better equipped staff, and we beat a great ball club."
    To illustrate the importance of winning the World Series in that era, Pepper Martin's cut of the winners' share of the World Series money was $4,484.24. That was $15.76 less than he earned for the entire National League season.
  • Grimes: "I had a hard time with those boys. They're great hitters. They had me bearing down all the way. I didn't fool. They're a tough club to beat."
  • Connie Mack: "I am so sorry to lose the series, not so much on my own accounts as on account of my players, my league and because I am a loyal Philadelphian and wished to take a third successive world's series back to that city." He added, "I give all the credit to the Cardinals and Manager Street. We must give Grimes credit for pitching another great game. His club gave him a four-run, but he did not become careless. He bore down all the time. But after he struck out Simmons, Foxx, and Dykes in the seventh inning, he was through. He wore himself out in that inning but did not weaken sufficiently for us to win." On his own pitcher: "Earnshaw did not deserve that first inning when two pop flies fell safely just out of reach of our infielders. He was pitching great ball. Of course, Watkins earned the two runs that came in the third."

Video of 1931 World Series

Next in this series: 1934 Cardinals - Tigers

Max Bishop

Mule Haas

Mickey Cochrane

Bing Miller

Jimmy Dykes

Jim Bottomley

Ernie Orsatti

Dib Williams

Charliey Gelbert

Jimmie Wilson

Rube Walberg

Wild Bill Hallahan