Baseball 1909 World Series

The 1909 World Series brought back the Detroit Tigers for a third consecutive year as American League champions, but the Chicago Cubs were upended by Honus Wagner and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won 110 ten game during the regular season, including sixteen straight during September.

Detroit, losers of the past two World Series titles,  would look again to Ty Cobb and “Wahoo” Sam Crawford to lead the offense.  But this year they hoped that George Mullin’s 29-8 breakout season would spark the pitching staff.

The Pirates remained anchored by future Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner, who had led the National League in hitting, doubles and RBI.  The 35-year-old veteran was determined to erase the memories of their loss in the first World Series and bring a title to Pittsburgh.

With two of the greatest players of all time squaring off, the 1909 World Series was going to bring one of them their first championship.

Game 1  |  Game 2  |  Game 3  |  Game 4
Game 5  |  Game 6  |  Game 7

Hitting Stats  |  Pitching Stats

1909 World Series

Game 1

Box Score
Friday, Oct. 8, 1909

Pitchers:WPBabe Adams
LPGeorge Mullin
Home Runs:DETnone

For Game 1 the Pirates would send Babe Adams to the mound–an untested righty who had come on strong for a 12-3 record and 1.11 ERA in the regular season.

He would be opposed by George Mullin for the Tigers, who led the American League with 29 wins and already had three postseason starts under his belts over the past two years.

The day started out promising for Detroit as they manufactured a run on two walks and an RBI single in the first inning.  Meanwhile, Mullin faced the minimum through the first three innings without giving up a hit.

But the Pirates’ veteran left fielder Fred Clarke tied the game with a blast to right field in the fourth inning.  Then in the fifth the Tiger defense faltered.

Pirates first baseman Bill Abstein, playing in his only full-time season in the majors, opened the inning with a ground ball to second.  Jim Delahanty whiffed on his chance to field it, and Ty Cobb then misplayed it in right field, allowing Abstein to end up at third base with no outs.

After a one-out double by George Gibson that brought Abstein home with the lead run, shortstop Donie Bush booted a grounder that put men on first and third with one out.  A hit batter and sacrifice fly later, and Pittsburgh was leading 3-1.

It didn’t get much better in the sixth.

Mullin had Honus Wagner picked off at second base following a lead-off double, but catcher Boss Schmidt mishandled a throw in the run-down and Wagner ended up at third base, later coming home on a weak dribbler in front of the plate.

As Detroit was melting down, Babe Adams was settling down and recovering from his first-inning jitters.  He wouldn’t allow multiple hits in another inning and shut out the Tigers the rest of the way, retiring the final seven batters.

The 1909 World Series had started in familiar form for Detroit.  It was their third straight year opening the Fall Classic down 1-0.

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Game 2

Box Score
Saturday, Oct. 9, 1909

Pitchers:WPBill Donovan
LPHowie Camnitz
Home Runs:DETnone

In Game 2 of the 1909 World Series, Detroit responded against Pittsburgh’s ace, Howie Camnitz, running him out of the game in the third inning.

After Tigers starter Bill Donovan gave up two RBI doubles in the bottom of the first, back-to-back singles and a two-run double by Detroit in the second tied the game.

Then in the third, Jim Delahanty got a bases-loaded double that drove in two more runs and ended the day for Camnitz.  Ty Cobb promptly stole home off reliever Vic Willis to give Detroit a 5-2 lead.

They extended their lead even further in the fifth when catcher Boss Schmidt got a clutch, two-out base hit with the bases loaded that scored two more runs.

That would be more than enough support for Donovan, who would finally get his first World Series victory in his fifth start, as he scattered three hits over the final eight innings and struck out seven.

Detroit fans were hopeful their boys had rid themselves of the ghosts of Octobers past as they headed back home for Game 3 with the 1909 World Series tied 1-1.

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Game 3

Box Score
Monday, Oct. 11, 1909

Pitchers:WPNick Maddox
LPEd Summers
Home Runs:PITnone

Game 3 of the 1909 World Series featured two young hurlers–Nick Maddox (13-8) for the Pirates and Ed Summers (19-9) for the Tigers.

But the day would belong to the offenses.

Pittsburgh put the pressure on Detroit from the very start, getting back-to-back singles to start the game.  They then plated three runs without another hit, getting the first on an error by shortstop Donie Bush.

Honus Wagner then stole second base, and when the throw went into center field Wagner advanced to third while Fred Clarke scored.  A wild pitch by Summers brought Wagner home and the Tigers were quickly down 3-0.

After a walk to Dots Miller, Bill Abstein got a base hit to center.  “Wahoo” Sam Crawford tried to get Miller as he went first to third, but the throw was off-target Miller scored easily.

The day was over for Summers after only six batters and eventually five unearned runs.  The Tigers were down 5-0 before they even stepped up to the plate.

After allowing another run in the second inning, Tigers reliever Ed Willett settled in and allowed only two more hits through the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh starter Nick Maddox was scattering four hits through six scoreless innings.  But he ran into trouble in the seventh.

After Jim Delahanty led off the inning with a double, Abstein dropped a throw from Dots Miller at second and put men on at the corners.  The Tigers’ Tom Jones delivered an RBI base hit to get Detroit on the board.

After a pop up to third and a strikeout, it looked like Maddox would get out of the inning with little damage done.  But Donie Bush and Ty Cobb came through with back-to-back singles that scored three more runs, and suddenly the Tigers were within two runs at 6-4.

The Pirates got two huge insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a sac fly by Fred Clarke and an RBI single by Honus Wagner.  They would prove to be the game-winners.

Detroit battled back in the bottom of the ninth when Ty Cobb drove home a run with a ground rule double and scored on a groundout by Crawford.  The Tigers had the tying run at the plate, but Maddox got Jim Delahanty to line out to left to end the game.

With a hard-earned 8-6 road victory, the Pittsburgh Pirates had taken a 2-1 lead in the 1909 World Series.

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Game 4

Box Score
Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1909

Pitchers:WPGeorge Mullin
LPLefty Leifield
Home Runs:PITnone

In an effort to keep the 1909 World Series from getting away from them, the Tigers turned to George Mullin in Game 4 to even things up.

Not only did he deliver a Detroit a win, but he completely shut down the potent Pirates offense with ten strikeouts against only five hits.

While Mullin was sending Pittsburgh hitters back to the bench one by one, Tigers hitters were holding up their end of the bargain.  They spotted their hurler a two-run lead on a single by Oscar Stanage in the second, and back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning by Donie Bush and Ty Cobb gave them a comfortable 5-0 lead.

Deacon Phillippe entered the game for Pittsburgh and cooled off the Tiger bats, but the damage had already been done.  George Mullin steadily worked through the Pirates line-up for a complete game shut-out and a much-needed victory.

The 1909 World Series would head back to Pittsburgh tied at 2-2.

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Game 5

Box Score
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1909

Pitchers:WPBabe Adams
LPEd Summers
Home Runs:DETCrawford, Jones

The Tigers headed into Game 5 of the 1909 World Series with an opportunity to take their first Fall Classic series lead.

And after Davy Jones led off the game with a home run off Pittsburgh starter, and Game 1 winner, Babe Adams, Detroit had to feel the momentum building.

But the Pirates would score single runs in each of the first three innings off Ed Summers, all without the aid of an RBI hit, to take a 3-1 lead.

The Detroit offense responded in the sixth inning when Ty Cobb got a base hit and scored on a double by “Wahoo” Sam Crawford.  They tied the game at 3-3 when Honus Wagner threw wildly to first and allowed Crawford to come around and score.

With the Tigers feeling a series-shifting win within their grasp, the Pirates needed someone to step up.

And veteran Fred Clarke would be that someone.

After Bobby Byrne and Tommy Leach got base hits in the seventh inning, Clarke came to the plate with a runner in scoring position and the chance to untie the game.

That’s exactly what he did, blasting a three-run home run to center field that lit a fire under the hometown Forbes Field crowd.

Honus Wagner single-handedly manufactured another run before the inning was over, and Pittsburgh was leading 7-3.

Sam Crawford hit a solo shot in the eighth, but the Tigers simply couldn’t climb back into the game and finally succumbed to an 8-4 defeat.

Babe Adams hadn’t been as impressive as his Game 1 performance, but he had allowed only one of the Tigers’ future Hall of Famers to have a big game and had brought his Pirates one win away from claiming the 1909 World Series title.

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Game 6

Box Score
Thursday, Oct. 14, 1909

Pitchers:WPGeorge Mullin
LPVic Willis
Home Runs:PITnone

Facing elimination in Game 6, the Tigers turned back to George Mullin, who had thrown a complete-game shut-out just two days earlier, to get them to a seventh game.

The Pirates sent future Hall of Famer Vic Willis, who had finished off the Game 2 loss, to the mound in hopes of closing out the 1909 World Series.

Mullin ran into trouble immediately in the top of the first.

Three consecutive singles by Byrne, Leach and Clarke gave Pittsburgh a quick 1-0 lead with runners on the corners.  Honus Wagner then delivered a crushing two-run double that looked like it might break the Tigers’ spirit before the fans had even settled into their seats.

But Mullin stranded Wagner at third base, and Detroit responded with an RBI double by “Wahoo” Sam Crawford in their half of the first to cut the lead to 3-1.

The Pirates failed to get a hit over the next four innings as Mullin got into a rhythm, but Willis found himself in trouble in the middle innings, giving up a lead-off walk and three straight base hits in the fourth that tied the game.  Then in the fifth Jim Delahanty drove home the go-ahead run with a two-out double, and Ty Cobb extended the Tiger lead with his own two-out RBI double in the sixth.

Mullin would take that 5-3 lead into the ninth inning having given up only two hits since that rough first inning.  But Pittsburgh, which was just one big inning from the 1909 World Series title, was not about to go down quietly.

Dots Miller and Bill Abstein got the inning started with back-to-back hits.  Then a sacrifice bunt went awry for Detroit first baseman George Moriarty, allowing Miller to come around and score and putting the tying run at third base.

Tigers manager Hughie Jennings promptly switched up the defense, bringing Sam Crawford in front center to first base and getting Matty McIntyre into the game in left field.

The move paid immediate dividends.

George Gibson hit a grounder to first and Crawford came home with it, nailing the runner trying to score and preserving the narrow lead.  Almost in poetic fashion, the game ended when pinch hitter Ed Abbaticchio struck out and Chief Wilson was gunned down trying to steal third.

Disaster was averted.  Jennings was a genius.

And the 1909 World Series was going to be the first Fall Classic to feature a winner-take-all finale.

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Game 7

Box Score
Saturday, Oct. 16, 1909

Pitchers:WPBabe Adams
LPBill Donovan
Home Runs:PITnone

For Game 7, both teams turned to pitchers who already had a win under their belt during the 1909 World Series.

The hometown Tigers called upon veteran Bill Donovan, who had put together a stellar 5-hit complete game victory in Game 2 and was working with a week of rest.

The series’ breakout player, right-hander Babe Adams, would toe the rubber for Pittsburgh, looking for his third win.  This time, however, he wouldn’t have the Pirates fans behind him but would be taking the abuse of the passionate Detroit faithful.

It would’t phase him a bit.

After Bill Donovan plunked Bobby Byrne to start the game, effectively ending Byrne’s day, Adams responded in the bottom of the first by plunking second baseman Donie Bush.

The tone was set.

Pittsburgh manufactured two runs in the second without getting a hit as Donovan struggled with his command, issuing four walks in the inning.

Detroit nearly answered in their half of the second, but with men on second and third and only one out, Adams got Tom Jones to pop out to third and Boss Schmidt to weakly dribble a grounder in front of the plate.

Looking to effectively end the game, and the 1909 World Series, in the third inning, the Pirates nearly gave the Tigers some momentum.  With runners on second and third and nobody out, Chief Wilson hit a grounder to the shortstop, who quickly made a throw to the plate to cut down the lead runner.

Seeing the throw go home, Bill Abstein tried to move from second to third, but Detroit catcher Boss Schmidt was alert and immediately got the ball to third base, catching Abstein in a run down.

With Pittsburgh squandering a prime opportunity, Detroit needed to get on the board and put the pressure on the visiting Pirates.  But they simply couldn’t get the clutch hit they needed against Adams, stranding runners in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings.

Detroit had pulled Donovan in favor of Game 6 winner George Mullin, trying to hold off the Pittsburgh offense long enough to give themselves a chance to get to Adams as the game progressed.

The Pirates held a 4-0 lead going into the sixth inning and the top of their line-up coming to the plate.  Tommy Leach got his second hit of the day, a double to left field, and Fred Clarke coaxed his third walk of the game.

That brought future Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner to the plate.  Wagner had struggled in the postseason six years earlier and desperately wanted to redeem himself with his performance in the 1909 World Series.

And with one swing of the bat he all but ended the decisive Game 7, driving a ball deep down the left field line that Davy Jones had to race into the corner to retrieve.  Wagner sprinted for third base as two runs crossed the plate, and when Jones’ throw to third got away, Wagner sprinted home.

The back-breaking play gave Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead, and Babe Adams was sailing.

The Tigers mustered only two harmless doubles over the final four innings off Adams, and when player/manager Fred Clarke hauled in a fly ball to left to end the game, Honus Wagner and the Pirates finally had their World Series title.

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Hitting Stats

Ed Abbaticchio10000000100.000
Bill Abstein263620023910.231
Babe Adams90000001100.000
Bobby Byrne245610001411.250
Howie Camnitz10000000000.000
Fred Clarke197400275330.211
George Gibson252620021121.240
Ham Hyatt41000011000.000
Tommy Leach258940022111.360
Lefty Leifield10000000100.000
Nick Maddox40000000100.000
Dots Miller282710042530.250
Paddy O’Connor10000000100.000
Deacon Phillippe10000000100.000
Honus Wagner244821064262.333
Vic Willis40000000100.000
Chief Wilson262410010211.154
Donie Bush225710035312.318
Ty Cobb263630052221.231
Sam Crawford284730141110.250
Jim Delahanty262950042500.346
Bill Donovan40000000100.000
Davy Jones306700112112.233
Tom Jones243610022010.250
Matty McIntyre30000000100.000
George Moriarty224610013101.273
George Mullin161310001300.188
Charley O’Leary30000000000.000
Boss Schmidt180430042000.222
Oscar Stanage50100020200.200
Ed Summers30000000200.000
Ed Willett20000000000.000
Ralph Works00000000000N/A

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Pitchings Stats

Babe Adams33300327.01846111.33
Howie Camnitz2101003.1852213.50
Lefty Leifield1101004.0751011.25
Nick Maddox1110019.0111241.00
Deacon Phillippe2000006.020120.00
Vic Willis21010011.2106834.63
Bill Donovan22110112.074873.00
George Mullin43210332.02388202.25
Ed Summers2202007.1137448.59
Ed Willett2000007.230010.00
Ralph Works1000002.042029.00

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The 1909 World Series set an early standard for Fall Classic drama.  It was the first Series to go the distance, and with neither team able to take a two-game lead, the fans were packing the ballparks for almost every game.

Honus Wagner cemented his place in baseball history, getting that elusive championship at the age of 35.

For Ty Cobb, despite being only 22-years-old, the 1909 World Series would be his final appearane in the Fall Classic, and he would end his career without a title.


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