Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16, 1909 - Game Seven

The Pirates began their life playing in Recreation, Union and Exposition Parks, all in what was then Allegheny City. AC wasn't annexed by Pittsburgh until December, 1907, so it can be said that they weren't really the Pittsburgh Pirates until the 1908 season.

The Bucs and owner Barney Dreyfuss opened Forbes Field in 1909, and what a beginning it was for the team and its new hometown.

Along with player/manager Fred Clarke, Sam Leever, Tommy Leach, and Deacon Phillippe, Honus Wagner was one of just five players who remained from the roster of the 1902 National League champions that Dreyfuss had cobbled together from his loaded Louisville nine.

Wagner was the only .300 hitter for the Pirates (there were only four in the NL) but the Bucs lineup didn't have any holes. Pittsburgh had the best attack in the league, leading in runs, doubles, triples, batting average and slugging average. No regular hit below .261, and seven of the eight had 14 stolen sacks or better.

The Pirates' pitching staff was equally well-balanced. Their team ERA of 2.07 was second only to Chicago's brilliant 1.75 ERA. All in all, the team had enough parts to win 110 games and take the NL title by 6-1/2 games over the Cubs. It was time to stare down the AL champ, the Detroit Tigers, for all the marbles.

The 1909 World Series storyline was the head-to-head matchup of two of baseball's storied players, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb. It took seven games, but when the smoke cleared, Pittsburgh had become World Champions for the first time in their history. But the real star of the show wasn't the Flying Dutchman or the Georgia Peach.

It was 27-year old rookie LHP Babe Adams, who notched three victories, including the decisive seventh game shutout. The Babe won games one, five and seven, going the distance all three times. He surrendered 5 runs, and gave up 18 hits (each game was a six-hitter) against the Tigers with an ERA of 1.33.

It was the same ol' from Adams, who had been 12-3 with a 1.11 ERA during the regular season.

He took the first game on October 8 at Forbes Field 4-1, backed by Fred Clarke's homer and three Detroit errors that led to the other scores. It would see-saw back and forth from there. Howie Camitz was rocked in the next game, 7-2, as Bill Donovan quieted the Buc bats, holding Pittsburgh to five hits.

Then it was off to Motown and Bennett Park. The Pirates held serve, winning 8-6. They scored 5 times in the first, and Nick Maddox survived to earn the W, weathering a storm of booted balls that led to five unearned Detroit runs.

Pittsburgh put together their big inning with four singles, a walk, three errors, a stolen base and a wild pitch. Talk about manufacturing some runs! The Tigers roared back the next afternoon, 5-0, as George Mullin tossed a five hit goose egg versus the Bucs.

They hopped the train back to Pittsburgh, and though the Babe was touched for a pair of homers, he and the Bucs prevailed 8-4. The big blast was Clarke's three-run shot in the seventh to put the game away. Then it was back to the Motor City to close out the set.

In the most exciting game of the Series, the Tigers stayed alive with a 5-4 win. Pittsburgh was down by a pair in the ninth, and loaded the sacks with no one out. A bouncer brought in one run, but pinch hitter Ed Abbaticchio swung into a strike out, throw out DP to end the game when Chief Wilson was gunned down at third.

But there wasn't much fight left in the Michigan nine. Adams tossed zeroes, and the Pirates scored eight times, thanks to four extra-base knocks and ten Tiger free passes. For the first time ever, the baseball nation looked up to the Pittsburgh Pirates, champions of the world.

The Pirates were led by Adams and the plate heroics of Tommy Leach, who hit .360 with 4 2Bs, Honus Wagner, who batted .333 with 6 RBI, and slugger Fred Clarke, who only hit .211 but led both teams in RBI with 7 and a pair of homers. Ty Cobb? He was held to a .231 average. Donie Bush (.318) and Jim Delahanty (.346) had the hot sticks for Detroit.

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