Sunday, September 23, 2012

1911 World Series - Home Run: Baker

The Teams
American League: Philadelphia Athletics (101-50) - Third World Series (Won in 1910)
National League: New York Giants (99-54) - Second World Series (Won in 1905)

What Happened
Twice during the 1911 World Series, the box score after a game featured the entry "Home Run: Baker." If anybody was going to hit a home run in that World Series, it was going to be Frank Baker, the Philadelphia third baseman who led the American League with 11. While 11 home runs doesn't sound too impressive, it was indicative of the times. Baker was much more than just a home run hitter, too, finishing in the top 10 in virtually every offensive stat.

Baker was already seen as a star after his dominating performance in the previous year's World Series, but he proved in 1911 that he was only getting started. After Christy Mathewson won Game 1 for the Giants - the fourth straight time he had beaten the Athletics in a World Series game - Baker took over.

Game 2 was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh when Baker struck for the first time, hitting a two-out, two-run home run to provide the winning margin and let the A's tie the series. He struck again in Game 3, this time victimizing the great Mathewson himself. With the A's trailing 1-0 in the ninth - and after having two runners thrown out at home in the eighth inning - Baker hit his biggest home run yet, tying the game with a one-out home run down the right field line. Having gotten to Mathewson, the A's piled on in the 11th, scoring twice - with a single by Baker right in the center of the rally - then held on to win the game.

They had beaten Mathewson for the first time in a World Series game, their leader was having a great World Series, and they were cruising. And then it started to rain, and as the A's and Giants waited out the storm front that wouldn't end, all of Philadelphia's momentum seemed to wash away. When the World Series started up again a week later, Mathewson was waiting for them again; making things worse, the Giants scored twice in the top of the first, giving Mathewson a lead before he even took the mound.

But the A's came back, scoring three times in the fourth to take the lead, then getting an insurance run when Baker ripped an RBI double in the fifth. Chief Bender made the lead hold up, and Philadelphia had beaten Mathewson for a second straight game. The A's took a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning of Game 5 before Del Crandall and Josh Devore got back-to-back two out hits to help the Giants avoid elimination. After the Giants won the game in 10 innings, the series went back to Philadelphia, but it was over quickly after that. A four-run fourth put the Athletics in full control, and a seven-run seventh turned the clinching game into a farce. The Athletics won 13-2 - almost doubling their run total for the series - and celebrated their second straight world championship.


While Philadelphia was praising their title winners, their fans took notice of who played the biggest role in their last two championships. In honor of the line that showed up in two different box scores that series - and in honor of the blasts that seemed to come at exactly the right time - Frank Baker got a new nickname. Forever after, he was known as Home Run Baker.

Scores (Home team shaded; winners in Bold)

Philadelphia133 (11) 4313
New York 21224 (10)2

The List
I'm ranking all the World Series, from worst to best. Here are the ones I've done so far:

23. 1911 - Philadelphia (A) def. New York (N) 4-2
24. 1915 - Boston (A) def. Philadelphia (N) 4-1
25. 1971 - Pittsburgh (N) def. Baltimore (A) 4-3
26. 1918 - Boston (A) def. Chicago (N) 4-2
27. 1988 - Los Angeles (N) def. Oakland (A) 4-1
28. 1946 - St. Louis (N) def. Boston (A) 4-3
29. 1925 - Pittsburgh (N) def. Washington (A) 4-3
Numbers 30-39
Numbers 40-49
Numbers 50-59
Numbers 60-69
Numbers 70-79
Numbers 80-89
Numbers 90-99
Numbers 100-107

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