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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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1912 City Series

Posted 02-23-2012 at 05:07 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 05-19-2012 at 02:59 AM by TommyJohn


White Sox 78-76, 4th, 28 GB

The White Sox jumped out of the starting gate in 1912, going 23-6 in the first few weeks of play. Youth and inexperience took over after that, and the team went 55-70 the rest of the way to finish up at 78-76. It was good enough for the first division-barely-as they managed to place 4th. New additions to the team this year were Buck Weaver, Ray Schalk and Eddie Cicotte.

Pitcher Cicotte of the Red Sox had fought with both the manager and owner of his team. The Bosox wanted to unload him, and Comiskey was more than happy to take him, unfortunately. Rookie Weaver was a disater afield, committing 71 errors. Ping Bodie took the youngster under his wing and mentored him through the rough season.

Ed Walsh was once again his great self-27-17, 2.15 ERA, 32 complete games in 41 starts. However, what awaited him in the postseason would eventually bring about the end.

Team Leaders

HR: Harry Lord, Ping Bodie 5
RBI: Shano Collins 81
Avg: Ping Bodie .294

Wins: Ed Walsh 27
ERA: Ed Walsh 2.15
Strikeouts: 254

Cubs 91-59, 3rd, 11.5 GB

The Cubs had lost a couple of steps, but they retained most of their personnel and were in 90-win form, garnering 91 for a 3rd place finish. Frank Chance was taking it easy this year-he only played 2 games and concentrated on peerlessly leading the Cubs. At one point it was decided that the Peerless Leader would not be leading the Cubs in 1913 although it is not clear if this was during the season or after.

One weapon the Cubs had this year was Heinie Zimmerman, who moved from 2nd to 3rd base. Zim zinged NL pitching for 14 home runs and a .372 average, both of which led the senior circuit. He also had 99 RBI. Only the great Honus Wagner's 102 RBI prevented Zim from winning the Triple Crown.

Mordecai Brown was losing a step, going only 5-6. Larry Cheney was the ace of the staff, going 26-10.

Once again, a statistically superior Cubs team was matched against an improved but young White Sox team. The City Series didn't appear to be contest, and for a while it wasn't.

The Series

Mention the 2004 Boston Red Sox to Ken Burns and Co. and they will squeal and swoon in delight. And why not? The 2004 Bosox pulled off a miracle that ranks up there with Our Lady of Fatima, Bernadette of Lourdes, parting the Red Sea, walking on water and the 1969 Mets. They rallied from a 3 games to 0 deficit to beat the Yankees 4 games to 3 in the 2004 ALCS. Then they went on to break the horrible, horrible, horrible curse and win the World Series, ending the 86 year holocaust. Truly, no one ever suffered the way Red Sox fans suffered, bearing their pain the way Christ bore his on Calvary. And they rallied from that 3-0 deficit to boot, becoming the first baseball team in 101 years of postseason play to accomplish that. Well, officially speaking, anyway. Yes, they did pull off that rally. But they were not the first ever to do it. They were beaten to the punch by 92 years.

The 1912 City Series has to rank as one of the greatest postseason series ever played, if only for the sheer magnitude of the accomplishment of coming back from being down 3 games to 0. But there was much more to series than that-it played out over 9 days and 9 games of pure, gut-wrenching baseball. In the process, one of the giants of deadball-era baseball all but sacrificed his career to win a series that didn't even count.

The first game, taking place after two days of rain delays, featured an outstanding pitching performance by Ed Walsh, who pitched 9 shutout innings and gave up only 1 hit-Joe Tinker's 4th inning double was the only blemish on Walsh's pitching line. However, all Walsh had to show for his effort was a scoreless tie, as rookie Jimmy Lavender of the Cubs matched the Big Reel pitch for pitch, giving up only six harmless hits. The game was called after 9 because of darkness with the Sox and Cubs deadlocked at 0-0.

The next day the Cubs hit Eddie Cicotte for 3 runs and ace Larry Cheney baffled the Sox, giving up only 1 run. The Cubs posted 2 in the 8th, during which Soxers Harry Lord and Buck Weaver collided while chasing a pop up by Ward Miller, who wound up on 3rd while Lord and Weaver were knocked out of the game.

The Cubs held the lead until the bottom of the 9th, when the Sox rallied to tie the game (remember this point). Ed Walsh relieved Cicotte in the 10th, nailed Larry Cheney at the plate when the Cub attempted to score on a grounder, and held the Cubs down until darkness once again set in after 12 innings. The game was called a 3-3 draw.

The Cubs finally broke through in Game 3, smacking the Sox 5-4. Heinie Zimmerman scored what would prove the decisive run when he stole home in the top of the 7th. The Sox attempted another 9th inning rally. They scored to make it 5-4 and had two on and two out when Babe Borton struck out to end it.

It was all Cubs the next two days as they beat Walsh 4-2 in Game 4 and thumped Cicotte 8-1 in Game 5 to take the 3 games to 0 lead. One more win was needed for the Cubs to gain sweep revenge over the Sox for the embarrassing sweep the Sox had laid on them a year ago.

Frank Chance expressed these sentiments in a column written in the Tribune the day of Game 6: "I am in hopes that the Cubs can win again today and thus end the series with four straight victories. In that way I'll feel we've gotten even for the trimming they gave us last season."

The game was a see-saw battle, with Walsh once again on the mound for the Sox. The Sox blew leads of 3-0 and 4-3 (the last lead being lost in the 8th) before scoring in the top of the 11th. Walsh battled in the 11th again, and the game ended when Jimmy Sheckard struck out and Vic Saier was nailed attempting to steal second.

Game 7 saw the Cubs holding the 4-3 lead in the 8th. The Sox erupted for 4 runs to take a 7-4 lead. The Cubs attempted to rally in the 9th, plating one run and positioning a runner on 3rd base before Jimmy Sheckard grounded out to end it.

By now the Cubs had to be feeling nervous. They had been on the verge of an easy sweep, and now the Sox had rallied to win the last two, coming from behind in the last game.

Game 8 had to be truly one of the greatest City Series games ever played. The game saw home runs from Shano Collins, Buck Weaver and Heinie Zimmerman. The Sox blew a 4-3 lead in the 8th, were losing 5-4 and down to their final three outs of the series when they once again staged an incredible rally, loading the bases with one out. Jimmy Lavender came in to put out the fire and proceeded to give up a triple to Wally Mattick that cleared the bases. Mattick then scored to give the Sox an 8-5 lead. Ed Walsh came in for the bottom of the 9th and shut down the Cubs and draw the series even at 3 games to 3.

The next day, at Comiskey Park the Cubs and Sox met for the decisive Game 9, something that seemed only a fantasy for the Sox and Sox fans 4 days earlier. The Sox had outgutted the Cubs over the next three, staging late inning rallies twice to force the decisive battle. The fans doubtless expected another gut-wrenching, emotional duel down to the final pitch.

If that is what they were expecting, they were disappointed. The Sox jumped all over Cub starter Jimmy Lavender and relievers Charlie Smith and Ed Reulbach for 11 runs in the first 3 frames. The only suspense was if Sox starter Ed Walsh, playing in his 6th(!) series game, would garner the shutout. Meantime, the Sox piled on, scoring 5 more times to ring up a 16-0 lead.

Walsh and the Sox took the field in the 9th with the Comiskey crowd doubtless roaring in anticipation of sweet victory. Schulte popped out to catcher Jimmy Callahan, Vic Saier popped out to Wally Mattick in center, and Johnny Evers whacked a grounder to shortstop Weaver, who heaved a throw to Jack Fournier to retire Evers and complete a most improbable comeback.

The crowd swarmed around Walsh and lifted him on their shoulders and carried him off the field. The Big Reel had come through in the greatest series of his life. But it came at a cost. Walsh threw out his arm pitching in the series and would never again be the same. He would only start 14 games the next year, completing 7. His career was effectively over-all in the name of winning a series that did not even count.
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