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The 1909 World Series: Game One


Last week we went through the position-by-position match-up of the National League champions, Pittsburgh Pirates(110-42) and the American League champions, Detroit Tigers(98-54). A crowd of 29,264 fans packed Forbes Field to watch the hometown Pirates attempt to win their first World Series title.  Pittsburgh went with a surprise starter for game one, Babe Adams, who had limited experience in the majors and he finished fifth on the team in wins during the regular season. Manager Fred Clarke, used him based on a tip that he was a similar style pitcher to an American League pitcher the Tigers had trouble with in 1909. Detroit went with their number one guy, George Mullin, a 29 game winner. Each team had all of their regulars available for the series. The lineups for game one are as follows:

Pittsburgh Pirates

3B Bobby Byrne
CF Tommy Leach
LF Fred Clarke
SS Honus Wagner
2B Dots Miller
1B Bill Abstein
RF Chief Wilson
C George Gibson
P Babe Adams

Detroit Tigers

LF Davy Jones
SS Donie Bush
RF Ty Cobb
CF Sam Crawford
2B Jim Delahanty
3B George Moriarty
1B Tom Jones
C Boss Schmidt
P George Mullin

As mentioned above, Babe Adams seemed like an odd choice for game one of the series and just one inning into the game it seemed like a bad choice on the part of Fred Clarke. Adams walked Davy Jones to lead off the game. Donie Bush bunted Jones over to 2B and with one out, Adams walked Ty Cobb, the AL batting champ. That brought up Sam Crawford, who hit .314 with 97 RBI’s and a league leading 35 doubles during the regular season. Adams got their cleanup hitter to hit one right back to the box, where Babe fielded it cleanly and went to 3B for the force out. Jim Delahanty put the Tigers on the board with a single to Clarke in LF, that scored Cobb and moved Crawford to 2B. The Pirates caught a break on the next batter when George Moriarty hit a sharp groundball that Delahanty couldn’t avoid. The runner was hit, the ball dead and Delahanty was called out, giving Moriarty a single with nothing to show for it. Adams allowed two hits and two walks but just one run in the first.

The Pirates got their turn at bat and the inning was over before they knew it. Bobby Byrne popped out to Bush at shortstop. Tommy Leach grounded out to Delahanty at second base and Clarke hit a ball right back to Mullin for an easy three up, three down inning for the 29 game winner.

Adams started off the second inning much better than the first. He got the first two batters to groundout to Byrne over at third base. Mullin came up with two outs and he wasn’t a bad hitter for a pitcher. He only hit .214 in 1909 but he had batted .300 in the past and he drove in 17 runs during the regular season. Mullin singled to center field to keep the inning alive. Davy Jones made a bid to extend the inning even further but his line drive down the third base line was snared by Byrne, who had a hand in all three outs in the inning.

Honus Wagner got his first chance of the series leading off the bottom of the inning and he grounded out to second base. He had a tough 1903 series, hitting just .222 with a handful of fielding and base running errors, so Wagner wanted to atone for his poor showing six years earlier. His double play partner, Dots Miller, got his first AB of the series and flew out to Cobb in right field. The rookie 2B drove in 87 runs during the regular season, the third highest total in the league. Bill Abstein became the first base runner of the game when he drew a walk from Mullin. He became the last out of the inning just moments later when he was picked off first base by Mullin.

Adams faced the heart of the lineup in the third inning and just like the previous inning, he retired the first two batters. Bush tried to bunt his way on and was denied by Adams, while Cobb grounded out to Wagner. Just like in the second inning, Adams couldn’t escape unscathed, although this time the single he allowed was to Crawford, one of the better hitters in the game, and not to the ninth place hitting pitcher. Delahanty flew out to Clarke to end the inning.

Mullin looked unhittable early in the game, he retired the bottom of the order on two groundouts and a fly out from Adams for the third out. Mullin had faced the minimum through three innings while his counterpart had allowed a runner every inning. That wouldn’t change in the top of the fourth, although for the first time all game he didn’t allow a hit in an inning. Adams wasn’t having trouble with the first two batters the last three innings, but he had trouble getting that last out on the first try. He issued a two out walk to light-hitting catcher Boss Schmidt before getting Mullin to end the top of the inning with a groundout to Wagner, who threw to Miller for the force out at second base.

Mullin ran his streak to 11 batters without a hit when he struck out Tommy Leach for the second out of the inning. It was the first strikeout for either team during the game. Up stepped Fred Clarke, who put the Pirates on the board with a home run to right field. The next pitch from Mullin was right in the ribs of Honus Wagner, who later on said he was expecting to get hit after he saw how mad Mullin was on the mound. Dots Miller flew out to end the inning but the score was now tied and Pittsburgh finally got a hit off the top pitcher for Detroit.

Adams tried something different in the fifth inning, giving up a hit to Davy Jones to leadoff the inning. Bush and Cobb each followed with ground outs that resulted in force outs at 2B. Cobb led the AL with 76 stolen bases in 1909 and it didn’t take long for his first of the series, running on the strong-armed Gibson, who couldn’t throw him out. No damage was done though, as Adams got Crawford to pop out to Gibson, who put it away to end the inning.

The Pirates caught a big break to start the bottom of the fifth inning. Bill Abstein hit a grounder to Delahanty at 2B that he booted. As Abstein went for second base, Cobb made an error in right field that allowed the big first baseman for the Pirates to get all the way to 3B with no outs. Mullin struck out Wilson, giving him a good chance to get out with no damage, as neither Gibson nor Adams were strong hitters. The errors came back to haunt the Tigers as Gibson laced a double to center field, to put the Pirates ahead. Adams came up and hit a grounder to shortstop that was botched by Bush, putting runners at the corners with one out. Mullin, obviously off his game now, walked Byrne to load the bases. Leach came up and hit a flyball to LF, deep enough to score the slow-footed Gibson from 3B, putting the Pirates up by two runs. They couldn’t add to it as Clarke grounded out to 2B to end the inning. The Pirates scored two runs on just one hit.

The lead seemed to settle down Adams, who retired the Tigers in order in the sixth inning. He record his first strikeout on the first batter of the inning, Jim Delahanty, who started the rally for the Pirates with his error the previous inning.

The Pirates would add to their lead in the sixth. Wagner got his first hit of the game, a double to lead off the inning. He went to 3B on the fourth error of the day for the Tigers as Schmidt threw away a pickoff attempt. Miller couldn’t bring home the run, popping out to Schmidt in foul territory. Abstein came through with a weak hit ball out in front of the plate that Schmidt fielded and he only had a play at first base, scoring Wagner to make it 4-1. Chief Wilson then singled and stole 2B but Gibson flew out to end the inning.

Adams had a close call in the seventh inning, and everything came with two outs. He gave up a single to Davy Jones, the third time the Tigers leadoff hitter reached base. Then with two outs and Cobb on deck, Adams walked Donie Bush. Cobb came up and hit a long drive to deep center field but Tommy Leach was able to run it down to end the inning. Cobb hit the ball hard, almost making the Pirates pay for allowing more two out base runners but the score remained 4-1.

Mullin worked quickly through the bottom of the seventh, although the Pirates hit two balls hard off him, Adams with a deep fly to left field and Leach with a line drive right to Crawford in center field. Adams got through the 4-6 hitters easy in the eighth inning, getting a grounder to 1B from Crawford, then a pop out to Miller and foul out to Gibson to end the inning.

The Pirates had one hit in the bottom of the inning, a two out single off the bat of Miller, who stole 2B. Abstein struck out to end the inning and send it to the ninth, with Adams coming out for the complete game attempt. Matty McIntyre, the Tigers starting left fielder for most of the season, batted for Tom Jones. McIntyre had leg troubles that limited his mobility but he was still a good hitter. Matty flew out to Clarke for the first out. With no other strong bats on the bench, Boss Schmidt batted for himself and flew out to Leach in center. George Mullin came to bat with two outs and no one on, a sign of how good he hit for a pitcher. It was Adams who won this battle, striking out his mound opponent for the final out of the game.

The Pirates took game one of the series, and did it without using any of their three top pitchers, putting them in a great spot for the rest of the series. Game two would be played the following day at Forbes Field, with 25 game winner, Howie Camnitz on the mound for the Pirates, going up against Bill Donovan, who won was just 8-7 in 1909 but had won 25 games twice in his career and as recently as 1907. When we return next week, we will see if the Pirates could take a 2-0 lead in the series, or if the Tigers could come back to tie it up.

John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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