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The 1909 World Series: Game Three


On Monday October 11,1909 the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates met up at Bennett Park in Detroit for game three of the 1909 World Series. The Pirates had taken the opener behind the pitching of Babe Adams, while Detroit evened up the series in game two with Wild Bill Donovan on the mound pitching well and the Tiger bats coming through with seven runs. The series now moves to Detroit for two games before heading back to Pittsburgh for game five. If the series went longer, games six and seven would also be in Detroit so the momentum and advantage switched hands quickly when the Tigers won game two.

On the mound for the Tigers for game three was Ed Summers, a 24 year old that won 19 games in 1909. In his rookie season in 1908 he won an amazing total of 24 games and threw over 300 innings. The Pirates countered with 22 year old Nick Maddox, who went 13-8 2.21 in 203.1 innings. He also had a fine 1908 season, going 23-8, in what was his first full season in the majors. The lineup stayed nearly the same as the previous two games, only the pitcher’s spot has changed. The weather was rainy and it followed heavy rains the previous day but the two teams played on and 18,277 fans showed up to cheer on their team. With an overflow crowd in right field, the league decided to use an extra umpire out by the crowd, going to Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem for those duties.

Cobb and Wagner talk hitting before the game


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 Nick Maddox

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 Ed Summers


The Pirates took advantage of the wet grounds quickly, with leadoff hitter Bobby Byrne dropping down a bunt single to begin the game. Tommy Leach followed him with a single up the middle that advanced Byrne to third base. Fred Clarke got up and hit one back to the pitcher, Byrne broke for home on the hit and was caught in no man’s land but he was able to stay in a rundown long enough to allow Leach to get to 3B and Clarke to reach 2B. Honus Wagner stepped up and grounded a ball to shortstop Donie Bush, who booted it, allowing the run to score and Clarke to reach third base. With runners on the corners and one out, things went badly for Detroit as Dots Miller came to the plate. Wagner took off right away for second base and Tigers catcher Boss Schmidt threw wildly, allowing Clarke to score and Wagner to move to third. Right after that, Summers threw one away, allowing Wagner to score. Two errors and a wild pitch without a hit, got Wagner to cross the plate with the Pirates third run.

Miller drew a walk and Bill Abstein came up to bat. He lined a single into center field and Miller tried to go first to third on the hit. Sam Crawford threw the ball away, allowing Miller to get up and score the Pirates fourth run. It was the third error by the Tigers already, the bad weather and field conditions were obviously affecting their play. Abstein stood on third base with one out as the Tigers went to a reliever already, bringing in Ed Willett to try to settle things down. He went 21-10 in 1909 for the Tigers. The first batter he faced closed the line on Summers, as Chief Wilson singled to left field, scoring Abstein to make it 5-0 already. Willett did settle down, retiring the next two batters to end the inning, but the Pirates batted around, took a huge early lead and made the Tigers go to a starter very early in the contest, wasting him for the next day.

Nick Maddox made the last out of the inning and had to sit awhile before actually making his first pitch but he didn’t show the effects in the first inning. The Tigers managed just a single from Bush, which was followed by a strikeout of Ty Cobb and a groundout by Crawford to end the inning.

Byrne grounded out to start the second inning, then Willett suffered a bout of wildness, hitting Leach and Clarke back-to-back. Wagner followed with a groundout to shortstop but Detroit was unable to turn the double play, leaving runners at the corners with two outs. Dots Miller came up and again the Pirates ran with him at the plate, this time it was Leach taking off for home and he would’ve been out but Willett threw it away. It was the sixth unearned run for the Pirates on the day. Miller popped out to end the half inning with no more damage.

The Tigers opened their half of the second with a double from Jim Delahanty, but Maddox got the bottom of the order to strikeout, pop up and ground out to end the inning with Delahanty never moving from second base. Willett began to coast in the game, retiring the next six hitters he faced in order, sandwiched in between, Maddox also retired the Tigers in order in the third inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Maddox got Cobb out quickly on a ball back to the mound, then Crawford followed with a long drive to left field that Clarke tracked down. Delahanty got his second hit of the game, a single, but he was forced out at second on a groundball by George Moriarty to end the inning.

Donie Bush made another error to start the fifth, allowing Clarke to reach first base. It was the fifth error of the day already for Detroit. Wagner followed with a single to left field, moving Clarke to second base with no outs. Willett got Miller to foul out on a catch made by the pitcher himself. Abstein came up and hit a ball deep to center field for the second out, but it moved Clarke to third base. With Wilson up, Wagner stole second base but Chief then lined out to shortstop to end the Pirates inning.

The bottom of the Tigers lineup went down in order in the fifth, followed by the bottom of the Pittsburgh order doing the same to start the sixth inning. Despite all the scoring in the first and all the errors from the Tigers, the game was moving at a quick pace, it would be done in less than two hours.

The Tigers got a one out single from Bush in the sixth, but Maddox continued his dominance over the two big bats in the Detroit lineup, getting Cobb and Crawford to both groundout to end the inning. Wagner collected his second hit of the game in the seventh, a two out single to left field. He was thrown out trying to steal second with Miller up, ending the inning and sending the game to the bottom of the seventh with a 6-0 Pirates lead.

Maddox ran into his first trouble in the seventh and the Tigers made it a game all of a sudden. Delahanty collected his third hit, a deep double to center field. Moriarty grounded out to Miller at second base but Abstein dropped the throw, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Tom Jones then got the Tigers on the board, hitting a single to right field to score Delahanty. Schmidt fouled out, then Matty McIntyre batted for Willett. McIntyre struck out for the second out, bringing up the top of the order. Davy Jones laid down a bunt single to load the bases and Bush lined a single to left field, bringing home two more runs. Cobb followed with his first hit, a single to center field that scored the Tigers fourth run. Maddox stayed in and got Crawford to pop out to Abstein to end the inning. It was now 6-4 Pirates.

The Tigers went to their third pitcher of the day, a seldom used rookie named Ralph Works, came on to work the eighth inning. He struck out Miller to start the inning, then gave up a ground rule double into the right field crowd to Abstein. Wilson grounded out and Gibson popped out to the catcher to end the half inning.

Maddox stayed in for the bottom of the inning after a shaky seventh inning. He finally retired Delahanty but that was followed by back-to-back walks. Luckily for the Pirates, the damage was limited by a strong throw from Gibson to throw out Moriarty trying to steal second base. The inning ended with Schmidt flying out to Clarke, sending the game to the ninth inning with the Pirates up by two runs.

Nick Maddox batted in the top of the ninth, striking out to start the inning, so this was his game to win or lose. The Pirates however, weren’t ready to go quietly into the bottom of the inning. Byrne singled, then was followed by a ground rule double to left field by Leach. Clarke then lined out to Cobb  in right field and Byrne was able to tag up and score the Pirates seventh run. Wagner made the lead a little more comfortable with a single of his own that brought home Leach. Wagner stole another base before Miller lined out to Cobb to end the inning.

The Tigers pinch hit for Works, bringing in pitcher George Mullin, who struck out for the first out. Davy Jones followed with a grounder to shortstop that Wagner made the play on but Abstein dropped, his second error of the day, allowing Jones to reach. Bush then reached on an infield single, followed by a ground rule double from Cobb into the right field crowd that scored Jones and put two runners in scoring position for Crawford with one out. Sam Crawford grounded out to Wagner and while it brought home one run, it was also the second out. Cobb stayed at second base on the play. Jim Delahanty with his three hits was now the last chance for the Tigers. He smacked a line drive into left field but Clarke was there to put it away to end the game.

The Pirates took game three by an 8-6 score, putting them up two games to one in the series. Game four would be back in Detroit the next day. Game one starter for Detroit, George Mullin, would be back on the hill, while the Pirates would go to Lefty Leifield for his first action of the series. When we return next week, the date will be Tuesday October 12, 1909 as the Pirates try to move one game closer to their first World Series title.

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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