The 1909 World Series: Game Seven

After the Pirates took a three games to two lead in Pittsburgh, Detroit was able to pull out a close one in game six behind the pitching of their ace, George Mullin. For the pivotal game seven, the Tigers went with Wild Bill Donovan, winner of game two in Pittsburgh. The Pirates went with Babe Adams, winner of game one and game five. Detroit also had George Mullin ready to go on one day rest at the first sign of trouble. The teams had off between games six and seven, the first off-day of the series since the day before game three. The weather was bad on this off-day, heavy rains and sleet left the field a mess, but game seven went on as scheduled. On Saturday, October 16, 1909, Bennett Park in Detroit, Michigan was packed full with 17,562 fans, many of them there from Pittsburgh to witness the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers square off for the championship of Major League Baseball. The lineups, except for the pitcher’s spot, remained the same as game six.

Babe Adams, the new hero of Pittsburgh

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 Bill Donovan


Wild Bill Donovan earned his nickname early in the game, hitting the first batter. After a sacrifice and caught stealing, Donovan walked Fred Clarke and Honus Wagner back-to-back with two outs. Donovan got out of trouble, getting Dots Miller to ground out but it was an ominous start for the Detroit hurler.

When lead-off hitter, Bobby Byrne was thrown out stealing, it was costly for both teams. It was a hit and run play, with Fred Clarke being unable to get the bat on the ball. Byrne was thrown out fairly easy but he went in hard to third baseman George Moriarty. Byrne sprained his ankle badly and had to be carried off the field. Moriarty stayed in the game but he wouldn’t be able to last too long.

In the bottom of the first, Adams faced the minimum thanks to a caught stealing. He hit Donie Bush, who remained at first base as Ty Cobb made the second out, but with Sam Crawford up, Bush tried to steal and George Gibson threw him out.

In the second inning, Donovan’s wildness remained. He walked the lead-off batter, Bill Abstein, who stole second base. Chief Wilson tried to bunt him over to third base but he ended up reaching via fielder’s choice. After a pop out by Gibson, Babe Adams was walked by his mound opponent. With the bases loaded, Ham Hyatt came up to bat. He replaced Byrne in the lineup, going to center field while Tommy Leach moved to third base. Hyatt lifted a flyball deep enough to score Abstein from third base with the first run of the game. Leach came up and drew the fifth walk from Donovan, loading the bases again. Clarke came up and was able to draw the fourth walk of the inning, bringing home Wilson with the second run of the game. Wild Bill was left in to face Honus Wagner and was able to get out of further trouble with a flyball to Cobb in right field to end the inning.

In the bottom of the second inning, Adams got into some trouble after a ground out from Crawford for the first out. He walked Jim Delahanty, then gave up a ground rule double to Moriarty. When the Tigers’ third baseman reached second base, he had a bad limp and had to be taken out of the game. Charles O’Leary came in to pinch run, his first appearance of the series. Adams settled down and retired both Tom Jones and Boss Schmidt to finish the inning. Jones was lucky to be able to play. Just two days earlier in game six, he was knocked out on the field(and hospitalized) when Chief Wilson collided with him during a close play at first base.

In the third inning, O’Leary took over at third base and the Tigers stuck with Donovan. Dots Miller led-off the inning with a single, then was followed by a double from Abstein. The Pirates had a chance to break it open at this point but some poor running cut short their inning. On a ground ball to Donie Bush at shortstop, Miller took off for home and was gunned down. On the throw home, Abstein got too far off of second base and he too was thrown out. Gibson grounded out to end the inning, one that started with two runners in scoring position and no outs, and ended with no runs scored. The game remained 2-0 Pirates.

Detroit’s manager, Hughie Jennings had seen enough of Donovan at this point and went to his ace, George Mullin for his fourth appearance of the series. Mullin was a good hitting pitcher, good enough to be used as the pinch hitter for Donovan. Mullin flew out to Wilson in right field, then Davy Jones dropped down a bunt base hit. Bush sacrificed Jones over to second base, hoping that the Tigers’ two big hitters could come through but Cobb hit one right back to Adams for the last out.

Mullin right from the start wasn’t as sharp as he was the rest of the series. He got a fly out from Adams, but then gave up a walk to Hyatt and a single to Leach. Clarke then dropped down a sacrifice bunt, bringing up Wagner with two outs and two runners in scoring position. The Tigers decided to walk Wagner, loading the bases for Miller. The move did not pay off for Detroit as Miller lined a single to right field, bringing home two runs. Wagner moved to third on the play and Miller moved up with a stolen base but they were left stranded when Mullin struck out Abstein to end the inning. Pittsburgh now led 4-0, with their first World Series title now eighteen outs away.

Adams failed to have a clean inning for the fourth frame in a row, but just like the other three innings, he was able to keep Detroit off the board. Babe allowed a one out single to Delahanty and a two out single to Tom Jones, before getting Boss Schmidt to ground out to end the inning. The fifth inning went by quickly, six up and six down, with only one ball leaving the infield. Adams recorded his first strikeout in the bottom of the inning.

To the sixth inning the teams went, with the top of the Pirates order coming up. Hyatt grounded out, then Leach doubled into left field. Clarke then drew the Pirates ninth walk of the game. Honus Wagner followed them with a smash into left field for a triple that scored two runs. On the play, left fielder Davy Jones made a poor throw trying to get Wagner as he slid into third, allowing Honus to score on the play, giving Pittsburgh a seven run lead. The inning ended without anymore damage but now Detroit was well behind with time running out.

The bottom of the sixth was the second straight clean inning for Adams. He retired Cobb on another ball hit back to the mound, then got Crawford to fly out to Clarke in left field. Pittsburgh got a one out double from Gibson in the seventh, but they were unable to get another run.

In the bottom of the seventh, Adams retired the first two batters to make it ninth straight batters set aside. Boss Schmidt was able to hit a double, but Mullin flew out to end the inning. Adams was just six outs away from his third win and a title for the city of Pittsburgh.

Fred Clarke drew a one out walk in the eighth inning, the tenth of the game for the Pirates and the fourth for Clarke. He stole second base with Wagner up, and remained there as Honus flew out to center field for the second out. Miller came up and hit a drive to center field just like Wagner, but this one was dropped by Crawford. Clarke scored on the play, giving the Pirates an eight run lead with another Detroit mistake handing them a run.

Adams faced the top of the Detroit order in the eighth. He got a pop out from Davy Jones, a pop out from Bush and a fly ball to Clarke, off the bat of Cobb, to end the inning. The Tigers’ best hitting was now 0-4 in the game and hitting just .231 in the series.

Pittsburgh failed to score in the ninth,although Detroit committed another error. A Gibson ground ball was booted by Bush but no damage was done. That brought up the Tigers’ 4-6 hitters for their last hope. Obviously they didn’t stand much of a chance down by eight against Adams, who had pitched brilliantly up to that point, especially since the fourth inning.

Crawford grounded out to Wagner for the first out. Delahanty followed with a double, the sixth hit of the game for the Tigers. O’Leary fouled out to Leach at third base for the second out. Tom Jones was the final hope for the Tigers. He lifted a fly ball to Clarke in left field, who put it away for the final out. The Pittsburgh Pirates were the 1909 World Champions.

The newspaper put it best when they said that the Pittsburgh fans were in a “frantic joy”. ¬†People took to the streets once word of their victory reach the city. Spontaneous parades formed in the Pittsburgh streets, with people holding pictures of their new hero, Babe Adams, winner of three games in the series. The team returned home the following day, gathering at Forbes Field on October 18th for a victory parade and fireworks. The Pirates new home was the center of the festivities, with free admission to all that showed up. Pittsburgh had won three NL pennants prior, including two before the World Series started in 1903, but this celebration was the biggest in the city. A 110 win season had ended in joy for the boys from Pittsburgh.

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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