MLB: The New York Yankees Won the 1922 “Little World Series”

by on February 15th, 2011
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In one of the closest pennant races ever, the 1922 St. Louis Browns, the team that would become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, finished a mere game behind the pennant-winning New York Yankees.

On Sept. 5 the Browns took over first place from the Yankees. The Browns beat the Cleveland Indians while the Boston Red Sox swept a doubleheader from their New York friends.

Ken Williams, who would lead the league with 39 home runs, hit a grand slam in the Browns 10-9 win that day. The newspaper account stated that Williams’ blast was good for four runs. No “grand slams” in those days.

George Sisler extended his hitting streak to 34 games. He finished the season batting .420, beating out Ty Cobb, who hit .401.

On Sept. 7, Bob Quinn, the Browns business manager, announced that “The time to accept reservations for the world’s series is about ripe.” Plan for the construction of temporary stands were under way.

The Browns were being swamped with ticket requests for the championship games. Quinn made it a point to say that no tickets had been issued or promised to anyone.

On Sept. 16, the Yankees visited the Browns, who trailed them by one-half game, for the opener of three crucial games at Sportsman Park that were dubbed “the little World Series.”

The New York Times account of the game succinctly summarized the feelings of the Browns and their fans.

“All the hopes and ambitions of local players and fans are centered in these games. Everything else was second — war clouds, Armenian massacres, rail strikes, coal shortages.”

Browns fans had mixed emotions as they left the ballpark after the first game of the series..

George Sisler hit in his 40th consecutive game to tie Ty Cobb’s modern record, but Bob Shawkey beat Urban Shocker, 2-1.

There was an ugly incident in the ninth inning when one of the 30,000 fans in attendance threw a bottle that hit Yankees center fielder Whitey Witt in his forehead. The bottle left a gash in the bone.

Witt and right fielder Bob Meusel raced into the gap when Witt was hit. Meusel made the catch as Witt fell to the ground.

Mounted police galloped over as thousands of fans ran onto the field. Order was finally restored and Witt was treated. The injury, while bad, was fortunately less severe than first believed and he played the next day.

The Yankees lead was now one and one-half games. The Browns had to win the next day, which is what they did. Sisler singled in the sixth inning to break Cobb’s consecutive game hitting streak record, Ken Williams hit a two-run home run and the Browns won, 5-1.

Browns fans were depressed when Babe Ruth broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run off Hub Pruett, but the Browns touched Waite Hoyt for a three-spot in their half of the inning to give them more than enough to win.

The Yankees won the final game, 3-2 as Whitey Witt drove in the decisive run. With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning, they loaded the bases against starter Dixie Davis and relief pitcher Hub Pruett, who had pitched a complete game the previous day.

With Witt at the plate, Browns manager Lee Fohl brought in Urban Shocker. Witt singled to drive in the tying and eventual winning runs.

The Yankees won the pennant by one game over a Browns team that batted .310/.369/.453, led the league with a .338 ERA and a 1.23 ERA+.

The Browns wouldn’t win their first pennant until 1944. They lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.

References:

Browns again top american league. (1922, Sep 06). New York Times (1857-1922), pp. 22. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/100148752?accountid=46260

Browns begin plans to erect more seats for world series. (1922, Sep 09). New York Times (1857-1922), pp. 15. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/100142648?accountid=46260

Yanks beat browns before 30,000 fans. (1922, Sep 17). New York Times (1857-1922), pp. 106. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/100177291?accountid=46260

Yankees take final game from browns. (1922, Sep 19). New York Times (1857-1922), pp. 27. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/100148179?accountid=46260

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