By Glen Sparks
Tigers’ starter Bill Donovan plunked the first Pirates batter in Game 7 of the 1909 World Series. Unfortunately for Detroit, the game didn’t get any better after that. The Pirates beat the Tigers 8-0 in front of 17,562 at Bennett Park in Detroit. It was Pittsburgh’s first World Series championship and the first Series since 1905 that did not include the Cubs.
Baseball people wanted to see Detroit’s Ty Cobb battle it out in the Series against Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner. Cobb had put together a huge year. He led the American League in batting average (.377), RBI (107), and home runs (nine, remember this was the dead-ball era) to earn a Triple Crown. He also led in hits (216) and stolen bases (76). The Georgia Peach slumped in the Series, though. He finished just 6-26, a paltry .231.
Wagner enjoyed a fine October after concluding yet another strong regular-season campaign (5 HR, 100 RBI, .339 BA, 35 SB). The so-called Flying Dutchman batted .333 (8-24) against the Tigers.
Really, though, the World Series belonged to 27-year-old Charles “Babe” Adams. A solid pitcher throughout his 19-year career (all but one season with the Pirates), Adams finished 194-140 with a 2.76 ERA. One of the great control artists in the early days of baseball, Babe topped the National League in WHIP five times. In that rookie season of 1909, he went 12-3 with a 1.11 ERA.
Adams won all three of his starts in the World Series, all complete games. He only gave up 18 hits in his 27 innings of work. Babe outdueled George Mullin 4-1 in Game 1 and beat Ed Summers 8-4 in Game 5.
The Pirates took a 3-2 Series lead following Adams’ Game 5 win. Detroit held on in Game 6 to win 5-4 and set up the deciding match-up.
Donavan didn’t last long in Game 7. Maybe that hit-by-pitch was an omen. He walked six batters, including two with the bases loaded. (They didn’t call him “Wild” Bill for nothing.) Donovan was done after only three innings. Manager Hughie Jennings pulled him for Mullin.
Possibly tired after pitching three other games in the Series, Mullin gave up six runs (four earned) in six innings, while Adams and the Pirates cruised to victory. Wagner drove in two runs and walked twice. The Pirates, who stole 18 bases in the Series, swiped four bags in the final game.
Thus went Game 7 of the 1909 World Series, the first Fall Classic to go the full seven games.
Don’t miss tonight’s Game 7 between the Royals and Giants from Kansas City. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:07 Central time, Tim Hudson (SF) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (KC). … We might see Madison Bumgarner at some point for the Giants. He’s been pretty good.