No one won. No one lost. Game Two of the 1912 World Series ended in a 6-6 tie after 11 innings.
There was strong suspicion that by starting Jeff Tesreau against Boston’s best pitcher, Joe Wood, Giants manager John McGraw may have partially conceded Game One so that he could throw his two big guns (Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard) against two supposedly lesser Red Sox pitchers (Ray Collins and Buck O’Brien) and thus gain a two-games-to-one edge.1 But Tesreau – whose 17 wins in 1912 trailed Marquard’s 26 and Mathewson’s 23 among the Giants staff – had led the National League in earned-run average. Nevertheless, the Red Sox beat Tesreau and the Giants, 4-3, in the opener.
Game Two pitted Collins against Mathewson. The Series had, after just one game, moved from New York to Boston without a day off, in accord with the questionable plan of alternating cities until the Series was completed.
Collins, in the fourth of his seven seasons with the Red Sox, was ready to go. He was the only left-hander on the staff. It was his only Series start, despite a good 13-8 (2.53 ERA) regular-season record. Though left fielder Fred Snodgrass doubled into the temporary stands in left to lead off the game, Collins retired the next three Giants, leaving Snodgrass on third.
Boston scored three quick runs in the bottom of the first. Right fielder Harry Hooper singled, with the ball glancing off Mathewson’s glove, then stole second. Second baseman Steve Yerkes grounded to shortstop, but Art Fletcher fumbled the ball, letting Hooper reach third and Yerkes reach first.
Center fielder Tris Speaker bunted for a base hit and loaded the bases, as Hooper held at third. Left fielder Duffy Lewis grounded to Buck Herzog at third base, who threw home to cut down Hooper. Shortstop Larry Gardner grounded back to the mound, but again the ball ticked off Matty’s outstretched glove. It caromed to Larry Doyle at second; his only play was at first, and Yerkes came in the back door with the first run.
It was a bizarre feature of the era that many ballplayers had ghostwritten newspaper columns written under their bylines. One can only imagine, over 100 years later, what a teammate like Fletcher might think of his pitcher, Mathewson, titling an article “Fletcher’s Error in First Inning Spoils Fine Game,” or the subhead “But for His Failure to Make Double Play, Red Sox Would Not Have Gained Three-Run Lead.”2
The Giants got one run back in the second. After Collins struck out first baseman Fred Merkle, Herzog tripled to the right-field barrier. Catcher Chief Meyers’ grounder to short bounced up freakishly and glanced off Gardner’s face; the RBI single put a run on the board. They added another in the fourth on Red Murray’s leadoff triple and, two batters later, Herzog’s fly to Speaker in center.
The Red Sox scored once more in the bottom of the fifth. After Collins struck out, Hooper singled to center field for his third hit of the game. The sun was giving Murray trouble in right field, so McGraw switched him to left and moved Snodgrass to right. Meyers threw out Hooper stealing second – but Fletcher dropped the ball, and Harry was safe. Yerkes tripled to center field, scoring Hooper for a 4-2 lead. Boston was poised to expand its advantage even further, but Speaker failed to cash in, lining into a shortstop-to-third-base double play.
Ray Collins pitched effectively through seven frames but was responsible for three runs in the top of the eighth, when the Giants took a 5-4 lead. Snodgrass reached first when Duffy Lewis made Boston’s only error of the game. When Doyle singled to Speaker, Snodgrass moved up one base. He took third when center fielder Beals Becker’s grounder forced Doyle at second.
With runners on first and third, Murray doubled home Snodgrass. Manager Stahl reacted quickly and brought in Charley “Sea Lion” Hall to face Merkle, who fouled out to catcher Bill Carrigan. But Herzog doubled, driving in Becker and Murray to put New York ahead, 5-4. Meyers ended the inning by grounding out, shortstop to first base.
The slim New York lead didn’t last long. Mathewson seemed headed for an easy eighth as he retired both Yerkes and Speaker. With two outs, Lewis hit a ground-rule double into the temporary left-field bleachers. Murray reached out for the catch but tumbled over the railing in vain.
Lewis scored the tying run when Fletcher fumbled Gardner’s ball. (One of the fans stole Fletcher’s cap and the game was halted until a replacement could be brought out from the New York bench.3) Then Stahl reached on Doyle’s fielding error and stole second, but Wagner whiffed. The errors were the third and fourth miscues committed by Giants fielders; Fletcher had three all by himself. The game was tied, 5-5.
After retiring the first two Giants in the ninth, Hall walked the bases loaded (the second of the three – Doyle – was walked intentionally), but Murray hit into a force play. Mathewson sent the game to extra innings by setting down the Red Sox one-two-three without letting the ball leave the infield.
Leadoff triples are never good for the team in the field, and when Merkle hit a three-bagger to start the 10th, Boston fans held their breath. Herzog grounded out, with Wagner looking Merkle back to third base before throwing to first for the initial out.
Meyers was walked intentionally, and McGraw inserted the speedier Tillie Shafer to run for the Chief. He then brought in Moose McCormick to bat for Fletcher. As in the first game, Moose flied out to left – but this time it was successful in scoring Merkle. Mathewson, still in the game, popped up to second – but the Giants had taken the lead, 6-5.
Yerkes grounded out to start the bottom of the 10th. But Tris Speaker tripled to the fence in center field. When Shafer, now at shortstop, fumbled the relay momentarily, Speaker continued toward home. As Speaker ran for the plate, Shafer recovered and threw to catcher Art Wilson, also playing his first inning in the field. The throw beat Speaker to the plate, but Wilson dropped the ball. Speaker overslid the base but scrambled back to touch it.4 The score was tied again, on yet another New York error.
The Red Sox hadn’t scored an earned run or drawn a walk all afternoon against Mathewson, but they were even at 6-6. Though Duffy Lewis doubled, Mathewson bore down and got groundballs from Gardner and Stahl to close out the 10th.
In the top of the 11th, Hugh Bedient replaced Hall – and hit the first batter, Snodgrass. But Carrigan promptly cut him down on an attempted steal. After Doyle was called out on strikes, Becker walked, and Carrigan did it once again – erased a runner trying to steal. Carrigan threw out three men in the game, key moments in a contest the Globe described as “desperately fought.”5
Matty induced three groundballs in the bottom of the inning, fielding the third of them himself. At that juncture, the game was called on account of darkness. It went into the books as a 6-6 tie.
The Giants had used their marquee moundsman, but their five errors deprived him of a win. Stalemating Mathewson and taking advantage of the Giants’ poor fielding encouraged the Red Sox. Stahl said, “The Red Sox have always felt that Mathewson was the one man they had to beat. I think that today’s game, while it did not end in a victory, showed that we can hit the New York twirler.”6
Had Speaker not scored the tying run on his dash home in the tenth, as Hugh Fullerton pointed out, it might well have led to scandal. New York infielders interfered with him three times on the bases – and, incredibly, the four-umpire crew missed each obstruction. Speaker protested at the time, but later said he considered the matter closed. He did say that the Giants got a lot of lucky breaks.7 That was Fullerton’s conclusion as well; the subhead of his column read, “Red Sox Showed More Skill, and Better All-Around work, and Batted Mathewson Hard.”8
The first World Series game ever played at Fenway Park lasted 2:38 and drew 30,148. “Never were teams more evenly matched,” wrote former ballplayer and veteran sportswriter Tim Murnane.9 With six errors in the game, and every Red Sox run being unearned, it was hardly a model of good play – though all writers agreed there were a good number of defensive gems.
This was one of only three World Series games to end in a tie; the others were Game One in 1907 between the Cubs and Tigers and Game Two in 1922 between the Giants and Yankees. The tied outcome and late finish changed the World Series schedule: Both teams stayed in Boston for Game Three, before resuming their back-and-forth travel between cities.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author relied on Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.
This article is adapted from “The 1912 World Series,” which first appeared in Bill Nowlin, ed., Opening Fenway Park with Style: The World Champion 1912 Red Sox (Phoenix: SABR, 2012).
1 See, for instance, Glenn Stout and Richard A. Johnson, Red Sox Century (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000), 82.
2 Christy Mathewson, “Fletcher’s Error in First Inning Spoils Fine Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 10, 1912: 18.
3 “Game Step by Step to an 11-Inning Tie,” New York Times, October 10, 1912: 2.
4 Frank H. Sibley, “Thrills, Throbs, Sighs, Smiles,” Boston Globe, October 10, 1912: 1. A sports page cartoon on page 8 shows Speaker lunging back to the plate.
5 T.H. Murnane, “Giants and Red Sox Battle to Tie, 6 to 6, in Game Crowded with Sensational Play,” Boston Globe, October 10, 1912: 1.
6 “Can Hit Mathewson – Stahl,” New York Times, October 10, 1912: 3.
7 Tris Speaker, “Speaker More Certain That Red Sox Will Win,” Boston Globe, October 10, 1912: 7.
8 Hugh Fullerton, “Giants Were Lucky, Fullerton Declares,” New York Times, October 10, 1912: 3.
9 T.H. Murnane. Perhaps exaggerating the degree to which fans purportedly loved the game for its own sake rather than for their team’s victory, Murnane asserted, “(A)ll were perfectly satisfied to see the contest called.”