The 1929 Mack Attack

This article was written by Jimmy Keenan

This article was published in The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly (Philadelphia, 2013)

The 1929 World Series was highlighted by Connie Mack’s surprise decision to start Howard Ehmke in Game 1 and the Philadelphia Athletics’ 10-run inning in Game 4.

As the 1929 major-league season came to a close, the two best teams in baseball prepared to do battle in the upcoming World Series. Joe McCarthy’s National League champion Chicago Cubs cruised into October 11 games in front of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates.

In the junior circuit, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics racked up 104 victories and finished 18 games ahead of the New York Yankees. It was 11 years since the Cubs had played in the World Series, and even longer for the Athletics, who hadn’t been to the postseason since 1914.

Mack had been the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics since their inaugural season in 1901. Under his guidance, the A’s had won world championships in 1910, 1911, and 1913. Philadelphia was swept in the 1914 fall classic by the Boston Braves, and soon after, Mack began to dismantle his ballclub. A number of factors contributed to the major overhaul. First and foremost, the team was losing money because A’s fans had grown so accustomed to winning, they stopped coming to the ballpark. There was also the newly formed Federal League, which was tempting Mack’s players with higher salaries, plus his dissatisfaction with the team’s poor performance in the 1914 Series.

One by one, Mack unloaded his high-priced stars. After suffering through years of futility, he slowly began to rebuild his franchise, and by 1929, Mack assembled what was arguably one of the best all-around teams in baseball history.

The mainstays of the 1929 Athletics pitching staff were George Earnshaw (24–8), Lefty Grove (20–6), and Rube Walberg (18–11). Earnshaw, an alumnus of Swarthmore College, led the junior circuit in wins, with Grove finishing third. Grove topped the loop in strikeouts (170) and Earnshaw (149) came in second. Mack purchased both pitchers from Jack Dunn, president and manager of the International League’s Baltimore Orioles. Grove joined the A’s in 1924 and Earnshaw followed suit in 1928. Rube Walberg was purchased from Portland in 1923.

The remainder of the Philadelphia mound corps consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies. Knuckleballer Eddie Rommel (12 –2) was acquired from Newark of the IL before the start of the 1920 season. Former New York Yankees spitballer Jack Quinn (11–9) joined the club in 1925. Rookie Bill Shores (11–6), who also saw time with Dunn’s Birds, led the Athletics in saves (7). Well-traveled veteran Howard Ehmke (7–2) came over in a trade with the Boston Red Sox during the 1926 season. Carroll Yerkes (1–0), Ossie Orwoll (0–2), who was optioned to Milwaukee late in the season, and Bill Breckinridge (0– 0) rounded out the staff. Mack’s pitchers led both major leagues in strikeouts (573) and earned run average (3.44) in 1929.

Second baseman and leadoff hitter Max Bishop (.232, 3 HR, 36 RBIs) was another former Baltimore Oriole. An outstanding fielder with a great batting eye, Bishop was plagued with health issues and injuries for most of the season, but still managed to lead both major leagues with 128 walks. George “Mule” Haas (.313 BA, 16 HR, 82 RBIs) played center field and hit second. He came to Philadelphia in a deal with the Atlanta Crackers in 1927. Next in the batting order came catcher Mickey Cochrane, whose contract was purchased from Portland in 1924.

The cleanup man for Mack’s Athletics was left fielder Al Simmons (.365 BA, 34 HR, 157 RBIs). Simmons, hampered by rheumatism in his legs for most of the year, led the American League in RBIs and total bases (373) while finishing second in batting. He was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in 1923. Jimmie Foxx (.354 BA 33 HR, 118 RBIs) followed Simmons in the order. Foxx broke into pro ball at age 16 with Easton in the Eastern Shore League in 1924. Frank “Home Run” Baker was Foxx’s manager at Easton and it was his recommendation that led to Mack signing the young slugger in 1925.

Bing Miller batted sixth (.331 BA, 8 HR, 93 RBIs), and his 28-game hitting streak during the season was the longest in the majors. The Washington Nationals traded Miller to the A’s in 1922. Mack dealt him to St. Louis in 1926 and then picked him back up the following year. Next in the lineup came versatile third baseman Jimmy Dykes (.327 BA, 13 HR, 79 RBIs), who could play every infield position. Dykes was acquired from the Gettysburg team in 1917. Shortstop Joe Boley (.251 BA, 2 HR, 47 RBIs) possessed great range in the field and hit eighth in the order. Boley, who missed a number of games during the season with a sore throwing arm, was another Dunn prodigy, and was purchased from the Baltimore Orioles in the fall of 1926. Role players like Sammy Hale, Cy Perkins, Walt French, Homer Summa, Jimmy Cronin, and George Burns also contributed to the A’s success in 1929.

On the other side of the diamond, Joe McCarthy took over a Cubs team that finished last in 1925. In four seasons he turned them into a pennant winner. Cubs owner and chewing gum magnate William Wrigley was the chief architect of the resurgence, spending nearly $6 million putting together his ballclub.[fn]“Wrigley’s Son Will Keep Club” Spokesman Review, January 28, 1932.[/fn]

The heart of the Chicago batting order, known as “Murderer’s Row” or “The Four Horsemen,” featured Hack Wilson, Kiki Cuyler, and Riggs Stephenson in the outfield, plus Rogers Hornsby (.380, 39 HR, 149 RBIs) at second base.

The other player on the right side of Chicago’s infield was first baseman Charlie Grimm, the only southpaw swinger in the starting lineup. The left side was anchored by Woody English at shortstop and Norm McMillan at third base. Gabby Hartnett was the Cubs backstop, but a lame throwing arm limited him to 25 games during the season. With Hartnett laid up, the bulk of the catching fell upon veterans Zack Taylor and Mike Gonzalez.

The “Big Three” of the Cubs pitching rotation was made up of all right-handers. Pat Malone (22–10), who led the National League in wins, was the ace of the staff, followed by Charlie Root (19–6) and Guy Bush (18–7). Bush won 16 of his first 17 decisions but struggled late in the year.

Chicago’s second-line starters consisted of hard throwing Sheriff Blake (14–13), side-arming Hal Carlson (11–5), and lefty Art Nehf (8–5). Nehf had the most World Series experience of any Cub pitcher, but at age 37, his best days were behind him. This group of Bruin hurlers started 56 games and another handful of pitchers saw limited action during the year.

Chicago Cub fans flocked to Wrigley Field in record numbers during the 1929 campaign, setting a new major league mark for regular season attendance with 1,485,000.[fn]“The Cubs Set New Record for Season Attendance,” Baltimore Sun, October 8,1929.[/fn] In the days leading up to the opening game, the demand for tickets was so great that the Cubs management had to return over $1.5 million in advance sales due to the lack of seating at the ballpark.[fn]“Chicago Club Forced To Turn Back Million And Half in Ticket Orders,” Evening
Independent, October 2, 1929.[/fn]

The press box at Wrigley Field was expanded to accommodate the onslaught of sportswriters and 96 separate telegraph lines were run into the ballpark. There was also national radio coverage arranged by the Columbia and National Broadcast companies.

The Athletics arrived at Chicago in seven Pullman cars on the afternoon of October 7. From the train station, they were driven to their quarters at the Edgewater Beach Hotel located on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Cubs manager Joe McCarthy announced days in advance that Charlie Root would be his starter in the first game. The hard-throwing hurler led the senior circuit in wins (26) and games pitched (48) in 1927. Root’s win total dropped off the following year (14), but by 1929 he was back in form. Much of his success was attributed to a pitch he called the wrinkle ball.[fn]Alan J. Gould, “Chicago Battling for National League Pennant With One Of The Youngest Teams in Two Majors,” Evening Independent, July 18, 1927. Root’s comments on how he developed the wrinkle ball, “I wore the skin off my knuckles trying to put a curve on the ball. I finally got what I wanted without knowing why. The ball developed a wrinkle in its flight, when I served it a certain way, wavering like a wrinkle on a piece of silk.”[/fn]

On Tuesday, October 8, Connie Mack, who had told the press, “You’ll know my pitchers 15 minutes before each game,”[fn]Connie Mack, “Mack Won’t Name First Pitcher until 15 minutes Before Opener,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 5, 1929.[/fn] gave the nod to right-hander Howard Ehmke. The Cubs had a predominantly right-handed lineup, so Mack figured he would go with Ehmke, saving his fire-balling southpaws, Grove and Walberg, for relief roles.

A sore arm plagued Ehmke for most of the season and he logged just under 55 innings of work. In early August, Mack put the injured tosser on waivers, but none of the 15 major-league teams expressed an interest. With his options limited, Mack summoned Ehmke to his office, located inside the circular turret that sat atop Shibe Park on the corner of Lehigh and 21st Street, to inform him of his release.

After talking with his veteran pitcher, Mack decided to give him another chance. Ehmke was advised to work on getting his arm back in shape and, most importantly, he was given a special assignment. Looking ahead to the World Series, Ehmke was told to stay behind during the club’s last Western road trip of the season. Mack instructed him to go over to the Baker Bowl and scout the Chicago Cub hitters who were coming to town to play a three-game series against the National League Phillies.

When the Athletics returned home, Ehmke reported to his manager with valuable information on the strengths and weaknesses of Chicago’s powerful lineup. At that time, Mack asked the journeyman pitcher if he thought he could beat the Cubs. When the much-maligned hurler answered in the affirmative, the A’s skipper replied, “Then you will.”[fn]“Mack Nearly Fired Ehmke Last Summer,” Lewiston Evening Journal, October 9, 1929.[/fn]

Over 50,000 fans descended upon Wrigley Field for the first game of the series. The weather was mild and there was a slight breeze blowing in from Lake Michigan. Commissioner Landis allowed the game to start 15 minutes later than scheduled due to the endless sea of humanity that was making its way through the grandstand turnstiles.

A few minutes before game time, Captains Eddie Collins and Charlie Grimm presented the lineup cards for their respective teams to home plate umpire Bill Klem (NL). The rest of the arbitrating crew was made up of Bill Dineen (AL), Charlie Moran (NL), and Roy Van Graflan (AL).

Earle Mack and Kid Gleason were Mack’s coaches, while Jimmy Burke and Grover Land formed McCarthy’s brain trust. Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr. threw out the first pitch and the game was soon under way. Root, relying on his heater and infamous wrinkle ball, held the Athletics scoreless for the first six innings. Ehmke, tossing up a variety of slow, underhand curves, while mixing in an occasional fastball and change of pace, was equally effective. A’s first baseman Jimmie Foxx finally broke the ice in the top of the seventh with a long home run that landed several rows up in the center-field bleachers.

Guy Bush relived Root in the eighth. The Athletics scored a pair of runs off Bush on consecutive errors by English and a two-RBI single from Bing Miller.

The Cubs scored a run in the ninth and were threatening to score more as pinch-hitter Chick Tolson stepped to the plate with two on and two out. With the count full on Tolson, Ehmke called catcher Mickey Cochrane out to the mound for a conference. Ehmke told Cochrane to call for a fastball and he would shake him off while releasing the ball at the same time. As the A’s pitcher let go of the ball, Cochrane yelled, “Hit it,” and Tolson swung and missed, closing out the game and preserving the 3–1 victory.[fn]“Ex-A’s Series Hero Dies,” Herald-Journal, March 18, 1959.[/fn]

Ehmke scattered eight hits and struck out a record 13 batters while earning the win, surpassing “Big Ed” Walsh’s previous World Series record of 12 strikeouts, set back in 1906.

The Cubs vaunted offensive attack of Rogers Hornsby, Hack Wilson, and Kiki Cuyler each struck out twice and mustered only one hit between them. When asked about the trio’s lack of production, Connie Mack responded, “Hornsby, Wilson, and Cuyler may be poison in the National League apothecary but they’re just vanilla ice cream to me.”[fn]“Murderer’s Row had Weak Day With Bat,” Lewiston Evening Journal, October 9, 1929.[/fn]

On Wednesday, October 9, Cubs fans once again turned out en masse, and the attendance was right around 50,000. The sky was overcast and it was much colder than the previous day. There was also a stiff breeze blowing from the southeast, forcing the Wrigley faithful to wrap themselves in blankets, and in some cases newspapers, to keep warm.

Earnshaw started for the Mackmen and McCarthy countered with temperamental Irishman Pat Malone. The Cubs right-hander was considered to have one of the best fastballs in the National League, but he was known to come unraveled over bad calls by the umpires.

The A’s jumped out in front in the third after Jimmie Foxx belted one of Malone’s offerings into the left-field bleachers with two men on, giving the Athletics a 3–0 lead.

Dykes led off the fourth with a single to right and Boley sacrificed him to second. Earnshaw tapped a grounder to English that he misplayed for an error. After a Bishop walk and an RBI groundout, Simmons knocked Malone out of the game with a two-run single to center field. Fred Blake took over the pitching duties and retired the side.

The Cubs bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a brace of runs on five hits and a walk. Mack summoned Lefty Grove to replace Earnshaw, and he fanned pinch-hitter Gabby Hartnett for the last out.

Carlson relieved Blake in the sixth inning. The A’s scored three more times, on an RBI single by Dykes in the seventh and a two-run blast by Simmons in the eighth that cleared the screen in right field. Nehf came in for Carlson and pitched a scoreless ninth.

Grove’s fastball overpowered the Cubs for the last four innings and the game ended with the score at 9–3. Earnshaw was credited with the win.

Both teams left Chicago by train and, after a nearly 18-hour trip, arrived at North Philadelphia Station on the afternoon of Thursday, October 10. As the A’s disembarked, they were hailed as conquering heroes by throngs of swarming fans.

There were a couple hundred Chicago supporters at the depot, but there was little fanfare associated with their reception. Wrigley spared no expense for his team, renting out an entire floor of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Philadelphia. The players had a private dining room that came with a chef and two assistants, plus the use of a gymnasium, as well as their own private elevator.[fn]“Cubs To Live In Comfort Regardless of Results,” Baltimore Sun, October 11, 1929.[/fn]

Although rain had been in the forecast, Friday, October 11 dawned with a blue sky and warm temperatures. Some people stood outside of Shibe Park all night for a chance to buy the remaining $1 seats. Fans with tickets began arriving around 11 a.m., and soon the park was filled to capacity (29,921). Around this same time, carpenters were driving home the last nails in the temporary bleachers that were constructed on the roofs of the brick row homes that were located behind the rightfield fence on North 20th Street.

Connie Mack surprised many baseball pundits when he sent Game 2 starter George Earnshaw out to open the third contest. McCarthy, who was now waiting until the last minute to announce his starting pitcher, gave the nod to Guy Bush.

Philadelphia fans observed a minute of silence for the recently deceased Miller Huggins, late manager of the Yankees, and soon after, home plate umpire Charlie Moran yelled play ball.

Hack Wilson led off the second inning with a three-bagger that landed near the center-field flagpole. Wilson attempted to score on a Stephenson grounder, but Max Bishop gunned him out at the plate.

The Athletics drew first blood in the bottom of the fifth when Cochrane beat out an infield hit and later scored on a Bing Miller single. Miller, who pilfered 24 bags during the season, tried to steal second but was caught in the act to end the inning.

In the top of the sixth, Bush, who hit .165 during the season, worked a walk off Earnshaw. After a foul out, Woody English batted a slow grounder to Jimmy Dykes at third. Dykes bobbled the ball and all hands were safe. Hornsby lashed a single past shortstop Joe Boley that scored Bush. English was held at second. Wilson was then put out on a fantastic play by Bishop, with both runners moving up a base. The next batter, Cuyler, smacked a high bouncer over Earnshaw’s head that accounted for two more runs.

That was the extent of the scoring by both clubs. When the final out was recorded, Chicago was ahead, 3–1. Bush, who worked his way out of numerous jams, went the distance, scattering nine hits, striking out four, and walking two.

Earnshaw, except for his lapse in the sixth, pitched a fine game. He allowed six hits in nine innings, walked four, and struck out 10 Cubs.

After the game, McCarthy admitted to the press that he sent former Cubs great Joe Tinker to Shibe Park to scout the A’s hitters during their last regular-season series, against the Yankees. Mack, who somehow found out Tinker’s intentions, instructed Jimmie Foxx to swing at and miss the high balls he normally feasted on. The A’s crafty manager also passed the word for certain players to lay off their favorite pitches. Tinker watched the A’s hitters, and reported back to McCarthy with an inaccurate scouting report. This led to Foxx getting nothing but high pitches in the first two games of the series.

The Cubs caught a break when an unnamed American League pitcher tipped McCarthy off about Mack’s ploy on the train ride to Philadelphia.[fn]”Bruins Rejoice in Victory with Talk of Three More,” The Evening Independent, October 12. 1929.[/fn] Realizing that he had been duped, the Cubs manager instructed his Game 3 starter Guy Bush not to throw any more high pitches to Foxx.

On Saturday, October 12, another sold-out crowd packed into Shibe Park for Game 4. Forty-five-year-old Jack Quinn started for the Athletics and Charlie Root took the mound for the Cubs. Quinn battled his way through the first three innings, but Chicago nicked him for two runs in the fourth. He was banished to the showers in the sixth after giving up four straight singles to the Cubs’ “Murderer’s Row” that resulted in two more Bruin runs. Walberg came in from the bullpen, and by the time the dust cleared, five men had crossed the plate.

Eddie Rommel relieved Walberg in the seventh. Chicago pushed across another marker against Rommel, but their hopes of a bigger rally were dashed by a great stop by Dykes that he turned into an inning-ending double play.

Root, meanwhile, had the A’s hitters at his mercy for the first six innings. With the score 8–0, the situation was looking bleak when the Athletics came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.

By this time on a fall afternoon in Philadelphia, the sun was setting directly over the grandstand behind home plate. Even the pitchers were having a tough time fighting off the glare. Simmons led off the seventh with a towering home run that banged off the roof in left field. Foxx, Miller, Dykes, and Boley followed with singles that brought home a pair of runs. Miller’s hit was a short fly to Wilson in center, but the glare of the sun affected his ability to make the play. George Burns, who pinch-hit for Rommel, popped out to temporarily halt the rally. Bishop followed with an RBI single over second that knocked Root out of the game. Nehf came in and the next batter, Mule Haas, lifted a high fly to center field. For the second time in the inning, Wilson lost the ball in the sun. As he chased after the elusive horsehide, Haas was racing around the bases.

There was bedlam in the Athletics’ dugout as Haas slid across home plate. Jimmy Dykes, in a state of euphoria, turned around and slapped the closest person on the back. Unfortunately, it was 67-year-old Connie Mack, who went sprawling into the bat rack. While Dykes was apologizing, Mack told him, “That’s all right Jimmy, anything goes at a time like this, ain’t it wonderful.”[fn]“Man Who Has Been Around,” The Telegraph, May 22, 1967.[/fn]

Nehf seemed unnerved after the inside-the-park home run. After walking the next batter, he was replaced by Sheriff Blake. Simmons followed with a hard-hit ball to short that bounced over English’s head for a single. Foxx followed with a base knock to center that tied the game. McCarthy had seen enough of Blake and summoned Pat Malone to the mound. Malone started off by nailing Bing Miller in the ribs to load the bases.

Dykes was up next, and he cracked a Malone speedball to deep left field. The ball glanced off Stephenson’s fingertips and rolled to the wall, with two runs scoring on the play. Malone recovered to fan Boley and Burns, but the damage was done.

Grove closed out the game with a pair of scoreless innings, striking out four of the six Cubs he faced. After the game, an emotional Mack called the 10-run seventh inning, “The greatest thrill I had in 29 years of managing.”[fn]Stan Baumgartner, “Connie Calls Game “Greatest Thrill, Hugs Fans of Field,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1929.[/fn]

There was no game on October 13 as Philadelphia’s blue laws prohibited the playing of any sporting events on Sunday.

On Monday, October 14, Mack waited until a half-hour before game time to inform Ehmke, who was in street clothes sitting in the stands, that he was the starter. Within minutes, Ehmke was in uniform and warming up on the sidelines.[fn]“Connie Realizes His Dreams With Rally In Ninth,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 15, 1929.[/fn]

McCarthy handed the ball to his talented, yet sometimes excitable, right-hander, Pat Malone. Once again, Shibe Park was filled to capacity. The pregame festivities included the arrival of President Herbert Hoover and his party. The fans cheered heartily for their Commander in Chief, but it was the height of prohibition and the chant of “we want beer” could be heard throughout the ballpark.[fn], 11/21/2012.[/fn]

Neither team scored until the fourth inning when the Cubs got to Ehmke for a pair of runs. Rube Walberg was summoned from the bullpen and struck out Malone to end the rally. Walberg held the Cubs scoreless for next five stanzas, retiring the first 10 men he faced.

Malone breezed through the A’s lineup, taking a two-hit shutout into the bottom of the ninth. Former West Point football star Walt French, pinch-hitting for Walberg, went down swinging for the first out. Max Bishop followed with a single over third. The next batter, Mule Haas, crushed Malone’s first offering, a waist-high fastball, over the right-field wall for the game-tying home run. The ball landed on North 20th Street and bounded onto the porch of one of the brick row houses. Shibe Park shook to its concrete and steel foundation as nearly 30,000 screaming fans howled in delight. While Bishop and Haas were circling the bases, Malone was yelling at catcher Zack Taylor over what some in the crowd perceived to be his dissatisfaction over the pitch selection.

McCarthy came out of the Cubs’ dugout to calm Malone down and break the A’s growing momentum. Malone induced a ground out from Cochrane, and for a moment, it looked like the game would go into extra innings. But, the next batter, Simmons, kept the rally going by smashing a two-bagger off the scoreboard in right-center field. McCarthy came back out to the mound and after a brief conference, they decided to walk Foxx and pitch to Bing Miller.

After working the count to two balls and two strikes, Miller lined a Malone curveball over Hornsby’s head.[fn]Various newspaper accounts noted that Malone threw a fastball to Miller, but Athletics catcher Mickey Cochrane saw it differently, “The pitch that Miller swatted was a curveball. Malone made him look bad on two fastballs outside and then gave a hook to him and Bing is the best curve ball hitter in the American League. That was not very smart.” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1929.[/fn] The sphere landed safely in the grass between Cuyler and Wilson as Simmons galloped home with the winning run, clinching Mack’s fourth world championship.

The Athletics, including their normally reserved manager, rushed out of the dugout to greet Simmons as he crossed the plate. Even the mayor of Philadelphia, the honorable Harry A. Mackey, ran on the field to join the celebration. President Hoover and his entourage were also caught up in the excitement, applauding enthusiastically from their special box next to the A’s dugout.

Connie Mack wrote in his newspaper column the next day, “To my players must go full credit for the victory. They won the American League pennant brilliantly and didn’t lag a bit in the world’s series. They kept their heads up, fought to the last and won the big title with the most amazing display of courage in winning games apparently lost that was ever seen in the classic.”[fn]Connie Mack, “Manager Praises Grit of Team,” Milwaukee Sentinel, October 15, 1929.[/fn]

The attendance for the five games was 190,490, resulting in gate receipts of $859,494.[fn]“World Series Figures,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1929.[/fn]

Dykes led the Athletics with eight hits in the series and a .421 batting average. Foxx, Simmons, and Haas supplied the power, each swatting two home runs. Hornsby fanned eight times, while Cuyler went down swinging on seven occasions. McMillan and English whiffed six times apiece. Wilson paced the Cubs with a .471 batting average. Malone, who lost two of the four contests, led all Chicago pitchers with 11 strikeouts. Twenty-four previous World Series records were either broken or tied, with many of the new marks set during the Athletics’ 10-run seventh inning of Game 4.

On Friday, October 18, the Chamber of Commerce and the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, along with city officials, held a dinner at the Penn Athletic Club Ballroom in honor of the new world champions. Mayor Mackey was the toastmaster and there were over 1,200 people in attendance. Collins and Mack received radios, and the City of Philadelphia gave wristwatches to every member of the ballclub.[fn]“Victorious Macks to get $6,003.39 Apiece,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 1929.[/fn]

Most of the players and coaches spoke to the audience that evening. Mack closed his remarks by saying that his club was successful because it wasn’t a one-man team. Eddie Collins stood up and said, “I want to take issue with Mr. Mack on that account.” The club’s captain went on to say, “Fans often ask me to compare the A’s championship team of former years with the present aggregation. Both were one-man teams and the one man responsible for the A’s success is the beloved Connie Mack.”[fn]“Fans of Quaker City Fete Mack Baseball Kings,” Evening Independent, October 18, 1929.[/fn]

A few weeks later, controversy arose when Jimmy Dykes spoke at a Delaware County Real Estate Board luncheon. Dykes told the board members that he and his fellow teammates were stealing the Cubs’ signs from catcher Zack Taylor for most of the series. Dykes’ claims certainly have a ring of truth, as A’s third-base coach Eddie Collins is considered to be one of the best sign-stealers of all time.

Cubs manager Joe McCarthy scoffed at the idea, telling reporters, “If my men knew what the pitchers were going to throw, they’d make so many runs in the very first inning; they’d have to get an eviction notice to put the side out.” The Cubs manager went on to ask that if the Athletics knew the Cubs’ signs, why did they wait so long to score in Games 4 and 5?[fn]“Mack’s Knew Cubs Signals, Jimmy Dykes,” St. Petersburg Times, October 23, 1929.[/fn]

Dykes’ statements aside, the Athletics won because they outplayed the Cubs in every facet of the game.

Years later, Mack told a group of New York sportswriters that the greatest manager of all time was his opponent in the 1929 fall classic, Joe McCarthy. When informed of Mack’s statement, McCarthy replied, “Connie was very kind to say that. But, let’s not kid each other. There is one man who is baseball’s greatest manager and no one else can be spoken of in the same breath. And his name is Connie Mack.”[fn]Ted Davis, Connie Mack: A Life in Baseball (Indiana: Iuniverse Inc, 2011), 216.[/fn]

JIMMY KEENAN has been a SABR member since 2001. His grandfather Jimmy Lyston, his great-grandfather John M. Lyston, and John’s two brothers Marty and Bill were all professional baseball players. He is the author of the book “The Lystons: A Story of One Baltimore Family and Our National Pastime.” His biography of Cupid Childs was published in SABR’s “The National Pastime” in 2009. In addition, he was the writer and historian for the original “Forgotten Birds” documentary that chronicles the fifty-year history of the minor league Baltimore Orioles. His pre-recorded interview about the 1921 Baltimore Orioles can be heard at the “Second Inning” display at the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. He has also written biographies for SABR’s BioProject and has contributed to five SABR book projects. Jimmy is a 2010 inductee into the Oldtimers Baseball Association of Maryland’s Hall of Fame and a 2012 inductee into the Baltimore’s Boys of Summer Hall of Fame.


Sources, 11/25/2012., 11/22/2012., accessed 11/5/2012.
William Kashatus, Connie Mack’s 1929 Triumph (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 1999).
Ted Davis, Connie Mack: A Life in Baseball (Indiana: Iuniverse Inc, 2011).
Eric Enders, Ballparks Then and Now (Michigan: Thunder Bay Press, 2007).
Spalding’s Official Baseball Guide, 1930., accessed 11/25/2102.
Baltimore Sun
Chicago Tribune
Evening Independent
Lewiston Evening Journal
Milwaukee Sentinel
Philadelphia Inquirer
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Spokesman Review
St. Petersburg Times