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Tournament of Champions, Round 3: day 16

laboring toward the end of this round ---- three series in action today, with two of them in elimination games. summaries after the jump:

Game 5, 1944 v 1964
Game 6, 1926 v 1943
Game 5, 1886 v 1934

Game 6
(1926 leads, 3 games to 2)

summary by cardsfanunion

Old Southworth is still reeling from his managerial blunder in Game 5 --- he should have stayed with Max Lanier. He'll turn to Howie Krist today, hoping to stave off elimination against the 1926 Cards. Rogers Hornsby will turn to Ol' Pete, just as he did in Game 7 of the '26 Series, to close this series out for the Cards. Lineups are as follows:

1926 1943
Taylor Douthit, cf Lou Klein, 2b
Billy Southworth, rf Harry Walker, cf
Rogers Hornsby, 2b Stan Musial, rf
Jim Bottomley, 1b Walker Cooper, c
Les Bell, 3b Whitey Kurowski, 3b
Chick Hafey, lf Ray Sanders, 1b
Bob O'Farrell, c Danny Litwhiler, lf
Tommy Thevenow, ss Marty Marion, ss
Pete Alexander, p Howie Krist, p

As Alexander enters the game, third-sacker Les Bell recalls Ol' Pete's walk in from the pen. He would later write:

I can see him yet, to this day, walking in from the left-field bull pen through the gray mist. The [43 Cards] fans recognized him right off, of course, but you didn't hear a sound from anywhere in that stadium. They just sat there an watched him walk in . . . .

Yeah, I can still see him walking that long distance. He just came straggling along, a lead old Nebraskan, wearing a Cardinal sweater, his face wrinkled, that cap sitting on top of his head and tilted to one side--that's the way he liked to wear it.

Ol' Pete looks to be in form, breezing through the first 9 men in order. His teammates try to get something started with two outs in the third, as Southworth doubles and Hornsby walks to bring up Sunny Jim Bottomley. There's nobody else Hornsby would want up in this situation --- Bottomley led the team in RBIs in 1926 for the second time in three seasons. But Bottomley pops out to Marion, and the inning is over.

Alexander records another 1-2-3 inning in the 4th, then helps his cause by coaxing a one-out walk in the 5th. Douthit follows with a single, and young Southworth strides to the plate. In a bittersweet moment, young Southworth sticks a dagger in old Southworth by jacking a three run dinger to left. It's 3-0 for the 1926ers, and Old Southworth looks like he needs a drink.

Ol' Pete gets his fifth straight perfect inning --- 15 up, 15 down so far --- and in the top of the sixth O'Farrell bloops a double to left that scores Bell, giving Alexander a 4-0 lead. Litwhiler finally breaks up the perfect game, and the no-hitter, with a single leading off the bottom half of the inning. Two outs later, Klein singles to put runners on the corners, but Walker grounds out to end the threat.

In the top of the seventh, young Southworth bedevils his managerial counterpart again, singling with one out. He moves up to second when Hornsby is hit by a pitch, then scores on a Bottomley single to make the score 5-0. With two outs, Hafey sends one up the middle for what looks like another RBI hit, but Klein makes a sterling play to end the inning and keep the 6th run off the board.

Alexander's perfect again in the 7th, then departs for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 8th. Art Reinhart relieves him and throws a perfect 8th inning; Les Bell doubles home a couple of superfluous runs in the 9th to erase any lingering doubt. The final score is 7-0; 1926 takes the series 4 games to 2 in a fairly large upset. Credit the pitching: the '26s throw two shutouts and yield more than 3 runs in only two games. Billy Southworth (the player) also gets a lot of credit --- he goes 5 for 5 in the clinching game and bats .600 for the series (12 for 20).

Southworth the manager, by contrast, is having a tough tournament. Two of his teams ('42 and '43) are out in the first round, and the third ('44) is tied in its series vs 1964.


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Game 5
(series tied, 2 games each)

summary by lboros

Well, giveml is feeling like hell --- laid up w/ the crud --- so I'm going to fill in here w/ a quick n dirty summary of a pivotal Game 5. Even though the 1944s have the momentum, with 2 consecutive wins, they really need to win this game behind their ace, Mort Cooper; a loss and they'll be forced to sweep the last 2 games behind lesser pitchers. The 1964s counter with Curt Simmons, who threw 7 shutout innings in Game 2. Lineups:

1944 1964
Danny Litwhiler, lf Curt Flood, cf
Johnny Hopp, cf Lou Brock, lf
Stan Musial, rf Bill White, 1b
Walker Cooper, c Ken Boyer, 3b
Ray Sanders, 1b Dick Groat, ss
Whitey Kurowski, 3b Tim McCarver, c
Marty Marion, ss Julian Javier, 2b
Emil Verban, 2b Mike Shannon, rf
Mort Cooper, p Curt Simmons, p

Cooper doesn't have it --- not from the outset. After a line-drive out to start the game, he gives up 3 hits in four batters to fall behind 1-0. In the second he yields a solo homer to Hoolie Javier, who (I bet you didn't know this) whacked 12 out of the yard in 1964, the best total among NL second basemen. Cooper labors through a scoreless 3d inning --- gives up 2 hits, but they're separated by a double play --- but in the 4th he gives up 3 more runs on two-out RBI hits by Flood and Bill White. At the game's halfway point, the 1964s lead 5-0.

Simmons is almost as sharp as he was in Game 2, retiring 13 out of 14 men faced in the middle innings. For reasons only the sim understands, he gets lifted after just 82 pitches ---- and for the second straight start he holds 1944 to no runs on 3 hits in 7 innings. It's 6-0 by then, but reliever Glen Hobbie gives up a single and a homer to his first two batters as the '44s close it to 6-2. Brock mashes a solo shot in the 8th to restore the lead to 5 runs, but the 1944s won't go quietly in the 9th --- Musial leads off with a hit, Sanders walks an out later, a Kurowski doubles one home to make it 7-3. One more baserunner will bring the tying run to the plate, but Mike Cuellar comes on to get Marion and Verban and quell the threat. The '64s outhit the opposition 16 to 7 and mash 2 homers; while the final score isn't close, the game's even less close than the score suggests. Not a good loss for the 1944s; their ace is burned, and they'll have to get through Gibson in Game 7 to win the series.


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Game 5
(1934 leads, 3 games to 1)

summary by Zubin

Today's game is, of course, a must-win for the Browns. Unfortunately, with #1 and #2 starters Dave Foutz and Bob Caruthers in need of rest, Sim-Comiskey will have to rely on the right arm of Nat Hudson. He will square off against Bill Walker. As I mentioned before, the match-up favors the 1934 club, so today just might be my last chance to offer praise for the four-time champs. I have already written about several of the players, but in my opinion I have not written sufficiently about the club's owner and president, Chris Von der Ahe:

He was of German immigrant to the United States and not long after his arrival, he settled in St. Louis and took a job as a clerk in a grocery store near the Grand Avenue Ballpark. Later, he bought out the store owner and expanded business by establishing a saloon in the back of the store. He noticed that business boomed on days when the local baseball club was playing. Apparently, St Louis' summers in the 1880 were as hot as they are today and fans would come to Von der Ahe's saloon after afternoons in the uncovered bleachers. In an effort to capitalize on the relationship, he bought the St Louis baseball franchise for $1800. He also purchased controlling interest in the Grand Avenue Ballpark which he renamed Sportman's Park and Club.

In 1881 he signed both Ted Sullivan and Charlie Comiskey (who had a previous relationship to Sullivan). A year later he entered the Browns into the American Association as a charter member. The Browns of course went on to win four consecutive pennants from 1885 to 1888 and narrowly missed out on a 5th one in 1889.

Von der Ahe's fortunes turned in the 1890s, however. The American Association was already weakened by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys (Pirates), the Cleveland Spiders (Blues) and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (Dodgers), jump to the NL in 1887, 1889 and 1890 respectively, when a third league, the Players league formed in 1890. Competition from the PL was particularly painful for the Browns, as they lost Charlie Comiskey to the Chicago Pirates that year. Comiskey returned for the 1991 campaign, but the damage was already done. Competition siphoned off both talent and gate receipts and in 1891 the AA folded. The Browns along with the Cincinnati Reds joined the NL the following season and Comiskey left for good.

In 1892, Von der Ahe attempted to recoup his losses by building a ballpark almost 100 years ahead of its time. He surrounded the ball yard with an amusement park, beer garden, horse track, water flume ride, and an artificial lake. He was ridiculed in the press for his efforts, dubbing the facility "Coney Island West" and nicknaming him "Von der Ha Ha." The Browns on-field fortunes were also in rapid decline. The Browns finished 2nd in 1890, 8.5 games behind Boston, but when the team was transferred to the NL in 1892, Von der Ahe lost most of his players. With little talent and playing in a more competitive league the Browns posted their first losing season (56-94) in a decade and dropped all the way to 11th place.

Through the 1890s the Browns and Von der Ahe continued in a downward spiral. Without Comiskey, Von der Ahe could never stabilize the Browns on-field management and in 1895-1897 Von der Ahe periodically tried managing the team himself (Think of him a an 1880s version of Ted Turner or George Steinbrenner). In 1898, part of the ballpark burned down, his second wife divorced him, and his bondsman kidnapped him for not paying his debts. In a highly publicized trial connected with the fire, von der Ahe lost his baseball team. Von der Ahe soon lost his other wealth as well, and was reduced to tending bar in a small saloon. Comiskey frequently sent von der Ahe money to help make ends meet. He died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1913. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, with the statue that once stood in front of Sportsman's Park adorning his grave.

Jeff Kittel has a picture of Von der Ahe's grave over at This Game of Games. Even though he turned out to be somewhat of a tragic figure, baseball in general and the Cardinals in particular owe him a debt. Among the things we should remember about the man: He played a central role in the formation of the AA and the two-league MLB format. His World Series in the 1880s set a precedent and was a model for the modern fall classic. He is at least partially credited with some rules and norms in baseball --- for example, the notion that a ball that clears the outfield fence in fair territory can't be called foul even if it curves over the foul line. By some accounts he also coined the modern usage of "fan." Personally I think a great movie could be made about him in particular or the Browns in general. (Brian Gunn, are you reading this?)

Back to the moment now. Lineups for today's contests are below:

1886 1934
Arlie Latham, 3b Pepper Martin, 3b
Bill Gleason, ss Jack Rothrock, rf
Tip O'Neill, lf Frankie Frisch, 2b
Charlie Comiskey, 1b Joe Medwick, lf
Curt Welch, cf Ripper Collins, 1b
Yank Robinson, 2b Bill Delancey, c
Doc Bushong, c Ernie Orsatti, cf
Hugh Nicol, rf Leo Durocher, ss
Nat Hudson, p Bill Walker, p

The scoring starts in the second. Commy leads off with a double and moves to 3d on a well-placed ball off the bat of Welch. Bushong raps a single to center, and Commey trots home with the games' first run. The Birds squander an opportunity in the bottom half of the frame. Nicol misplays a flyball by Medwick, enabling Ducky to reach, but the runner is promptly erased by the 4-6-3 off the leadfooted Collins. Delancey draws a walk and Orsatti knocks a single to right. Then Durocher gives one of Husdon's fastballs a ride, but O'Neill makes the catch to end the inning.

Both clubs score in the third. In the top half, Latham singles and steals 2d, then scores on Gleason's liner to left. A couple of pitches later Gleason is gunned down at 2d, but O'Neill keeps the rally alive with a blooper to right. Commy makes a homerun bid that falls just short, and Welch grounds out to end the threat. The Browns take a 2-0 lead into the bottom half, which starts with a single by Martin. He swipes 2d and 3d on consecutive pitches, then breaks for the plate on Rothrock's chopper to shortstop. Gleason fields and throws home without hesitation, but Martin beats the throw to cut the lead in half.

The clubs exchange runs again in the 5th. Hudson draws a leadoff walk and is singled into scoring position by Latham. A 6-4-3 by Gleason advances Hudson to 3d. Sim-Frisch wants nothing to do with O'Neill in this situation, so he calls for the IBB. But the strategy backfires when Comiskey bloops a single to the left-center gap. Hudson scores to restore the 2-run lead. The Cardinals open their hald of the inning with a ground-rule double by Martin. Rothrock then hits the ball hard, but right at Latham for out number 1. Frisch, however isn't, so easily denied and he produces a run-scoring single to make it a 3-2 game.

In the 6th, both starting pitchers exit the game. Haines takes over in a two-on, two-out situation and gets Latham to ground out to end the threat. Jumbo McGinnis takes over at the start of the bottom half and rolls through Collins, Delancey and Orsatti in order. Both clubs threaten in the 7th. 2 walks and an E5 load the bases with none out for the Browns, but Doc can't get the ball out of the IF. In the bottom half, an infield single by Bill Whitehead (pinch-hitting for Haines) and a Pepper Martin hit give Rothcock and Frisch a golden RBI opportunity, but neither can plate a run.

James Mooney takes over for Haines in the 8th, and unsurprisingly he lets the leadoff man on --- a walk to Hugh Nicol. Runners are twice exchanged on FCs, leaving Latham at 1st with 2 outs. He steals 2d, but again Gleason can't pick him up. and the lead remains at 1. It's the bottom of the 8th now, and the Browns have the finish line in sight. But Collins walks with one out, and McGinnis gets pulled for Cartuthers. It is a curious move, since Bob pitched just the day before and wasn't quite effective. Who knows, maybe Sim-Commy believes Bob needs a confidence boost. Whatever the reason for bringing Bob in, the move misfires. After narrowly missing a DP, Bob gets rung up by an Ernie Orsatti double to tie the game.

It doesn't stay tied long. O'Neill leads off the top of the 9th with a double off Mooney. Dazzy Vance comes on in relief and pitches to Comiskey, who moves O'Neill to 3d on a sac fly. Welch follows with a single to put the Browns back in front, 4-3. Just three more outs, and the series heads back to 1886.

In the bottom of the ninth, Pepper Martin knocks another a double, this time with one out. A home run would win the game and the series, but Caruthers is up to the task: he fans Rothrock and gets Frisch on a flyout to right to end the game.

The final score is 4-3 Browns. Curt Welsh is named player of the game for his go-ahead ninth-inning single, but Pepper Martin had the most impressive performance: 4 for 5 with 3 doubles. Unfortunately for the 1934s, it was in a losing cause. Still the Cardinals lead the series 3-2. I'll be back with Game 6 tomorrow.