'Miner' over 'Matty', Part 2

Second of 4 posts about the long head-to-head rivalry of pitching greats Mordecai Brown of the Cubs and Christy Mathewson of the Giants.


After the first duel between Brown and Mathewson on June 13, 1904, the Cubs and Giants played 17 more times before the end of the season, but none of the games pitted Brown vs. Mathewson. Nor did any of their first 6 games of 1905.

It wasn't until June 13, the 1-year anniversary, that they dueled again. And quite a duel it was, as neither team scored through 8 innings.

Brown "held the Giants in the hollow of his three fingered hand until the ninth round," the Tribune said. "In eight innings just two singles were made of him, and only one of those was a clean one. Only once in those eight rounds did the visitors get anywhere near a run.

"That was in the second when [Babe] Dahlen poked a fast one through [shortstop Joe] Tinker, stole second after [Art] Devlin had flied, and kept on to third because [catcher Johnny] Kling's throw was a poor one. [Third baseman Doc] Casey ate up a swift grounder close to his base and threw [Billy] Gilbert out at first on it, staving off the run. . . .

"The break came in the ninth without warning. Brown started the fatal round by striking out Donlin for the third time. Then it was biff, bang, biff, bang all over."

After Brown smacked a 1-out single, "McGann crashed against one, lining it straight over Casey's head. 'Doc' reached the ball, but it nearly tore his hands off, and went through them to short left.

Tinker chased down the ball and threw it second in time to tag the runner, but McGann reached third. He stayed there on an infield hit, then scampered home on a single by Dahlen.



Mathewson completed a 1-0 victory holding the Cubs hitless in the bottom of the inning -- just as he had in each of the previous 8.

"Christy Mathewson . . . came into his own yesterday," the Tribune declared. "Not only did he break the winning streak of the Zephyrs [Cubs] . . . but he stopped [Frank] Selee's breezy players to a standstill.

"Neither run, nor hit, nor base on balls did Mathewson allow Chicago in the full nine innings, and if his support had been perfect he would have tied 'Cy' Young's world's records of not permitting an opponent to reach first base. . . .

"Just twenty-eighth men, one more than the necessary three per inning, faced Mathewson during the game. Two of them reached first base because of blunders by [shortstop] Dahlen and [second baseman] Gilbert on easy chances, and one of them passed o0n to second alive, while the other was doubled up off first after a stunning catch by [right fielder George] Browne. . . . Only once did the Zephyrs even make a noise like a base hit, and that was when [Johnny] Evers rapped a line drive straight into [center fielder] Donlin's waiting paws in the fifth.



Dahlen's error came in the fourth, with 1 out, and as soon as Frank Schulte reached first, he stole second. He advanced to third on a grounder but was stranded when Frank Chance flied out.

"The only other Zephyr to reach first base alive was Brown in the sixth on Gilbert's fumble. [Jimmy] Slagle followed with a fly just back of first.

"Browne came tearing in and caught the ball extended to the limit. It looked as if he he would plunge headlong to the ground after the catch, but he kept his feet and tossed the ball to [first baseman] McGann in time to double up Brown, who believed the ball would fall safe until too late to get back."


The no-hitter was the second against the Cubs in the Modern Era. The first had come in a 10-0 loss to the Phillies on Sept. 18, 1903. They have been no-hit only 5 times since. Their total of 7 is 2 fewer than any of the 15 other teams that were in existence since 1901.

Mathewson had no-hit the Cardinals on July 15, 1901. He would start 381 more games in his career and never pitch another no-hitter. He would complete a pair of 1-hitters.

Brown would hold opponents to 1 hit in 7 games. None came against the Giants, just as none of Mathewson's came against the Cubs.



The result was far different when Mathewson and Brown reprised their June 13 battle on July 12, at New York.

"Three fingered Brown was the principal cause of the humiliation of the [defending] champions," the Tribune said of the Cubs' 8-1 triumph. "Two clean hits show the extent of the Giants' stick work, but one hit more was charged up to Brown because he failed to step on the box while he received a thrown ball from Chance on Donlin's grounder.

"Mathewson was in the box for the home team, and it was one of his rare days. He was trimmed to queen's taste by the westerners, and after the first inning he had hardly a moment's peaceful sailing, as there was a runner on base in every round, except the eighth.

"The Champions did not support 'Matty' well at times, either, but the errors did not make much difference," as the Cubs smacked 12 hits off him, 4 of them in a 4-run second inning.

All the hits were singles. Schulte collected 3 of them; Evers, Casey and Kling, 2 each.

"Mathewson was unable to get his drop curve to work," the Tribune observed, "and kept Catcher Bresnahan guessing."


0 FOR 9

Mathewson never could have guessed that the loss would be the first of 9 in a row he would suffer when going head-to-head with Brown. He would not earn another win in their rivalry until June 8, 1909, which would be 5 days short of 4 full years since his no-hitter on June 13, 1905.

Mathewson completed each of those 9 straight losses to Brown. In 3 of them, the final score was 3-2; in another, 1-0. The others were 5-0, 6-2 twice, 8-1 and 8-2.

The Cubs made at least 7 hits in each game, with a high of 16 in the 8-2 win, on June 5, 1907. They also made 7 when they knocked Mathewson out after just 2 innings on May 25, 1908.

He did not get the loss in that game, which the Cubs won, 8-7. He got a win with 2 innings of no-run, 2-hit relief on Sept. 24, 1908, when the Giants prevailed, 5-4, in a game that Brown had started.

During the 9 consecutive losing starts, Mathewson surrendered 43 runs in 78 innings, an average of 4.96 per every 9. He allowed 86 hits, 9.92 per 9.

Brown, meanwhile, permitted only 13 runs and 55 hits in 80 innings -- 1.46 runs and 6.19 hits per 9.

The Giants batted just .204 against Brown in those games; the Cubs, .280 against Mathewson.


Brown gave up 3, 4 and 5 hits once each; 6 and 7, twice each; and 8 and 9, once each.

The 3-hitter was the first of the 9 games, described above.

The 4 hits were in a 5-0 win at home on Aug. 2, 1907 in which the Cubs scored a run in the first, then 4 in the sixth.

That was the first of 2 shutouts by Brown during his 9-game mastery over Mathewson. He gave up 6 hits in the second, also at home, on July 17, 1908, when Tinker provided the only run with a fifth-inning homer.

That was the eighth of the nine games. He pitched a 5-hitter in the ninth, as the Cubs edged the visiting Giants, 3-2. Mathewson held the Cubs to 5 hits, too.



Brown lost and Mathewson won on Sept. 24, 1908, at New York. But while Brown started, Mathewson did not.

"That sterling worker and sterling athlete, Mr. Brown, lost his number by walking the first two Giants in the opening round," Charles Dryden wrote in the Tribune. "A couple of scratch hits counted the walking gents, but even then our gallant coal digger did not despair, although [Giants pitcher Hooks] Wiltse seemed to have the Cubs anchored.

"Brown was relieved at the end of the fifth, in which round Donlin tripled behind another pair of scratch hits of the most cheery description, and ambled home on a sacrifice fly.

"This outburst of luck won the game, as the [4-run] explosion of the lanky Wiltse in the seventh lacked one tally of netting enough to tie."

A single, an error, an RBI single and a 2-run triple by Kling sent Wiltse packing and brought Mathewson in from the bullpen. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced, then induced a double play, followed by the third out.

The entire game had taken place in fog and "Matty was all but invincible in the fog streak gloom," Dryden said.

Mathewson struck out the leadoff man in the eighth. After an error and a single, he ended the inning with another strikeout and a foul popup.

In the ninth, another foul pop, a strikeout and a grounder to short completed the Giants' win.



It was a win they desperately needed. The day before had seen the celebrated "Merkle's Boner," in which the Giants' 19-year-old first baseman, Fred Merkle, had singled the go-ahead run to third base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but headed for the clubhouse before touching second base on hit that had appeared to give the Giants a 2-1 victory.

As fans stormed the field, Tinker got the ball, stepped on second and appealed to the umpire, who called Merkle out, voiding the run. With the diamond overrun by people, the umpire, Hank O'Day, declared the game "no contest."

The Giants insisted they had won. The Cubs said the game should be forfeited to them because the game could not be continued.

Eventually, league officials agreed that the game was a tie and ordered it replayed, if necessary, at the end of the regular season.

Necessary it was, at the Cubs and Giants finished the rest of their schedules with identical records of 98-56.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, the teams returned to the Polo Grounds to decide the pennant.


Mathewson, 37-10, was on the mound in the top of the first and made short work of the Cubs: strikeout, groundout, strikeout.

The Cubs' starter was not Brown, but lefty Jack Pfiester, whose nickname was "Jack the Giant Killer." H had beaten New York in 3 straight starts against them in August, the last 2 just 3 days apart, and had gone the distance in the 1-1 tie on Sept. 23.

In those 4 games, Pfiester had allowed 3 runs in 33 innings.



Pfiester's magic deserted him in the championship showdown. His first pitch hit a batter. He got 2 strikes on the next man, then walked him.

When the third batter struck out, the ball got past catcher Kling. With first base occupied, the batter was out all the same, but Kling scrambled after the ball and threw to first, where the confused runner was off the bag and Chance tagged him for a second out.

But moments later a double over the bag at first scored the runner from second. When Pfiester issued a second walk, Player-Manager Chance decided he had seen enough and called upon Brown to take over.

He struck out the first batter he faced, ending the inning with only 1 run having scored.

Chance led off the Cubs' second with a single, only to be picked off first by Mathewson. Chance and teammate Solly Hofman disputed the call, Hofman until he was ejected by the umpire. Two strikeouts followed.

The Giants went down in order against Brown, on 2 fly outs and a grounder by Mathewson.



Tinker, long a nemesis of Mathewson's, opened the Cubs' third with a triple, then scored the tying run on a single by Kling. Brown bunted Kling to second, then Mathewson walked Johnny Evers intentionally, preferring to face Frank Schulte.

The decision backfired when Schulte slapped a ball over third base, driving in Kling. Chance then doubled to right and both runners came home, putting the Cubs in front, 4-1.

Mathewson struck out the next batter, but the damage was done. He would allow no runs on 2 hits through the seventh inning, after which he was removed for a pinch hitter.

That hitter fouled out to Kling with the bases loaded and nobody out. Brown yielded a sacrifice fly to the next man, making the score 4-2, but then got a ground out to strand the 2 remaining runners.

A grounder, a fly and a grounder was all the Giants could manage against Brown in the eighth.

They did the same in the ninth, as Brown finished off 8.2 innings of 1-run, 4-hit, 1-walk relief and the Cubs claimed the championship.



"BROWN SAVES THE GAME" was one of several headlines above the Tribune's front-page account of the showdown.

The story, by I. E. Sanborn, began with the declaration: "No more glorious victory ever was won on a baseball diamond than that which Chicago's world's champions achieved at the Polo grounds today."

Later, he added: "All honor will be given the Cubs as long as baseball is played for what they did this afternoon in the shadow of Coogan's Bluff."


"To Mordecai Brown will belong the lion's share of the credit for Chicago's third pennant -- to Mordecai and to Joe Tinker. It was the mighty three fingered star who pitched of the crucial and 'final' games of the year," beginning with a complete-game, 7-hit, 5-2 victory at home against the Pirates 4 days earlier, in the Cubs' last game before the replay at New York.

When Pfiester faltered, Sanborn wrote, "it was Brown again who stepped into the breach, staved off defeat, and gave Joe Tinker and the other Cubs the opportunity to bat out their victory."



Brown's lengthy relief appearance in the showdown at the Polo Grounds was his third such outing of the season. The first also had come against the Giants, at Chicago, on May 25, a day after New York had won the opener of the 4-game series, 6-4.

In the rematch, Pfiester started for the Cubs and yielded a run in the first. Then, "The Cubs turned loose on Mathewson immediately," as Sanborn put it in the Tribune: a leadoff single by Evers, an out and a 2-run, inside-the-park home run by Schulte.

After a hard lineout by Chance, the next 2 batters singled, but Tinker was retired, ending the inning. Tinker should not have batted, going to the plate ahead of Pat Moran, listed as the next hitter.

Moran instead began the second inning with a single. Pfiester popped up a bunt attempt, then an error and a walk loaded the bases. Schulte fouled out, but Chance slammed a bases-clearing double, making the score 5-1.

When the next batter singled too, Chance was thrown out at home. "Mathewson was retired there for fear he might be killed in the bombardment."


But Pfiester lasted only 1 out longer: "Shannon opened the third with a crashing single. Tenney groundered, but Donlin, Seymour, and Needham hammered Jack for clean, hard hits, scoring three runs," cutting the Cubs' lead to 5-4.

"Chance sent for Brown right there and first thing Mordecai let loose was a wild pitch on which Needham reached third with the help of Moran's bad throw to Steiny.

"Devlin ripped off a hot one straight at Tinker, but Joe held it and performed a double play unassisted by running over and tagging Needham, who had no chance to get back to third alive."



Brown followed with 3 shutout innings. In the seventh, he got 2 outs, before and after a double by Al Bridwell. Shannon, up next, "drove a hot single to right and Schulte threw to the plate yards ahead of Bridwell.

"The runner slid safely past Moran and the umpire said he touched the plate as he slid. Pat said he didn't and touched Brid again but couldn't get the verdict."

A single and a double produced 2 more runs, putting New York in front, 7-5 -- but not for long.

Evers drew a leadoff walk and came around on back-to-back singles by Jimmy Sheckard and Schulte. Sheckard was doubled off second when the center fielder made a shoetop grab of a liner by Chance, but Schulte got back to first, then raced around the bases on a double by Steinfeldt, tying the game.


Brown did not allow a run in the eighth or the ninth. Neither did the Giants' Hooks Wiltse. Brown also pitched a scoreless 10th. Wiltse did not.

With darkness falling, Wiltse walked Jimmy Slagle. Moran bunted him to second and Tinker's smash to center sent him winging home for an 8-7 victory.

Brown's line: 7.1 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.


Just 5 days later, Brown got a win against the Cardinals with 6.1 innings of relief. Orval Overall was the Cubs' starter and had a 5-0 lead in the second inning when he knocked down a vicious line drive. He picked the ball up, threw out the batter, then collapsed to the ground, having "strained a muscle in his back over the kidneys."

Ed Reulbach took over and quickly loaded the bases on 2 walks sandwiched around a hit. Brown replaced Reulbach, gave up a 2-run single, then blanked the Cardinals on 3 hits the rest of the way.


TOMORROW: The rivalry continues

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