1917 World Series
In the 1917 World Series, the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants four games to two.
The Series was played against the backdrop of World War I, which dominated the American newspapers that year and next.
The strong Chicago White Sox club had finished the 1917 season with a 100–54 record: their first and only one-hundred win season in franchise history as of 2009. The Sox's next World Series winner in 2005 would finish the regular season with a 99–63 record.
The Sox won Game 1 of the Series in Chicago 2–1 behind a complete game by Eddie Cicotte. Happy Felsch hit a home run in the fourth inning that provided the winning margin. The Sox beat the Giants in Game 2 by a score of 7–2 behind another complete game effort by Red Faber to take a 2–0 lead in the series.
Back in New York for Game 3, Cicotte again threw a complete game, but the Sox could not muster a single run against Giants starter Rube Benton and lost 2–0. In Game 4 the Sox were shut out again 5–0 by Ferdie Schupp. Faber threw another complete game, but the Series was even at 2–2 going back to Chicago.
Reb Russell started Game 5 in Chicago, but only faced three batters before giving way to Cicotte. Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Chicago was down 5–2, but they rallied to score three in the seventh and three in the eighth to win 8–5. Faber pitched the final two innings for the win. In Game 6 the Sox took an early 3–0 lead and on the strength of another complete game victory from Faber (his third of the Series) won 4–2 and clinched the World Championship. Eddie Collins was the hitting hero, batting .409 over the six game series while Cicotte and Faber combined to pitch 50 out of a total 52 World Series innings to lead the staff.
The decisive game underscored the Giants' post-season frustrations, featuring a famous rundown in which Giants' third baseman Heinie Zimmerman futilely chased the speedy Eddie Collins toward home plate with apparently no one to throw to. Two years before the issue of baseball betting reached its peak, Zimmerman found himself having to publicly deny purposely allowing the run to score, i.e. to deny that he had "thrown" the game. Zimmerman would eventually be banned for life due to various accusations of corruption. Conventional wisdom has it that Collins was much faster than Zimmerman, but existing photos of the play show that Zimmerman was only a step or two behind Collins, who actually slid across the plate while Zim jumped over him to avoid trampling him.
The great athlete Jim Thorpe, better known for football in general, made his only World Series "appearance" during Game 5, where he was listed in the lineup card as starting in right field; but for his turn at bat in the top of the first inning he was replaced by a left-handed hitting Dave Robertson.
The White Sox, who were essentially dismantled following the 1920 season by baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis due to the Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series, did not win another World Series until 2005.
The Giants finally returned to the Fall Classic after a four year hiatus ready to make amends for the three consecutive championship losses that they had suffered earlier in the decade. It would be their fifth appearance and the second of their rivals, Chicago's South Side White Sox. 1917 had been a year of many firsts including the first back-to-back no-hitters ever thrown in the American League. On May 5th, Ernie Koob tossed a shutout for St. Louis against Chicago and the very next day his teammate, Bob Groom did the same. Apparently, the second game had been determined by the umpires who changed a scored "hit" in the first inning to an error. An outraged Writers Association quickly passed a resolution disallowing such actions for all future games. Some league Umpires were beginning to become unpopular with the players and the no-hitter controversy didn't help their situation. The following month, Babe Ruth started his June 23rd outing with four called balls. The Boston lefty was upset with each call and visited umpire Brick Owens at the plate each time. After the official issued a base on balls to Eddie Foster, Ruth charged the plate and punched him in the face, resulting in an ejection.
The Giants were probably upset too as they found themselves in familiar territory midway through the Series. After five relatively uneventful outings, New York was down three games to two. Their starter, Rube Benton and Chicago's (Game 2 and 5 winner) Red Farber were locked in a 0-0 struggle going into the fourth inning when it all came crashing down. The White Sox's Eddie Collins hit a routine grounder to Heinie Zimmerman who overthrew the base. Next, teammate Dave Robertson made another crucial error on a dropped fly-ball from Joe Jackson. In two at bats, Chicago had put runners on first and third due entirely to poor fielding. The Giants weren't done yet and made another costly misplay on the very next at bat. Happy Felsch stepped up with runners in prime scoring position and grounded back to the mound. Benton saw Collins break from third and threw to Zimmerman in an attempt to get Collins hung up. The third baseman ran Collins toward home, but the White Sox star somehow evaded catcher Bill Rariden to make it a Zimmerman-Collins race to the plate. Collins won the dash with the other two runners advancing to second and third. Fundamental baseball had killed the Giants as Rariden, Benton and first baseman Walter Holke, had all left the plate unattended. New York cut the lead to one in the fifth, but it wasn't enough as the White Sox walked away with a 4-2 victory and their second World Series Championship.
While Faber's Series winning performance grabbed most of the headlines, the Giants' Robertson was another standout. Despite his costly error in Game 6, he had salvaged some respect with his eleven-for-twenty-two performance at the plate. Collins was praised, too, as evidenced by his .409 average for the White Sox. One other notable event took place during the 1917 Series as Olympic athlete and football star Jim Thorpe made the only postseason "appearance" of his Major League career in Game 5. Unfortunately, he never made it onto the field. Listed as the Giants' #6 man in the line-up, the right-handed Thorpe was strategically removed for the left-handed pinch-hitter, Robertson after Chicago lifted lefty Reb Russell in favor of righty Eddie Cicotte. Still the biggest story of the 1917 Fall Classic was the New York Giants and their everlasting potential for postseason disasters.