1926 World Series
The 1926 World Series was the championship series of the 1926 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, featuring the St. Louis Cardinals against the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals defeated the Yankees four games to three in the best-of-seven series, which took place from October 2 to October 10, 1926 at Yankee Stadium and Sportsman's Park.
The Cardinals and Yankees earned their places in the series by having the best win–loss records in the National and American Leagues, respectively. This was the first World Series appearance for the Cardinals—the first of ten World Series championships in Cardinals history. The Yankees were making their fourth World Series appearance in six seasons; after this series, they would play in another 35 World Series.
In Game 1, pitcher Herb Pennock led the Yankees to a 2–1 win over the Cardinals. In Game 2, pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander evened the Series for the Cardinals with a 6–2 victory. Cardinals pitcher Jesse Haines threw a complete game shutout in Game 3, which gave St. Louis a 2–1 series lead. In the Yankees 10–5 victory in Game 4, Babe Ruth hit three home runs, a World Series record equaled only twice since. According to newspaper reports, Ruth had promised a sickly boy named Johnny Sylvester to hit a home run for him in Game 4. After Ruth's three-home run performance, the boy's condition had miraculously improved. The newspapers' account of the story is disputed by contemporary baseball historians, but it remains one of the most famous anecdotes in baseball history. Pennock was again the winning pitcher for the Yankees in the team's 3–2 victory in Game 5.
The Yankees led the series 3–2, and Cardinals player-manager Rogers Hornsby chose Alexander as the starting pitcher in Game Six and used him as a relief pitcher in Game 7. Behind Alexander, the Cardinals won the final two games of the series, thus giving them the championship. In Game 7, the Yankees were losing 3–2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, their last opportunity to score in a regular game. Ruth walked with two outs. Bob Meusel came to bat next, but Ruth, who had a 50% career success rate at stealing bases, decided to try stealing second base. Meusel swung and missed Alexander's pitch, and catcher Bob O'Farrell threw the ball to second baseman Hornsby, who tagged Ruth out, ending the game and giving the Cardinals the World Series championship.
Once again, the New York Yankees had risen to the top of the American League with solid pitching and spectacular hitting by the soon to be penned "Murderer's". Babe Ruth was joined in the spotlight by two young up-and-coming sluggers named Lou Gehrig and Earle Combs who hit .348 and .357 during the regular season. Their opponents, the National League's St. Louis Cardinals, had similar success with Rogers Hornsby, a .317 hitter, and pitchers Flint Rhem and Bill Sherdel who had won twenty and sixteen games respectively.
Both teams looked to be strong on both sides of the plate, but the Yankees remained heavy favorites after dethroning the Giants' dynasty in the 1923 World Series. Rookie Lou Gehrig had a fantastic debut in Game 1 driving in the winning run for a 6-3 opening victory. New York was not as fortunate in Game 2 as the Cardinals returned with a vengeance for a 6-2 payback. Grover Alexander went the distance against three Yankees pitchers including Urban Shocker, Bob Shawkey, who came on in the eighth, and Sam Jones who finished the ninth. Things didn't get any better for the favorites in Game 3 as once again, a Cardinal pitcher (Jesse Haines) lasted all nine against three of New York's finest (Dutch Ruether, Bob Shawkey and Myles Thomas). Haines also contributed the only home run in the 4-0 shutout. The underdog Cards' were now on top two games to one.
Down, but not out, "Murderer's Row" came back in Game 4 with a new resolve. This time it was St. Louis exhausting their bullpen as Yankee vet Waite Hoyt stood tall against five Cardinal pitchers including Flint Rhem, Art Reinhart, Hi Bell, Bill Hallahan and finally Vic Keen. The Bambino was back to his old self too, knocking out three homers to the Cardinals none. Although the National League champs were still ahead by a single game, serious damage had been done in the 10-5 debacle, as New York was clearly not giving up without a fight. Both teams dug in as Game 5 resulted in a ten inning pitcher's duel between the Yank's Herb Pennock and Card's Bill Sherdel. The Yankees managed to win it 3-2 and led the Series by one game with two to go. Game 6 offered a replay of Game 2 as Grover Alexander once again, went the distance in a crucial 10-2 triumph that left Bob Shawkey a loser and Urban Shocker and Myles Thomas unavailable for the final showdown.
Game 7 was a real nail-biter as Jesse Haines and Grover Alexander went head-to-head with Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. Both teams managed eight hits apiece and Babe Ruth contributed the only homer in the contest. Down 3-2 in the ninth, the Yankees were still in good shape as baseball's greatest slugger stepped up to the plate. The Babe worked the count to three and two, then drew his eleventh walk of the Series. Clean-up man Bob Meusel prepared to put the winning run on base, but was denied when the anxious Bambino attempted to steal second. Although he had successfully stolen against the Cardinals in Game 6, he was slow off the start and catcher Bob O'Farrell's throw to Tommy Thevenow nailed the Yankees' slugger ending the Fall Classic. Many fans were furious with Ruth and believed that his mistake had clearly cost the Series.
St. Louis had managed to beat the mighty Babe Ruth and his defending world champion Yankees despite mediocre performances from their standout players. Hornsby hit a meager .250 against New York and both Rhem and Sherdel had failed to win a game.