1929 World Series
In the 1929 World Series, the Philadelphia Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs in five games.
The famous "Mack Attack" occurred in 1929, named for the legendary manager of the Athletics, Connie Mack, in which the Athletics overcame an eight-run deficit by scoring ten runs in the seventh inning of Game 4. The inning featured an infamous Cubs moment when center fielder Hack Wilson lost Mule Haas' fly ball in the sun resulting in a bases-clearing, inside-the-park home run, although the A's still trailed 8–7 at that point.
Because seven of the eight regulars in the Cubs' batting order hit right-handed, the only exception being first baseman Charlie Grimm, Athletics manager Connie Mack decided that he would start only right-handed pitchers against the Cubs, and keep his left-handers in the bullpen, even though two of his best starters, Lefty Grove and Rube Walberg, were southpaws.
Accordingly, Game 1 featured a surprise start by aging A's pitcher Howard Ehmke, whose record thirteen strikeouts bested Ed Walsh's record from 1906 by one, and stood until Carl Erskine broke it by one in 1953. Ehmke would also start Game 5, but failed to get out of the fourth inning in that one.
As baseball prepared to close its books on the 1920's, the National League's Chicago Cubs were still looking for their third World Series Championship. Joe McCarthy's team was more determined than ever after losing in their previous two attempts (1910 & 1918) and had made it back to the big show on the arm of Pat Malone, who boasted twenty-two victories during the regular season. On the American League side, one of baseball's original dynasties, the Philadelphia Athletics were back on top after a lengthy rebuilding process. Connie Mack had finally assembled a line-up of talent that brought back memories of the perennial championship A's and featured players like Al Simmons, who had topped the American League with one-hundred fifty-seven RBIs. The A's were 104-46 in 1929 and won the American League pennant by eighteen games over the New York Yankees, who had swept the World Series in 1927 and 1928.
The Athletics' skipper shocked everyone after selecting Howard Ehmke, their seventh best pitcher, for the start in Game 1. The thirty-five-year-old veteran had a 7-2 record with an unimpressive ERA of 3.29. In a brilliant move, Mack had placed Ehmke in the stands at various games to study the Cub's hitters anonymously. His strategy paid off as the surprise underdog went on to beat Charlie Root and Guy Bush in a 3-1 opening victory. George Earnshaw and Lefty Grove maintained the Athletics' momentum with a Game 2 win over four of the National League's best. Pat Malone, Sheriff Blake, Hal Carlson and Art Nehf all came up short in a game that featured a combined twenty-three hits in a 9-3 Philadelphia romp. The Cubs struck back in Game 3 with a crucial 3-1 triumph that put them back in the hunt and set the stage for one of the most exciting comebacks in the history of the World Series.
Game 4 rotated nine different pitchers including the Cubs' Charlie Root, Art Nehf, Sheriff Blake, Pat Malone, Hal Carlson and the A's Jack Quinn, Rube Walberg, Eddie Rommel and Lefty Grove. Things appeared to remain in Chicago's favor even as Al Simmons added to his league leading stats with a homerun in the bottom of the seventh. Jimmie Foxx, Bing Miller and Jimmy Dykes followed him with singles. With the score still in the Cubs' advantage at 8-3 (with two runners on and no outs) Joe Boley stepped up to the plate and delivered another run-scoring single and the fifth consecutive hit off of starter Charlie Root. As the rally continued, Philadelphia had pulled within four and Root was pulled in favor of Art Nehf. The veteran lefty had won several crucial games for the New York Giants (in four consecutive World Series match-ups) but promptly surrendered three more runs on an error by outfielder Hack Wilson, who had let a long drive roll to the fence. The A's line-up had clearly taken control leaving Chicago in shock as they watched their significant lead dissolve to a single run in a single inning. Then, Mickey Cochrane walked as Sheriff Blake came in to replace the struggling Nehf. Simmons, who had started the Athletics' comeback, stepped up for the second time in the inning and added yet another single. Jimmie Foxx returned as well driving in the tying run making it an 8-8 contest. McCarthy's team had fallen into "quicksand" and was sinking fast. Pat Malone was summoned from the bullpen, but nothing changed as he hit Miller with a pitch, loading the bases. Dykes followed suite and slammed a double scoring the ninth and tenth runs of the inning, but Malone dug in and struck out Boley and Burns ending the devastation. Lefty Grove came in to finish to job and retired Chicago in order in the eighth and ninth innings while striking out four consecutive batters. The A's, staring at the likelihood of a 2-2 tie in games when they came to bat in the seventh inning, now boasted a three games-to-one lead after their unlikely 10-8 triumph and looked to close out the Cubs in Game 5.
A battered Pat Malone returned for the start in Game 5 hungry for payback after his team's Game 4 debacle. Paired up against the unlikely Game 1 winner Howard Ehmke, he managed to keep the Cubs' hopes alive with a clutch performance. Both aces were locked in a 0-0 struggle until the fourth inning when Chicago drove in two runs and Ehmke off the mound. Rube Walberg came in as relief and matched the National League ace until the bottom of the ninth. With one down and a two run lead, the Cubs stood two outs away from sending the Series back to Wrigley Field, but Max Bishop kept the A's alive with a crucial single. Mule Haas stepped up to the plate for his biggest at-bat of the season and tied the game with a bomb over the right-field wall. Down, but not out, Malone remained tough and got out #2 off a Mickey Cochrane grounder. With two down now and one to go, the Cubs still had a chance. That was until Al Simmons came up big with a priceless double - forcing the intentional walking of Jimmie Foxx. Bing Miller completed the cycle, hitting one off Shibe Park's scoreboard for the winning run and another World Series Championship. The 3-2 comeback gave Connie Mack's Athletics' their first title since 1913 and sent Chicago packing after surrendering leads in both Games 4 and 5.
Game 1 witnessed perhaps the most unorthodox strategy in World Series history. Rather than start Lefty Grove, the best pitcher in the American League, A's manager Connie Mack went with veteran finesse artist Howard Ehmke, who pitched just 55 innings in the regular season. Ehmke fooled the Cubs all day, allowing just one unearned run and striking out 13 to set a Series record. Jimmie Foxx broke the scoreless game in the seventh with a solo homer, and the Athletics came up with two unearned runs in the ninth, making the final score 3-1.
A's starter George Earnshaw got knocked around in Game 2, but Grove came to the rescue with 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief. Meanwhile, Philly pounded out 12 hits on their way to nine runs, with Foxx and Al Simmons combining for two homers and seven RBIs, and won, 9-3.
Two days later in Philadelphia, Earnshaw again drew the starting assignment. He tossed a complete game this time, but lost 3-1 to Bullet Joe Bush.
Then came Game 4, perhaps the strangest Series game of them all. After seven-and-a-half innings, the Cubs were cruising with an 8-0 lead. One out, two lost balls in the sun and 13 batters later, the Cubs found themselves trailing 10-8. The next two hitters struck out, but the damage was done. Grove tossed two innings of perfect relief to clinch the improbable victory.
Lightning struck again in Game 5. After eight innings, Cubs starter Pat Malone was cruising along with a 2-0 lead and a two-hitter. Malone struck out leadoff man Walt French, but then Max Bishop singled and Mule Haas homered, tying the game. Cochrane grounded out, but Simmons doubled, and after an intentional walk to Foxx, Bing Miller also doubled to score Simmons and clinch the Series.