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Sox Century: Oct. 7, 1917

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Red Faber finds his command, offense takes control in Game 2

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The front page of the Chicago Examiner on Oct. 8, 1917.

Red Faber finished his season with control problems over his last two outings. He issued 10 walks over his last 11 innings heading into the World Series, and while the more partisan accounts said he was merely saving his best stuff for October, it did cast some doubt as to whether he could be the running partner for Eddie Cicotte that Pants Rowland needed in the White Sox rotation.

Faber didn’t answer that question early. He gave up three straight singles in the second inning as the Giants took a 2-0 lead, the second run scoring when Ray Schalk dropped the throw home. The Chicago Examiner put it in a more lyrical manner:

The Giants set off a bundle of rockets in the second that illuminated Red Faber’s countenance, which showed slight traces of distress. After one gone [Dave] Robertson and [Walter] Holke bumped safeties, the first being an infield hit. [Lew] McCarthy [sic] punched a long single to left. Robertson slid to the plate on [Joe] Jackson’s peg and kicked the ball out of Schalk’s fingers. That runner counted and Holke came in while [Chick] Gandil was retrieving the pill from the suburbs.

That distress didn’t last long. The Faber didn’t face another serious threat afterward, partially because the White Sox offense provided a considerable cushion. They knocked out Giants ace Ferdie Schupp with a game-tying two-run second, then exploded for five runs in the fourth that gave the game its final, 7-2 score.

The Sox chased Schupp with four singles, including a two-strike bunt single by Buck Weaver, described as “a short fly to left well out of the usual lanes.” John McGraw pulled the plug with one out in the second after Schupp walked Faber to load the bases, and Fred Anderson stopped the bleeding with no further runs.

Anderson couldn’t escape his own mess in the fourth, though. Another bunt single by Weaver started it. Schalk followed with another base hit, and after a popout from Faber, Nemo Leibold single home the go-ahead run. Schalk took third, fighting through some interference from second baseman Buck Herzog, who tried to trip him according to the Examiner. Fred McMullin drove home Schalk, and Anderson from the game.

This time, McGraw’s move to the bullpen didn’t help. The White Sox greeted Pol Perritt with two more run-scoring hits. Eddie Collins delivered an RBI single, then took second when the throw went home, and he and McMullin scored on Jackson’s two-run single.

That gave Faber a five-run lead, and from there, his biggest problem was on the basepaths.

With one out in the fifth and Weaver on second, Faber singled to right. Weaver rounded third, but checked up when the throw went home, and Faber took second, which was good baserunning.

But it only served to set up bad baserunning. From the Examiner:

What probably was the prize boner of world’s series history was pulled by Faber, who for some unknown reason started to steal third. Weaver was on the bag and did not move, but Faber kept going. Before Faber knew what was coming off, the Great Zim [Heinie Zimmermann] tagged Red, and then it dawned on people what had happened. Everybody, even the Giants, had to laugh. No runs. One hit. One error.

It was memorable enough to make the second paragraph of I.E. Sanborn’s front-page story in the Chicago Tribune.

Not only did the Cascade idol pitch a strong game, for which he long will be remembered, but in the fifth inning he staged a classic “Barry” by trying to steal third base, which already was occupied by Buck weaver, and that feat will never be forgotten. “A thousand, thousand years” from now it will be dug up by the historians as the feature of the 1917 world’s series.

History proved Sanborn incorrect, and not just because this is the first time I’d heard of Faber’s baserunning blunder. A more famous baserunning play played a bigger part in deciding this World Series, but we’ll get to that next week. For the meantime, enjoy the Tribune’s representation of the moment:

Found on Newspapers.com

Faber wrapped up his victory with a fine line, allowing just those two runs on eight hits and a walk over nine innings, striking out one. The Tribune said he completed the game on 99 pitches, or two fewer than Cicotte threw in the opener.

This game shifted the series sentiment beyond a 2-0 lead. It was one thing to win Game 1 by one run with Cicotte on the mound, but thumping the Giants’ best starter while Faber returned to form made the Giants’ climb seem so much steeper. The Examiner ran a piece by Damon Runyon expressing some doubt from the New York clubhouse:

“They knocked us silly,” was the terse summing up by a member of the New York Giants of the second game of the world’s series yesterday afternoon.

Writers of the renown were groping for words to describe the defeat of his club by the Chicago White Sox when the Giant came along. They were thinking of “overwhelming” as a good strong word, and lingering lovingly over “crushing,” but the athlete, who knows what a 7 to 2 score really means in a championship game, covered the situation in one swift lingual stroke.

“Yes,” he repeated, “they just knocked us silly.”

Series: White Sox lead 2-0 | Box score