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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Indians - Dodgers 1920: the forgotten World Series.

In all the fuss about the Cubs being one win away from playing in the World Series for the first time since 1945, the last year of World War II, and the Indians playing in the World Series for the first time since 1997, no one has addressed the other possibility, which is more than a little possible with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill starting the final two games in Chicago for Los Angeles: the other potential matchup: Indians v. Dodgers. Those two teams already played for the championship once.

1920 World Series (5-2): Cleveland Indians (98-56) over Brooklyn Robins (93-61)

From 1919 through 1921, the old World Series was best of nine, not best of seven. In 1920 the Indians beat the Robins as the Brooklyn team was known then.

The first three games were played in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and the Robins won games two and three. Attendance: 22,000 to 25,000. The Indians then swept all four games at Dunn Field in Cleveland to end the series before they would have headed back to Brooklyn for possible games eight and nine. The only home runs were hit in game five:

Sunday, October 10, 1920 at Dunn Field
Attendance: 26,884, Time of Game: 1:49
Indians 8, Robbins 1
HR: Elmer Smith (1, off Burleigh Grimes, 1st inn, 3 on, 0 outs to Deep RF); Jim Bagby (1, off B Grimes, 4th inn, 2 on, 1 out to Deep CF).


TP: 1. Bill Wambsganss. In addition to participating in multiple double plays in this World Series, the Indians second baseman had an unassisted triple play, the only one in World Series history.

The first four Indian batters scored: three singles and a home run by Elmer Smith. Indians starting pitcher Jim Bagby hit a three run homer in the 4th. First World Series grand slam and first World Series home run by a pitcher.

Smith and Bagby? Hey, didn't they stop the 56 game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio July 17, 1941 in Cleveland? Well, two Indians pitchers with those last names held DiMaggio 0 for 3, plus a walk. However, they were different people.

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF GSc IR IS WPA aLI RE24
Al Smith, L (6-6) 7.1 7 4 4 2 4 1 3.97 30 50 -0.114 0.86 -1.5
Jim Bagby 1.2 1 0 0 1 1 0 4.16 6 3 0 0.049 0.30 2.1
Team Totals 9 8 4 4 3 5 1 4.00 36 50 3 0 -0.065 0.76 0.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2016.

The 1920 Cleveland Indians pitcher named Jim Bagby was the father of the one who combined to stop DiMaggio in 1941.

Jim Bagby, Sr. pitched for Cleveland 1916-1922: 122-86, ERA 3.03. Bagby had his best season in 1920, leading the American League in:
wins 31
winning "percentage" .721
games 48 (38 starts)
complete games 30
innings 339.66
hits 338
batters faces 1,355

1920 was the only World Series for Bagby, Sr.: 1-1, 15 innings, 1.80 ERA. He pitched six innings in game two, losing 3-0, then won game five, helping his cause with his three run homer.

Bagby, Jr. pitched three seasons for the Boston Red Sox, then 1941-1945 for Cleveland. He won 17 games in both 1942 and 1943. He returned to the Red Sox in 1946 and pitched three innings in one game in the 1946 World Series for Boston against the champion St. Louis Cardinals.

In the 1920 World Series Stan Coveleski was the pitching star for Cleveland: three complete game victories in three starts: ERA 0.67. In the regular season he was second to Bagby, Sr. in innings with 315 and 24-14, ERA 2.49. He won World Series games 1, 4, 7. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

Player-manager Tris Speaker had the most hits for Cleveland: 8; .320 .393 .480 .873. Speaker was 32 years old in 1920 and led the AL with 50 doubles;  .388 .483 .562 1.045. Speaker led in doubles 8 times, including 1920-1923. He has the most career doubles: 792. Speaker played for the Red Sox 1907-1915, then the Indians 1916-1926. He manged Cleveland 1919 (61 games) - 1926: 617-520. Speaker was a great center fielder. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Speaker and the Indians dealt with the grief of the death of their shortstop Ray Chapman, who was killed by a pitched ball thrown by Carl Mays of the Yankees.

Last Game: August 16, 1920 (Age 29.)  vs. NYY 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Died: August 171920 in New York, NY (Aged 29)


Joe Sewell played all seven 1920 World Series games at shortstop for Cleveland. He played for Cleveland 1920-1930, moving to third base in 1929. He then played three seasons for the Yankees. He played all four 1932 World Series games for the Yankees.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

Zach Wheat led Brooklyn with 9 hits: .333 .357 .407 .765. Wheat played with Brooklyn 1909-1926, all but his final season with the Philadelphia As. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

In addition to the death of Ray Chapman, the scandal of the Chicago White Sox taking money from gamblers to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series to Cincinnati was becoming public late in the 1920 season and the White Sox owner felt compelled to suspend some of his players, possibly costing the White Sox the 1920 pennant. Cleveland won by two games over the White Sox and three over the Yankees, whose new acquisition, Babe Ruth, smashed his home run record of 29 in 1919 by hitting 54 in 1920.

The Yankees won the pennant in 1921, 1922, 1923; and their first World Series in 1923.

Cleveland won its only other World Series in 1948. The Indians also won pennants in 1954, 1995, 1997, 2016.

The Brooklyn won its next pennant in 1941, losing to the Yankees. Brooklyn won its only World Series in 1955, beating the Yankees in seven games 4-3. The Dodgers have won multiple World Series in Los Angeles: 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988 (most recent pennant).

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