In the first World Series game played in St. Louis, nine future inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby, appeared in the starting lineups. The player who delivered the masterpiece performance was the pitcher among that stellar cast, Jesse Haines of the Cardinals.
Ninety years ago, on Oct. 5, 1926, in Game 3 of the World Series at Sportman’s Park, Haines pitched a complete-game shutout and hit a two-run home run, carrying the Cardinals to a 4-0 victory.
Haines and Bucky Walters of the 1940 Reds are the only pitchers with a shutout and a home run in a World Series game. Walters achieved his feat in Game 6 against the Tigers.
With his performance, Haines defied the odds. Consider:
_ The 1926 Yankees featured the famed “Murderer’s Row” lineup of Ruth, Gehrig, two other future Hall of Famers, Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs, and standouts Bob Meusel and Joe Dugan.
_ The Yankees, who led the major leagues in runs scored (847) in 1926, had been shut out just three times during the regular season.
_ Haines, in his eighth big-league season, had hit one career home run. It occurred six years earlier on Aug. 11, 1920, at Philadelphia against former Cardinals pitcher Lee Meadows of the Phillies.
Haines also had to deal with the heightened expectations of a city stirred into a frenzy by the thrill of hosting its first World Series game.
“Classes in public schools were dismissed at 1:30 and the pupils assembled in the auditoriums to hear the Cardinals-Yankees scores by radio,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“Buildings in the neighborhood of the (ballpark) held many long-distance fans, who cocked ears and craned necks, some leaning out windows, others standing on roofs,” the newspaper reported. “Many a chimney top was dusted off to make a seat for a fan.”
In the New York American, Damon Runyon observed, “The city is jammed with wide-hatted Missourians and fat-waisted Ohioans and thin-flanked Illinoisans and other of the citizenry of the Mississippi Valley.”
A crowd of 37,708 _ the largest to attend a baseball game in St. Louis at that time _ stuffed into Sportsman’s Park.
“When the teams took the field, there was not a vacant seat in lower stand, upper stand, pavilion or bleachers _ row upon row of humanity splashed with red,” the Post-Dispatch wrote. “It was the only color visible. Women wore it in their hats. Men in their neckties. Red scarfs, red shirts, red dresses, red flowers _ Cardinal red.”
Go crazy, folks
The Cardinals and Yankees had split the first two games of the World Series in New York. Haines had appeared in Game 1 on Oct. 2, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in relief of starter Bill Sherdel.
Three days later, he was starting Game 3 behind a Cardinals lineup that included fellow future Hall of Famers Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Billy Southworth and Hornsby. (Unlike the others, Southworth, though an outfielder with pop, would be elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager, not a player.)
In the top of fourth, the game was delayed for a half-hour by a downpour that left the infield a mess.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, Haines batted from the right side against starter Dutch Ruether with a runner on first and two outs.
Ruether, a left-hander, threw a pitch high and outside. Haines swung at the curveball and connected with what Runyon described as “a line wallop over Bob Meusel’s head into the laps of the fans in the long, low green pavilion in right field.”
Wrote the Associated Press: “It was a towering blow, worthy of a Ruth or a Southworth.”
Haines’ home run gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead and created bedlam.
“Screams, shrieks, whoops, bawls, howls, hollers, roars swept the muddy ballyard with the weird noises raised by cow bells, auto horns, whistles, rattles and musical instruments mixed with the medley,” wrote Runyon.
Battling The Babe
In the fifth, the Cardinals added a run on a RBI-groundout by Bottomley, making the score 4-0.
Three innings later, Haines walked pinch-hitter Ben Paschal to open the eighth. With the top of their batting order coming up next, the Yankees sensed this was their chance to get back into the game.
“Even the Cardinals betrayed a little concern,” wrote the Post-Dispatch. “They gathered about Haines to steady him.”
Haines struck out Combs. The next batter, Mark Koening, grounded out to first, moving Paschal to second.
That brought to the plate Ruth.
“Ruth was an enemy and they didn’t like him and nobody made any attempt to conceal the fact,” James R. Harrison of the New York Times reported. “… Ruth was met in St. Louis with a frank chorus of boos, groans and hisses.”
With first base open, some expected Hornsby, the player-manager of the Cardinals, to order an intentional walk.
The first two pitches from Haines to Ruth were outside the strike zone. “It was evident that Jess was trying only to keep the ball out of the home run circle,” wrote the Post-Dispatch.
On the third pitch, Ruth looked at a called strike.
The Bambino swung at the next delivery and pulled a grounder to Hornsby at second for the third out of the inning.
The threat was over and the Cardinals prevailed. The final line for Haines: 9 innings, 5 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. All of the Yankees’ hits were singles: two by Gehrig and one each by Ruth, Combs and Dugan. Boxscore
Haines got his next start in Game 7. He pitched 6.2 innings and earned the win in a game best remembered for Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Lazzeri with the bases loaded and getting the save.
Previously: How Cardinals got Grover Cleveland Alexander