Friday April 03, 2020
‘Hank’ Gowdy, Super-Hero, Cont.
After posting this piece on Boston Braves first baseman Hank Gowdy being called a “super-hero” for his incredible 1914 World Series performance—one of the earliest mentions of the term I‘ve come across—I got the following email from my father:
Hank Gowdy also figured prominently in the 1924 World Series, but not so heroically. In the 12th inning of game 7 at Griffith Park, Senators leadoff hitter, Muddy Ruel hit a foul popup near home plate, but Gowdy tripped over his catchers mask and didn’t catch it. Ruel then doubled and scored the winning run, rewarding Walter Johnson, in relief, with the win.
It was the first time a Game 7 went into extra innings. The next time? 1991.
That last stat is pretty interesting—particularly since it involved the Twins—the original Senators franchise that moved to Minnesota in 1961. So the first two times a deciding Game 7 went into extras, it involved that franchise; and they won both. Not bad.
Also interesting? Though it hadn't happened in nearly 70 years when the Twins beat the Braves in 10, it happened again just six years later, in 1997, when Jose Mesa blew it for the Indians and the Marlins went on to win in 11. Then it happened again in 2016, when the Cubs and Indians took a rain-delayed Game 7 into the 10th. Right, the Indians lost both of those. So Senators/Twins win the first two Game 7 extras, Indians lose the next two Game 7 extras. Symmetetry. Sorry, Cleveland.
Despite my father's memory, Gowdy wasn't hounded into eternity for the ‘24 mishap, the way that Merkle, Snodgrass and Buckner were for theirs. In fact, tripping over the catcher’s mask isn't mentioned at all in Gowdy's 1966 New York Times obit. The subhed immediately goes to his '14 exploits, then mentions a truer kind of heroism: The fact that Gowdy was the first Major League Baseball player to enlist and serve in World War I.