by Frank Hyde
June 8, 1949
Old Bosox Team Mates Meet Here, Relive 'Golden Years' of 1912-15
The big fellow declined to sit down. He folded his arms across a chest that is still massive and talked to the man and the cigar.
When fellows like Ray Collins and Hugh Bedient get together it's worth a listen from we of the more tender years.
The two old Boston Red Soxers, who saw service together in the World Series of 1912, were in good verbal form and as they talked the greats of yesteryear came treading out of the past on the magic wings of words and memory - Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Christy Matthewson, Harry Hooper, John McGraw - like a ghostly parade across your desk, leaving in their wake tales of mighty achievements that bloomed as they carved out immortality when baseball was young.
Collins, now an Eastern farmer and a member of the board of directors at the University of Vermont, was enroute home from California. A stop in Jamestown to visit his old mate was a natural.
Big Ray, a southpaw, went to the Red Sox direct from the U of Vermont in 1909. And when his major league days were behind him, he hung up his spikes without testing the minors on his way out.
Few men in the history of the organized game can claim such a remarkable record. There was Collins, Lou Gehrig and perhaps one or two more, men with such amazing ability they could jump right into the big show and disdained to touch the minors on the back trail. Collins' case, in a way, is more remarkable than Gehrig's, for Columbia Lou was stricken while with the Yanks. Big Ray, however, had years of minor league baseball ahead of him when he stepped down to become a gentleman farmer back in the beautiful hills near Colchester, just outside Burlington.
Both With Red Sox
Bedient, a product of our own community and one of the most widely known of that grand army of oldtimers who were part of a pioneering period in the game, came in contact with Collins when Hugh went to the Red Sox. During the series of '12 they became fast friends. They were parted when Ray called it quits in 1915 and Hugh jumped into the so-called outlaw Federal League for a one year tenure in Buffalo.
Ray and Hugh opposed the mighty Matthewson when the Sox and NY Giants clashed in 1912. Ray was in that 6 to 6 tie game at Boston on October 9 - one of the few tie contests ever played in the classic.
Collins worked seven and a third innings, allowing three runs on seven hits before being relieved by Charley Hall. The latter gave way to Bedient who pitched the final inning, the 11th. Umpire Silk O'Laughlin then ruled it too dark to play. Matthewson went the distance for the Giants.
Worked in Sixth Game
Ray did not get back into action until he relieved Buck O'Brien in the second inning of the sixth game at the old Polo Grounds at New York. The Giants got five runs off O'Brien in the first and Collins came in to stop John McGraw's belligerent gang, but the damage was done and the New Yorkers won, 5 to 2.
That was all for Ray in the 1912 series, but Bedient was still to make an appearance after his great 2-1 victory over Matthewson in the fifth contest. Hugh started the final game against Matty on October 16 at Boston and was hoisted for a pinch hitter as the Sox scored a run in the seventh to tie the game. Smoky Joe Wood relieved Bedient and gained the win when the Sox crossed twice in the ninth for a 3-2 triumph and the series 4 games to 3.
Bedient gave up three hits in out-pitching Matthewson in the fifth game. The performance, about which reams have been written, was probably the Levant's man greatest in baseball.
Collns had his best year in 1913 when he won 20 games for the Red Sox but the Beantowners failed to repeat as champions and the Giants, back for another slice of series dough, squared off with the Philadelphia A's.
Pitchers Today Okeh
"Pitchers today are just as good as they ever were," Collins said - a surprise statement, for the majority of the oldtimers lean to their "kin" of yesteryear. "But they've hurt the game with the live ball and movable fences - hurt it, that is, as far as effective pitching is concerned."
Ray thinks Cobb was the greatest player of any era. "Why I remember the first time I saw Cobb. I had just arrived at Boston and was sitting on the bench. We were playing the Tigers in Detroit. Cobb singled then stole second, third, and home on three pitches."
Bedient interposed a word to remind Ray of his great duels with Walter Johnson. The gentleman from Vermont just snorted. It was evident Mr. Collins did not like to talk about a fellow named Collins. But Hugh volunteered the information. The fine lefty and the Big Train met six times in 1913, split three apiece and each of the six was a shutout.
"Yes," Ray finally put in. "I remember one game in Washington. Harry Hooper hit a home run off Johnson's very first pitch and that was the ball game, 1 to 0.
Cobb and the Tigers were Ray's "cousins" Bedient revealed. "All he had to do was throw his glove out there and the Tigers were whipped," Hugh laughed.
Lost First Game
"Yes, but there was one time I didn't beat them," Ray put in - "my first start in the majors. They beat me 2-1 on Friday. I fanned Cobb twice that day, then I came back and shut them out on Sunday, 4-0."
Those were the durable days. Imagine asking Bobby Feller to start against the Yankees on Friday and again on Sunday.
"There wasn't any difference between the control of the pitchers of our time and the boys of today as many oldtimers claim," Ray added. "We walked fewer men, but we could take more chances pitching to them - you couldn't bunt the ball out of the park back then."
Bedient cut in quickly, "Yes, but don't forget one run meant the game many times, while today the pitcher can give up four or five runs and still feel he has a chance."
Collins was a control master and a little black brick that nestled in a wall of red ones back in Vermont gets the credit. "I had a rubber ball, but no one to play with. So I used to practice hitting that brick and catching the ball on the rebound. Got so I hardly ever missed. Stood me in good stead years later, because I went to the majors chiefly on my control."
It was time to go so we dug out a book called Baseball's Greatest Drama, turned to the 1912 World Series and posed them looking at their own achievements in print.