by Frank Hyde
January 8, 1952
part 1 of 4
Error in Bedient's 1912 Series Game Kindles Fires of Third Major League
This could be called "The Story of the Error That Started a Third Major League."
It could also be called the story of Hugh Carpenter Bedient.
But the first adds a bit of the fantastic to the latter and blends in with Bedient's brief but brilliant big league career. Let's just tell it simply as the "Prince of Levant" would have it done.
But unreal as it seems, the connection is there - an error actually opening the way for the formation of a third major league.
And Hugh Carpenter Bedient was closely connected with this almost fanciful bit of baseball lore, first brought to light, in part, a few years ago by Ed Bang, veteran Cleveland writer.
In fact, Hugh started the game in which Fred Snodgrass of the New York Giants made one of the most time-defying yet inglorious muffs in all of baseball history.
By comparison, Fred Merkle's infamous "bonehead play" of four years before dwindles into insignificance.
Giants vs. Red Sox
And Merkle was there, too, the day Snodgrass committed his hundred thousand dollar sin, adding a bit more of the fanciful to an incident destined to remain deathless in the annals of baseball.
It all centers around that memorable eighth and final game of the 1912 World Series, but since the classic of '12 closed Bedient's first year up there - his best year - let's go back and have a look see.
The Giants, mauled by the Philadelphia A's the year before, entered the 1912 playoffs with John McGraw, the arrogant, mouthy, but dynamic "Little Napoleon," vowing vengeance on the American League.
And the junior circuit's standard bearers were the Boston Red Sox, managed by Jake Stahl, its first baseman.
It sported one of the greatest outfields in American League history - Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper. Smoky Joe Wood won 34 and lost 5 to lead the mound staff for his finest season during which he shared honors with Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators by winning 16 games in a row.
Bedient Won 20
Bedient, the blaze ball master with the fighting heart, who was born and reared in Falconer, was next in line with 20-10, an excellent record for a rookie getting his big league test at a period when some of the game's greatest stars were twinkling at their brightest.
Bill Carrigan, a capable receiver, handled the catching and Charlie Wagner was at short with Larry Gardner at third. They were the nucleus of the infield.
That was Boston's first World Series representative discounting the 1903 set with Pittsburgh, which wasn't an official series anyway, so Stahl was just as grimly determined as McGraw when the two clubs squared off on a windless summer day before 35,730 at the Polo Grounds - October 8, 1912.
Wood beat Jeff Tesreau, 4 to 3, as McGraw crossed the railbirds up by sidelining his ace, Christy Matthewson and nominating Tesreau, a huge spitball artist.
Hurled in Tie Game
The series shifted to Boston the next day and Bedient, working in relief, had the distinction of hurling in one of the three tie games recorded in World Series history. Hugh followed Ray Collins and Charlie Hall to the mound, the three holding the magnificent Matthewson to a 6-6 deadlock.
Detroit and Chicago had played to a 3-3 tie five years earlier to the day in the opening game of that series, and the Giants and Yankees battled to a 3-3 stalemate on October 5, 1922. Bob Shawkey, manger of the Jamestown Falcons in 1950, went the distance for the Yanks in that one.
Bedient had his stuff that day and was so impressive to Manager Stahl that he swung the Falconer youngster right back at the Giants the next day in a starting role. But the incomparable lefthander Rube Marquard beat him 2 to 1.
Poor Coaching Costly
The Giants put Hugh one down in the second when Murray doubled, Merkle bunted and Buck Herzog hit a run-scoring fly to deep center. Herzog doubled in the fifth and came on around to score what developed into the winning run on an infield out and Art Fletcher's single.
Boston kicked up a fuss with one out in the last of the ninth and there the fates stepped in and took a hand, poor coaching costing Hugh an even ball game and a chance to win. Lewis beat out an infield hit and scored when Gardner doubled to right. But the Boston coach momentarily held Lewis up at third and Gardner was forced back to second. A moment later Stahl hit back to the box and Marquard nailed Gardner at third. Heinie Wagner topped one to Fletcher at short but was safe when Merkle dropped the ball, Stahl going to third. Forrest Cady, the Bosox second string catcher, then moved in and hit a screaming drive to left that Josh Devore raced under to make one of the finest catches in this or any other series.
Hugh Beats Matthewson
But Hugh Bedient's day of glory was yet to come.
Wood yielded nine hits in the fourth game at New York but was tough with men on to beat Tesreau, 3 to 1, and Boston had a 2-1 edge in games when Stahl named Bedient to start against Matthewson at Boston on October 12.
Youthful Hugh beat the seasoned and awesome Matthewson 2 to 1, to write his shining chapter in the archives of World Series play.
Fog hung low and the game started under a threat of rain, ideal conditions for Bedient's blinding speed. He limited the National Leaguers to three hits and made a two-run, third-inning cluster stand up. Hooper and Steve Yerkes doubled and Doyle fumbled Speaker's easy roller. That was all Bedient needed.
Hugh should have had a shutout, but Gardner's error permitted Merkle to score the Giants' lone run in the seventh.
It as small consolation to Matthewson that this was his fourth World Series game in which he did not yield a base on balls.
With a 3-1 edge, the Red Sox should have been a shoo-in, but Marquard returned to the mound and beat them, 5 to 2, at New York on October 14 and Tesreau came through, 11 to 4, behind the 16-hit attack on Wood and Hall the next day.
So they came down to the wire on October 16 with Bedient again opposing Matthewson and a third league in the making through a wave of the wand by the foppish old goddess who decides such whimsical things.