The Pittsburgh Pirates were shut down in game four of the 1909 World Series by the strong pitching of Detroit Tigers ace, George Mullin. The two teams had now gone back and forth with wins, the Pirates taking game one and three and the Tigers also winning game two in Pittsburgh. Without a day off for travel, the two teams arrived in Pittsburgh late the previous night and met for game five on October 13, 1909 at Forbes Field. Pittsburgh went back to game one starter Babe Adams, who gave up just one run in his complete game win. Detroit went with Ed Summers, who was knocked out of game two after facing just six batters in the first inning. It was a cold Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh, temperature below forty degrees but 21,706 fans showed up that day, eager to see their team to victory and get within one win of their first World Series title. The lineups, except for the pitcher’s spots, remained the same from the previous game. This was a big game for the Pirates, as it was decided(by coin flip) if the series went to seven games, the last game would be in Detroit, where game six was to be held.
3B Bobby Byrne
CF Tommy Leach
LF Fred Clarke
SS Honus Wagner
2B Dots Miller
1B Bill Abstein
RF Chief Wilson
C George Gibson
P Babe Adams
LF Davy Jones
SS Donie Bush
RF Ty Cobb
CF Sam Crawford
2B Jim Delahanty
3B George Moriarty
1B Tom Jones
C Oscar Stanage
P Ed Summers
The game did not have a good start for the Pirates and it was due to the Pirates fans that day, too many showed up. Davy Jones led off the game with a deep drive to center field. The ball stayed in the park but it cleared the enclosure built in the outfield for the overflow crowd and was ruled a home run. Hard to imagine under current rules but back then they didn’t turn away fans, if too many showed up they found a place for them, even if they stood in the outfield behind ropes. It immediately put the home team down 1-0 and while Adams didn’t allow another first inning run, he also didn’t have a clean finish to the inning. He walked Donie Bush, got Ty Cobb to fly out, then gave up a single to Sam Crawford that moved Bush to third. Crawford stole second after a strikeout to Jim Delahanty. Adams then got George Moriarty to pop up to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first, Bobby Byrne led off with a clean single to left field. Tommy Leach followed him with a bunt single before Fred Clarke sacrificed both runners over, bringing up Honus Wagner. Summers pitched the Pirates best hitter carefully, walking him to load the bases for Dots Miller with one out. Miller was unable to put the ball in play and neither was Bill Abstein who followed him, but the difference was Miller struck out while Abstein was the second walk of the inning for the Pirates and that scored Byrne, to tie the game up at one apiece. Summers struck out Chief Wilson to end the inning as the Pirates tied the game but also left the bases loaded.
Adams worked quickly through the bottom of the Tigers order in the second inning, getting a fly ball to Wilson, then a strikeout of Oscar Stanage and Summers. In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates worked some small ball perfectly to take the lead. George Gibson led off with a single to left field, then was sacrificed to second base by Adams. Byrne came up and grounded out to second base for the second out but it moved Gibson over to third base. With Leach up, Summers uncorked a wild pitch, bringing home the Pirates catcher with their second run and an early lead. Leach flew out to end the inning.
In the third, it looked like Adams had settled down. He made it two straight 1-2-3 innings, getting a fly out to center field, his third strikeout and a ground out from Cobb to end the inning. The heart of the Pirates lineup put another run on the board in the third inning. Clarke led off with the third walk from Summers. Wagner followed with a single to left field that allowed Clarke to get to third base. Miller followed with a grounder to shortstop, with the only out able to be recorded was Miller at first base. Clarke scored making it 3-1, where it would stay to end the inning.
Adams made it eleven outs in a row as he set down the Tigers in the fourth without allowing a ball out of the infield. He struck out Delahanty for his fourth strikeout of the game. Summers matched him in the bottom of the inning, his first clean frame of the game.
In the fifth inning, Tom Jones broke up the string of consecutive outs by Adams, leading off with a double. It was all the Pirates hurler would allow though, as he struck out Stanage and Summers, then got the other Jones to fly out to Clarke in left field to end the inning. The Pirates managed to get a one out single and stolen base by Clarke in the bottom of the inning but Wagner and Miller both grounded out to keep the score 3-1, though that would soon change.
The Tigers made it a game again in the sixth inning, although Adams did strike out Bush to start the frame, his seventh strike out of the game. Cobb hit a one out single to left field, then Detroit’s cleanup hitter, Sam Crawford, doubled in the gap between Clarke and Leach, scoring Cobb all the way from first. Delahanty followed with a grounder to Wagner, who went to first on the play but threw the ball away, allowing Crawford to score the tying run and letting Delahanty get to second base with one out. Adams got Moriarty to fly out to Clarke, then Tom Jones popped up to Abstein to end the inning with the score tied.
Pittsburgh went very quickly in the bottom of the inning, unable to answer the Tigers rally with a run of their own. Abstein popped out to shortstop, Wilson hit an easy grounder to Jones at first base and Gibson popped out to Bush to end the inning.
In the seventh, the Tigers went to their bench, calling on Matty McIntyre to hit for Stanage. He was unable to get a hit and Detroit went down in order in the inning. Boss Schmidt came up to replace Stanage behind the plate for the rest of the game. Adams struck out to lead off the Pirates half of the seventh but Byrne and Leach each laced singles into left field to put two runners on board for Clarke. They weren’t on base long as the Pirates manager/left fielder hit a long home run to center field to put the Pirates up by three runs. It was the second homer of the series for the Pirates, both by Clarke. Pittsburgh wasn’t done scoring in the inning.
After the home run, Summers threw one right at Wagner, hitting him in the middle of the back as he turned away. Dots Miller flew out to left field for the second out, so Honus decided to take things into his own hands. He stole second base with Abstein up, then took off for third base. The throw by Schmidt sailed into the outfield and Wagner got up and ran home for the Pirates seventh run.
In the eighth inning, now with a four run lead, Adams worked against the heart of the Tigers lineup. Bush lined out to Leach in center field for the first out. Cobb hit one right back to Adams for an easy second out. Crawford stepped up and blasted one to center field which caused a scary moment for the Pirates and their fans. Leach went back quickly on the ball and thought he had a play. Unfortunately for him, the ball was over his head and landed just out of his reach in the crowd. The wooden enclosure they had built in center field was low enough that on a full sprint the tiny, speedy outfielder crashed into it, shattering it but it also sent Leach somersaulting into the crowd. He was down for a few minutes and it looked bad to those in attendance but after shaking it off, he was able to continue the game. That was the only run Detroit would score, leaving it at 7-4 with just three outs to go.
Pittsburgh wasn’t done scoring, padding the lead with a double from Wilson and an RBI single from Gibson to start the bottom of the inning. It also chased Summers from the game and brought in Ed Willett, who recorded the last three outs to send the game to the final frame.
In the ninth inning, Adams got Moriarty to pop up for the first out. Tom Jones followed with a grounder to Wagner, who committed his second error of the game. Jones stole second base, but Schmidt, in his first at-bat, grounded out for the second out. The Tigers went to another pinch hitter to try to save the game, calling upon starting pitcher George Mullin to try to keep the game alive for the top of the lineup. Adams got Mullin to pop out to Wagner for the final out of the game, ending it at 8-4 and giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead in the series.
With both teams now going back to Detroit and the Pirates needing to take just one of two games, Pittsburgh went to their workhorse ace, Vic Willis. Game six was to be played the next day and with just one day rest, Detroit went back to Mullin to help keep the series alive. When we return next week, the date will be October 14, 1909 and the Pirates are on the brink of their first World Series title, while Detroit pulls out all the stops to keep their season alive.