by Harold Friend
The weather was good, the crowd was large, and the Dodgers were determined. Before 45,055 paying customers, the majority Brooklyn Dodgers' supporters, the New York Giants lost their final game of the 1934 season. There are tough defeats, and then there are defeats from which teams never recover.
The Cardinals Had to Lose
New York had led the league most of the season. On Friday, Sept. 28, the Cardinals tied the Giants for first. The next day, the Cards won as the Giants lost. A seven game advantage on Sept. 7 became a one game deficit. Now, on Sunday, the Giants had to win and needed a Cardinal loss to force a playoff and stave off one of the most astonishing melt downs in baseball history.
A Hostile Home Crowd
Bill Terry started 18-game winner Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons to face Brooklyn's Ray Benge, but the Giants were facing more than the Dodgers and Ray Benge. It was as if the Giants were visiting Ebbets Field. Brooklyn fans literally ran over each other trying to get into the Polo Grounds. When the Giants took the field for the first inning, there was a tremendous din, aided by whistles, horns and bells. There were more jeers than cheers for the home team.
The Giants Jump Out to a Four Run Lead
The Giants, no longer defending first place, were a loose group. They scored four runs in the first inning, routing Benge, who was relieved by knuckleballer Emil "Dutch" Leonard. Brooklyn answered with single runs in the second and fourth innings, but Fitzsimmons hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to restore the Giants' three-run lead.
Brooklyn Ties the Game
Going to the top of the eighth, New York led, 5-3 with Fitzsimmons still on the mound. In 1934, there were no set up men or closers. It was the same game as today, but it was not managed the same way.
Buzz Boyle singled, Lonnie Frey grounded out, and Len Koenecke, the former Giant whom John McGraw held in high esteem but who was immediately dispatched when Bill Terry succeeded McGraw, doubled home Boyle to make it a one run game.
Three in the Cardinals' Fourth Inning
Bill Terry held a conference at the mound as Prince Hal Schumacher made his last warm up pitch in relief of Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons. At that moment, a tremendous roar went up from the crowd. A big number three was posted on the scoreboard for the Cardinals, who now led, the Reds, 5-0 in the fourth inning. There was joy in Brooklyn.
Schumacher delivered to Sam Leslie, who hit a ground ball to shortstop Blondy Ryan. Koenecke was caught in a run down between second and third, but Leslie made it to second before the out was made. With Johnny McCarthy at the plate, Shumacher uncorked a wild pitch toward the Brooklyn dugout. Leslie scored all the way from second to tie the game.
King Carl Hubbell Can't Do It
It was getting dark at the Polo Grounds, literally and figuratively. In the top of the tenth, Sam Leslie led off with a single and Tony Cuccinello doubled him to third. Terry replaced Prince Hal Schumacher with King Carl Hubbell, but in baseball, being royalty doesn't help.
Hubbell struck out pitcher Johnny Babich for the first out. Joe Stripp was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dizzy Dean still was working on a shut out in St. Louis.
The Giants Lose the Pennant
Al Lopez hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop Blondy Ryan, who misplayed the ball for an error. Brooklyn was ahead by a run and still had the bases loaded with one out. When the dust had cleared, the score was 8-5. The Giants went meekly in order in the bottom of the tenth, and a few minutes later, the 9-0 final from St. Louis was posted on the scoreboard. Yes, Mr. Terry. Brooklyn was still in the league.
By JOHN DREBINGER.By JOHN DREBINGER.. (1934, October 1). Cards Rout Reds and Win Pennant As Giants Are Beaten by Dodgers :National League Race Comes to Dramatic Close With St. Louis Two Games in Front -- Brooklyn Triumphs by 8-5 in Tenth. New York Times (1857-Current file),1. Retrieved July 17, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93643490).