Yankee Stadium On Edge As Waite Hoyt Pitches To Cardinals Slugger Rogers Hornsby
And The Story of The Strangest End To A World Series
It is October 10, 1926 and it seems everyone is wearing a hat at game seven of the 1926 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Although the stadium looks packed, rainy, gray and chilly weather kept the attendance for the deciding game down to 38,093.
In this rare photo, Yankee star pitcher Waite Hoyt is unleashing a pitch to the Cardinals Rogers Hornsby. The Yankees would lose this game 3-2 and the game would include one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history and one of, if not the strangest play to end a World Series.
The drama occurred when Cardinals starter Jess Haines had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and was lifted for the veteran pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. Old Alex had pitched a complete game victory the day before and was tired, but relaxed as he came into the game to face Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri. The crowd fell silent as Alexander demonstrated his mastery and struck out Tony Lazzeri ending the threat.
Alexander sailed through the eighth and got two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. With only one out to go, Alexander pitched carefully to Babe Ruth who had homered and walked three previous times in the game. Alexander ran the count full before walking Babe.
Yankees clean-up hitter Bob Meusel stepped up to plate and Lou Gehrig was waiting on deck. It looked like the Yankees could come back. Alexander threw a pitch that Meusel swung at and missed. Almost no one was looking at first base as the next pitch was released. Meusel took the low curve for a ball and everyone suddenly looked up and realized in disbelief that Ruth had taken off from first in an attempt to steal second base. Ruth was out by a yard as catcher Bob O’Farrell rifled a perfect throw to Hornsby covering second to end the World Series.
Two views (including one very grainy newspaper reproduction) of the famous Ruth steal attempt, taken a split second apart.
Strangely after the game, the attempted steal was never really questioned by anyone. It was said that it was a botched hit and run play. Other observers believed Ruth took off on his own accord.
Only with the passing of time was the wisdom of Babe Ruth trying to steal second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of the final game of the World Series questioned. It is now considered one of the bonehead baseball blunders of all time.