No. 178 Home Run Baker (Number 12 Third Base)

In the 1911 World Series Baker’s Philadelphia A’s were playing the New York Giants, who’s big pitching star was Christy Mathewson. Mathewson won game 1 putting the Giants ahead in the Series.

Rube Marquard a very good pitcher was pitching game two the Giants. Another great pitcher Eddie Plank was pitching for the As. Each team scored a run early, but it was still 1-1 after 5. In the sixth with two outs Eddie Collins doubled. Baker came up and hit a homerun to put the As ahead 3-1. That ended up being the final score. In those days newspapers paid players to write articles. Christy Mathewson was writing an article for one of the New York papers. Either him or a ghost writer the story goes. Mathewson (or ghosty) said Marquard threw the wrong pitch to Marquard.

Of course, game 3 back in New York Mathewson shows his greatness with 8 scoreless innings. The Giants had a 1-0 lead. Baker came up with 1 out and Homers to tie the game. He also singles Eddie Collins to second in the 11th. Both later score to give the A’s a 3-1 lead. Apparently, Mathewson didn’t know how to pitch Baker either. Baker’s run was even more important when the Giants scored 1 run in the bottom of the 11th.

At one time it was believed this gave Home Run Baker the nickname Home Run. However, I found an article on SABR that indicates he had the name earlier. I wonder if he did had the nickname and it wasn’t very well known and this bought him to the spotlight.

After a week’s delay due to rain. Imagine how nuts this would make the TV people today. Baker went 2 for 3. He scored the As first run and drove in their last off Mathewson in a 4-2 Philadelphia victory.

The Giants won game 5, but Philadelphia won game 6 by a score of 13-2. Baker went 2 for 5 in the game. He scored the winning run after leading the fourth with a single. He also drove in and then scored a run in Philadelphia’s six run rally in the seventh that put the game away. If they had an MVP for the series Baker would have surely won.

Baker played only 13 years, otherwise he probably would have ranked higher. In 1915 he wanted to renegotiate his contract. Connie Mack said no so Baker didn’t come back. The league forced Mack to trade Baker and he went to the Yankees. While still a solid player when he came back, he wasn’t the player he was before the year off. Especially in the hitting department.

Baker played four more years then took another year off. This time to take care of his family. His wife died of scarlet fever. His two daughters contacted the disease but survived. He came back and became a part time player for two years. However, he helped the Yankees win the pennant those two years. Quite the player, I’m glad he made my Hall of Fame cutoff. If he hadn’t it would have been more a reflection on me then him.

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