by Scott Fennessy
Well, the Chicagoland World Series is in the books. I have to admit up front that I was very nervous coming into the event. I have never competed in a tournament before, and have not played another person since 1995. I had planned on coming initially, but I discovered that the weekend Metra is on a much different schedule on the weekend so I was fortunate that Tom had offered a ride to the event.
So once I had the travel issues resolved, my first decision was one of the most difficult. Which team to choose? I had a lot of decisions. The 1901 White Sox had solid pitching and a decent offense, but when I remembered that James “Nixey” Callahan’s card got lost when I submitted him for Monster Monday that eliminated them. In 1905 I had the Cubs and their solid pitching and great speed, but their lack of hitting depth eliminated them. Also from 1905 the A’s got serious consideration featuring two solid hitters in Jasper Davis and Ralph “Socks” Seybold, but a real lack of depth overcame a very strong pitching staff so they also were cut.
In the end it was really the Giants, and only the Giants that I felt could win it in more than one way. Featuring one of the rarest commodities in Christy Mathewson and his A&B (YZ) a solid number 2 in Joe McGinnity A (Z), and George Wiltse as a B (YZ) was a good enough # 3 to get me some innings.
I think my biggest concern was playing teams like Tom’s 66 Orioles and the big bats that could erase any lead in a big hurry and how great their rotation was. I got the break I needed oddly enough on a 2 out error that allowed me to play the hit and run, which I run on an almost constant basis during my replay. I got a 4 run inning and watched as Tom cut the lead with a home run by Johnson, and the Orioles made Christy Mathewson look merely mortal and I got a narrow victory.
I then played Jim in the next round and have to feel like that first game was actually one of the most important of the tournament for me. I got the standard Giant performance. I slapped the ball all over the yard via the hit and run and eventually Mike Donlin and Dan McGann put a couple of extra base hits together to get me a blowout. I don’t remember the final score, but I think I put 13 or 14 runs on the board. That allowed me the differential I needed as I split in my final series of the division against Pete and his 95 Indians and advance out of the first round.
While I was very pleased to make it out of the first round, my matchup with Curt and the 59 Braves and their very potent lineup left me still feeling like I was going to have to get great pitching and get enough hitting to get past them. Well I did get the hitting from Donlin and McGann yet again, but I got so much more than I could ever have hoped for. About the 5th inning Mathewson struck out Aaron, Adcock and the third hitter whose name escapes me, but he had a big bat too which was an impressive moment. It was in the 7th inning he got two more so I asked how many he had and he counted to 8. It was at that point Curt took a closer look and we both discovered he had a no hitter going.
I have had a ton of no hitters in my 1905 replay, including “Big 6” and his opening day no hitter to start the year, but this is the first time I have had one against another person, so it was really very different emotionally for me. Even though I play every game for both teams the same, not controlling the shaker left me feeling kind of helpless as I hoped it could happen. Let’s all give the respect due to Curt as he was very gracious in defeat.
While I had the 59 Braves behind me, yet more Braves awaited me as I faced Greg and the 98 Braves. Armed with possibly the greatest trio of the 90’s and a lot of power and more speed than any of the teams I faced was going to be interesting. Greg Maddux faced off against “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity in what was a great game. Just as I felt I was going to get away easy the Braves got a homer by I believe Andruw Jones, and I remember Chipper Jones doing well also. My apologies to Greg as I know he was clearly not ready for a string of hit and run baseball and had to be frustrating to watch as 31’s were transformed into inning extending singles. I never felt comfortable myself as I held on for the win.
I had a few minutes to recover and relax while I awaited the results from the other game, and when I found out that I was going to be able to start Mathewson again I was elated. But how do you follow up a performance like that? I was grateful to hear that Clark and his 71 Pirates only had a B starter, but again I was outgunned on the power and would have to rely on the bats and pitching yet again. Well, the bats really did the damage this time. Almost every player executed in an explosive inning that featured a lot of hit and run singles that was oddly capped off by a three run homer by Sammy Strang. Christy was almost unstoppable yet again with a two hitter and while I don’t know if there is an MVP award would have to think that at 3-0 with allowing 2 hits over his final 18 innings would have to go to him.
Perhaps the most humorous moment of the game was when Willie Stargell steals third and scores as Mike Bowerman’s throw sails into left field. And my personal moment of payback as Rennie Stennett makes the final out. I will never forgive him for going 7 for 7 against the Cubs one day!
Thank you to Doug and Jim who set up and hosted the event, and Jim’s great call for the Italian beef. I was also so glad I was to finally meet the people I have communicated with on the blog in person. I hope to see you all again, and until next year’s event so long and thanks for all the fish.