Given the intensity of the game, some World Series heroes are lesser known players who rise to the occasion. The hero of the day fits that description and in the 1912 World Series that batter was Olaf Hendriksen.
One such player has perhaps the most unique background. He is the only World Series player born in Denmark. When he was young his parents immigrated to the Boston area.
Described as a slashing type of hitter by Ron Anderson in the SABR Bio Project Hendriksen was noted for,
… spraying the ball to all fields. He had a good batting eye with a knack for getting on base, whether by base hits or bases on balls making him a specialty-type hitter…
He was also one of the fastest players on the team.
He played his entire career in Boston, from 1911 to 1917 all of them as a backup, pinch hitter or pinch runner. Getting into 321 games he had 601 bats hit .269 with an OBP of .392 and OPS+ 112. In 1914 he hit his only home run. Noted for his awareness of the strike zone and being just 5’-7” he walked twice as many times as striking out. His other pinch hitting claim to fame was a pinch hitter for Babe Ruth, who was the pitcher that summer day in 1916.
Game 8 of the 1912 World Series featured pitchers Christy Mathewson and 20-game winner Hugh Bedient. Mathewson would later be a member of the Original Hall of Fame induction Class of 1936. Bedient pitched only four seasons; three with Boston and one with the Federal League Buffalo Blues, and ended up 59-53 with a 3.08 ERA. Yet in the 1912 World Series, Bedient was on the mark giving up only 1 earned run in 18 innings pitched. Mathewson was on that day too, and had given up only four hits in six innings.
The bottom of the seventh was an inning of small ball that undid the Giants. With one out Stahl got a Texas league single, a walk followed putting Stahl at second. The 8th place hitter, Hick Cady, popped out to short. With the pitcher’s spot up next, Stahl called for a pinch hitter. Olaf Hendriksen came to the plate. It was a spot that was comfortable for Hendriksen. He made it to the Red Sox from his exploits of pinch hitting in the Minors. It would be one of the classic confrontations in World Series history. As Olaf told the Globe reporter:
“Then Matty stood for an instant, and I knew he was undecided what to feed me. None of them knew what I liked, and right then and there I decided to take a good look at the first one, no matter what it was,”
Strike One ! it was the famous Mathewson curve. Hendriksen was fooled badly on a strike two curve ball. With two strikes, Matty tried to get the disciplined Hendriksen to chase a bad pitch and threw two more pitches that were close but called ball one and ball two. With the count even, Matty went back to his out pitch, the curve. As reported by the Sporting Life, Hendriksen
…then caught a high curve, turning it off into left field for a double…
Later the confident Hendriksen told the Globe that was looking for that pitch. It ricocheted into foul territory and by the time the Giants ran the ball down, 39-year old player-manager Jake Stahl had scored. The tie game of 1-1 lasted until that fateful 11th inning.
It was Hendriksen’s only 1912 World Series at bat.
The Game on the 16th was also the day of retribution by the Royal Rooters who did not attend the game after having their seats sold out from under them in Game 5. The attendance for the game 8, because game 2 was a tie, was half of the seventh game. It caused Ban Johnson to issue an apology that appeared in Sporting Life the next week.
The most popular play from this series was the 11th inning Snodgrass muff that started the inning off which led to the Red Sox winning the 1912 Title. Yet Snodgrass’ error did not let in the winning score, it set the table. IF the ball was caught it would have been the first out of the inning.
The hit of the game occurred in the seventh with two out and two strikes, a pinch hit that tied the game, Olaf Hendriksen.
Ron Anderson, SABR BIO Project, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/6916d9ae
Sporting Life, Volume 60 Number 8, October 26, 1912.