The headline of the New York Daily Tribune says it all:
GIANTS LOSE; THEN WIN
MATTY HERO OF DAY
Win Second Game with Long Hit in Tenth, After Two are Out.
Who was this Matty, Gotham’s City hero? Eddie Frierson who wrote the SABR Bio Project article said this:
In the time when Giants walked the earth and roamed the Polo Grounds, none was more honored than Christy Mathewson.
A more impartial newspaper, Sporting Life, reported the day in small print. It stated:
The Giants won the second game in a ten-inning battle, in which Mathewson helped to win his own game with a timely hit.
The New York Giants and Boston Doves held almost 20,000 New Yorkers captive in an afternoon one-price-for-two doubleheader on September 6, 1909. It was late in a season where the pennant chase was no race – 1909 was the Year of the Pirate.
The Boston National Leaguers won the first game, 2-0 by being generous with the ball, giving the visitors two runs on overthrow errors. All in all The NY Daily Tribune called this twin bill, “a pretty sad sort of an exhibition of baseball on both sides.”
Below is the box score of this late summer doubleheader:
The nightcap went 10 innings until Christy Mathewson hit a two out triple to plate the winning run. It was his only triple in 1909. On this day, September 6, the historical batter of the day was Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson. “The Big Six” hit a double which knocked in a run and then hit a game-winning triple in the bottom of the 10 with two out for the victory.
1909 was a banner year for the Giant of Giants, Christy Mathewson. He led the National League in 8 different pitching metrics. To highlight just two, his ERA+ was 222 and his WHIP was .828. At the plate he hit .263 with four doubles one triple and one home run. The Giants as a team in 1909 were paper giants that year. They finished 3rd some 18.5 GB from the 1909 World Champion Pirates yet the won 92 games.
Mathewson was famously quoted as saying, “You can learn little from victory. You can learn everything from defeat.” Even though he won this game, the Giants faced defeat and if not for a wild pitch sacrifice and the game winning hit by their star, this game was a defeat. I do not think Mathewson had this game of September 6 in mind.
Actually the game was not one of Matty’s best, he let in 4 runs to the last place Braves. In the top of the second, he also let in the first run of the game. If not for bad running and a quick cutoff by Mathewson to get Getz trying to stretch an RBI single to an extra base, the Braves would have put the Giant hurler in a real pickle. Instead of having a runner at second with only one out and already one run in, it was nobody on and two out. Ever the hero, Matty struck out the next Brave and the inning was over. The Braves mustered just one run. The mighty Giant batsmen were no better getting four runs themselves. Larry Doyle and Cy Seymour did hit back to back triples in the third inning. The Tribune noted that Doyle “smote the ball mightily to deep left center” back then is was 450’ or so to the wall. Mathewson in the 5rd inning came to his own aid with an RBI Double giving the Giants a supposedly insurmountable 3-1 lead. The Tribune described the action in the Sixth as the following:
The Sixth inning was a nightmare. It started well, and if young Mr. Snodgrass hadn’t dropped a fly it would have ended just as well.
When the nightmare ended, the Great Mathewson and his Giants were in double trouble on the verge of being swept by the 1909 flightless Doves league down 4-3.
The Giants played their patented inside baseball as directed by Manager McGraw in bottom of the seventh. Leadoff batter 36 -year old Cy Seymour took second on an overthrow error on a simple grounder. A Snodgrass sacrifice got the old man to third. Then a wild pitch. Seymour scored the tying run, without the Giants getting a hit.
With the game knotted at 4 all, it took a two-out timely hit triple by the day’s hero scored catcher Admiral Schlei . With his arm, glove and bat, it was Mathewson to the rescue on the 6th of September in the Polo Grounds of 1909. Below is the box score from the Sporting Life.
SABR BioProject, Eddie Frierson, “Christy Mathewson” http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/f13c56ed
New York Daily Tribune, Tueday September 6, 1909, “Giants Lose; Then Win” p.8.
Sporting Life Volume 54, Number 26, September 18, 1909 p. 8