World Series has been battling rain delays for over a century
But 111 years ago, the City of Brotherly Love hosted a stretch of six unplayable days – postponing that World Series for nearly a week and leaving the sporting nation waiting for the conclusion of a Fall Classic that seemed to have no end.
The 1911 World Series featured a rematch of the 1905 pairing of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Athletics, which some consider to be the first modern World Series. The 1903 matchup between Pittsburgh and Boston was a best-of-nine affair that sprung up organically during that season but was not followed by a second World Series in 1904 when Giants manager John McGraw refused to field his National League champions against Boston, which repeated as American League winners.
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But a year later, a best-of-seven World Series matchup was formalized – and the Giants defeated the Athletics in five games as Christy Mathewson threw three shutouts, a record that has never been matched.
Mathewson was still the Giants’ ace in 1911, and McGraw and Connie Mack were still the managers of their respective teams. But the Giants had not returned to the World Series since 1905 while the Athletics had defeated the Cubs in five games in 1910.
But with weather forecasts still a nascent artform, Baseball’s National Commission elected to wait out the weather.
“This rest from Tuesday will surely have restored Mathewson’s strength and he will undoubtedly pitch in Philadelphia Monday if it is played,” Ty Cobb wrote in a syndicated newspaper column that ran on Sunday, Oct. 22, in papers throughout the country. “After last Tuesday, Matty was unfit for duty for at least three days, and during that time the Athletics would probably have won the series.”
The weather finally broke on Oct. 24, and Mathewson and Athletics ace Charles Bender faced off in Game 4 as they did in Game 1. This time, Bender beat Mathewson 4-2. And though the Giants won Game 5 at the Polo Grounds 4-3 in 10 innings, the A’s wrapped up the title a day later with a 13-2 victory in Game 6.
Subsequent years have seen other long delays due to rain, such as the four-day gap between Games 5 and 6 in 1962 (one for travel and three for rain in San Francisco as the Giants faced the Yankees) and another four-day wait after Game 5 in 1975 (as foul weather set the stage for the classic Game 6 between the Reds and the Red Sox in Boston).
The Philadelphia weather in 2008 produced two unique artifacts now part of the Hall of Fame collection: Caps with earflaps worn by Rays manager Joe Maddon and the Phillies Eric Bruntlett – who scored the winning run on Feliz’s hit in Game 5.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum