#Shortstops: A ball on the Train

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Janey Murray

On Oct. 7, 1925, the first pitch was thrown in one of the most dramatic World Series in history.

Less than two hours later, the last pitch of the game was delivered. And that ball now resides in Cooperstown.

The defending champion Washington Senators, led by Hall of Fame hurler Walter Johnson, appeared in their second consecutive Fall Classic that year against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the action beginning at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

The Game 1 starting pitching matchup pitted Pittsburgh right-hander Lee Meadows against the hard-throwing Johnson, also known as “The Big Train.”

Seven future Hall of Famers graced the field in the series-opening contest, including Johnson, outfielders Sam Rice and Goose Goslin and player-manager Bucky Harris for the Senators, as well as outfielders Max Carey and Kiki Cuyler and third baseman Pie Traynor for Pittsburgh.

Washington opened the scoring early in the Game 1 matchup, getting on the board on right fielder Joe Harris’s solo homer in the top of the second. The Senators added to their lead in the top of the fifth when Rice drove in two more with a bases-loaded single.

Meanwhile, Johnson turned in a successful performance on the mound, allowing just one run on a solo shot by Traynor in the bottom of the fifth.

The Senators tacked on a final insurance run in the top of the ninth, as third baseman Ossie Bluege drove in Goslin on an RBI single. Johnson held the Pirates scoreless in the bottom of the ninth to secure the Game 1 victory and a complete game for himself. The series opening win remains the most recent World Series road game the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise has won.

An autographed ball from Game 1 is now preserved in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection. A handwritten inscription on the ball reads, “Walter Johnson Pitched This Ball to Wright - Pgh Shortstop, Who Popped Up An Infield Fly For Last Out By Judge / 1925 World Series Pittsburgh vs Washington At Forbes Field / Pirates Won Championship In 7 Games / Oct 7th / Score / Wash - 4 Pgh - 1 / This Ball Was The Last Out Caught By Joe Judge 1st Baseman / Washington Senators First Game -X-"

After the game, James R. Harrison summed up the Game 1 result and the state of the series for The New York Times.

“No team looks its best against extra-fine pitching, but the Buccaneers looked as good as they could under the distressing circumstances,” Harrison wrote. “With only one precinct in, the election isn’t over yet. Perhaps the next time the Big Train comes through it won’t be going so fast.”

Harrison’s prediction didn’t come true immediately, as Johnson secured another victory with a complete game shutout in Game 4.

But despite their strong start to the Fall Classic, the Senators went on to lose the series in seven games. After the Pirates evened things up in Game 2, Washington took the next two contests to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. But Pittsburgh stormed back, winning the next two games to send the series to a decisive Game 7 that was played in a consistent rain.

In the thrilling series conclusion, Johnson allowed 9 runs on 15 hits. Washington took a 7-6 lead in the eighth before the Pirates responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame to claim a 9-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish, securing the 1925 World Series title.

Janey Murray was the 2019 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

To the top
To the top

Part of the SHORT STOPS series