The 92-62 American League Champions dropped the first postseason game by a D.C.-based team in front of 35,760 fans in Griffith Stadium in the nation's capital, 4-3, on October 4, 1924. Walter Johnson, in his first postseason start in what was then the 18th season of the 36-year-old right-hander's career, took the loss in spite of a tremendous effort which saw him pitch all 12 innings of the extra inning affair, giving up 14 hits and four earned runs.
The Senators beat the four-time defending National League Champion Giants in Game 2, however, with Nats' shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh driving first baseman Joe Judge in with a ninth-inning, walk-off double that tied the series up at 1-1 before they shifted venues to play Games 3-5 in the Polo Grounds in New York.
The Senators threatened late in Game 3, but lost 6-4 to fall behind 2-1 to the Giants. Leon Allen "Goose" Goslin hit the first postseason home run in D.C. baseball history early in Game 4 though, a three-run blast off Giants' right-hander Virgil "Zeke" Barnes, and Washington evened things up with New York with a 7-4 win which saw an RBI single by Goslin in the fifth drive in player/manager Bucky Harris for what ended up being the winning run.
Walter Johnson's second postseason start saw The Big Train fall to (0-2) in World Series action after he'd gone (23-7) with a 2.72 ERA, 77 walks (2.50 BB/9) and 158 Ks (5.12 K/9) in 38 starts and 277 2/3 IP in the regular season in 1924. Johnson held things close as the Senators got within one in the top of the eighth, but the Giants rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning with Giants' center fielder "High Pockets" Kelly, first baseman "Memphis" Bill Terry and Hack Wilson all reaching base against Johnson and scoring in what ended up a 6-2 win.
With the season on the line, the Senators went back to Washington, D.C. and beat the Giants 2-1 in Griffith Stadium with the help of a dominant outing by Tom Zachary (9 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) that evened things up at 3-3 and forced a decisive Game 7 on October 10, 1924 in the nation's capital.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead early in Game 7 on a fourth inning Bucky Harris' home run off "Zeke" Barnes, but a three-run sixth gave the Giants a 3-1 lead that held up through seven and a half. Harris struck again in the eighth, however, with a two-out, two run single that tied things up at 3-3. New York Times' writer Bill Corum described the scene in an October 11, 1924 article:
"'With the dogged, never-say-die Senators an all but beaten team and victory hovering over the Giants' bench, Bucky Harris hit a lucky bounding single over the head of young [Freddy] Lindstrom which scored two runs, tied the count and stemmed the tide that a moment before had been sweeping his team to defeat.'"
Harris' hit reportedly (or according to the legend at least) bounced off a pebble and over Lindstrom for the game-tying hit. On just a day's rest, and coming off an eight-inning outing in Game 5, Walter Johnson took the mound and threw four scoreless innings to get the game to the bottom of the 12th inning with the score still 3-3. Senators' catcher Muddy Ruel doubled off Giants' lefty Jack Bentley and an error by shortstop Travis Jackson on a Walter Johnson grounder put runners on first and second with one out...
Rookie outfielder Earl McNeely stepped up next and earned his place in D.C. baseball history.
Once again, the New York Times' Mr. Corum:
"With first and second occupied, Earl McNeely hit another hopper over Lindstom that was a twin brother to Harris' hit of the eighth except that it was a little harder and, therefore, a more legitimate hit. As the ball rolled into left Ruel, running as he had never run before, rounded third and charged toward the plate."
Washington Post writer Francis P. Daily was there to capture the moment when the Senators won the one and only World Series championship by a D.C.-based team at a few minutes after 5:00 pm in the nation's capital:
"While a brown October sun, casting its big shadow over the stadium of baseball war, was curling up for the evening at precisely 5:04 o’clock yesterday afternoon, Mr. Earl McNeely, the best bargain at $50,000 ever put over, bludgeoned his way to everlasting fame with a hit that was heard ’round the world and started the greatest public demonstration ever enacted in the Nation’s Capital or anywhere else.
"As you already know, it was young McNeely whose drive, bounding over third base, scored the winning run of the seventh and decisive game of the world’s series and won the championship of the world for the Nationals, 1924 champions of the American league."
After the winning run scored, Mr. Daily wrote, "35,000 men, women and children, delirious with joy, broke into a bedlam on the field that had never been duplicated in point of volume and intense excitement in the annals of sporting history."
The Senators would return to the World Series again in 1925, then in 1933, but they never won another championship. 89 years ago today, however, they beat the New York Giants to win the World Series on October 10, 1924.
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