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LOST IN HISTORY
William Nack
August 19, 1996
From 1929 to 1931, the Philadelphia A's were the best team in baseball, with four future Hall of Famers and a lineup that dominated Babe Ruth's legendary Yankees. So why hasn't anyone heard of them?
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August 19, 1996

Lost In History

From 1929 to 1931, the Philadelphia A's were the best team in baseball, with four future Hall of Famers and a lineup that dominated Babe Ruth's legendary Yankees. So why hasn't anyone heard of them?

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"You have any objections to that?" Mack answered.

Simmons shook his head. "If you say so, it's all right with me," he replied.

Over the next three hours, in one of the most dazzling performances in World Series history, Ehmke struck out 13 batters, then a Series record, with a bewildering array of sneaky-quick fastballs and off-speed curves. Looking loose-jointed and nonchalant, Ehmke at times seemed half asleep. "He looked like he didn't give a damn what happened," English recalls. "He threw that big, slow curveball that came in and broke away from righthanders." All but one Cubs starter, first baseman Charlie Grimm, hit from the right side, and Ehmke twice struck out Chicago's toughest batters—Hornsby, Wilson and Cuyler—throwing junk. "Ehmke was a change from the guys we were used to, who threw hard," English says. "Not many pitchers used that stuff against us."

Ehmke went all nine innings and won the game 3-1. Mack would relish that victory the rest of his days. "It was beautiful to watch," he would recall years later.

"That was the surprise of the century," says Hudlin. "Nobody would have done that but Connie Mack. Howard just wasn't that kind of pitcher. I don't know how Connie figured it. A hunch, I guess. Then Howard went out and made monkeys out of the Cubs."

Ehmke's memorable pitching aside, the Series of '29 showed why that year's Athletics, if overshadowed by the '27 Yankees, have been admired by baseball insiders as one of the best teams in history. Foxx, the first baseman who was known as both Double X and the Beast, hit 33 home runs and batted in 117 runs during the season, and twice he hit prodigious homers in the World Series to put the A's in front to stay: a 400-foot solo shot in Game 1, in which Ehmke pitched so brilliantly, and a three-run line drive that helped propel Philadelphia to a 9-3 victory in Game 2, in which Grove and Earnshaw fanned 13 Cubs between them.

Foxx retired after the 1945 season with 534 home runs, 1,921 RBIs and a lifetime batting average of .325, but numbers hardly express the high and delicious drama he brought to the plate. He used to cut off the sleeves of his uniform to show off his picnic-roast arms, and he could drive balls 500 feet on a line with a whip of his powerful wrists. Stories of his most titanic clouts have all the ingredients of myth. "I think he had more power than Ruth or Gehrig," says Mel Harder, who won 223 games for the Indians between 1928 and '47.

It was Lefty Gomez, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Yankees, who threw the ball that Foxx drove into the upper deck in Yankee Stadium, splintering the back of that seat. Many years later Gomez was sitting at home with his wife watching U.S. astronauts on television as they walked the surface of the moon collecting rocks in a sack. At one point an astronaut picked up what appeared to be a white object.

"I wonder what that is," said Gomez's wife.

"That's the ball Foxx hit off me in New York," Gomez replied.

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