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Who Hanged the 1927 Pirates?
October 03, 1960
No one doubts that the Yankees pulled the rope tight, but two bullheaded men helped knot the noose
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October 03, 1960

Who Hanged The 1927 Pirates?

No one doubts that the Yankees pulled the rope tight, but two bullheaded men helped knot the noose

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With Cuyler still in the dugout, the Pirates lost the second game 6-2. During a Pirate rally in the eighth inning, in which they scored one run, Bush again bypassed Cuyler. "The nerves of the crowd gave way," said the Times, "and the fans staged one of the most remarkable demonstrations seen in any World Series. The core of the trouble was the famous case of Kiki Cuyler, which has shaken Pittsburgh fandom to its foundations. Two years ago Cuyler was the hero of the World Series. Last year he was still a star, but this season he sat on the bench while kids from the minors drifted along and stepped in ahead of the great outfielder. Why this should be, nobody knows, least of all the fans of this smoky city. And they have been demanding to know the why and wherefore.

"In the eighth inning, when a pinch hitter was needed, the fans rose by the thousands and set up a deafening clamor for Cuyler. But Donie Bush was obdurate and called on Earl Smith, and the storm of boos and jeers and catcalls would have done credit to St. Louis.

" Bush stood out in the coaching line and took it all without flinching while staid citizens jumped up and waved their fists in his direction," continued the Times man. "When Smith grounded weakly to Gehrig another chorus of derisive jeers and laughter greeted the failure of Cuyler's substitute."

Bush used pinch hitters three more times in the next two games, and none were effective. Cuyler never got another chance to play for Pittsburgh. In November he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He played 11 more seasons in the majors and batted as high as .360 in 1929. That year he did play in the World Series, for the Cubs, and hit .300.

Cuyler died suddenly in 1950 without ever fully explaining what happened in 1927. Bush, too, refused for years to say what caused him to keep one of his stars out of the lineup that season. But recently he told his side of the story to Fred Russell, sports editor of the Nashville Banner.

"Cuyler had played center field and batted third in 1926," said Bush. "He wanted to do the same thing in 1927. I started the season with him in center and had him hitting third. Later I decided he should play left and hit second. My reason for making the change was that Lloyd Waner had joined the club and I regarded him a better center fielder than Cuyler. Lloyd was faster and had a better arm.

"Cuyler had a great arm too. But he was inclined to throw the ball in from the outfield so high that our infielders couldn't cut off the throw and prevent runners from advancing from first or second base. I had spoken to him about it several times.

"One day late in the season, in a close game, the opposing club had runners on first and third, with one out," Bush continued. "The batter flied to Cuyler. He threw toward the plate, too high for a cutoff, and the runner on first advanced to second. From there he scored on a single. That run beat us.

"When Cuyler came in to the bench I said to him, 'Won't you ever learn to throw the ball low?'

"He said, 'If you don't like the way I play get somebody else.'

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