Otis Crandall, Pitcher, Saves Day for Gotham

Damon Runyon

San Francisco Examiner/October 26, 1911

Indiana Farmer Boy Delivers the Blow That Turns Rout into Victory for Giants

You have seen few pictures of his solemn countenance in the newspapers; you have heard his record spoken of but briefly. Unheralded and unsung in this fight for the world’s championship, he came to bat in the ninth inning this afternoon—Otis Crandall, a broad-shouldered, awkward-looking young farmer boy from Indiana, whose only claim to baseball renown is some usefulness as a relief pitcher for the Giants and an occasional pinch hitter—and he came to bat to deliver a blow that stopped the retreat of the Giants and turned a rout into a 4 to 3 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics.

He came, as is usually his portion, at a moment when the Giant hope was at lowest ebb; at a moment when it looked as if the world’s series of 1911 was over, with New York beaten in the concluding game by a score of 3 to 1. Rube Oldring, the Mount Vernon lad, had varied the Baker monotony and driven away the sensational Marquard with a home run smash in the third inning, when two men were on bases. Thereafter Kennebunk John Coombs, pitching like a veritable machine, was absolutely master of the Giant batsmen.

McGraw had led and lost with his great stars, Mathewson and Marquard. He was reduced to his so-called second-string pitchers, with Crandall figuring last of the string.

Crandall Enters Game

Red Ames had been drafted for duty, following the rout of the left-handed Marquard; the Ohio boy, who is called the unluckiest pitcher in the big leagues, had responded nobly and held the rush of the Athletics until the shifty McGraw saw a possible chance to get a run on a base hit, a chance which brought Crandall into the game. That was in the seventh, and the plowboy’s appearance profited nothing at the time.

Through the eighth and the ninth he pitched as if his life depended on it, rocking back and forth with that queer wobble of his after delivering a ball and using “stuff” that no one dreamed he possessed. 

In the last half of the ninth, Jack Barry, the flashy shortstop of the world’s champions, had tossed out Herzog, the Giant third baseman, in a sparkling play. Arthur Fletcher chopped a fly into left field yards ahead of Briscoe Lord and it counted for a two-base hit after a brilliant piece of running by the leggy, lantern-jawed Giant.

Chief Meyers bounced a lazy roller down to Barry and Fletcher rocketed to third as the Athletic shortstop was shooting the ball across the diamond to the veteran Davis ahead of the heavy-footed Indian.

He Waited Uneasily

Then Crandall shuffled to the bat and bulked himself over the plate, shifting his big club about on his shoulder and eyeing Coombs uneasily. Otis always carries his shoulders hunched up around his ears; he has an appearance of deep dejection and life seems to go forward large and solemnly for this Hoosier boy. The ball players call him “Rowdy Jim” because he rarely says anything; the baseball patrons have come to know him as “Old Doc” because he has been the pitching physician of so many emergencies.

Many a game has his queer ability as a relief twirler saved to the Giants, although Crandall is rarely able to start and win his own fight.

Many a game has his powerful punch batted in for the big town boys, but this seemed about the most forlorn hope he ever had been sent against. Over in the bleachers the crowd already was in motion, filing toward the exits, in the grandstand the people were rising or just barely lingering on the edge of their seats, ready for the outward rush.

Hoosier’s Wonderful Drive

Then Crandall swung heavily against one of Coombs’ curves and boomed the ball into right center. It was a towering drive, soaring high above the stand before it started to settle, but so powerfully was it driven that it fell beyond the clutches of both Oldring and Murphy as they raced for the bleacher wall. Fletcher scored. Crandall pulled up at second base. His stodgy legs could carry him no further. A lighter footed runner could have spanned three bases easily.

That was the blow that crushed the Athletics’ defense. Josh Devore blazed a single into left field and Crandall scored, tying the count, and then New York fandom awoke for the first time during this series. Noise fairly boiled out of the crowd, as about 30,000 men and women turned raving maniacs for a full five minutes. The New York bench led the tumult. Ball players were wildly waving red sweaters and turning handsprings, and every person in the stand was up and yelling. Even the coterie of Philadelphia rooters who had journeyed to Gotham to view the last sad rites over the Giants helped. 

The Crandall smash broke a breach in the Athletic barricades, and the Giants, galvanized into sudden batting life, pounded through pell-mell.

Plank Relieves Coombs

Here was the tenth. Eddie Plank the Gettysburg gatling, was swishing his cross-fire across, having succeeded Coombs, who strained a tendon in the third inning and then came back to help them win it with his hitting. Doyle opened with a two-base slam to left, his fourth straight hit of the day. Snodgrass dropped a pretty bunt in front of the plate trying to sacrifice. Plank got the ball and shot it to third, but Doyle dove into the bag head first under the throw and nobody was out. Murray flied to Murphy, Danny coming in so close to the infield that Doyle had no chance to score after the catch. Lapp the catcher stuck his headgear under his arm and moved off; the Philadelphia fielders marched despondently to the bench and the Giants war-danced their way to the clubhouse.

The scene shifts back to Philadelphia to-morrow for the sixth game and McGraw will probably use Red Ames or George Wiltse, with the odds in favor of the first. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s