John Baker’s Homer Cleared the Fence

Damon Runyon

Democrat and Chronicle/October 17, 1911

Baker hit the ball over the right field fence for a home run in the sixth inning. The story ends there. Those fifteen words contain the short and simple story of the second game of the world’s series between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics.

Bristol Lord had lifted a long hard fly to Snodgrass, who made a great running catch. Rube Oldring had driven little Josh Devore right up against the left field bleacher barrier for another fly and Eddie Collins had swatted a two-base hit into left field. The fact that Collins was stationed at the middle sack in the runway at the time Baker came to bat is interesting, but not important.

Big Chief Meyers had gone out and talked to Marquard after Collins’ two-base smash. Eddie’s blow landed within few inches of the foul line as Josh Devore came in fast, but two were out and Marquard was going strong, so Gotham sat at ease.

The lean left hander shot a strike across the plate on Baker, then a ball. His next offering was a fast one, low and inside, down where Baker could reach it with a swing like a cricketer. And he swung.

Twenty-six thousand, two hundred and eighty six people—Quakers and Manhattan islanders—arose to their feet as J. Franklin Baker swung upward from his cleats and his bat popped against the ball. There was only one question: how far it would travel.

Rail Birds Made Room

It looked at first like it would drop among the bleacherites, but it seemed to gather momentum as it traveled and the delegation roosting on the fence rail gave way in the middle, shifting their heads and bodies to let the ball pass through. It fell in the street which flanks the park.

Collins had crossed the plate on the jump and Baker trotted leisurely in his wake while Philadelphia awoke with a scream of joy in its throat. They have noise-making devices here, besides voices, which are beyond the ken of mere Gotham mortals. They broke out with tin pans, whittles, bells and bedlam generally as the Marylander plugged peacefully around the ring.

The two tiers of humanity in the grand stand, and the crowd which ringed the greenfield was a panorama of waving hats and pennants, which seemed to flutter on the mighty wave of sound that rolled the arena. At the brief interval throughout the picture were spots of inaction which marked the seats of the glum New Yorkers. Down in the center of the field Rube Marquard stood gazing about him, apparently dazed. The somber clad Giant infielders buzzed about him like busy wasps. The inning was over when Murphy struck out. So was the game.


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