Benton Beats Sox Smilingly

Damon Runyon

Washington Herald/October 11, 1917

“Rube” Grins as Giants Score First Victory of Series.

Last-like, the left arm of “Rube” Benton rose and fell before the eyes of the Chicago White Sox up at the Polo Grounds this afternoon and echoing the desperate swings of their bats was a steady, machine-gun-like pop-pop of a baseball thudding in the thick glove of “Wa’al Bill” Rariden, the Hoosier State farmer.

Round and fat, and shiny, the face of the “Rube” kept growing wider, and wider, and wider under the influence of an amiable grin, until it was almost moon-like in its proportions as the third game of the world series of 1917 went on to a 2-to 0 victory for the New York Giants.

Always he grinned that amiable grin.

“I never see a guy who made me so damn mad just by grinning at me,” declared ‘Happy’ Felsch, the slugger of the White Sox after the game when 33,000 people were roaring their joy.

Rube Even Warbled.

Song came into the gentle heart of the Rube and bubbled out in a little humming as he shuffled to and from the Giant bench between innings; some old-time song of the North Carolina back country whence he came. He is a soft-spoken fellow, this big, round-shouldered left-hander from the far Southland, and gentle of manner, too.

Once, in the city of Cincinnati, he rode a motorcycle into a street car. The motorcycle was wrecked, and so was “Rube.” Seamy little scars along his jowls are reminiscent to this day of his narrow escape from death.

After that people said he was a “nut.” He is assuredly no “nut” off the field, and his pitching today demonstrated conclusively that he is a veritable Solomon of the mound.

No one thought Benton would figure to any great extent in the series. Schupp, yes; Sallee, of course; Perrit, surely—but not Benton. Such was the opinion of the baseball experts, yet when the Giants were driven back upon their redoubts, so to speak, and were fighting in the last trenches, it was Benton who saved the day—Benton, and the man who “is just as good as he wants to be.”

As Good as He Wants to Be.

The man who is “just as good as he wants to be” wanted to be very good today, and he was.

“How good is Davy Robertson?” mused John J. McGraw, manager of the Giants, one spring day in his Texas training camp a couple of years ago, repeating a question asked him by a baseball writer. “How good, I’ll tell you.

“He’s just as good as he wants to be.”

And today the man who “is just as good as he wants to be” came ripping and tearing his way out of a comparative obscurity to the spotlight of world series fame.

Against the pitching of Eddie Cicotte, star of the White Sox, and once conqueror of the Giants, the Virginian led the big town attack, with Benton’s hurling forming a perfect barrage fire, as it were.

Behind the spectacular Robertson came the quiet Walter Holke, the St. Louis boy, who is playing his first regular season in the big league. It was Holke who sent Robertson across the home plate with the winning run in the fourth inning after Davy had smashed out a terrific three-bagger.

Holke Scores Two.

Then Holke himself raced in with another run on an infield hit by George Burns, and after that “Rube” Benton held the White Sox in the hollow of his left hand.

After the defeat of both Schupp and Sallee, however, McGraw said “it looks like Benton” and for the first time in the series he carried out the prediction, although after the rain of Tuesday it was believed he might again switch his plan.

Benton allowed the Sox just five hits. Buck Weaver, the shortfielder of the Sox, reached second base twice; once on a single and Fletcher’s error, and once on a two-bagger, but he was the only man who passed first base on the Giant southpaw.

After the fourth inning Cicotte had all his effectiveness of the first game in Chicago, but the men behind him could not break through Benton’s perfect delivery.

(Source: Chronicling America,