Kauff is Hero in Giants Win Over Chicago

Damon Runyon

Washington Herald/October 12, 1917

His Two Home Runs Aid in Beating White Sox, 5 to 0—Series Now a Tie.

Little Benny Kauff, who flared to face as the “Ty Cobb of the Federal League” in the outlaw days of baseball, was in a fair way towards usurping the role of “goat” in the world series of 1917.

There are always “goats” in every world series, just as there are always heroes. The hero is the fellow who does; the “goat” is the man who doesn’t.

The cheerful, chunky outfielder of the Giants hadn’t been doing anything up to today. In the two games at Chicago against the White Sox, and in the opening game here, he has been swinging wildly—swinging “like a gate,” as the slang of baseball has it—and he looked very, very bad from the experts’ viewpoints of the game, as well as from the standpoint of results.

He was, obviously, a “goat.”

Loose at Polo Grounds.

This afternoon, however, the “goat” got loose up at the Polo Grounds, and horned his way into the hero class along with “Happy” Felsch, and Davy Robertson, and Rube Benton, and the other new occupants of baseball’s cabin of fame produced by 1917.

Up to today Benny had not got a safe hit. Today he got two “that were a bundle” as a man in the press box remarked.

He tore off two home runs.

They were both mighty smashes, one being inside the grounds; the other into the right-field stand.

The first blow started the White Sox toward the 5-to-0 defeat, which clinched.

He brought the Giants to even terms with the Chicagoans as they started west tonight for the fifth game of the series. Kauff’s smash was the first encouragement the slim, boyish looking left-hander Schupp received from his Giant support, and after that the lad from Louisville was invincible. He beat the man who pitched before the King—Urban Faber, the red-headed spitballer. Faber beat the Giants in the second game of the series in Chicago Sunday. It was in that second game that Schupp was driven from the box.

Kauff’s first smash cleared “Happy” Felsch’s head in center. That was in the fourth.

Again in the eighth, with Herzog on the first and one out, Kauff hit another homer into the right field stand. It landed in the lower part, and it echoed far across the Harlem River as the crowd let out a yell.

It was heroing with a vengeance. It was more heroing in one game than any other hero has done in many years, and it made up for all of Benny Kauff’s goating.

Schupp was plainly nervous and unstrung in his game at Chicago, which was his first world series experience. Today, before a home crowd, and with wise old “Wa’al Bill” Rariden guiding him with steady hand, Schupp was in the form that made him the sensation of the National League this season.

Oddly enough, it was the fourth—now called “the fatal fourth”—which saw the beginning of Faber’s downfall after the red-haired man from Iowa had pitched hitless baseball for three innings. All the real big doings of this series have started in the fourth.

With two out, the supposedly harmless Kauff appeared, humping himself over the plate in that queer attitude which baseball men say is the very antithesis of real batting form.

A strike, a foul, and then Kauff clouted the ball and started his mad whirl around the bases. To all intents and purposes the game was over when he passed the plate, with 30,000 people shrieking and jumping up and down on their seats and throwing their hats in the air.

He is not as “chesty” as one of the press notices might indicate, however. He is an aggressive, chattery little chap, with a powerful punch in his bat, and he did not believe in hiding his light under a bushel in those other days.

He believes in dressing well, and changes his clothes three times a day, if he has the leisure, beginning with one which is loud, passing to one which is louder, and winding up with a third which is unquestionably loudest.

His sartorial display was the sensation of the series in Chicago, but then a man who makes two home runs in one game is entitled to go naked, or wear a whole clothing store at once, if he feels that way about it.

Furthermore, by making home runs in a world series, a man can afford to dress. Benny won two $50 Liberty Bonds for his blows today.

The little fellow had felt very keenly his failure to hit in the Chicago games, and the first New York game. He takes those things greatly to heart. He never gave up, however. He was always swinging with his whole soul in every swing, and with his right cheek bulked out under the influence of the largest “chew” of tobacco worn by any man in baseball.

Benny’s clothes and Benny’s chews came to the big league. The advertising he got in the Federal outfit was a boomerang when he failed to hit much during the first year with McGraw. He was laughed at, and derided, but he never quit trying.

That’s one thing that must always be said for Kauff—he never quits. And today he was rewarded beyond his wildest hopes.

(Source: Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1917-10-12/ed-1/seq-10/)