After seriously contending for the American League flag the previous year, the Yankees captured their first pennant in 1921, finishing the regular season with a record of 98-55, 4 ½ games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians. They subsequently faced the New York Giants in the World Series in a best-of-nine matchup, with the Giants making their sixth appearance in the Fall Classic after edging out the Pittsburgh Pirates by four games in the senior circuit, with a record of 94-59. The Yankees featured three future Hall of Famers in pitcher Waite Hoyt, third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker, and the incomparable Babe Ruth. Meanwhile, the Giants’ starting lineup included four players who eventually made it into Cooperstown – first baseman George “High Pockets” Kelly, second baseman Frankie Frisch, shortstop Dave Bancroft, and right fielder Ross Youngs. Since the Yankees shared the Polo Grounds with the Giants as the latter’s tenants since 1913, the Series was played entirely within the confines of that fabled ballpark, with the two clubs alternating from game to game as the home team.
The Series began in promising fashion for the Yankees, who won the first two contests by identical 3-0 scores. After 27-game winner Carl Mays shut out the Giants in Game One on only five hits, four of which came off the bat of Frankie Frisch, Giants’ hurler Art Nehf allowed the Yankees only three safeties the next day. However, Nehf walked seven batters, the Giants committed two costly errors, and Yankee left fielder Bob Meusel stole home, enabling the Yankees to cross the plate three times. Meanwhile, 19-game winner Waite Hoyt allowed the Giants just two harmless singles.
The momentum of the Series shifted suddenly and dramatically in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game Three, when the Giants broke a 4-4 tie by scoring eight runs, en route to posting a 13-5 victory. More late-inning thunder allowed the Giants to tie the Series at two games apiece when they pushed across three runs in the top of the eighth inning against Yankee starter Carl Mays to take a 3-1 lead in Game Four. Both teams scored a run in the ninth inning, with Babe Ruth’s first World Series homer accounting for the Yankees’ final tally in the 4-2 loss.
The Yankees regained the Series lead in Game Five, scoring three runs against Art Nehf, en route to posting a 3-1 victory. Although Waite Hoyt pitched less effectively than he did when he shut out the Giants in Game Two, allowing the Giants 10 hits, he surrendered only one unearned run. The win proved to be a costly one for the Yankees, though, since they lost the services of Babe Ruth for the remainder of the Series after he injured himself during the game’s latter stages. Ruth found himself limited to only one pinch-hitting appearance in the final three contests.
Nevertheless, the Yankees appeared to be well on their way to taking a commanding 4-2 Series lead when they scored three times against Giants’ starter Fred Toney in the bottom of the first inning of Game Six. However, the Giants scored three runs of their own in the top of the second, before scoring four more times in the fourth frame, to even the Series at three games apiece with an 8-5 victory.
Pitching dominated the remainder of the Series, with the Giants posting victories of 2-1 and 1-0 in Games Seven and Eight, respectively. After Giants’ starter Phil Douglas out-dueled Carl Mays to put the Giants ahead in the Fall Classic four-games-to-three, Art Nehf bested Waite Hoyt in the final contest, with the latter allowing just one unearned run in the defeat. The victory gave Giants’ manager John McGraw his second world championship, and his first since 1905.
Although the Yankees came up short in their first trip to the Fall Classic, the team’s top two starters did all they could to bring home a World Series title. Waite Hoyt won two of his three starts, throwing three complete games and allowing the Giants only two unearned runs. Carl Mays also pitched extremely well, compiling a 1.73 ERA and tossing three complete games, despite winning only one of his three decisions.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ vaunted offense, which established a new American League record by scoring a total of 948 runs during the regular season, scored just 22 times in the eight games. Combining to start six of the eight games for the Giants, Phil Douglas and Art Nehf handcuffed the Yankee hitters much of the time, limiting New York to a team batting average of only .207. Douglas won two of his three decisions, compiling a 2.08 ERA in the process. Although Nehf finished the Fall Classic with a record of only 1-2, he posted an exceptional 1.38 ERA. As could be expected, Babe Ruth was the Yankees’ most effective hitter, batting .313, hitting one homer, knocking in four runs, and drawing five bases on balls, despite sitting out the final three contests.
New York Giants, 94-59
New York Yankees, 98-55
New York Giants, John McGraw
New York Yankees, Miller Huggins
Cy Rigler (NL), George Moriarty (AL), Ernie Quigley (NL), Ollie Chill (AL)
Hall of Famers:
Giants: John McGraw (mgr.), Dave Bancroft, Jesse Burkett (coach), Frankie Frisch, George Kelly, Ross Youngs. Yankees: Miller Huggins (mgr.), Frank Baker, Babe Ruth.
October 5, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (A)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||3||7||0|
|New York (N)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||0|
|W: Carl Mays (1-0) L: Phil Douglas (0-1)|
October 6, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (N)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||2|
|New York (A)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||x||3||3||0|
|W: Waite Hoyt (1-0) L: Art Nehf (0-1)|
October 7, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (A)||0||0||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||5||8||0|
|New York (N)||0||0||4||0||0||0||8||1||x||13||20||0|
|W: Jesse Barnes (1-0) L: Jack Quinn (0-1)|
October 9, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (N)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||1||4||9||1|
|New York (A)||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||2||7||1|
|W: Phil Douglas (1-1) L: Carl Mays (1-1)|
|HR: NYY – Babe Ruth (1)|
October 10, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (A)||0||0||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||6||1|
|New York (N)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||10||1|
|W: Waite Hoyt (2-0) L: Art Nehf (0-2)|
October 11, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (N)||0||3||0||4||0||1||0||0||0||8||13||0|
|New York (A)||3||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||7||2|
|W: Jesse Barnes (2-0) L: Bob Shawkey (0-1)|
|HR: NYG – Irish Meusel (1), Frank Snyder (1), NYY – Chick Fewster (1)|
October 12, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (A)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||8||1|
|New York (N)||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||x||2||6||0|
|W: Phil Douglas (2-1) L: Carl Mays (1-2)|
October 13, 1921 at the Polo Grounds (IV) in New York, New York
|New York (N)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||6||0|
|New York (A)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||4||1|
|W: Art Nehf (1-2) L: Waite Hoyt (2-1)|
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- 1921 World Series, Art Nehf, Babe Ruth, Carl Mays, Dave Bancroft, Frank Baker, Frankie Frisch, Fred Toney, George Kelly, John McGraw, New York Giants, New York Yankees, Phil Douglas, Polo Grounds, Ross Youngs, Waite Hoyt