GEORGE UHLE: I played with Smoky Joe Wood on Cleveland. His arm went bad to where he couldn't pitch anymore. But he could really throw hard at one time. Had one year  where he won thirty-four games with the Red Sox. He hit pretty good and he was a good outfielder, so he alternated with Elmer Smith in right field for a few years. I got a letter from Joe last September when I was in the hospital. He's up in Connecticut somewhere. Going to be ninety-three. He said to hang with him.
Stan Coveleski's still around, too. He's close to ninety, I guess. Up to last year, he fished every day, winter and summer. Never kept any fish, either. Gave 'em to the neighbors every time. But now he's laid up.
Covey was a great spitball pitcher. He knew what to do with a spitball. He could throw it better than most spitball pitchers because he could throw it different speeds -- slow, slower, and then really break it off when he had two strikes on you. We beat Chicago out for the pennant in 1920 and Covey beat Brooklyn three times in the series.
I was home in bed when Ray Chapman was killed that summer by Carl Mays. I didn't make that trip to New York. I came up with water on the knee. Right before that I was pitching in Detroit. They had this clay in front of the mound. With a man on first, I had a ball hunted to me. I tried to throw to second base, but when I turned, my spikes got caught in the clay and my knee twisted. When I got back home the doctor had me put packs on my knee and told me to stay in bed.
Chappie was a great bunter, one of the best in the business of pushing the ball between the pitcher and first base and making the second baseman field it. He could really fly. Ran like a deer, so he beat a lot of bunts out for base hits. He never moved his head, they tell me, to get out of the way of the ball. I have a hunch that he froze because he had in his mind the idea of starting to bunt. Maybe just starting to lean a little and then he didn't know what to do to get out of the way of the ball. He didn't move his head or do anything.
Mays could've been throwing under his chin to stop him from bunting. But I would never accuse Carl of deliberately trying to hurt him. I don't think any pitcher wants to hurt a batter. You might throw under his chin to keep him from leaning over the plate and taking advantage of you. Mays had that reputation, along with a few other pitchers back then, of telling batters from the mound to get ready, that he was going to throw at them. He'd yell, "Get ready to duck! "
Chappie was a marvelous person. He had a real good voice. There were three or four fellows on the ball club who could sing a little bit. They'd always have a quartet together. On the day he was hit they rode the elevated out to the Polo Grounds. They told me afterwards that they knew Mays was going to pitch. Chappie made the remark, "Well, I'll do the fielding. I can't hit him, so it's up to you fellas to do the hitting today." Kidding, you know, about it, and then he turns around and gets hit and gets killed.
We brought up Joe Sewell from New Orleans shortly after that to play shortstop. A good hitter right off the rail. He helped the ball club a lot. We got into the World Series that year against Brooklyn, and we beat them five games to two. That was a best-of-nine format that year because of the size of the two ball parks. Neither ball park could seat even thirty thousand. In fact, Cleveland put up temporary stands in right center, and roped off the outfield in left center, and even then it wouldn't hold more than twenty-seven thousand fans.
I relieved in the two losing ball games. I know they didn't hit a ball out of the infield off of me. I came pert near starting the last game, but Speaker told me, "If I do, George, and something goes wrong, they'll all accuse the club of trying to make the series go an extra game or two."
I was in the bullpen when Bill Wambsganss made that unassisted triple play in the fifth game. Jim Bagby pitched that game. We won, 8-1, but he gave up a lot of hits. Brooklyn hit into a triple play and three double plays and they were all line drives. Brooklyn finally got one run in the ninth inning and Bagby popped off afterwards that they wouldn't have gotten that if Speaker had fielded a ball cleanly in center field. That didn't set too well with Speaker. In fact, he pitched Bagby very little the next year.
Revenge? Well, I remember one game a couple years later, just before New York sent Carl Mays to Cincinnati, where Miller Huggins made Mays pitch the whole ball game against us with a tired arm. We beat him badly, 13-0. I pitched for Cleveland and drove in six runs that game. Huggins and Mays were having some sort of feud, I guess, so Huggins let him take a beating. Mays was just tossing the ball up to the plate, his arm was so tired.
From Cobb Would Have Caught It by Richard Bak.
Copyright © 1991 by Wayne State University Press. Reprinted with permission.