The visiting Pittsburgh Pirates had occupied first place in the National League since July 12 but, with the season coming to a close, were faltering. Entering a three-game series with the second-place Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh lead had been reduced to one and one-half games. Meanwhile, the Cubs had won seven straight, and 17 of 20. The first game of the set went to Chicago, giving them eight straight and narrowing the gap to a half-game. This second match-up, on a dark and dreary day, would be one of the most sensational ever played in Wrigley Field.
A hit and two errors got Chicago on the board in the second inning, and Cubs right-hander Clay Bryant had little trouble until the sixth. Then, a solo homer by Johnny Rizzo, followed by two walks and a pair of singles, gave the Pirates a 3-1 advantage.
The Cubs came roaring back to tie the score in the home half of the frame. A pair of doubles and a bunt single knotted it at 3-3.
In the eighth a walk and three singles pushed across two more for Pittsburgh, giving them a 5-3 lead. They nearly had another, but Heinie Manush was nailed at the plate on a ground-out.
Again the Cubs retaliated in the home half. A single, walk, and a double by pinch-hitter Tony Lazzeri netted the first run. When Stan Hack walked, it loaded the bases. Billy Herman then singled home the tying run, but the lead run was cut down at the plate on a great throw by Paul Waner. Further damage was averted when reliever Mace Brown induced a double play.
The umpires conferred regarding the encroaching darkness and whether to allow play to continue, deciding to go another round. For the Cubs it was a monumental decision. They needed to get this game in to avoid a doubleheader the next day, which would strain their already overtaxed pitching staff.
In the top of the ninth the Pirates could muster a single but no scoring threat. The first two Cubs also went down easily before player-manager Gabby Hartnett appeared at the plate. Brown got ahead in the count 0-2 when Hartnett slashed the third pitch into the darkness of the left-field bleachers. Such pandemonium erupted that Hartnett had to fight his way through a swirling, hysterical mob that poured onto the field. Only with assistance from his players and the ushers was he able to find his way to the dugout. The Cubs had claimed first place and subsequently held on to advance to the World Series.
From The 100 Greatest Baseball Games of the 20th Century Ranked by Joseph J. Dittmar.
Copyright © 2000 by Joseph J. Dittmar. Reprinted with permission.