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Video found of 1924 World Series action

Not sure if you saw this last week, but I've been meaning to write about it. The Library of Congress released rare footage of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and New York Giants -- a series that ended with a wild finish in Game 7. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has the story on how the film was discovered. The short version is that eight reels of nitrate film were found in the garage of a home outside Worcester, Massachusetts. Miraculously, the film was in excellent condition, and now we have four minutes of 1924 World Series action.

A few thoughts on the film and that World Series:

  • The film shows Earl McNeely's game-winning hit, which reportedly took a bad hop over third baseman Fred Lindstrom, although you can't actually tell from the footage. (McNeely's name is misspelled as "McNeeley" in the film.)

  • Unfortunately, we don't have the play that set up the winning run. With one out, Muddy Ruel launched a high foul pop behind home plate that Giants catcher Hank Gowdy staggered under before stumbling on his discarded mask and dropping the ball. Ruel then doubled and Walter Johnson reached on an error by shortstop Travis Jackson, with Ruel holding second, setting up McNeely's hit.

  • We do see Johnson pitching. In his first World Series at age 36, the great Johnson was looking like the goat before Game 7, having lost both of his starts while giving up 27 hits (granted, he lost Game 1 after pitching all 12 innings). The series was played that year without an off day, so after starting Game 5, Johnson didn't start Game 7. He entered in relief in the ninth inning with the score tied 3-3 and pitched four scoreless innings to get the win.

  • Johnson had a peculiar sidearm delivery; he whipped his arm across his body. Doesn't seem that he could have thrown in the mid-to-upper 90s with that motion, but his motion was so unique and his arms were so long that maybe he was able to generate that kind of velocity. Or at least without injuring his shoulder or elbow. Here's more on Johnson's motion.

  • Washington player-manager Bucky Harris used an interesting strategy. Giants rookie first baseman Bill Terry had been red-hot in the first six games, but manager John McGraw was platooning him. Harris started right-hander Curly Ogden -- putting Terry in the lineup -- and then switched to lefty George Mogridge after two batters. Terry went 0-for-2 against Mogridge. When he came up with two runners on in the sixth, McGraw pinch-hit Irish Meusel. Harris countered with his ace reliever, right-hander Firpo Marberry. The Giants still scored three runs in the inning, with the help of two Senators errors. (The film misidentifies Mogridge, since it's a right-hander pitching, not a lefty.)

  • The Senators tied it in the eighth, when Harris, who had homered earlier, hit a two-out, two-run single off Giants starter Virgil Barnes -- the 29th batter Barnes had faced. While starters went the distance about half the time back then, the Giants were slightly below average in complete games, so McGraw wasn't necessarily behind the times. He just let Barnes go too long. Imagine the uproar if that happened now!

  • Notice the headfirst slide into first base!

By the way, the 1925 World Series also went seven games -- the Pirates defeated Johnson and the Senators 9-7 in the finale -- with Game 7 played in horrific conditions, with a foggy, misty day turning into a steady downpour. The New York Times described players "wallowing ankle-deep in mud, pitchers slipping as they delivered the ball to the plate, athletes skidding and sloshing, falling full length, dropping soaked baseballs ..."

OK, Library of Congress. Let's find some footage of that one.