Those 1916 Giants were amazing

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If Casey Stengel were still alive, he might have called the Oakland Athletics and their current 19-game win streak, well ... Amazin'.

It sure has been quite a ride. Saturday night, Eric Chavez hit a tie-breaking, two-run single in the bottom of the 8th inning and the A's beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-3. The finish was even more dramatic Sunday when the A's gave up three runs in the top of the ninth before Miguel Tejada hit a two-strike, three-run home run to beat the Twins, 7-5. Then on Monday, Tejada's bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth beat the Kansas City Royals, 7-6.

The streak matches the American League record for consecutive victories shared by the 1906 Chicago White Sox and 1947 New York Yankees (by the way, Stengel managed that Yankees team). Looming off in the distance now is the all-time streak of 26 straight victories set by the New York Giants in 1916.

That Giants team was amazing, too, and similar to the current Athletics because they experienced a roller coaster ride with seemingly endless ups and downs. Despite the record win streak, and a streak of 17 straight wins in May (all on the road), the John McGraw-managed Giants only finished fourth in the eight-team National League with an 86-66 record. They finished six games behind the first-place Brooklyn Robins (later Dodgers) of Zack Wheat, Rube Marquard, and yes, outfielder Casey Stengel.

Browsing the website, I found a game-by-game breakdown for the entire 1916 season.

For example ... on Sept. 4, 1916, future Hall of Famers Christy Mathewson of the Cincinnati Reds and Mordecai Three Finger Brown of the Chicago Cubs agreed to end their careers by pitching against each other in the same game. This was the only game Mathewson pitched while not wearing a Giants uniform (the Giants had traded Mathewson, Edd Roush and Bill McKechnie to the Reds on July 20, 1916). The Labor Day duel was noteworthy because it marked the 25th time Mathewson and Brown had opposed each other since 1903. Mathewson, the manager of the Reds, beat Brown and the Cubs, 10D8.

Three days later, on Sept. 7, the Giants launched their record win streak when Ferdie Schupp beat Brooklyn 4-1. It marked the start of a 26-game homestand at the old Polo Grounds, and at the time, the Giants stood fourth in the league, 14 games out of first-place.

A day later, the Giants beat the league-leading Philadelphia Phillies and Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, 9-3. On Sept. 9, William "Pol" Perritt won both ends of a double header against the Phillies, 3-1 and 3-0 -- beating another Hall of Famer, Chief Bender in the nightcap. On Sept. 11 the Giants beat the Phillies and Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey, 9-4.

That made it five in a row and the Giants were still 11 games out of first-place.

Schupp, who ended the season with an 0.90 ERA, stopped the Pirates 2-0 in the first game of a double header on Sept. 18 and then the second game was called after eight innings with the score tied, 1-1. The Giants didn't miss a beat because they came back the next day and swept a double header from the Pirates, 9-2 and 5-1. That made it 14 straight, and they were only eight games out of first.

On Sept. 25, the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 behind Schupp and then completed a sweep of the twin-bill with a 6-2 triumph to extend the streak to 21 games and break the record of 20 straight wins set by the 1884 Providence Grays.

Then on Sept. 28, the Giants shutout the Boston Braves in both ends of a double header, 2-0 and 6-0. Jeff Tesreau won the opener. Schupp allowed just one hit in the nightcap, a seventh-inning single by Ed Konetchy. During their streak, the Giants won 11 of the 26 games by shutout.

At this point, the Giants had won 25 straight and with six games left to play they were only four games out of first. A team that just two years before had blown a 14-game lead to the "Miracle Braves" was on the verge of staging a miracle comeback of its own.

On Sept. 30, the Giants beat Boston 4-0 in game one of a double header and Konetchy's eighth-inning hit spoiled Rube Benton's no-hit bid (Giants pitchers threw four one-hitters against the Braves during the season, and each time, Konetchy accounted for the lone hit).

However, the streak ended in game two when George "Lefty" Tyler and the Braves won 8-3. (Tyler was an interesting story in himself. In 1918, he won a 2-1, 21-inning decision against the Phillies; then after missing the 1919 season with a sore arm, he had several teeth extracted and came back to pitch another full season.)

Unfortunately for the Giants, they lost three of four games at Ebbets Field to end the 1916 regular season and Brooklyn went to the World Series (the Robins lost in five games to the Boston Red Sox).

Isn't baseball an amazin' game?

Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal


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