Baseball The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence S. Ritter

An excerpt from the book The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence S. Ritter a collection of firsthand accounts of the early days of baseball, this one from the 1920 World Series.

A Review of Recent Books--Letting Them Speak for Themselves

THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES by Lawrence S. Ritter. New York: Macmillan, 1966.

About the Book: This collection of firsthand accounts of the early days of baseball is, to quote from John Hutchens's foreword, "one of the most fascinating baseball books ever assembled." Another Lawrence Ritter traveled all over the U.S. to record the recollections of such players as Rube Marquand and Goose Goslin. These former baseball greats talked not only of the game itself but also of the times in which they lived. Amazingly detailed and vivid, their accounts recreate with immediacy and real drama a lost era when both baseball and America were young and exuberant.

From the Book:

[Bill Wambsganss of the Cleveland Indians recalling his unassisted triple play against Brooklyn in the 1920 World Series]: Jim Bagby was pitching for us, and he served up a fast ball that Mitchell smacked on a rising line toward center field, a little over to my right--that is, to my second-base side. I made an instinctive running leap for the ball, and just managed to jump high enough to catch it in my glove hand. One out. The impetus of my run and leap carried me toward second base, and as I continued to second I saw Pete Kilduff still running toward third. He thought it was a sure hit, see, and was on his way. There I was with the ball in my glove, and him with his back to me, so I just kept right on going and touched second with my toe (two out) and looked to my left. Well, Otto Miller, from first base, was just standing there, with his mouth open, no more than a few feet away from me. I simply took a step or two over and touched him lightly on the right shoulder, and that was it. Three out. And I started running in to the dugout.

... it took place so suddenly that most of the fans didn't know what had happened. They had to stop and figure out just how many were out. So there was dead silence for a few seconds. Then, as I approached the dugout, it began to dawn on them what they had just seen, and the cheering started and quickly got louder and louder and louder. By the time I got to the bench it was bedlam, straw hats flying onto the field, people yelling themselves hoarse, my teammates pounding me on the back.

"How did it feel, Bill?" they all wanted to know.

Well, that is how it felt. Pretty exciting and pretty wonderful. I guess that's still the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. There have been a few since in regular season games. I think the last one was in 1927. The rarest play in baseball, they say. I'm still very proud of it.

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