The Boston Braves had been one of the best teams in the National League in the 1890s. Led by pitcher Kid Nichols and outfielder Hugh Duffy, they had dominated the league in the latter part of the decade.
But as it turned to a new century, things changed. The Braves were one of the hardest hit by the raids the new American League made on the established National League. The team spent the first thirteen years of the century mired in mediocrity while their new crosstown rivals, the Red Sox, won World Series in 1903 and 1912 and opened a brand new ballpark, Fenway Park, in 1912.
Then came 1914.
The world was in turmoil. In June, the Archduke of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo, touching off a series of events that led to World War 1. The United States stayed out of the war initially. So baseball wasn't immediately affected.
But baseball had its own war going. A new League, the Federal League, was formed and started raiding the established leagues for players. It would only last two years. But it would have a profound effect.
The season started as business as usual for the Braves. They only won 2 games in April and a 7 game losing streak in May put them at 3-16. By June 8, they were 16 games under .500. On July 4, they were 26-40 and 15 games behind the Giants after being swept in a doubleheader by Brooklyn.
Then suddenly they caught fire. By the end of July, they were only 1 game under .500 and had cut the lead to 9 games.
On August 3, in the midst of a nine game winning streak, they moved above .500 to stay. The Giants' lead was now 7.5.
On August 13, they went to New York and swept a three game series from the Giants at the Polo Grounds. The lead was now 3.5.
A victory over the Cubs on August 25 put them in a tie for first. They would drop out of the tie the next day. But they would return.
On September 5, a victory over the Phillies put them back in a tie for first with the Giants coming to town for a three game set.
The two teams split a Labor Day doubleheader. Then the Braves beat the Giants the next day to take a 1 game lead. This one they never relinquished.
With a 7-1 victory over the Giants on September 30, they had a 10 game lead and clinched the pennant. From that low point on July 4, they were 68-19 the rest of the way, a .782 clip.
Their leader on and off the field was Johnny Evers, of Tinker to Evers to Chance fame. Evers came over from Chicago and quickly installed a winning attitude in the team. Rabbit Maranville and Hank Gowdy helped supply some offense.
Their pitching staff featured a couple of 26 game winners in Bill James and Dick Rudolph. Lefty Tyler added 16 wins.
The Miracle Braves had one more hurdle to overcome. Their opponents in the World Series were the Philadelphia Athletics. Winners of their fourth pennant in five years, the A's were led by the $100000 infield of Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry, and Frank Baker. They also were loaded with pitching in Jack Coombs, Eddie Plank, and Chief Bender.
Evers was overheard telling one of the A's players "I don't think you guys will win a game."
Rudolph went against Bender in game 1. The Boston Righty gave up only 5 hits while his mates shelled the Chief for 11 in a 7-1 victory.
James went against Plank in a battle of lefties in game 2. The game was scoreless until the ninth when a double by Charlie Deal and a single by Les Mann scored the only run. James only allowed the A's two hits.
The Series moved to Boston. The South End Grounds, the Braves' ballpark seemed inadequate for the NL champs. In September they closed down the old park and finished the season in Fenway Park as guests of the Red Sox.
Game 3 pitted Tyler against Bullet Joe Bush. The game was tied after 9 at 2. Both teams added two more in the tenth. Then in the twelfth, after Gowdy doubled and Gilbert was intentionally walked, Herbie Moran lay down a bunt which catcher Wally Schang threw into left field, sending Gowdy home with the winning run.
Rudolph went against Bob Shawkey in game 4. Rudolph scattered seven hits and the Braves won 3-1.
What had seemed impossible just a few months before had happened. The Miracle Braves were World Champions. It was the first 4 game sweep without a tie in Series history.
The following year the Braves opened their new ballpark, Braves Field. It would be used in the World Series that year. But it was the Red Sox, not the Braves, that would play in it.
The Braves would contend for a few years and then revert to their old losing ways. They would not return to the Series until 1948. Their next Series win would be in Milwaukee in 1957.
As for the A's, Connie Mack would sell off all his stars after the Series and they would fall to last place and remain there for 7 years, losing 116 games in 1916. But a new crop of stars would emerge in the late 20s and they would win three straight pennants in 1929-31.