In the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Athletics had been powerhouses. They both appeared in 5 World Series, with the A's winning 3 and the Cubs 2. They faced each other in 1910 with the A's prevailing in 5 games.
In the ensuing years, both teams had fallen on hard times.
After losing the 1914 Series to the Braves, Connie Mack had broken up his powerhouse. It was followed by 7 consecutive last place finishes, including a 116 loss season in 1916, setting a modern record that would last 46 years and 87 years as the AL record.
The Cubs didn't fall quite as hard. But after winning 4 pennants in 5 years from 1906-10, their only pennant had been in the war shortened season of 1918.
By 1929, both teams were back on top.
Mack had built himself another powerhouse that finally dethroned the Murderer's Row Yankees. Their offense was headed by future HOFers Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx, and Mickey Cochrane. They had a great one two punch on the mound with Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw.
Joe McCarthy had built a powerful lineup of his own in Chicago, Rogers Hornsby won his 7th batting title and set a franchise single season BA record that still stands. Hack Wilson was a year away from his 191 RBI season. Gabby Hartnett, Riggs Stephenson, and Charlie Grimm also added punch to the lineup. They didn't have the star pitchers Philadelphia had. But Pat Malone and Charlie Root headed a capable staff.
There was one obvious flaw in the Cub lineup. All but Grimm were righthanded hitters. This fact was not lost on Mack, who decided to use his ace Grove only out of the bullpen during the Series and start only righthanders against the Cubs.
As the season was winding down, Mack also decided to have an ace up his sleeve. He sent 35 year old veteran Howard Ehmke to scout the Cubs during the last few weeks of the season. When it was time for game 1, Ehmke was the surprise starter.
The veteran used his knowledge gained by his scouting excursions and rewarded his manager with a gem. He gave up 8 hits and did not allow a run until the bottom of the ninth while striking out a then record 13 Cubs in a 3-1 victory.
The teams split the next two games with Earnshaw and Grove combining to match Ehmke's strikeout total in game 2. Guy Bush got the Cubs in the victory column with a 9 hit 3-1 win in game 3.
For game 4, Mack had another surprise starter. Jack Quinn was a veteran in his 40's whose best years were well behind him. The Cubs jumped all over Quinn and had an 8-0 lead after 6 1/2 innings. It appeared that the Cubs were going to tie the Series. But nobody could predict what happened next.
Simmons led off the bottom of the 7th with a homer off Root that was just fair. It was now 8-1
Foxx then singled to right.
Bing Miller then singled on a fly to center.
Jimmy Dykes then singled to left, scoring Foxx and making it 8-2.
Joe Boley followed with a single to right scoring Miller and it was 8-3.
After George Burns pinch hit and popped out to short, Max Bishop singled to Center to score Dykes. It was 8-4,
That was all for Root as McCarthy called in veteran Art Nehf to face Mule Haas.
Haas hit a high fly to center where Wilson lost it in the afternoon sun. The ball ended up over Wilson's head and Haas rounded the bases for an inside the park homer to make it 8-7.
Cochrane then walked.
McCarthy tried to stop the bleeding by going to his pen again and bringing in Sheriff Blake.
Simmons, who started it all, singled to left.
Foxx then plated Cochrane with the tying run with a single.
Again, McCarthy tried his pen, this time with his ace Malone.
Miller was then hit by a pitch loading the bases.
Dykes then doubled home Simmons and Foxx with the ninth and tenth runs of the inning,
Once appearing to be sure losers, the A's were now in the lead.
Malone finally got out of the inning by getting Boley and Burns(the second time he made out in the inning.) But the damage was done.
Grove came in and shut the Cubs down the last two innings for the most improbable of victories.
The 10 runs in the inning set a World Series record that still stands. Only the 1968 Tigers have matched it.
The A's still had to win one more game. But the shellshocked Cubs did not have much fight left. They did carry a 2-0 lead into the ninth of game 5 behind Malone. But the A's scored three runs in the ninth to wrap up the title.
Philadelphia had their first World Championship in 16 years. They would repeat as champions the next year and lose in 1931 before going on another long dry spell. But the 1929 version will always be remembered for a superb performance by a surprise starter in game 1 and a comeback for the ages in game 4.