Roger Peckinpaugh — Goat of the 1925 World Series
Baseball is a game of oddities, myth and conjecture. No more an example is needed than Game 7 of the 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the Washington Senators – the so-called â€œPebble Gameâ€ at Griffith Stadium in DC. This 12th inning fielding misadventure gave the Senators the franchiseâ€™s first and only title in Washington. However, the following year, the spirit of the â€œPebbleâ€ was in Roger Peckinpaugh who bobbled the Senators out of a second World Championship.
The Senators found themselves atop the Junior Circuit again in 1925 ahead of an utterly disappointing Yanks and a solid Aâ€™s team. This time, the Sens met the Pirates in another thrilling 7 game tilt.
The Sens were a powerhouse led by Hall of Fame pitchers Walter Johnson (by then in his late 30s) and Stan Covelski. The lineup was studded with three Hall of Famers including player/manager Bucky Harris, Sam Rice and Goose Gosslin. Harrisâ€™ middle infield partner was veteran shortstop and 1925 AL MVP Roger Peckinpaugh.
If curses exist in sport this has been a long forgotten one. The pebble that won Washington the World Championship in 1924 turned into stone hands of Roger Peckinpaugh in â€˜25.
Peckinpaugh was named MVP on the eve of the first game with the Pirates and went on to be one of the biggest goats in playoff history. Peckinpaugh did not lead his team in any offensive categories and batted a modest .294/.367/.379. He won the AL MVP on the merit of his glove. Always a steady glove up the middle he made only 28 errors in what turned out to be his last full ML season.
Mind you, this was a time when fields were not groomed to the standard they are today and gloves were not of the same quality. Nevertheless, Peckinpaugh fielded .952 at shortstop – the hardest position – in a league that fielded on .944! In comparison, Ozzie Smith, who is in the Hall of Fame on his fielding merit, had a career .978 against a league .966. So we can say that Peckinpaugh had an â€œOzzie Smith type season in the fieldâ€.
However, in the 1925 Peckinpaugh couldnâ€™t keep his â€œpaughsâ€ on the ball. He made an astounding 8 errors in the 7 game series.
Letâ€™s look at how costly his errors were none of these were Pebble Caused mind you. After Washington took the first game at Forbes Field, Peckinpaugh made 2 errors in the bottom of the 8th inning in the second game allowing Pittsburgh to take a 3-1 lead. Washington won the next 2 games to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.
Pittsburgh bounced back with two wins to send the game into a thrilling seventh game. The Sens led for most of the game but an error by Peckinpaugh in the bottom of the 8th opened the doors for 2 more Pirate runs as they took the lead 9-7. They shut down the Sens in the top of the 9th to win the series.
Peckinpaugh was never the same. By 1925 Peckinpaugh was nearing the end of his career and he played in only 120 more games before calling it a career.
Baseball is full of mythology and curses, the pebble that luckily won the first and only World Championship for the Senators has not met its like, the Washington franchise moved to Minnesota and did not win another Championship until 1987. The New Washington Senators, an expansion team in 1961 has been mired in mediocrity in DC and in Texas for 40 years. Washington has been without a Championship since 1924, will it take another pebble?