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Issue Date: April 2013


1920


Erick Trickey
trickey@clevelandmagazine.com

In the decisive Game 5 of the 1920 World Series, the Cleveland Indians faced Brooklyn Robins hurler Burleigh Grimes, master of the legal spitball. A 23-game winner, Grimes had thrown a shutout in Game 2 in Brooklyn. But at League Park on Oct. 10, the Tribe hit three straight singles in the first inning, loading the bases for right fielder Elmer Smith. He swung at a 1-2 pitch.

“There was a tremendous smack as Smith’s bat connected with the horsehide,” Franklin Lewis wrote in his book, The Cleveland Indians. “From the time of impact, there was no doubt about the blow. It was a home run, a blast far over the right-field wall, over the screen, over the temporary bleachers.” Charlie Jamieson crossed home plate first, then Bill Wambsganss and player-manager Tris Speaker. Telephones and the telegraph flashed the news across Cleveland: Smith had hit the first World Series grand slam.

In the fifth, Wambsganss leaped to grab a line drive, stepped on second base and tagged a startled runner for the only unassisted triple play in World Series history. The Indians beat the Robins 8-1, then shut them out twice at League Park to win the best-of-nine World Series, 5 games to 2.


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