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1920 Dodgers Week 25: Brooklyn clinches the pennant

2nd World Series in 5 years for Brooklyn

John Mcgraw;Wilbert Robinson
Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson to New York manager John McGraw, probably: “One of us is going to the World Series.”
Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

For the second time in five years, the Brooklyn Dodgers have won the National League pennant. They clinched a trip to the 1920 World Series at the beginning of the final week of the regular season.

Brooklyn finished with 93 wins, their fourth-highest total since joining the National League in 1890.

Sunday at home in Brooklyn, the Dodgers beat their closest pursuers, the Giants, to guarantee Brooklyn would at least tie for the NL top spot. At a minimum, they would play a three-game playoff to determine the pennant winner even if the Dodgers’ final week went horribly awry.

But it didn’t come to that.

Brooklyn was off on Monday, but managed to clinch the pennant thanks to the Giants splitting a doubleheader at home against Boston. Tony Boeckel, whose given name is Norman (as noted below), hit the game-winning home run for the Braves in the ninth inning of the second game. The New York Daily News vividly described the events (1):

The bunting was thrust upon the Brooklynites yesterday. The silks were presented to them on a silver platter by Norman Boeckel, a Los Angeles lad, who receives at regular intervals from the Boston Braves a stipulated stipend for playing third base for them.

The Giants and Braves met at the Polo Grounds for a double-header. The Giants won the first but dropped the second, sealing their chances for tieing the Brooklyns for first place in the Heydler circuit pennant scramble. Boeckel’s home run in the ninth inning was the deciding factor.

Heydler here is John Heydler, the president of the National League at the time. Other articles at the time often referred to the American League as the Johnson circuit after league president Ban Johnson.

The doubleheader itself was contentious, given the rules of the time. The Giants were set to play three doubleheaders in Boston beginning on Labor Day, but two of the six games were postponed by rain. Entering Monday, the Giants played 148 games (84-64) and the Dodgers 150 games (90-60). New York arranged for a doubleheader against the Braves to make up those games, only as the home team at the Polo Grounds instead, trying to get all six games in that they needed to win (and have Brooklyn lose its four games) just to tie in the standings.

That didn’t sit well with Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets, per the Brooklyn Daily Eagle (2):

Doubleheaders cannot be arranged from previously scheduled games without the consent of all the other six clubs in the league. Ebbets says he was not asked for consent to arrange that for today at the Polo Grounds, and has formally notified President Heydler that if it is played and the Giants win both, he will protest the second game, which is always the extra contest on the bargain bill, the first being the one regularly scheduled.

But since the Giants lost that second game, Ebbets’ protest was moot.

Veteran outfielder Zack Wheat ended the season on a six-game hitting streak, including 8-for-19 (.421) with two home runs and two doubles in the season’s final week. The 32-year-old Wheat hit .328/.385/.463, finishing fourth in the league in the batting race, while setting career highs in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits (191), runs scored (89), and total bases (270).

Rookie infielder Jack Sheehan, who was called up earlier in September, made his first major league start on the final day of the regular season, going 2-for-3 with a double at shortstop in a win over Boston. Sheehan had two hits in five at-bats on the season, forever etched in Dodgers lore as a .400-hitting rookie.

Week 25 summary

4-1 record
20 runs scored (4.00 per game)
15 runs allowed (3.00 per game)
.629 pythagorean record

Seasonal totals

93-61 record
660 runs scored (4.26 per game)
528 runs allowed (3.41 per game)
.601 pythagorean record (93-61)

Final NL standing: 1st place, 7 games up on New York

Game results

Up next

The Dodgers run the Fred Abbott gauntlet, beginning the World Series against the Indians on Tuesday, October 5 at League Park in Cleveland.

  1. “Giants get even break; Brooklyn clinches pennant,” New York Daily News, September 28, 1920.
  2. “Ebbets protests Giants-Braves double bill today,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 27, 1920.