Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when George “Tubby” Scales lead off the bottom of the first in game six by walking. It was his eighth walk of the series, and he would add one more in the 7th inning, giving him nine free passes in the first six games of the best of nine series. What was unusual, however, were the 18 additional bases on balls given by the five hurlers on the day.
Born in Alabama, George “Tubby” Scales began his professional career with the St. Louis Giants at age 20. Over the next 25 years he would hit over .300 15 times, including .320 against Major League competition. He also won six pennants as manager in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Buck Leonard called him the greatest curveball hitter he ever saw. Scales settled in California, becoming a stockbroker following his playing days.
Umpire-in-chief Frank Duncan refused to concede any extra inches off the plate for starters Smokey Joe Williams (7 walks in 6 innings pitched) and Slim Jones (7 walks in 7 innings pitched) or relievers Rube Foster, Double-Duty Radcliffe, and Bill Byrd. A former catcher and manager for the Kansas City Monarchs, Duncan may have been trying to ensure there were no calls of favoritism for his former teammate Buck O’Neil. Or, he may have been in pain from his years of crouching behind the plate as both a backstop and arbiter. Or, he may have been calling a perfect game. As crewmate Bob Motley said, Duncan “loved to call balls and strikes and was quite good at it.” Whatever the cause, fans at Hilldale Park were sometimes lulled to sleep by the lack of strikes thrown.
As for the scoring, that was typical back and forth fireworks for a series that has seen an extra inning game, four of the six games tied after eight innings, and no team winning back to back games. John Beckwith opened the scoring for the Oscar Charleston All Stars in the bottom of the 3rd with his second home run in as many games. The Buck O’Neil All Stars struck back in the next half inning, tying the score on Buck Leonard’s second triple of the series and a sacrifice fly from Home Run Brown. Charlie’s squad took a one run lead on two walks and a single in the sixth, only to give back four the next half inning. Buck’s team couldn’t hold the line either, and Bullet Rogan capped a three run bottom of the 7th with a 2-run home run, his third of the series.
When both teams added a run in the 8th inning, the game entered the 9th tied for the fourth time in the series. Continuing another trend, most of the scoring came in the later innings. Through the first six games of the series, 22 runs have been scored in innings one through six. From the seventh inning on, 41 runs have been scored.
The 9th inning belonged to the Buck O’Neil All Stars and reliever Bill Byrd. Despite seeing Byrd give up a run in the bottom of the 8th, Buck O’Neil stuck with his reliever and let him bat to lead off the top of the 9th. The 6’1″ righty from Georgia repaid the faith with a single, scoring along with two teammates on Willie Wells’ bases loaded double to put the O’Neil All Stars up for good. Turkey Stearnes followed with a solo shot, his first of the series, and Willard Brown capped the seven run 9th inning with a two run home run, tying him with Rogan for most home runs in the series with three and a series-leading 10 RBI’s.
Byrd, of course, walked Bullet Rogan to lead off the 9th, the 19th and final free pass of the game, but rolled a groundout and then a game-ending double play to even the series at three wins apiece. The series now shifts to the cathedral Yankee Stadium for the final three matches, with the Buck O’Neil squad the home team the rest of the way. Bullet Joe Rogan will be on the mound for the Oscar Charleston All Stars matched up against John Donaldson.