Indians manager Tris Speaker was fortunate enough that for game 2 of the 1920 World Series, he could send a 30-game winner to the mound. Jim Bagby would face off against Burleigh Grimes. Robins manager and namesake Wilbert Robinson pitched Rube Marquard in the opener because Ebbets Field, like League Park, had a short right field. Now down a game in the series, Robinson elected to go with his ace Grimes, who had won 23 games for the Robins that year.
In the bottom of the first, the Robins got on the board. Jimmy Johnston beat a throw from Joe Sewell to Doc Johnston to get on first, and then stole second. He came home after a Zack Wheat double.
Larry Gardner doubled to left to lead off the second inning. Doc Johnston tried to sacrifice to move Gardner to third, but Grimes fielded and Gardner was caught in a rundown. Joe Sewell popped out and Johnston tried – and failed – to steal second.
Grimes, who was mystifying the Indians with his spitball, led off the bottom of the third with a single, and shortstop Ivy Olson bunted to advance him. Bagby hurried the throw, and Sewell, reaching for the ball, ran into Grimes. The Robins had to call time out for Grimes to walk around and make sure he was OK. Two batters later, Tommy Griffith doubled, and Grimes hobbled home, with Olson at third.
Speaker had Bagby intentionally walk Wheat to pitch to Hy Myers with the bases loaded. The gamble paid off, as Myers hit a chopper to Gardner, who threw home for the force. Steve O’Neill threw to first to get Myers, but the ball hit him. Doc Johnston was able to recover the ball and throw home to get Griffith out at the plate for your standard 5-2-3-2 double play that brought Robinson out of the dugout to yell for umpire Tommy Connolly to call interference. “Robinson’s face is aflame as he talks to Connolly, but the umpire merely shakes his head,” Damon Runyon wrote. “Then Robinson waddles back to the bench, a picture of indignation.” The Robins tacked on another run in the fifth, when Olson came home on a single by Griffith.
The three runs were all the Robins needed, as the second game of the World Series was a mirror image of the first game: both teams got the same amount of hits, but this time, it was Brooklyn that caught all the breaks, coming out on top with a 3-0 win to even the best-of-nine series at one game apiece.
“Henceforth, it looks like a real battle,” wrote Harry Cross in the Plain Dealer.
Billy Evans, the umpire who was writing about the game, said Bagby was a victim of unfamiliarity. “Bagby is one of those pitchers who gets results by working on the batters’ weaknesses, rather than through his burning speed or fast breaking curves,” Evans wrote. “Naturally, Bagby’s knowledge of the Brooklyn hitters was limited.”
Meanwhile, in Cleveland, fans were reaching a fever pitch. It was the first World Series for the Indians, and the day was drawing nearer for the first Fall Classic game at League Park. The series should have opened there, but Jim Dunn asked that it start at Ebbets Field while additions were made to League Park.
So crowds of thousands would have to make do “watching” the game on local scoreboards. Someone with access to a telegraph line would get in-time game results, and post them on a scoreboard or in some instances, a recreated baseball diamond. One of the most popular spots to watch was downtown on East Sixth Street at the Plain Dealer offices. One person climbed up to the top of the East Ohio Gas Building and watched the scoreboard from 10 stories up.
A Plain Dealer reporter heard someone else in the crowd say, “If that damn fool doesn’t get down off there, I’m going home. I came out here to have a good time, not to see someone commit suicide.”
The Plain Dealer reported that by the eighth inning, the man was gone, adding, “Here’s hoping he got down the same way he got up.”