Editor’s note: Sports fans from Warren County no doubt were among those who watched the Los Angeles Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. Local residents might not know that a Warren County native made a name for himself in the 1922 World Series. The Warren Record is reprinting this reminiscence from Warrenton native W.W. Taylor, Jr., which appeared in the Oct. 2, 2002, edition of the newspaper. Taylor practiced law in Warrenton for 29 years and was a founding partner in the law firm of Maupin, Taylor, & Ellis in Raleigh. Taylor passed away in 2008 at the age of 96.
In 1922, traffic was never very heavy on Warrenton’s Main Street. However, on this particular afternoon in October, traffic had come to a complete stop. Pedestrians had filled up the street and the sidewalk in front of Hunter Drug Company, which was then located on the west side of south Main Street. What were they doing?
The afternoon I am talking about was on Friday, Oct. 6, 1922. The third game of the World Series was getting ready to start. The New York Giants and the New York Yankees were playing for the championship of the world. This game was being played on the Giants’ home field, the Polo Grounds. The Giants had won the first game and the second had been called because of darkness and declared a tie.
This was before the days of radio and television. However, some ingenious sports fans in Warrenton had devised a plan to report the game as it progressed. In front of Hunter Drug Company they had erected a massive bulletin board containing the names of the players with spaces left for reporting all activities as they occurred.
At that time, Warrenton’s Western Union office was in the back of Hunter Drug Company. Runners were employed to get from the Western Union operator and to record on the bulletin board the activities on the playing field as they were flashed to the operator from New York.
And way was this game so important? Because Jack Scott, a native of Warren County’s Ridgeway (population not over 50 people) had been selected to pitch for the Giants. In its account of the game, the New York Times referred to his home as “somewhere in North Carolina.”
This was a big day for Warren County. A hometown boy with whom most of the local sports fans were well acquainted would be standing in the center of the Polo Grounds facing Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees and trying to out-pitch Waite Hoyt.
Jack was then 28 years old. He was a lanky six feet, two-and-a-half-inches tall and weighed about 185 pounds. For some years he had played on teams in the minors and for the Boston Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. During the summer of 1922 his arm went bad, he received his unconditional release from the Reds, and he was told by his doctors that he would never pitch again. He refused to believe them.
He went to New York to see John McGraw, manager of the Giants, to ask for one more chance. McGraw hired him on a game-by-game basis and watched with pleasure as he won eight and lost two as the season wound down. Now, here he was on the pitcher’s mound at the Polo Grounds facing the Yankees in the World Series.
As the pitches were recorded on the bulletin board, his strikes were met by cheers and his balls by groans. Jack Scott was at his best. His fastball smoked by the Yankee batters, and his curves were untouchable. After five innings, the Yankees had only one hit and Jack was getting stronger every inning.
When the Yankees made contact they dribbled the ball around infield or hit pop flies. Babe Ruth was helpless. At the end of the game, he had not gotten a hit in four times as bat. The Yankees got a total of four hits, but not a single run. Meanwhile, the Giants were scoring three runs on twelve hits.
And then it was over. Warren County had yelled itself hoarse as they pulled for the tall farm boy who was representing them in the big city. I was there. I was just 10 years old, but I remember it well.
Since then I have seen quite a few big league ball games, including an All-Star game. However, I have never seen a better game than this one. Western Union told it like it was, never suggesting that the umpires were incompetent and did not know the difference between a ball and a strike.
The unsophisticated people of eastern North Carolina where I lived have always naively thought that these umpires were the best in the world and that was why they were selected to umpire the World Series between the two best baseball teams to determine which was the champion of the world.
Jack Scott suddenly found himself one of the most popular athletic figures in America. The largest crowd in the history of baseball, 37,620, had paid a record total of $122,345 to see this miraculous comeback by the boy from Ridgeway. They watched this lanky young man as he faced Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees, and were proud of him when he refused to blink.
To me this was as fine a piece of Americana as you can find. This is the way it should be. America’s greatness can be found in country boys with sore arms standing on the pitcher’s mound in the Polo Grounds determined to win.