Wednesday, October 16, 1912. Fenway Park, Boston, in the legendary field's inaugural season. Bottom of the 10th inning, in Game 8 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants. Game tied, 2–2. On third base, Steve Yerkes takes a lead.
The Hatboro, Pa. native was purchased by the Boston club three years prior in 1909, just months after he was meant to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, where he had played shortstop. However, Yerkes’ commencement never came. He cut his Quaker career short in 1907 for fear of losing his college eligibility, having joined a small professional team in New Jersey the previous summer.
Future Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson toes the rubber for the Giants, steps into his windup, and fires a strike to Red Sox third baseman Larry Gardner. Gardner swings: crack. Yerkes watches as the ball shoots off of the bat toward the outfield.
Yerkes rose up through the ranks of the Red Sox organization, helping their New England League affiliate win a championship in his first season and following that up with a 1910 stint with the Southern Association’s Chattanooga Lookouts. His stellar performance caught the eye of the big-league club, and in 1911 he was called up and won a starting spot in the infield.
Yerkes retraces his steps back to the base, watching and waiting as the ball drifts toward right field.
As Yerkes continued to grow as a player, he drew admiration from his teammates for his dedication, easygoing locker room manner, and his calmness in the face of pressure. Yerkes kicked off the season by recording both the first base hit and the first run in Fenway Park history in a game against the New York Yankees (then known as the Highlanders) and rode that momentum as the Red Sox captured the American League pennant.
The ball descends from the heavens and hits Giants outfielder Josh Devore’s glove with a pop. Yerkes takes off for home plate.
This isn’t the first chance Yerkes has had in this series to be the hero. Late in Game 1, he drove in two runs with a single to help the Sox take a 4–2 lead, which would end up holding with a 4–3 final score.
In Game 5, Yerkes drove in the first run of the game on a triple off of Mathewson, and scored on the next hit to build a 2–0 lead that would also stand strong at 2–1. However, clutch play by the Giants prevented a Boston series victory and forced this decisive Game 8; Game 2 had been called a tie after no team held a lead after 11 innings.
Devore fires the ball home as Yerkes sprints for the plate. The play is close, but clear. In front of tens of thousands of fans, Yerkes scores. The Red Sox take a 3–2 lead to capture their second-ever World Series championship, and the former Penn baseball shortstop's name is forever etched in MLB history.
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