Watty Watkins Wows ‘Em in ’31 Series!

In the above photo, Watty Watkins slides under the tag of Mickey Cochrane of the Philadelphia A’s to score a big run for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1931 World Series.
The following article was written for The Pecan Park Eagle by John Watkins, the great-nephew of George “Watty” Watkins. Watty Watkins was an early hero for the Houston Buffs over four seasons of work (1925-26, 1928, 1937) that encompassed the beginning and end of his professional baseball career. He was an important member of the 1928 Buffs club that became the first to play in the new Buffalo Stadium on their way to victory as Texas League and Dixie Series champions. Watty also enjoyed a seven season big league career (1930-36) with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies. and Brooklyn Dodgers. The Pecan Park Eagle is deeply indebted to John Watkins for this personal vignette memory of an important tong ago moment in World Series history.
Bill, your post the other day with the memorable baseball photos prompted me to scan the above attached photo of Watty Watkins for you. It reminds me of the Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter’s slide into home following his “mad dash” from first base in the deciding play of the 1946 World Series.
The Watkins picture is also a big moment in World Series history. It is an Associated Press photo from the first inning of Game Seven of the 1931 World Series. The catcher is Mickey Cochrane of the Philadelphia A’s, and Watty is scoring the second St. Louis run of the game. For the era, it’s a pretty good action shot.

The play came about this way. Andy High of the Cards, playing in place of the injured Sparky Adams, led off the inning with a bloop single to left. Watty followed with a Texas Leaguer of his own, and Frankie Frisch sacrificed the two runners to second and third. With Pepper Martin at the plate, A’s righthander George Earnshaw threw a high outside pitch that bounced off catcher Mickey Cochrane’s glove and rolled to the wall. High scored on the wild pitch and Watkins took third. The flustered Earnshaw walked Martin, who promptly stole second.

Earnshaw recovered to strike out Ernie Orsatti, who was in the lineup because Chick Hafey, the N.L. batting champion, was in a terrible slump. But Cochrane could not handle the pitch and had to throw to first to retire Orsatti. Watkins immediately broke for home in what Giants manager John McGraw called “a daring play” in his newspaper column written during the Series. First baseman Jimmie Foxx “threw late and low to Cochrane,” the New York Times reported, “the ball scudding out of the tangle [at the plate] as Watkins slid into Cochrane and both went down.” Martin advanced to third as Watkins scored, but Jim Bottomley struck out to end the inning.

Two innings later, High and Watkins again got back-to-back hits. High lined Earnshaw’s first pitch to center for another single. Watkins also swung at the first pitch he saw and, as McGraw wrote, “drove it over the top of the right field grand stand against the wind.” Those two runs proved crucial, as the A’s scored twice in the ninth against a tiring Burleigh Grimes before Bill Hallahan got the last out with the tying runs on base.

The 4-2 victory resulted in the Cardinals’ second World Series championship and avenged their loss to Connie Mack’s Athletics in 1930. While Watkins, a Houston resident and former Houston Buff outfielder, had played a key role in the seventh game, two other ex-Buffs — Martin and Hallahan — were the hitting and pitching stars of the Series. Pepper hit .500 and stole five bases, and Wild Bill won two games, registering what would today be called a “save” in the finale, while allowing of only one earned run in 18-1/3 innings of work on the mound.

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2 Responses to “Watty Watkins Wows ‘Em in ’31 Series!”

  1. Jack Murphy Says:

    Bill, May interest your readers to know that Watty was enlisted by Fr. Wilson as our bench coach for the Townhouse Buffalos, I know because I was on the bench most of the time…By then Watty was a pretty salty character and proponent of spikes high “Gashouse Gang”style baseball as was the very dignified Fr. Wilson. Jack

  2. Portable Offices Says:

    Portable Offices…

    […]Watty Watkins Wows ‘Em in ’31 Series! « The Pecan Park Eagle[…]…

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