Mace Brown, the Pirates pitcher quickly retired the first two hitters and then jumped out in front of Gabby Hartnett 0-and 2, “He made Hartnett look bad on a couple of curves that went down. Then he came back with one more,” recalled Pittsburgh backup catcher Ray Berres. “He was really going to snap one off. And as so often happens when you try too hard, he hung it.”
Hartnett, the Cubs’ player-manager, was looking for another curve and guessed right. “I felt it was gone the second I hit it,” he recalled. At the crack of the bat, Brown buried his head in his arms. He knew it too. In the semi-darkness, the fans couldn’t track the ball very well, but they could see Rizzo edge back toward the wall, and then look up helplessly as the ball landed in the left field bleachers for a game-winning home run. Chicago had prevailed, 6-5. The crowd erupted, a beaming Hartnett was mobbed at home plate by teammates and dozens of the 34,000+ fans at Wrigley that day, and the Cubs had taken over first place on what would be forever known (thanks, apparently, to Associated Press writer Earl Hilligan) as “The Homer in the Gloamin’”, and the Cubs 9th straight win.
Heading into a September 27-29 series against the Pirates in Wrigley Field, they had won 18 of 23 games and had charged to within 1 ½ games of the lead. A gutsy 2-1 victory by sore-armed Dizzy Dean in the series opener put Chicago right on the Bucs’ heels. The Cubs would eventually win the division and go onto the World Series to play the Yankees.
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