1. Fred Snodgrass
Center fielder drops fly ball, allows deciding run - Game 8 of 1912 World Series (New York Giants vs. Boston Red Sox)
When the World Series was still a fledgling institution, the New York Giants squared off against the Boston Red Sox in what is widely thought to be the first great World Series. The tense, highly contentious Series went to a deciding Game 8 (Game 2 was called on account of darkness, ending in a 6-6 tie) after the Giants took Games 6 and 7 to knot everything up. The final game didn’t disappoint, as a brilliant pitcher’s duel emerged as the game went along.
Eventually, it was Smoky Joe Wood and Christy Mathewson respectively taking the mound for the Red Sox and Giants in the tenth inning with the score tied, 1-1. A Giants run in the top of the inning put them three outs from World Series victory, but that’s where Fred Snodgrass comes in.
Mathewson got the leadoff hitter, Clyde Engle, to hit a lazy fly ball to Snodgrass in center field. He camped under it, got his glove on it and let it trickle to the ground, turning an out into a double. This is the more well-documented mistake, but ironically, there was a second error in the inning that truly sealed the Giants’ fate. With one out and runners at first and third, still clinging to the 2-1 lead, Mathewson got Boston hitter Tris Speaker to hit a foul pop fly between home plate and first base.
Even though Mathewson, the catcher and the first baseman all could have caught it, no one took the initiative and the ball fell harmlessly between them. With new life, Speaker ripped a single to tie the game and the next hitter won the World Series with a sacrifice fly. These poorly timed errors paved the way for the Red Sox to be the powerhouse of the 1910s, winning three more championships before the decade was over. The Giants remained contenders, but wouldn’t win another World Series until 1921.
2. Hank Gowdy
Catcher gets foot trapped in his own mask on foul popup – Game 7 of 1924 World Series (Washington Senators vs. New York Giants)
In 1924, another great World Series culminated in some embarrassing errors and bad luck costing the Giants a championship. The Senators looked dead as they came up for the bottom of the eighth, trailing 3-1. However, they put together a rally by loading up the bases with two outs for player-manager Bucky Harris, who tied the game with a single to left. The score remained 3-3 into the bottom of the twelfth – the Senators riding the arm of the great Walter Johnson from the ninth inning on.
With one out and the bases empty, Washington’s Muddy Ruel popped the ball straight up into foul territory. Giants’ catcher Hank Gowdy tossed his mask aside, followed the ball in the swirling wind and inexplicably got his foot caught in his own discarded mask. Unable to shake himself free, the ball fell to the ground unscathed.
Naturally, Ruel took the opportunity to slam a double into left field. From there, Johnson reached first base on an error and the Senators’ Earl McNeely hit a hard grounder to third base that took a freakishly high, unplayable hop that went for the Series-winning hit.