1932 – Melbourne breaks the drought

In 1932, Melbourne defeated top placed Carlton in the final round of matches to take the minor premiership, comfortably defeated Fitzroy in the semi-final, then accounted for Richmond 4-3 in the 10th inning in the first and possibly the only walk-off hit to decide an A Grade Baseball pennant in Victoria. It broke a 12 year premiership drought.

 

From the Argus, 12th September 1932:

BASEBALL

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FINAL MATCHES

Melbourne Wins A Grade

Melbourne won the A Grade baseball premiership on Saturday. It is many years since Melbourne won an A grade premiership. It kept in the field many of its old players too long after a succession of seven premierships, but in the last three seasons it has built up a strong battery and fielding side.

Before the match on Saturday it was thought that, with MCC’s strong batting it would win easily, but Richmond extended this powerful side to the limit almost – 10 innings, and then lost on a slight fumble and hurried throw by Richmond’s short stop who had played brilliantly up to that time.

It was a magnificent game, and one of the best finals played. The batting of both sides was even – 10 hits – the fielding slightly in favour of the winners – two errors to three – and the stolen bases the same, seven to six.  The winners secured eight outfield hits to seven, and three strike-outs to one. It was a stirring battle, and with scores level at the ninth and Richmond shut out in the tenth, MCC exerted every effort, and with two out, Kennedy hit safely to centre field, stole second, and on Francis’s hit to short stop (Kennedy led a long lead to third) came right through to home plate, and owing to a misfield scored and won. It was risky, but worthwhile, and he was warmly applauded. Richmond has not yet won a premiership.

Clive Sindrey opened for Richmond with a base on balls, stole second base, and scored on Abbott’s smash to centre field. Infield play disposed of Clem Sindrey, Carr, and Ledward. Morris began for Melbourne with a hit to right field, stole second base, but on James’s fly to second was out on a double play. Ponsford (who was the best batsman on either side, as he secured the full percentage) placed a nice one to centre field, and was forced to second base on a free passage to Ballmer; both remained there, as Quin’s hit was caught at left field by Stuckey – no runs. Two infield plays and a fly to right field disposed of Richmond’s second innings. With the bases full and two out in MCC’s second, the red legs had a great chance of scoring, but Francis “flied” to short-stop and closed the innings with Richmond in the lead.

Outfield flies to right and left field disposed of Richmond batters in the third innings, and Clive Sindrey was out at second base in an attempt to steal. An error allowed James to reach first. The reliable Ponsford placed a certainty to left field which sent James to third; Ballmer was first man out, but his hit sent James home; Quin placed one back to the pitcher, who threw wildly and tallied Ponsford with the second run and the lead; and Eustace’s two-bagger sent Quin scampering home; Eustace remained on the bags on the account of Hill and Kennedy batting weakly. Three runs to one in MCC’s favour.

In Richmond’s fourth Carr was out Ponsford to Ballmer; Ledward shot a nice one to centre field; and in going to second base on O’Brien’s hit twisted his ankle and had to retire, McCormack taking his place; McCormack scored on Stuckey’s smash to left field, making the scores two to three in favour of Melbourne, which, with the bags full on account of “free” passages, was prevented from scoring by brilliant fielding, particularly Sinclair’s catch of Ballantyne’s smash. Two taps back to the pitcher and a smart pick up by Eustace closed Richmond’s fifth. O’Brien disposed of two batters and Sinclair the other, and the fifth finished.

Richmond struggled uneventfully in the sixth, and though MCC secured two good hits in its corresponding innings by James and Ponsford nothing resulted. In Richmond’s seventh Stuckey placed a two-bagger to left field, and scored on Sinclair’s centre field smash, making the runs three each. Only three batters face the Richmond battery in the seventh, and Richmond was shut out in the eighth. Richmond prevented Melbourne scoring in its equal innings. Both sides failed in the ninth; Richmond struggled valiantly – Clem Sindrey struck out, Carr hit back to the pitcher. McCormack landed a two-bagger to right field, and O’Brien was out at first – no runs in the tenth.

Then began a desperate struggle, and with Eustace and Hill out it looked like another innings each. However, Kennedy hit safely, stole second, and took every risk in running through to home on Francis’s hit to short stop, from which Kennedy scored and won for Melbourne by four runs to three after an intensely interesting and hard battle. For the winners Ponsford, Ballmer, Quin, Kennedy, and Francis were the best; and Abbott, O’Brien, Carr, Sinclair, Howell, and the Sindrey brothers were Richmond’s.

 

Scores:-

Richmond  -- 1,0,0,1,0,0,1,0,0,0 -- 3

Melbourne -- 0,0,3,0,0,0,0,0,0,1 -- 4