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  • Writer's pictureKirk Jenkins

Game 5 –Monarchs Try to Close Out the Homestead Grays

We’re back at Griffith Park today after a layoff for Game 5 of the (Simulated) 1942 Negro League World Series. The Kansas City Monarchs are currently holding a three games to one lead and looking to close things out today. Taking advantage of the layoff, the Monarchs are sending their ace Satchel Paige to the mound and the Grays are going with Roy Welmaker.

In the bottom of the first, the Grays led off the scoring. David Whatley drew a leadoff walk. Jerry Benjamin laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to send him to second. Buck Leonard could only manage a ground ball to second, although Whatley came around to third. Josh Gibson then brought the first run of the game home with a booming double off the right-center field fence.

The Monarchs tied things up in the top of the third, taking advantage of a Grays error. Jesse Williams led off with a single to right and when the throw got past first baseman Buck Leonard, Williams advanced to second. Welmaker got Frank Duncan and Satchel Paige on fly balls, but Bonnie Simms brought the run in with a solid single to left-center.

The Monarchs briefly took the lead in the top of the fifth, scoring a run off a booming home run to right field by Bonnie Serrell, but the Grays came right back in the bottom half of the frame. Matt Carlisle led things off with a single. Welmaker bunted him over to second and David Whatley laced a run scoring single to right. It briefly looked like the Grays might get more when Paige issued a two-out walk to Buck Leonard, but he managed to get Josh Gibson on a ground ball to end the threat.

The Monarchs’ half of the sixth initially looked like it was going to go quietly, as Bonnie Serrell and Ted Strong went out on weak grounders. But then Willard Brown launched a long line drive into the left field corner which seemed to bounce around forever. By the time the Grays managed to get the ball back to the infield, Brown was standing on third. Buck O’Neil then gave the Monarchs the lead with a single to right-center.

The Grays knotted things back up in the bottom of the seventh. David Whatley, having an excellent day at the plate after his beaning in the last game, started things with a base hit to left. Jerry Benjamin bunted him to second. Paige got Buck Leonard on a fly ball, but then lost Josh Gibson to a walk. Sam Bankhead then scored the Grays’ third run with a line drive single into right-center.

Both sides threatened in the ninth. With two outs, Jesse Williams singled to left. With Frank Duncan at the plate, Williams took second on a passed ball by catcher Josh Gibson. But Welmaker then managed to get Duncan on an infield popup. In the bottom of the ninth, Sam Bankhead and Howard Easterling laced back-to-back singles to right, putting the potential winning run in scoring position. The Monarchs opted to pull Satchel Paige in favor of Hilton Smith, and Smith delivered, getting Vic Harris on a round-the-horn inning ending double play.

So things headed into extra innings for the first time in the series. The tenth and eleventh passed quietly. In the top of the twelfth, Bonnie Serrell started things with a sharp single. Welmaker – still in the game – got Jesse Williams and Hilton Smith on fly balls, but then lost Joe Greene and Willie Simms to walks, loading the bases. The Grays finally yanked Welmaker, bringing in Willie Stevenson to try and shut the Monarchs down. Stevenson managed to get Herb Souell on a ground ball to first baseman Buck Leonard.

After the Grays mounted a mild threat in the bottom of the twelfth with back-to-back two out singles by pitcher Stevenson and the red-hot David Whatley, that brought things to the top of the thirteenth.

With one out, Willard Brown launched a cannon shot to right, a home run which cleared the fence by at least fifteen feet. After Buck O’Neil’s ground ball, Bonnie Serrell doubled off the wall. Jesse Williams reached first when Stevenson bobbled his ground ball for a one-base error. Pitcher Hilton Smith scored the Monarchs’ second run of the inning with a base hit to right. But then Joe Greene broke things open with a shot to right center which slammed off the fence and bounced back far enough towards the infield for Greene to come around to third and Serrell and Williams to score. After Stevenson walked Willie Simms, the Monarchs brought in Needle Nose Wright (ed: his nickname was not my idea) to pitch. Wright got Herb Souell to end the inning, but as it turned out, the damage was done.

The Grays came up in the bottom of the thirteenth with their season on the line, but unfortunately for them, Hilton Smith was still feeling strong. Smith began by striking out Hall of Famers Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson. He lost Sam Bankhead to a 3-2 walk, but he then completed the trifecta, striking out Howard Easterling to end the game and the series.

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