Regarding the decisive Game 10 of the 1924 World Series, in which the Monarchs’ 37-year-old player-manager José Méndez made a surprise start and shut out Hilldale on three hits despite suffering from a “viral infection” (Larry Lester, Baseball’s First Colored World Series, p. 175), John Holway wrote the following:
In the final game the Monarch manager, 38-year-old Jose Mendez, one of Cuba’s greatest pitchers 15 years earlier, had no one left to start on the mound. “Well, Darling,” Foster smiled, “how do you feel yourself?” Mendez gulped. “If you say so,” he said, “I do it.” Foster called every pitch for him from the bench and Mendez hurled a three-hitter to beat young Holsey “Scrip” Lee 5-0, and take the series. (Blackball Stars, p. 32)
I’d always thought this story sounded somewhat unlikely, given that Méndez was himself the veteran of many big games and hardly seemed the type to “gulp” at the prospect of a high-pressure situation. I suspected (though of course without knowing for sure) that it emanated from Foster himself. I haven’t checked every contemporary newspaper thoroughly to see if this story, or some hint of it, made it into print at the time. But I did just run across this passage in the Philadelphia Tribune (November 22, 1924), from an article entitled “‘Rube’ Foster Comments on the World’s Series”:
So Foster himself didn’t claim it was his idea for Méndez to start, nor did he claim to have called pitches the whole game. And I’m pretty sure that, had those things really happened, Foster would not have hesitated to take credit for them.
It’s entirely possible that there’s some truth to it: maybe, for instance, Méndez consulted Foster about how to pitch to certain Hilldale hitters. This, of course, is hardly the same thing that the original story claims. Plus it’s not clear that Foster would have known the Hilldale lineup all that much better than Méndez; two of the starting lineup that day had been teammates of Méndez’s recently (George Carr with the Monarchs, 1920-1922, and Frank Warfield with Santa Clara in the previous winter’s Cuban League). Warfield, Clint Thomas, and Biz Mackey had all played in the NNL for multiple seasons fairly recently, so Méndez would have had as much chance to see them as Foster. Maybe Foster would have known more about his fellow Texans Louis Santop and George Johnson. On the whole though, the notion that Foster babysat Méndez through the Series-clinching victory is probably exaggerated.