Although most of the players on the 1942 Kansas City Monarchs never had the opportunity to play Major League Baseball, the MLB Dream Bracket 2 provided the opportunity for them to show what they possibly could have done given the chance. The Monarchs faced the 2005 World Series champion White Sox in the first round and took down the champs in a stellar seven-game series.
The Monarchs were among 64 teams, including three Negro Leagues teams, in the tournament, and they joined the 1931 Homestead Grays among the Negro Leagues teams that advanced to the second round. The simulated competition, featuring many of the greatest teams in baseball history, is being produced by Out of the Park Baseball 21, MLB’s most-realistic strategy game (PC and Mac).
One might have thought the Monarchs would have an easy time in the tournament, especially with icon Satchel Paige on the roster, but he struggled early, allowing 10 runs in 11 innings. Instead, Kansas City received stellar performances from Hilton Smith and Jack Matchett. The Monarchs were not consistent with the bats either, but they hit seven home runs. Willard Brown and Joe Greene led the team with two long balls apiece.
The Monarchs now face the 1998 Yankees, a team for the ages, led by Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter. That team won 125 games, including the World Series, on the strength of a deep lineup and stellar pitching staff, led by David Cone and David Wells, who could go seven innings and then turn it over to the bullpen anchored by Mariano Rivera. What a team.
Are the 1998 Yanks the best team ever? One can bet that the Monarchs will have a lot to say during the tournament and one can bet that Paige will improve in the next round.
But first, here's how the Monarchs fared against the 2005 White Sox:
Game 1: Monarchs 10, White Sox 7
It was supposed to be a pitcher’s duel between Paige and Jose Contreras, but it turned out to be a slugfest. Paige picked up the win but allowed five runs in six innings. It was a 5-5 game in the sixth inning when Ted Strong’s grand slam off right-hander Orlando Hernandez gave Kansas City a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Chicago, however, made it a game by adding two runs late against reliever Frank Bradley.
Game 2: White Sox, 6, Monarchs 1
The power of Paul Konerko and the arm of left-hander Mark Buehrle helped the White Sox even the series. Konerko hit two home runs, the first coming off Smith and the second off Bradley. The runs were enough for Buehrle, who allowed one run in six innings. His only blemish came in the second inning, when Brown hit a solo home run.
Game 3: White Sox, 3, Monarchs 1 (11 innings)
The teams found themselves in a pitcher's duel during the first 10 innings, but Tadahito Iguchi’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th off left-hander Jim LaMarque gave the White Sox a 2-1 advantage in the series. With one out, the game was tied at 1 when Iguchi swung at a 3-2 pitch that went 384 feet and over the fence.
Game 4: Monarchs 5, White Sox 3
It wasn’t Freddy Garcia’s night. He allowed three homers that helped the Monarchs tie the series at 2. Garcia lasted 4 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. Bill Simms gave Kansas a 3-1 lead with a two-run homer in the fourth. An inning later, Brown hit a two-run shot. Bonnie Serrell also had a solo shot earlier in the game. The Monarchs’ Matchett had a game to remember, allowing two runs in eight innings while picking up his first victory of the series.
Game 5: White Sox 9, Monarchs 4
A win in Game 5 put the White Sox a game away from advancing to the next round. They collected 15 hits, nine of them off Paige, who pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed four home runs. Carl Everett highlighted the scoring for the Sox with a three-run homer in the fourth. Contreras was much better than he was in the first game. He lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowed two runs and struck out 11.
Game 6: Monarchs 5, White Sox 1
Smith knew his team was on the brink of elimination and he kept the Monarchs alive by allowing one run in eight innings. The only run against Smith came in his final frame, when Iguchi scored on a groundout by Jermaine Dye. Smith received all his runs of support by the seventh, and that was good enough. Strong was the hitting hero, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs.
Game 7: Monarchs 4, White Sox 2
Chicago took an early 2-0 lead off Booker McDaniel by the middle of the third inning, but the Monarchs rallied to retake the lead, 3-2, off right-hander Jon Garland in the bottom of the inning. The Monarchs put the game away with an insurance run in the eighth, when Brown scored on a single by Herb Souell. LaMarque then slammed the door with his third save of the series in a perfect ninth to propel the Monarchs to the second round.