In the history of Major League Baseball, there has only been one other Billy Martin. William Gloyd Martin was born in Washington DC in the year of 1894. Billy was a shortstop and spent four different seasons in the minor leagues- 1916, 1920-1921, 1924. Because of the break in his playing of professional baseball, it is likely Martin was enlisted in the military and was in active duty during the years of World War I. Though that may have been the case, there is no report or evidence that exists that Martin had any time served in the US military. Billy played in the major leagues in the year of 1914, without any record of him playing any games in the minor leagues. Given the time frame, it is likely that Martin played some form of professional ball and the statistics were simply not recorded.
Billy made his MLB debut on October 6th of 1914, the last game of the season. It was a 7-3 victory over the Brooklyn Robins- one in which Martin went 0-3. What was significant about Martin's appearance was the fact that Martin was simply in the right place at the right time. When starting 3B Red Smith broke his ankle, Martin was given a spot on the Braves World Series roster. Though he did not play in the team's four game sweep over the Philadelphia Athletics, he did earn himself a World Series share and what would have been the equivalent of a World Series ring. He took that share to the grave having played in just one MLB game.
Though he only played in one game and failed to collect a hit, Billy Martin was part of the biggest underdog story in the history of major league baseball. The 1914 Boston Braves were not expected to be contenders in the National League but took advantage of the under performing New York Giants and the fact that nobody else in the NL stepped up to the plate. With most NL teams, including the Giants, Chicago Cubs, St Louis Cardinals and Robins all playing mediocre baseball, the Braves embarked on an amazing 26-5 month of September. In fact, through the months of August and September, the Braves went a combined 45-11 for an amazing .803 winning percentage. They ended up winning the National League by 10 games over the Giants.
They were still given no chance to win the World Series against the heavily favored Athletics. The Athletics had won the World Series in 1910, 1911 and 1913 and brought what was just about the same team to face the Braves. Led by catcher Hank Gowdy- featured in this blog- as well as Hall of Famers Johnny Evers and Rabbit Maranville (though their selections to the Hall have their questions), the Braves won the first game easily by the score of 7-1. A 1-0 victory in game two on a run in the top of the 9th led the Braves back home, where they won an amazing 12 inning thriller on a walk off, 5-4. This set the stage for the game four victory, which game behind RHP Dick Rudolph, 3-1, over Bob Shawkey and Herb Pennock. Many teams in the history of baseball, including the 1969 Mets and 1990 Reds have been praised for their seasons, but history will prove that the 1914 Boston Braves were the most improbable World Series Champion in the history of the sport. In fact, as late as July 4th of that season, they were in last place in the entire National League.