For practical purposes, the drought was over when the Giants and Yankees clinched their respective pennants that fall, since it guaranteed an all-New York World Series. But officially, the big moment came on Oct. 13, 1921.
That day at the Polo Grounds, the Giants beat the Yankees, 1-0, behind Art Nehf’s four-hitter — and despite a dramatic, ninth-inning pinch-hit appearance by an injured Babe Ruth — in Game 8 to end the best-of-nine World Series.
Sixteen years is a long time by New York standards, of course, but in fairness, the degree of difficulty was far greater then in that the NBA did not yet exist and the NFL and NHL were not around for most of that stretch.
What’s our excuse now?
(Before we go on, a warning: Readers from San Diego, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., and other championship-challenged burgs might want to stop now, lest they become annoyed with New York’s skewed perception of a “drought.”)
After a weekend that saw the Yankees eliminated one game shy of the World Series and the Giants and Jets confirm suspicions they are not Super Bowl caliber, we face a title gap not seen around here since the early 20th century.
Should neither the Giants nor Jets win the Lombardi Trophy in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, the soonest the metropolitan area could secure a major title would be in June — six years and four months after the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI.
That would surpass our current longest drought in the four major North American pro sports since 1905-21. It was six years and three months between the Yankees winning the 1962 World Series and the Jets winning Super Bowl III.
It is a quirk of historical trivia that often surprises people, given the trouble the Jets, Mets, Knicks, Nets and Rangers have had winning trophies. But the Yankees’ success and the Islanders’ and Devils’ well-timed titles make it so.
This would not be so bad if there were some short-term hope around here. But at the moment the Yankees are the only local team that seems like a reasonable bet to contend for a championship in the near term.
(No disrespect intended to NYCFC or the Red Bulls. Good luck in the MLS playoffs!)
Let’s be clear: These past six years have been much less bleak than the mid-1960s stretch. I’m looking at you, 1966. That year the Yankees, Giants, Knicks and Rangers finished last and the Mets next-to-last. The Jets were 6-6-2.
At least the 2010s since the Giants’ championship have given us Stanley Cup Finals for the Devils and Rangers, a Mets World Series and now two ALCS appearances for the Yankees.
It is unlikely this will go on for as long as the 1905-21 drought. If it does, Aaron Judge and Kristaps Porzingis will be nearing retirement and the Islanders might be close to a deal to build a permanent home arena.
One thing is for sure: When New York finally witnesses another clincher, it will be met with more enthusiasm than that Giants victory back in 1921.
In The New York Times the next day, humorist Irvin S. Cobb wrote an essay in which he ripped fans for their lack of enthusiasm and spotty attendance, blaming it not on chilly weather or the soon-to-be-abolished best-of-nine format that tested patience but on the fans themselves.
“New York is too dad-gummed overgrown to have the healthy emotions which stir lesser yet more human communities,” wrote Cobb, who grew up in Kentucky. “It has curiosity but it lacks enthusiasm. It is morbid but it is not inquisitive. It applauds a winner, but it walks out on a loser, no matter how gallant that loser may be.”
Don’t listen to him, Mr. Judge, sir! Yankees fans will be back next spring to watch you try again.