Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ernie Shore's strange no-hitter: What was Babe Ruth's part in it?


Ernie Shore

Hey baseball fans!  Let me take you back to one of the most unusual no-hitters in the history of the game.  It happened on this very day, ninety-nine years ago. Sit back and let me set the stage for you . . . 

World War I is raging and John F, Kennedy is just a babe in his mother's arms.  It's June 23, 1917 at Fenway Park in Boston.  There are 16,158 in attendance to witness the first game of a double header between the Boston Red Sox and the woeful Washington Senators.  George Herman "Babe" Ruth is the starting pitcher for the Red Sox. 

Ruth takes the mound and immediately begins complaining to home plate umpire Brick Owens after each pitch.  The Babe loses his temper after walking the leadoff batter, Washington's Ray Morgan, on four pitches.  He argues with Owens and Owens promptly tosses him and Boston catcher Chester "Pinch" Thomas out of the game. 

An enraged Ruth rushes at the umpire and Thomas attempts to prevent him from reaching Owens.  The Bambino swings his arms and strikes the umpire behind the left ear before being forcibly removed from the field by Boston manager Jack Barry and several policemen.  Ruth is later quoted as saying, "It wasn't a love tap - I really socked him- right in the jaw."

After Babe Ruth's ejection, right-hander Ernie Shore, is thrown into the game with very little warm-up.  Ray Morgan is then caught stealing and Shore proceeds to retire the next 26 Washington Senators in a row.  The Red Sox win the game by a score of 4-0. 

The account of the game in the Boston Globe  declares that "Baltimore Babe with his temper beyond control went to the dugout under a cloud and undoubtedly will be punished by (American League) Pres. (Ban) Johnson."  The Globe further opines that "his suspension will cripple the Red Sox badly as they will need the bîg portsider very much."


Ernie Shore was initially credited with a perfect game.  It was later redefined as a combined no-hitter with Babe Ruth because Shore had started in relief.  Some have referred to it as a "perfect game in relief."

As the Boston Globe had expected, Babe Ruth, was suspended for his poor conduct.  He received a ten-game suspension and made a public apology for his behaviour.

1917 was Babe Ruth's final year as a full-time pitcher.  During that season, he posted a record of 24 wins and 13 losses with an ERA of 2.01.  He went 35 complete games.  In 1918, Ruth began to shift his playing time from the mound to the outfield.

Although the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, they had a terrible season in 1919.  Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, facing financial difficulties, sold the contract of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees on December 26, 1919.  Ernie Shore had been traded to the Yankees earlier in the year.  Shore finished his baseball career as a Yankee in 1920 at the age of 29.

Ernie Shore, a native of North Carolina, died on September 24, 1980 at the age of 89.


What comes once in a minute, twice in a moment, but never in a thousand years?


The letter M

- Joanne