Ernie Shore

Ernie Shore

Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society

March 24, 1891
6' 4"
220 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-20-1912 with NY1

On June 23, 1917, Ernie Shore of the Boston Red Sox pitched the most notable game of his career against the Washington Senators. Babe Ruth started the game for Boston but walked the leadoff batter, Ray Morgan. After an altercation with the home plate umpire, Ruth was ejected, and Shore came in to the game to relieve him. Morgan was caught stealing, and Shore retired the next 26 men he faced. At the time, he was credited with a perfect game, but since then, the criteria have been revised, and Shore's name has been removed from the record books (although he still gets credit for a combined no-hitter).

Shore was born March 24, 1891 in East Bend, N.C. He came to baseball through the New York Giants organization. Starting early in his apparent affinity for bizarre pitching performances, Shore gave up 10 runs (three earned) in his major league debut – a ninth-inning relief appearance for the Giants in June 1912 – yet was credited with the save. The game still holds the NL record for most runs scored in the ninth by two teams (17).

From the Giants, he moved to the Baltimore Orioles, where he was a teammate of George Herman Ruth. The pair were sold – arguably one of the best transactions in the history of the franchise – to the Red Sox in the summer of 1914 for $25,000. A week later, July 14, Shore made his American League debut and fared much better, pitching a two-hitter and beating the Indians, 2-1.

Despite starting the season late, Shore undoubtedly would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate, had the award existed in 1914, going10-5 with a 2.00 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.

Shore went 19-8 in his first full season, posting a sterling 1.64 ERA, good for third in the league, and a 170 ERA+. He stamped an exclamation point on the pennant-winning season by hurling a 12-inning, 1-0 shutout against Detroit in September. With five 15-game winners, the 1915 Red Sox were a dominant pitching club, even for the dead-ball era. They won 101 games and faced Philadelphia in the World Series, where Shore made up for a Game 1 loss by winning a 2-1 squeaker in Game 4. The Red Sox won the World Series in five games.

Shore returned to earth a bit in 1916, his ERA jumping a run to just better than league average. He still managed to win 16 games. Again, the Sox went to the World Series – this time against the Brooklyn Robins. Shore cruised through the Robin lineup in Game 1 before running into trouble in the ninth, needing Carl Mays to close the game out. In the clinching Game 5, however, he was masterful, hurling a complete game three-hitter, giving up a lone unearned run to give the Sox their fourth World Series win in 14 years and second in a row.

Although he only managed 13 wins in 1917, Shore threw his second-best season, lowering his WHIP to 1.13, his ERA to 2.22 and finishing third in shutouts, with seven. Despite his two World Series rings and his three consecutive seasons as one of the AL’s best starters, Ernie Shore would forever be known for what happened June 23, 1917, when he wasn’t even scheduled to pitch.

Although winning two rings with the Sox, Shore missed a third in 1918 when he fought in World War I. Upon his return, Harry Frazee was breaking up one of 20th century baseball’s first dynasties, and Shore was among the casualties – shipped with Dutch Leonard and Duffy Lewis for four no-names and $15,000. The Boston Post summed up the trade this way: “It will take a lot to convince Boston fans that they got the best of this one.”

Despite being just 27 when he began pitching for the Yankees in 1919, Shore never pitched well again. He started just 13 games that season and posted a 4.17 ERA, nearly a full run above the league average. He appeared in just 13 games in 1920 – when he was once again a teammate of Ruth’s. It would be his last season. At age 30, Ernie Shore was out of baseball.

What caused Shore’s difficulty? The Sporting News, quoted in Jim Reisler’s Launching the Legend, intimated he was having trouble regaining his control upon returning from the war. If he was unable to control his pitches, Shore at least helped to maintain control of the volatile Ruth, who in 1920 was nearly knifed by a heckler after Ruth charged him in the stands. According to Reisler, Shore stood between the men and cooled the situation down.

The home of the Winston-Salem Warthogs is called Ernie Shore Field. After baseball, he was the sheriff of Forsyth County, North Carolina for 34 years. Singer Kenny Shore, a relative of Ernie, has recorded The Ballad of Ernie Shore.

The Perfect Game:

Here’s most of the Boston Globe’s account from 1917:

No-Hit, No-Run and No-Man-to-First Performance
Modest Ernie Shore took a place in the Hall of Fame as a no-hit, no-run, no man-reached-first base pitcher in the curtain-raiser of the twin bill with the Griffmen at Fenway Park yesterday. It was the best pitching seen in this city since 1904 when Cy Young put over a similar feat, the only difference being that Uncle Cyrus pitched to every batter, while the Carolina professor did not get into the exercises until after Ruth, who had walked Morgan, the first batter, had been removed from the pastime for striking Umpire Brick Owns. . .

While Shore covered himself with glory. . . Baltimore Babe with his temper beyond control went to the dugout under a cloud and undoubtedly will be severely punished by Pres Johnson.

His suspension will cripple the Red Sox badly as they need the big portsider very much.
Babe pitched four balls to Morgan and accused Owens of missing two of them. “Get in there and pitch,” ordered Owens.

“Open your eyes and keep them open,” chirped Babe.

“Get in and pitch or I will run you out of there,” was the comeback of the arbiter.
“You run me out and I will come in and bust you on the nose,” Ruth threatened.

“Get out of there now,” said Brick.

Then in rushed Ruth. Chester Thomas tried to prevent him from reaching Owens, who had not removed his mask, but Babe started swinging both hands. The left missed the arbiter, but the right struck him behind the left ear.

Manager Barry and several policemen had to drag Ruth off the field. All season Babe has been fussing a lot. Nothing has seemed to satisfy him.

Prof Shore stepped to the hill and, after Sam Agnew had taken care of Morgan when he endeavored to annex second, Ernie just breezed along calmly. He fielded his position well and was ready for any of those cantankerous bunts that the opponents might try to lay down. But strange to say the Griffmen were off that stuff, relying mostly on the slam-bang system.

The Carolinian is indebted to Scotty [shortstop Everett Scott] and Duffy Lewis for making his record. The Bluffton Kid robbed Jamieson of a hit in the fifth when a hard hit ball was deflected by Shore, Scotty being obliged to travel fast. However, he made a one hand pick-up and tossed out the runner. In the seventh “Duff” went back to his own little cliff for a bang from Morgan and in the final frame came in like lightning and speared one that Henry had planted in short left.

Shore fanned only two and it did not seem as if he was working hard. He made a number of nifty plays himself. Barry closed the game with a grand play on a swinging bunt by pinch hitter Menoskey.


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1915 World Series, 1916 World Series, Babe Ruth, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Ernie Shore, Harry Frazee, New York Giants, Perfect game, World War I
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