Cutting prices was the name of the game early in 1916. Despite coming off a World Series win, Joe Lannin was in a mood to cut. The Federal League was defunct; with fewer major-league bidders, there was no need to pay the artificially-inflated salaries that had characterized 1914 and 1915. Many, if not most, player contracts were for lower amounts than the year before. Tris Speaker wasn’t pleased with his salary being cut by about 50%, so he refused to sign and – was cut loose just before the season, the rights to his contract (he was bound by the reserve clause) sold to the Cleveland Indians, where he continued to put up big numbers over the next 11 years, hitting for an average of .354 for the Tribe.
But Lannin also cut ticket prices, too – not the sort of thing you expect an owner to do after winning the World Series. He also introduced the Ladies Day at Fenway, letting women in for 50 cents in the grandstand instead of 75.
Harvard got their revenge for the 1912 exhibition loss and actually beat the reigning world champions in a 1-0 win during the preseason.
The score was 2-0 when George Foster threw the first no-hit game in Fenway Park history, beating the New York Yankees and opposing pitcher Bob Shawkey on June 21. On August 30, Dutch Leonard threw another one, no-hitting the St. Louis Browns, 4-0. It was Babe Ruth, however, who was the star pitcher, with his 23-8 record, a league-leading 1.75 earned run average, and a major-league single season record nine shutouts. Ruth actually had a shot at a no-hitter himself on May 20. He hadn’t allowed a hit into the sixth inning, but when he loaded the bases with walks, manager Bill Carrigan pulled him and put in Carl Mays in relief. He went all the way, all 13 innings, beating Walter Johnson, 1-0, on August 15. Leonard was 18-12 and Mays was 18-13.
Ruth’s home-run production was down – but he hit three, and that was still enough to lead the team in the middle of the Deadball Era. He shared the team lead with Del Gainer and Tillie Walker, the man who’d taken Tris Speaker’s place in center field. None of Ruth’s homers was hit at home, and neither were any of the others hit by anyone on the team – except for the June 20 home run Walker hit over the left-field wall in a game against the visiting Yankees. That’s correct: the Red Sox only hit one home run at home all season long. It came on the same day that Everett Scott began his “iron-man” run of 1,307 consecutive games.
The pennant wasn’t secured until October 1. Ruth and Leonard had shut out the Yankees in back-to-back games on September 29 and 30, Harry Hooper’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th winning the latter game. When the Chicago White Sox lost their first game on October 1, the idle Red Sox backed into the pennant. They’d won 91 games and lost 63 – not as good a record as 1915, but good enough to take the AL flag for the second year in a row and third time in five years. They finished two games ahead of Chicago and four ahead of Detroit.
The 1916 Sox won 10 fewer games than in 1915, but their 91-63 record was strong enough to top the Chicago White Sox by two games (and the Tigers by four), securing their fifth pennant in their 16 years.
After going on to win the World Series again, too, Joseph Lannin made another unexpected move: he sold the team to two men from New York City: Harry Frazee and Hugh Ward. Bill Carrigan retired to his native Maine.By Bill Nowlin
- Babe Ruth, Bill Carrigan, Carl Mays, Del Gainer, Dutch Leonard, Everett Scott, George Foster, Harry Frazee, Harry Hooper, Joseph Lannin, Rube Foster, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson