This year, the White Sox weren’t to be denied. The Red Sox won 90 games (just one fewer than in 1916), but the White Sox won 100. Boston finished in second place, and they were nine games behind.
In the wake of Bill Carrigan’s decision to retire to Lewiston, Maine, and his adamant refusal to be courted back, Harry Frazee hired Jack Barry to manage the Red Sox. He’d already appeared in six World Series – every year from 1910 through 1916, save for 1912, the first four with the Athletics and then 1915 and ’16 with the Red Sox. Second baseman Barry improved over his .203 average in 1916, but not by a lot. He only hit .214, but his 54 sacrifice hits was second in the league. He was unquestionably adept at advancing baserunners.
With the first world war on in earnest, there was even a little more payroll cutting by ownership, and a number of players were taken into military service. Before games, it wasn’t unusual to see players marching around the field in military drill formation. Immediately after the World Series, the United States Navy welcomed Jack Barry and also took Red Sox players Duffy Lewis, Mike McNally, Ernie Shore, and Chick Shorten.
Lewis had been the star on offense, hitting .302. Third baseman Larry Gardner’s .265 was as close as any regular came to Lewis. Duffy led with 65 RBIs. Harry Hooper’s three home runs were tops; Babe Ruth only hit two home runs all year long. Hooper led, as he usually did, in runs scored, more than 30 above Lewis. Hooper rarely hit for a high average, but he drew bases on balls and made his way around the bases effectively.
Ruth won his first seven starts, though, as Boston got off to a terrific start, holding first place right up until the end of July. He finished with a 2.01 earned run average and a 24-13 record. Carl Mays was 22-9, with a 1.74 ERA. Smoky Joe Wood was no longer with the team; in February, he’d been sold to Cleveland and reunited with Tris Speaker there. Leonard won 16 and Shore won 13. Neither of them had an ERA higher than Shore’s 2.20.
And Shore pitched a perfect game (it was counted as such for more than half a century until the Commissioner decided to define it otherwise) on June 23. Ruth started the game and walked the first batter, then starting jawing with the umpire, eventually hitting the ump and getting thrown out of the game. In came Ernie Shore. The runner was thrown out trying to steal, and Shore set down 26 men in succession. With Shore on the mound, the Red Sox had secured 27 outs. No one else reached base in any way.
There were complaints in the papers about games sometime lasting more than two hours, there were police raids on gamblers in the right-field bleachers, and even a time when over 500 fans poured onto the field when rain started to come down, and got into fights with a couple of Chicago players under the stands. An eventful season, but the Red Sox had to bide their time before they had another chance to win a pennant.By Bill Nowlin
- Babe Ruth, Bill Carrigan, Carl Mays, Chick Shorten, Duffy Lewis, Ernie Shore, Harry Frazee, Harry Hooper, Jack Barry, Joe Wood, Larry Gardner, Mike McNally, Tris Speaker, World War I