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Though the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees had been made late in 1919, it wasn’t announced until the first week of January 1920. It didn’t create quite the firestorm one might have expected, in large part because both owner Harry Frazee and some of the Boston newspapers expressed how disruptive Ruth had been, how the Red Sox had fared so poorly in 1919 despite the way he had broken out offensively. It’s one thing to see a player set the all-time home run record, but another to see his team slough off the mantle of world champion and slide to sixth place. One or two sportswriters were convinced that the Red Sox would be a better team without him, someone purely out for himself all the time.

Fans, however, loved Ruth, for the most part, and his production and his antics. For the next 15 years, whenever he came to Boston, he had his fans. By the end of 1920, the writers became more muted about how the team could become better if rebuilt. Ruth almost doubled his new world record, homering 54 times (driving in 137 runs) as the Yankees asked him to stop pitching and concentrate on his hitting. He’d been an extremely good pitcher (89-46 for the Red Sox, with a career 2.19 ERA) but the prodigious power he displayed in the batter’s box was even more stupendous. New York scored 260 more runs than in 1919, and climbed in the standings, finishing third but only four games out of first place. The Red Sox stood more or less still, dipping in winning percentage from .482 to .471, but finishing fifth instead of sixth and with better marks in team batting average. Attendance was off, without the draw brought by the Babe. They finished 25 ½ games out of first place.

Harry Hooper hit more homers than anyone else, seven. The whole team hit a collective 22. The “new guy” Tim Hendryx had a career year, leading the team in both average (.328) and RBIs (73). Stuffy McInnis drove in 71.

Herb Pennock’s 16-13 mark led the club in wins (he had an ERA of 3.68). Bullet Joe Bush was an even 15-15 (4.25) and Sad Sam Jones was 13-16 (3.94). Ed Barrow saw his team finish 72-81.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Babe Ruth, Harry Frazee, Harry Hooper, Herb Pennock, Joe Bush, Sam Jones, Stuffy McInnis, Tim Hendryx

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