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Frank Chance’s 1923 season as Red Sox manager lasted just the one year. There was new ownership in place and a new manager – Lee Fohl – come 1924. With Harry Frazee gone, fans began to return to Fenway Park, almost doubling the attendance figures – quite an outpouring for a team that had finished in last place: 448,556 compared to 229,688. But as much as anything, it was a good year for baseball generally. The Red Sox still drew fewer fans than any other team in the league. Opening Day started out with a big crowd of 25,000 and it looked like they were going to see Howard Ehmke shut out the Yankees. After eight innings, the Sox pitched a 1-0 lead and had only surrendered three hits. But then Babe Ruth singled in the top of the ninth, and their new second baseman, Bill Wambsganss, committed two errors, and New York’s Waite Hoyt was handed a 2-1 two-hitter of a win. The Yankees had committed five errors, but the two in one inning did in the Red Sox.

The Red Sox were actually in first place most of the first half of June. They had a good start. Then, Boston Herald sportswriter Burt Whitman observed, the pitching staff turned into a “total wreck” with several lengthy losing streaks, the longest being nine games in July. As in 1923, Ehkme was the best pitcher. He was 19-17 with a 3.46 earned run average. Jack Quinn’s 3.27 ERA was best on the team; he won 12 and lost 13. The 14-17 Alex Ferguson was the only other pitcher to win more than seven games.

Playing his first full major-league season, outfielder Ike Boone hit for a .337 average. His 13 homers were more than double anyone else on the ballclub. He drove in 98 runs, second only to Bobby Veach’s 99. Veach had been purchased from Detroit in January after a full dozen years with the Tigers. He was around for just one game in 1925, and then was traded with Alex Ferguson to…the Yankees. Boone stuck around one more year but was taken by the White Sox in early 1926 in the Rule V draft.

There was already some Yankee-hating going on. When the Washington Senators beat the Red Sox, 4-2, on September 29 at Fenway Park, a lusty cheer went up from the unexpectedly large crowd: the win meant that the Senators, and not the Yankees, had won the American League pennant.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Alex Ferguson, Babe Ruth, Bill Wambsganss, Bobby Veach, Frank Chance, Harry Frazee, Howard Ehmke, Ike Boone, Jack Quinn, Lee Fohl, Waite Hoyt

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