Friday, May 27, 2016

BASEBALL'S DYNASTIES AND THE PLAYERS WHO BUILT THEM Omitted Bios (Chapter 5 Boston Red Sox 1915-1918)

This installment of my omitted biography series features the fifth chapter of my latest book, Baseball's Dynasties and the Players Who Built Them, which is being released in July. This is actually one of my favorite chapters since it deals with a period of Babe Ruth's career that has been somewhat overlooked--his years as a pitcher. Though I have been a fan of the Yankees for most of my life, I find the history of the Red Sox fascinating. I love the fact that they still play in the same stadium that hosted three World Series during the late-Deadball Era. Ernie Shore's thumbnail bio did not make the final cut in this chapter. Though I find his brief career to be quite interesting, his contributions to the Red Sox were somewhat minimal compared to the higher profile players around him.    


BEST RECORD 101-50 (1915)
NUMBER OF CHAMPIONSHIPS: 3 (1915, 1916, 1918)
HALL OF FAMERS: Tris Speaker (OF), Harry Hooper (OF), Babe Ruth (P/OF), Herb Pennock (P)


Ernie Shore

            Baseball officials giveth—Baseball officials taketh away…

            Ernie Shore became famous for pitching a perfect game that was later downgraded. On June 23, 1917, Babe Ruth started the first game of a doubleheader against the Senators. He walked lead-off hitter Ray Morgan on four pitches and disagreed with every call. After the fourth offering was determined to be outside the strike zone, Ruth went ballistic, throwing a punch at home plate umpire Brick Owens. The Babe was ejected and Shore was summoned in relief. Ray Morgan was promptly thrown out trying to steal by catcher Sam Agnew and Shore retired all 26 batters he faced. AL president William Harridge recognized Shore’s performance as a perfect game and numerous statistical sources followed suit. But in 1991, major league baseball officially changed the game’s status to a “combined no-hitter” (an unfortunate turn of events since Ruth deserved virtually no credit). Shore wasn’t alive to learn of this development though it would have been very interesting to hear his reaction.
            A North Carolina native, Shore graduated from Guilford College and taught math in the offseason to supplement his income. Originally scouted by the Giants, he pitched just one inning for them in a 1912 mop-up assignment that went poorly. Demoted to the International League, he was sold to the Red Sox along with Oriole teammate Babe Ruth in 1914.
            For the era, Shore was considered quite tall at six-foot-four. He played for the Red Sox from 1914-1917, winning at least 10 games every year while posting earned run averages ranging from 1.64 to 2.63. His best season came in 1915, when he compiled a 19-8 record with 4 shutouts and 17 complete games. Over the next two seasons, he would add 29 more victories to his career totals.
            Shore was masterful in the postseason. He pitched in two World Series for the Red Sox, compiling a 3-1 record. His most dominant start came in Game 5 of the 1916 Fall Classic, when he held Brooklyn to 3 hits and 1 unearned run as the Sox clinched the Series.
            In December of 1918, Shore was sent to the Yankees with Dutch Leonard and Duffy Lewis in exchange for four players and cash. Shore hardly pulled his own weight, compiling a 7-10 record in thirty-four games with New York. He found himself in the Pacific Coast League during the 1921 slate and got hit hard in 19 appearances. It was the end of his professional career.  
When his playing days were over, he ran his own insurance company for awhile and was later elected Sheriff of Forsyth County in N0rth Carolina. He held that job until 1970. In later years, he groused about the smaller dimensions of ballparks and commented that under modern conditions, Babe Ruth would have hit 80 or 90 homers instead of the 60 he ended up with in 1927. During Roger Maris’s 1961 assault on Ruth’s single-season record, Shore commented: “I’d hate to see the Babe’s record get broken. I guess most of the old timers do. It’s one of the great records in baseball”
Shore lived to the ripe age of eighty-nine, passing away in 1980.  

No comments:

Post a Comment