June 23

1917 A very interesting game of baseball

On June 23, 1917 the Boston Red Sox were hosting the Washington Senators at Fenway Park. While Boston had an enviable recent record, having won the World Series in 1915 and 1916, their guests were less successful, the butt of the joke “Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League”.

On the mound for the Bosox was Babe Ruth. He gave up a walk on four pitches to the first batter which provoked him into a confrontation with the umpire Brick Owens who had a lengthy history of encounters with enraged players and fans. Ruth politely contended that the vision of the irascible overseer was somehow deficient on this occasion (his exact words were “Why don’t you open your god-damned eyes?”) and Owens promptly excused the Babe from further participation in the contest. The Bambino responded by punching the cantankerous arbiter on the way out. The Crimson Hose were then obliged to call for a replacement. Manager Bill Carrigan’s gaze fell upon Ernie Shore, no slouch as a hurler of the horsehide orb, who was allowed only five warm-up pitches and stood upon the hill almost cold. What followed was major league history.

Shore, “the Carolina Professor” (he taught mathematics in the off-season), eyed Ray Morgan, the Griffsters’ runner at first base; Morgan eyed Shore, and on the latter’s first pitch headed toward second base where he was ignominiously thrown out. The next 26 batters were set down in order by Shore with the last out being served up by Washington pitcher who (it is shameful to recall) attempted a bunt, thus violating the Unwritten Rule against late-inning bunts in a potential no-hitter.

At the time Shore was credited with a perfect game but the statisticians now consider the game to be a shared no-hitter.


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