Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

OCTOBER 1, 1932 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – What did or didn’t happen in Wrigley Field on this date is debated to this day. Some believe Babe Ruth called his shot while batting in game-3 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees – that is, pointed toward the bleachers, indicating he was going to hit a home run there, and then hitting one there. So did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Ruth definitely gestured, as film from that day shows, but was he calling his shot? [I don’t have the rights to show a still frame from that film, but you can see it by Google-ing “called shot copyright Kirk Kandle”.]

The Yankees were up 2 games to none against the Cubs in the ’32 series. New York took an early lead in game three on a home run by Ruth, only to be tied by the Cubs.

It was the 5th inning and Ruth came to bat again. He and the Cubs were jawing back and forth at each other. It’s obvious from the film that Ruth was gesturing with the count 2-balls and 2-strikes. On the next pitch, he hit a mammoth home run about 450 feet.

Did Ruth call his shot? Sportswriter Joe Williams of Scripps-Howard newspapers started it with this headline in the next day’s paper:

“Ruth calls shot as he puts home run no. 2 in side pocket”

Cubs pitcher Charlie Root, who gave up the home run, insisted Ruth did not call his shot. “If he had made a gesture like that I’d have put one in his ear and knocked him on his (backside).” Ruth did not initially acknowledge that he called his shot, but embraced the story more and more as time went on.

What may be most definitive is the typed play-by-play from Retrosheet, data gathered by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for virtually every MLB game ever played.

Below is how Ruth’s 5th inning at-bat appears, including the bold type:

YANKEES 5TH: Sewell grounded out (shortstop to first); the Cubs bench players were riding Babe Ruth mercilessly and Ruth yelled and gestured back; Ruth homered;

Whoever wrote that does not believe he called his shot. And if you look at Ruth’s gesture it appears to be straight ahead. When a left-handed batter stands in the box straight ahead is toward the 3rd base dugout, which is the Cubs dugout. My belief is Ruth was gesturing toward the Cubs, not center-field. Did Ruth call his shot? I say no.

Contributing sources:
October 1, 1932 Box score/play-by-play
Charlie Root quote, USATODAY, September 27, 2007
Sports Illustrated Greatest Teams, by Tim Crothers, 1998

Combined no-hitters are not always pretty

July 28, 1976 | OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Chicago White Sox pitchers Blue Moon Odom and Francisco Barrios combined to no-hit the Oakland A’s on this date in 1976. Odom started the game against his old team. Barrios relieved him in the 6th. It was the kind of performance that demonstrated that combined no-hitters are not always masterpieces.

So why would a pitcher throwing a no-hitter be lifted? Let me count the ways; 1) because he walked 9 batters in 5 innings, 2) it was a 2-1 game, 3) it was a key divisional rivalry (the White Sox and A’s were both in the American League West in 1976). The Sox ended up winning the contest 2-1.

The Odom-Barrios no-hitter was the fourth combined no-no in major league baseball history at the time. The first was by pitcher Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore. Ruth started the game in 1917. He walked the first batter, but protested the call so vehemently he was kicked out without retiring a batter. His replacement, Ernie Shore proceeded to retire the next 27 hitters for a no-hitter.

There have been seven more combined no-hitters as of this writing. Two of them required six pitchers; when the Astros no-hit the Yankees on June 11th 2003, and when Seattle beat the Dodgers on June 8th, 2012.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Combined no-hitters

JULY 11- Babe Ruth makes his debut

1914 | BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – 19-yer old George Herman Ruth played in his first major league game today in baseball history – July 11, 1914. Babe Ruth was the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Naps (today’s Cleveland  Indians). He won the game 4-3 win. The Red Sox had purchased the Babe from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League two days before.

Ruth didn’t astonish fans that first season. He made 4 appearances as a pitcher, three as a starter. He finished with a record of 2-1 and ERA of 5.67. Ruth came to bat ten times, had two hits for a .200 batting average, two RBI, a run scored and struck out four times.

It didn’t take long for Ruth to show star quality. He won 78 games as a pitcher the next four seasons. His hitting was even more impressive, forcing the Red Sox to put him in the outfield just about every game in 1919 and Ruth didn’t disappoint, hitting 29 home runs and driving in 114 runs in 130 games.

Unfortunately for Red Sox fans, its owner needed money to finance a Broadway play, so Ruth was sold to the Yankees after the 1919 season.

And the rest is…

July 7-Connie let the Babe get away too

1914 | BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Boston Red Sox were not the only team to let George Herman Ruth get away. Philadelphia A’s (today’s Oakland A’s) owner Connie Mack turned down Babe Ruth on this date in 1914.

Ruth wasn’t the Great Bambino yet. In fact, he wasn’t even a major leaguer. He was a promising minor league pitcher, but the team he played for, the Baltimore Orioles of the International League was in financial trouble and needed cash. Orioles owner Jack Dunn offered Ruth and a couple other players to Philadelphia A’s owner Connie Mack for $10,000. Mack had his own money problems so he said no.

A couple days later the 19-year old Ruth and two other players were sold to the Boston Red Sox for $25,000. It was with the Red Sox that Ruth made his major league debut, mainly as a pitcher. He won two and lost one in 1914. The next year Ruth went 18 and 8, but it was his hitting that began to open people’s eyes. In 92 at-bats, Ruth hit .315 with 4 home runs and 21 runs batted in.

Ruth started to play the outfield, and therefore hit more often. By 1919 he was playing the outfield more than he was pitching. The owner of the Yankees needed cash to fund a Broadway play a transaction the Red Sox have never been able to live down. The first year Ruth was exclusively an outfielder – 1920 – he hit .376 with 54 home runs and 135 RBIs.

  • TIBfact: Babe Ruth pitched in 5 games during his Yankee career and won all 5.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Connie Mack refuses Babe Ruth

JUNE 13-Yankees, Tigers instigate riot

*1924 | DETROIT, MICHIGAN – You think fans get out of control today? Few events of this generation would match what occurred in Detroit today in baseball history – June 13, 1924. The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers got into a melee that became a full-blown riot involving fans at Detroit’s Navin Field. The situation got so out of control Detroit had to forfeit the game.

Tensions between the two teams had been building for days, led by Tiger star Ty Cobb, and Yankee star Babe Ruth. The animosity came to a head in the 9th inning of this, the 3rd game of the series. The Yankees’ Bob Meusel was batting. He got hit by a pitch from Detroit’s Bert Cole and proceeded to charge the mound. Several fights broke out.

The Associated Press went on to describe it this way in the next morning’s newspapers: “By this time the disorder was general and all Yankee and Tiger players were fighting among themselves. This was the signal for the irate fans to swarm upon the field. Policemen rushed from all corners of the park, but they were unable to cope with the situation.”

Seeing that peace could not be restored, the umpires declared the game forfeited to New York.

After the dust settled, the American League suspended Bert Cole and Bob Meusel, and fined Babe Ruth.

Contributing Sources:
Detroit, June 13, 1924, The Baltimore Sun
Greater Astoria Historical Society