On This Day in Red Sox History: Babe Ruth Outduels Walter Johnson in D.C.

On this day in 1917, 22-year-old left-hander Babe Ruth prepared to make his sixth start of the season against fellow future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in the nation’s capital.

Coming into that Monday afternoon, The Babe owned a 5-0 record to go along with a 2.20 ERA and .553 OPS against over 54 innings of work through his first five outings of the year.

Johnson, meanwhile, was 2-3 with a 2.23 ERA and .525 OPS against through six outings (five starts) and 40 1/3 innings pitched at that same point in time.

Ever the match-up between two quality hurlers, Ruth and Johnson, pitching in front of only 962 people at Griffith Stadium, put on a show, exchanging scoreless frame after scoreless frame up until the top half of the eighth.

There, Ruth, batting out of the nine-hole, drove in shortstop Everett Scott on a sacrifice fly off of Johnson, much to the frustration of the Senators right-hander.

That lone tally would turn out to be all Ruth and Boston would need, as The Bambino locked things down in the bottom halves of the eighth and ninth innings to secure the 1-0 victory for his side.

His final pitching line looked like this: 9 IP, 2 H (both singles), 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. In terms of Game Score (85), it was Ruth’s second best start of the 1917 season.

The one-run win improved the Sox’ record to 11-4 on the young season, as they would go on to finish the year 90-62, good for second-place in the American League behind only the eventual World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

Flash forward nearly 19 years later after this particular contest, and Ruth and Johnson were both part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural Class of 1936. The two legends, along with 24 other Hall of Famers, were honored at the Hall’s first induction ceremony in 1939.

 

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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