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.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Babe Ruth Hits First Career Home Run Against Future Team

On this day in 1915, a 20-year-old Babe Ruth embarked on his journey to becoming one of the most notorious home run hitters of all time in Upper Manhattan, New York City.

Then a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ruth was slated to make his third pitching start and fourth overall appearances of the 1915 campaign against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds. The Sox were 7-6 on the morning of that Thursday afternoon contest, while the Yankees had gotten off to a 10-5 start.

At that point in time, Ruth had yet to become a full-time player. In other words, all of his at-bats with Boston to that point had either come as a pitcher or pinch-hitter. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the wisest decision.

Anyway, Ruth got the starting nod from manager Bill Carrigan and opposed Yankees right-hander Jack Warhop on that faithful Thursday in front of 5,000 or so fans at the Polo Grounds.

Having tossed two scoreless innings to start things out, Ruth came to the plate for his first at-bat of the day against Warhop, who had also worked the first two innings without giving up a run, in the top half of the third.

Per The Boston Globe, “Ruth, who impressed the onlookers as being a hitter of the first rank, swatted a low ball into the upper tier of the right-field grandstand and trotted about the bases to slow music.”

The Babe’s first career home run gave his side an early one-run advantage in what would eventually turn out to be a 4-3 loss in 13 innings.

Ruth finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with that one homer. Pitching wise, the left-hander’s final line looked like this:

12.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 3 Ks. In total, Ruth faced 50 hitters and presumably finished the two-hour-and-35-minute contest with a very high pitch count.

The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash. Whatever you want to call him, Ruth would go on to mash 713 more home runs over the course of an illustrious 22-year career with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Boston Braves.

Exactly three years after hitting his first big league home run, Ruth made his first career start at first base and batted out of the six-hole in another game against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, marking the first time he had appeared in a game at a position outside of pitcher or pinch-hitter.