1916 BOSTON RED SOX
BACK-TO-BACK WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS ...
Born: Nov 26th
Born: Feb 9th
Born: Sept 8th
Born: Jan 6th
Born: July 31st
Born: April 27th
Cutting prices was the name of the game early in 1916. Despite coming off a World Series win, Joe Lannin was in a position to cut salaries. The Federal League was defunct and with fewer major league bidders, there was no need to pay the
artificially inflated salaries that had characterized 1914 and 1915. Many, if not most, player contracts were for lower amounts than the year before.
As the club gathered for Spring Training, they looked even stronger than the year before. The young pitching staff had been tested and
Bill Carrigan planned few changes. But
Tris Speaker and
Joe Wood were holdouts.
Speaker wasn’t pleased with his salary being cut from $17K to $10K. Lannin argued that his production had steadily decreased, batting .383 in 1912, .365 in 1913, .338 in 1914,
and .322 in 1915.
Speaker refused to sign, but reported to camp. The greatest Red Sox player in their history was sold, on the eve of the season opener, to the Cleveland Indians for $50,000 and pitcher
Sam Jones and utility infielder Fred Thomas. Boston fans were outraged.
Earlier American League President Ban Johnson had brokered a deal for his crony, the former Baltimore Orioles owner who sold
Babe Ruth to Joe Lannin, Jim Dunn, to buy the Indians from Charles Somers. Johnson had even loaned Dunn a portion of the money, retaining some financial interest in the club. Johnson himself was the one who put
together the deal to buy
Speaker, before any of the other clubs knew that
Speaker was available. With the purchase of
Speaker, Johnson's investment in the Indians went up. There was evidence that Lannin was coerced by Johnson to make the deal, because their relationship
cooled significantly after.
Joe Wood received a similar offer. Lannin refused to pay for a sore-armed pitcher based on what he had done when he was healthy. Unlike
Wood stayed home on his farm in Pennsylvania.
But the Red Sox still had a great pitching staff and in the "Dead Ball Era" that was enough. No team in the American League could match the Sox pitching staff.
Carl Mays and
Babe Ruth emerged, while stars like
Ernie Shore, and
Rube Foster continued to put up their strong
numbers. Dutch Leonard was 18-12 and
Carl Mays was 18-13. Lannin picked up veteran Tilly Walker from St. Louis, to replace
Speaker and he plated well, but wasn't the player
At age 21,
Babe Ruth was arguably the
best left-hander in baseball. Compiling a 23-13 record for the season, he ranked third in the American League in wins, innings (323 2/3), and strikeouts (170) while setting a league record for left-handers with nine shutouts that still stands. Only Chicago's Eddie Cicotte bettered
Babe's .657 winning percentage, and
Ruth's league-best 1.75 ERA has not been topped by a Red Sox pitcher since. He held opponents to a .201 batting average (also the lowest mark in the league) and when at the plate himself batted .272 including 19 pinch-hitting appearances. Taking the ball on opening day in 1916,
Babe won 2-1
on Opening Day,
April 12th, to
start the Sox off to a streak of six victories in their first eight games. His second appearance, on
April 17th, was a match-up with Walter Johnson.
Ruth emerged victorious again in a 5-1 decision. He won his first four starts to help the Red Sox into first place, but hurt by the loss of
Tris Speaker, the
club suddenly dropped into a horrendous batting slump. Even in the dry offensive spell however,
Babe usually pitched and hit well enough to win. He out-dueled Johnson again in a 1-0 victory on
June 1st, then tossed another shutout four days later, on
June 5th, against Cleveland. He got knocked out in his next start against Detroit on
June 9th, but was perfect at the plate and hit his first home run since the previous July. He homered again (a three-run shot) when manager
Bill Carrigan called on him to pinch-hit three days, on later on
July 12th, at St. Louis. Pitching the next afternoon's game, the
Babe beat the Browns 5-3, on
July 13th, while homering for the third time in as many games. He went all the way, all 13 innings, beating Walter Johnson, 1-0, on
Ruth’s home-run production was down, but he hit three, and that was still enough to lead the team in the middle of the “Deadball Era”. He shared the team lead with Del Gainor and Tillie Walker, the man who’d taken
Tris Speaker’s place in center field. With the
June 20th home run that Walker hit over the left field wall, in a game against the visiting Yankees, the Red Sox only hit that one home run at home all season long. It came on the same day that
Everett Scott began his “iron-man” run of 1,307
consecutive games, which wouldn't be broken until Lou Gehrig did it.
Red Sox fans were horrified as
Tris Speaker and the Cleveland Indians vaulted into first place in early May. The Red Sox played .500 ball until June, hanging around fourth place behind Washington, Cleveland and New York. The master motivator,
Carrigan didn't let his team give up. Even without
Speaker the team began to respond to him.
Rube Foster threw the first no-hit game in Fenway Park history, beating the New York Yankees and opposing pitcher Bob Shawkey on
June 21st. It was mid-summer when the Indians and the Yankees fell back In the middle of July the Sox heated up, finally taking over first place on July 30th. On
Dutch Leonard threw another no-hitter, against the St. Louis Browns.
As weak as the Red Sox were offensively, the conservative manager felt pitching and defense would still be the keys to the club repeating as champions.
Ruth, it appeared, was not only the best pitcher
Bill Carrigan now had on his staff, but also the
finest in the league. The pennant wasn’t secured until October 1st. The Sox had escaped a late season charge by the White Sox and Tigers.
Leonard had shut out the Yankees in back-to-back games on
September 29th and then
30th. When the Chicago White Sox lost their first game on October 1st, the idle Red Sox backed into the pennant. They’d won 91 games and lost 63, not as good a record as 1915, but good enough to take the
A.L. flag for the second year in a row and third time in five years. They finished two games ahead of Chicago and four ahead of Detroit, securing their fifth pennant in their 16 years.
Boston faced the Brooklyn Robins in the World Series, and this time
Ruth would play a major role.
Ernie Shore won 6-5 in
Game #1 at Braves Field, and
Game #2 before a delighted crowd of 41,373 and threatening
skies. Dark clouds drifted in over the park as the game got underway. Conditions in the park looked ominous for Boston when the third man up for Brooklyn smashed a line drive to center that bounced to the wall for an inside-the-park homer, as outfielders Tilly Walker and
Hooper stumbled in pursuit. Trailing 1-0,
Ruth escaped further trouble in the third when Robins pitcher Sherry Smith was tagged out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
Babe got a reprieve with an RBI ground out later the same inning, and it would remain 1-1 for 11 more
frames. Both teams had scoring chances thwarted by base-running blunders. As the sky grew darker,
Ruth seemed to get stronger. After allowing six hits and three walks through seven innings, he had relinquished just one walk and no hits over the next seven. When Boston came to
bat in the bottom of the 14th, the umpires declared this would be the last half-inning. First baseman
Dick Hoblitzell led off with a walk (his fourth of the game against Sherry) and was sacrificed to second by
Duffy Lewis. Pinch-hitter Del Gainor followed with a line drive over
the head of the third baseman (who probably had trouble seeing it in the dark), and the winning run scored in what was then the longest World Series game ever played.
The World Series moved to Brooklyn for Game #3. Owner Charles Ebbets tried to cash in on the Series, charging an unheard-of five dollars per ticket, and alienated fans, a
situation not helped by game time temperatures just above freezing. Only 21,087 greeted the two teams at Ebbetts Field. Red Sox starter
Carl Mays was less than effective in the cold, as Brooklyn peppered him with seven hits and three walks over five innings, good for four runs.
Foster took over for
Mays and shut down the Dodgers for the rest of the game, but the Sox could only scratch out three runs off Jack Coombs. Jeff Pfeffer came in to relieve Coombs and retired the last eight men to preserve a 2 to 1 win.
The crowd was more enthusiastic for Game #4, as the Robins started the game against
Dutch Leonard with two hits and a walk, good enough for two runs. But their good cheer
didn't last long as the Red Sox knocked around Rube Marquard for the second time and rolled to a 6 to 2 win.
Game #5 was played back in Boston with the Red Sox just needing one win. Brooklyn scored first, touching up
Ernie Shore for a run in the second inning on a passed ball by Hick Cady. But just as they had
done in the last game, the Sox came right back when
Duffy Lewis tripled and scored on
Larry Gardner's sacrifice fly to tie it up. One inning later the Red Sox went ahead for good, scoring two runs on some shoddy Brooklyn defense.
Hooper added an insurance run to make the Red Sox
lead stand at 4-1.
Shore was in total command from the beginning. He tossed a three hitter, capturing the World Series in five games.
After going on to win the World Series again, too, Joseph Lannin made another unexpected move, he sold the team to two men from New York City. Harry Frazee and Hugh Ward.
Bill Carrigan retired to his native Maine. The
manager had announced his retirement (to be effective at season's end) during September. After the Red Sox dispatched of the Robins in five games for their second straight world championship, the old catcher waved goodbye and headed for his
home in Maine to stay.