“FENWAY'S BEST PLAYERS”


 
1914-1917
#19   ERNIE SHORE

A towering Southern farm boy with the mind of an engineer, pitcher Ernie Shore is forever linked with Babe Ruth. Teammates on three clubs and in two World Series, they together tossed what many fans and some historians long considered a perfect game.  Tall, rangy, and awkward, young Ernie never liked farming. Setting tobacco with a peg, Shore said later, “just kills your back. It wasn’t for me.” As a teenager he occasionally played outfield for a local team called the Red Strings. In 1910 he enrolled in the preparatory department at Guilford College in Greensboro, N. C., the only Quaker college south of Philadelphia. Shore hoped to become a civil engineer. He would teach mathematics at Guilford in the off-seasons after graduating in 1914.

Shore pitched on the college’s baseball squad for five seasons, including two years after he had turned pro—“Guilford being one of the few that allows professionals on its teams (provided the player has made the college team before he enters the professional ranks and makes a certain grade),” Baseball Magazine explained. His coach for four seasons was Chick Doak, later the skipper at the University of North Carolina. Shore’s college record was 38-8-2.

New York Giants Manager John McGraw, a famous judge of young talent, asked Doak to send Shore North for a trial in 1912. The Giants thus acquired “the thinnest pitcher in captivity,” the New York Times wrote.  He played in 1913 at Greensboro in the North Carolina State League, where Chick Doak was his manager. Shore posted a respectable 11-12 record for the tail-end club. Jack Dunn of Baltimore in the International League then drafted him for $400.  Dunn’s 1914 Orioles were considered one of the best minor-league clubs ever assembled. He had “two wonderful pitchers in Ruth and Shore—two more for Connie Mack,” Sporting Life noted. But a new Federal League team in Baltimore siphoned off his fan base, so Dunn quickly sold Shore, pitcher George Herman Ruth, and catcher Ben Egan to the majors. Many expected them to land with Mack’s Athletics, but instead they all went to the Boston Red Sox.

Shore's best year with the Red Sox was 1915, when he won 18, lost 8 and compiled a 1.64 earned run average. He was 3–1 in World Series action in 1915 and 1916. He missed the 1918 Red Sox World Championship season, having enlisted in the military in that war year. His most famous game occurred on June 23, 1917, against the Washington Senators in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park. Ruth started the game, walking the first batter, Ray Morgan. As newspaper accounts of the time relate, the short-fused Ruth then engaged in a heated argument with apparently equally short-fused home plate umpire Brick Owens. Owens tossed Ruth out of the game, and the even more enraged Ruth then slugged the umpire a glancing blow before being taken off the field; the catcher Pinch Thomas was also ejected. Shore was recruited to pitch, and came in with very few warm-up pitches. With a new pitcher and catcher, runner Morgan tried to steal but was thrown out. Shore then proceeded to retire the remaining 26 Senators without allowing a baserunner, earning a 4–0 Red Sox win. For many years the game was listed in record books as a "perfect game," but officially it is scored as a no-hitter, shared (albeit unequally) by two pitchers. Following the game, Ruth paid a $100 fine, was suspended for ten games, and issued a public apology for his behavior. He entered with the Babe and he left with the Babe. Shore, along with Babe Ruth and many other stars was sold to the New York Yankees by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, where he closed out his career.