Boston was a two-team town in 1914, when the American League Red Sox hired 6’2″, 200-pound left handed rookie George Herman “Babe” Ruth from the Baltimore Orioles.
The American League hadn’t yet adopted the designated hitter rule, that wouldn’t happen until 1973. The Red Sox started Ruth as pitcher, but it was his bat that made him one of the best. Unlike most power hitters, Babe Ruth maintained his high batting average, ending his career with a .342 lifetime average.
Four years later, Red Sox owner and theatrical producer Harry Frazee sold the “bambino” to the arch-rival New York Yankees, to finance production of a Broadway musical.
Thus began an 86-year season of misery for We who love the Red Sox™, an interminable World Series drought we call the “Curse of the Bambino”. Little babies grew up and had babies of their own. They had grandbabies and great grandbabies and even a few great-greats and still, the drought wore on. To this day, Boston-area mothers invoke the Curse of the Bambino to scare wayward children into acting right.
But that must be a story for another day.
In 1914 the National League Boston Braves were in dead last place on July 4. Bottom of the barrel with a record of 26 wins and 40 losses, 11½ games behind the first place Giants.
For eleven years in a row and this one was shaping up to be no exception, the view in 1914 was shaping up to be one from the cellar.
The Braves didn’t even have a home field in the unlikely event they made the playoffs that year. The club had abandoned its 43-year home at South End Grounds, that August. In post-season, the Boston Braves were reduced to the humiliating reality of renting Fenway Park from their cross-town rival, Boston Red Sox.
One of the most remarkable turnarounds in sports history started on this day with a three game road trip to Redland Field, in Cincinnati. The Braves won three consecutive games with 1-0, 6-2 and 3-2 victories over the Reds.
The Braves played 37 games through the end of regular season, winning all but two.
The World Series match-up against the Philadelphia Athletics was a David vs. Goliath story, the 1914 A’s recipients of four American League pennants over the last 5 years and finishing regular season 8½ games ahead of the second place, Boston Red Sox.
Game one in Philadelphia was a Boston Romp, ending with a 7-1 victory. Game two was a cliff hanger, the score tied at zero going into the 9th inning. Infielder Charlie Deal found himself on second when A’s center fielder Amos Strunk lost the ball in the sun. Deal scored the game’s only run on Les Mann’s two-out single to center field.
Game 3 in Boston was the real thriller. The score was tied at two at the end of regulation play, with the Athletics scoring two runs in the top of the 10th. Boston came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, and won the game in the 12th when A’s second baseman Donnie Bush threw a wild ball past third, with outfielder and pinch runner Les Mann scoring the winning run from second.
It was two outs in the 5th inning when Braves shortstop Johnny Evers hit a two-run single to center field, putting Boston ahead 3-1 in game 4. The A’s never responded.
The “Miracle Braves” had emerged from dead-last to defeat the defending World Champion Philadelphia Athletics in the first four-game sweep in World Series history.
In 2011, a descendant of Johnny Evers consigned his ancestor’s 1914 World Series ring to auction, raising an intriguing question.
Today we take team-issued Championship rings for granted, but the practice isn’t believed to have begun until years later. Prior to that and dating well back in the previous century, World Series winners were rewarded with team-issued pins.
This was the second such ring known to exist, the first issued to shortstop Walter James Vincent “Rabbit” Maranville, also of the 1914 Boston Braves. It may be that Evers and Maranville had the rings made for themselves, or maybe players were offered a choice of rewards. Perhaps rings were offered to all players but only at their own expense, causing most to pass on the opportunity.
Perhaps these two rings are merely the only two known to have survived. Be that as it may, at least a few players had begun to associate rings with championships, long before their first official issue, in 1922.
A notorious cheapskate, A’s owner Connie Mack gave his star pitcher Chief Bender the week off before the series, with orders to personally scout the Braves roster. Instead, the man took a vacation. When later asked to explain himself, Bender replied: “Why should I check out a bunch of bush league hitters?” The following season, Bender and fellow pitcher “Gettysburg” Eddie Plank jumped ship to join the rival Federal League. Mack unloaded most of his other “high-priced” talent. Within two seasons, the Philadelphia Athletics had amassed the worst losing record in modern baseball history.
In 1949, American poet and self-styled “incurable fan” Ogden Nash penned a poem for the January 1949 issue of SPORT Magazine. It’s called
“Line-Up for Yesterday: An ABC of Baseball Immortals”.
Hat tip, Wikipedia
|A||Grover Cleveland Alexander||A is for AlexThe great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander.
|B||Roger Bresnahan||B is for BresnahanBack of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate.
|C||Ty Cobb||C is for CobbWho grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren’t born.
|D||Jay “Dizzy” Dean||D is for Dean,The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who’s the tops?
Said correctly, I is.
|E||Johnny Evers||E is for Evers,His jaw in advance;
|F||Frankie “Fordham” Frisch||F is for FordhamAnd Frankie and Frisch;
I wish he were back
With the Giants, I wish.
|G||Lou Gehrig||G is for Gehrig,The Pride of the Stadium;
His record pure gold,
His courage, pure radium.
|H||Rogers Hornsby||H is for Hornsby;When pitching to Rog,
The pitcher would pitch,
Then the pitcher would dodge.
|I||Nash, the author||I is for Me,Not a hard-hitting man,
But an outstanding all-time
|J||Walter Johnson||J is for JohnsonThe Big Train in his prime
Was so fast he could throw
Three strikes at a time.
|K||Willie Keeler||K is for Keeler,As fresh as green paint,
The fastest and mostest
To hit where they ain’t.
|L||Nap Lajoie||L is for LajoieWhom Clevelanders love,
With glue in his glove.
|M||Christy Mathewson||M is for Matty,Who carried a charm
In the form of an extra
brain in his arm.
|N||Louis “Bobo” Newsom||N is for Newsom,Bobo’s favorite kin.
You ask how he’s here,
He talked himself in.
|O||Mel Ott||O is for OttOf the restless right foot.
When he leaned on the pellet,
The pellet stayed put.
|P||Eddie Plank||P is for Plank,The arm of the A’s;
When he tangled with Matty
Games lasted for days.
|Q||Connie Mack||Q is for Don QuixoteCornelius Mack;
Neither Yankees nor years
Can halt his attack.
|R||Babe Ruth||R is for Ruth.To tell you the truth,
There’s just no more to be said,
Just R is for Ruth.
|S||Tris Speaker||S is for Speaker,Swift center-field tender,
When the ball saw him coming,
It yelled, “I surrender.”
|T||Bill Terry||T is for TerryThe Giant from Memphis
Whose .400 average
You can’t overemphis.
|U||Carl Hubbell||U would be ‘Ubbellif Carl were a cockney;
We say Hubbell and Baseball
Like Football and Rockne.
|V||Charles “Dazzy” Vance||V is for VanceThe Dodger’s very own Dazzy;
None of his rivals
Could throw as fast as he.
|W||Honus Wagner||W is for Wagner,The bowlegged beauty;
Short was closed to all traffic
With Honus on duty.
|X||Jimmie Foxx||X is the firstof two x’s in Foxx
Who was right behind Ruth
with his powerful soxx.
|Y||Cy Young||Y is for YoungThe magnificent Cy;
People batted against him,
But I never knew why.
|Z||Zenith||Z is for ZenithThe summit of fame.
These men are up there.
These men are the game.