This Day in Babe Ruth

Friday, July 11 2014 @ 07:05 AM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

It was exactly one hundred years ago today that one George Herman Ruth - you've heard of him, right? - made his major league debut.

That's a pretty cool anniversary, no?

Nonetheless, I am totally spooked by it. Here's why. I was sitting around last night watching the season premiere of The Bridge and simultaneously amusing myself by messing around on the incomparable I was actually looking at career splits for great and famous players when it dawned on me that the game logs now go all the way back to 1914. And I thought - hey! You know what would be cool? This Day in Babe Ruth! Because I'll bet Babe Ruth did something nifty every day  that they play baseball. Being Babe Ruth and all.

Thus inspired, I checked the calendar (I'm on vacation, I don't know what day it is!) and confirmed that tomorrow (today!) was July 11. What, I wondered, had the Bambino done on July 11 through the course of his career. I started with the pitching logs, and worked my way backward, and when I got to 1914- there it was. His first appearance of the season. The first appearance of his career. Exactly one hundred years ago today. I had no idea. I got up and walked around, muttering "holy crap" over and over...

Anyway. July 11, 1914. He was 19 years old, although Ruth himself didn't know that. (He spent most of his career believing he was a year older than he actually was.) The Red Sox had purchased his contract from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League and started him against the last place Cleveland Naps (named after their great second baseman, Napoleon Lajoie - they don't do that sort of thing anymore). It was a Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. The Red Sox quickly staked the big rookie to a 1-0 lead. Joe Jackson drove in a run to tie the game in the fourth, but the Red Sox scored two in their half to go up 3-1. In the top of the seventh, Jay Kirke and Ray Chapman each reached Ruth for a single; they were bunted into scoring position by Nemo Leibold, and Steve O'Neill drove in both runners with a base hit to tie the game at 3-3. Ruth finished the inning, and was replaced by pinch-hitter Duffy Lewis in the bottom half. Lewis contributed a base hit, and the Red Sox scored the go-ahead run. Dutch Leonard pitched the final two innings to close it out, and Ruth had his first Win in the major leagues: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 0 W. At the plate, he went 0-2, striking out once. Manager Rough Bill Carrigan was his catcher, Hall of Famer Tris Speaker was in centre field. Besides Jackson and Chapman, the Cleveland lineup featured Nap Lajoie himself (naturally) at second base.

Ruth started again five days later, but was touched for a couple of runs in the fourth inning and was given a Quick Hook (very quick indeed for 1914, but he was a 19 year old busher!). The Tigers added three more runs against the bullpen, and Ruth had his first major league Loss. He sat around for a few weeks after that without getting into a game; the Red Sox then sent him down to Providence, where he helped the Greys win the IL pennant (Ruth went 22-9, 2.39 and threw 244.2 IP for Baltimore and Providence). The Sox brought him back at the end of the season and he would never play another game in the minors. He beat the Yankees 11-5 on October 2 for his first major league Complete Game - on that day, he also rapped his first hit, a double. In the season finale five days later, Ruth pitched three innings of relief of Hugh Bedient.

Anyway, the whole idea was to discover what Ruth did on July 11  during his career. He made his debut, he got his first W. Was there more? Of course. On July 11 1916, Ruth started both games of a double-header against the White Sox at Fenway. In the first game, he only faced leadoff hitter Happy Felsch before being replaced by Rube Foster. (Apparently Foster wasn't ready to start the game, and needed more time to warm up.) Ruth pitched a CG 3-1 victory in the second game.

One year later, on July 11 1917, Ruth hooked up with Detroit's Hooks Dauss in a pitching duel at Navin Field. The game was scoreless through eight innings. In the ninth, Boston pinch-hitter Chick Shorten hit a triple to score Tillie Walker, who was on third with a triple of his own.  (Ruth hit a triple himself that afternoon.)  That would be  the game's only run, as Ruth struck out the side (Bobby Veach, Sam Crawford, and Ty Cobb) to close it out. Ruth had taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning when it was broken up by Detroit shortstop Donie Bush - Bush hit a comebacker that Ruth deflected into the infield, and Bush beat out the throw from the shortstop. It was the 14th of Ruth 17 career shutouts (he'd led the AL, pitching 9 shutouts in 1916), and it was the closest Ruth would ever come to pitching a no-hitter.

Anyway, he won all 3 of his July 11 starts (ignoring his one-batter outing in the first game of the 1916 double-header), and those games include his ML debut and his only career one-hitter. Not bad.

Ruth played 14 games on July 11 during his tenure with the Yankees, and reached base in every one of them - he went 13-38 (.342) with 4 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R and 11 BB. Which is impressive, I suppose - but really, that's just Babe Ruth's normal production. It's nothing special - that's what he always did. The best days were either 1923 (4-4, 2 runs scored) or 1924 (2-4, a homer, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored.)