Perfect relief

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

When Babe Ruth retired from baseball, he was the all-time leader in home runs with 714 — 336 more than anyone else. His name still appears all over the offensive record books, more than 60 years after his death.

Ninety-two years ago today, however, Ruth’s name was recorded next to one of the rarest pitching feats in history – with a lot of help from teammate Ernie Shore.

6-23-09-Carr_Ruth.jpgOn June 23, 1917, Ruth was a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He took the mound during the first game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators and faced the Senator leadoff batter Ray Morgan.

Umpire Brick Owens called ball-four and gave Morgan a base-on-balls to begin the game. Ruth rushed to the plate to argue. Owens warned Ruth that he would run him from the ballgame if he didn’t get back to the mound.

“If you chase me, I’ll punch your face,” Ruth said as reported by the Washington Post.

Subsequently, Owens tossed Ruth – and Ruth hit Owens in the head, behind his ear. After players broke up the argument and helped Ruth to the dugout, Shore came on in relief. 

Morgan was thrown out attempting to steal second, and Shore set down the next 26 straight batters, earning a 4-0 win and – at the time – a perfect game. Boston also won the nightcap, 5-0.

“We will take care of Ruth,” American League President Ban Johnson was quoted as saying.

Johnson handed Ruth a 10-game suspension, lighter than some expected – and the game was later changed to a combined no-hitter.

Less than three years later, much of Ruth’s pitching success became a distant memory when the Sultan of Swat was sold to New York – a move that resulted in birth of the Yankee dynasty.

Ruth was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the inaugural class.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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