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Sox Century: May 10, 1917

Swede Risberg error allows pitchers’ duel to end in regulation

The Chicago Tribune headline from May 10, 1917.

The White Sox returned to Comiskey Park having avoided disaster in St. Louis, splitting a six-game series by taking the final three games. That allowed them to hang in second place, when further damage could have meant a drop into third or fourth.

One of the teams that could have slipped ahead of the Sox? The New York Yankees.

The Yankees, though, had the opportunity to take matters in their own hands, opening the season series against the Sox with four in Chicago. After a shutout from Bob Shawkey in the opener today, the Yankees and White Sox swapped positions.

Reb Russell was Shawkey’s equal for the White Sox. Both went the distance. Russell allowed one fewer hit, but neither allowed two hits in the same inning, nor an extra-base hit. Both walked two.

The problem for Russell? The White Sox defense committed one more error than New York, and it was in the form of a bad throw in the ninth inning by Swede Risberg. The description from the Chicago Tribune:

The fatal fissure did not appear until the first half of the ninth. Then Risberg gathered in a soft bounder from the bat of [Fritz] Maisel, first up, and slammed it over [Chick] Gandil’s head. The ball bounded against a corn on the left hind foot of a spectator seated east by southeast of the visitors’ bench and popped back so far that Gandil could have held Maisel at first.

Umpire [Silk] O’Loughlin ruled the ball went out of the enclosure and that, by the ground rules of the universe, entitled the runner to another cushion.

The Chicago Examiner said Risberg could’ve been charged with two errors, saying he fumbled the ball and shouldn’t have even tried making the throw. Whatever the case, Maisel then took third on a sac bunt by Wally Pipp and scored on a sac fly by Home Run Baker.

Risberg committed both errors in the game, and the Yankees almost turned the first one into a run in the third inning. Risberg muffed a grounder from Shawkey and allowed the pitcher to reach. He moved to second on a walk and tried to score on a single from Hugh High, but Nemo Leibold cut him down with a throw at the plate.

The Tribune headline pictured above was fairly harsh to Risberg considering the offense had bigger problems. The White Sox only got one runner as far as scoring position, but only after two outs. Nemo Leibold reached on a bunt single, then stole second after a pair of flyouts and took third when the throw hit him. Joe Jackson couldn’t get him home, grounding out to end the inning.

Record: 14-11 | Box score