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Sox Century: May 20, 1917

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Collision and bean ball in first inning, pitchers’ duel afterward

Carl Mays
Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress

After a pair of routs to open the series, the Boston Red Sox made the White Sox adjust their expectations, taking a hard-fought victory in the third game by a 2-1 score.

This one was a chippy affair, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the reputation of Boston’s starter.

Three years before one of his pitches killed the Yankees’ Ray Chapman, Carl Mays drew the ire of the White Sox and the Chicago Tribune with a purpose pitch in the bottom of the first:.

Carl Mays, with his bean ball and his horseshoe, defrauded the White Sox of a ninth straight win and a clear title to first place yesterday, permitting the Red Sox to cop an undeserved victory by a score of 2 to 1.

The bean ball put in an appearance in the first inning and nearly started a [garbled], which was diplomatically avoided by Umpire Nallin. Hap Felsch, the first target of the underhanded hurler, darted toward Mays with ire in his craw and fire in his eyes. Nallin ruled the bean ball had nicked Felsch’s shoulder and shooed him away to first base, then ejected Catcher [Pinch] Thomas for kicking about it.

Mays had a reputation for headhunting before Chapman, and this one was one of his league-leading 14 HBPs on the season, so that explains some of the sour tone.

There were a couple other reasons why the Red Sox might have been lucky victors. For one, the White Sox outhit them 8-5 and outwalked them 3-0, and Joe Benz finished the game with seven innings of scoreless, one-hit relief to keep the White Sox in it to the end.

The other reason? They scored one of their two runs thanks to a nasty collision at second base between Swede Risberg and Boston player-manager Jack Barry. Barry tried to steal second on the pitchout after reaching on a Risberg error, and Risberg’s problems were only just beginning:

Barry started for second in a hit and run play which was foiled by a pitchout, and Risberg, trying to redeem his error, rushed to cover second. It was [Eddie] Collins’ play at second and [Ray] Schalk threw to that side of the bag, but Risberg reached the ball and crashed into Barry head first at the same time. The ball was knocked out of the Swede’s hands and Barry reached the bag, but had to be helped off the filed with a lame ankle.

Hal Janvrin pinch-ran and scored on a triple for one of Boston’s two runs off Jim Scott. The Red Sox scored the second in the second with a triple by Everett Scott and a single by Mays. Risberg was replaced after the inning due to grogginess.

The White Sox could only counter with a run in the third. Buck Weaver hit the first of four singles, with Joe Jackson and Happy Felsch following suit. Felsch’s knocked home Weaver, but when Jackson tried to score on Chick Gandil’s, but was thrown out at the plate by Harry Hooper. Felsch then stole third to set up a double steal, but he was cut down at home on the attempt.

It was the second golden opportunity with underwhelming returns in three innings, as Gandil struck out with the bases loaded to end the first (Felsch’s high-and-tight HBP loaded the bases). The White Sox’ chances were limited after that, as Mays went the distance and only allowed one more runner to even reach scoring position.

Record: 22-13 | Box score