Considering he was a rookie starting at shortstop for a team with world champion aspirations, Swede Risberg had been keeping his head above water over the first few weeks of the 1917 season.
Today served as a reminder of his youth. Jim Scott watched from the dugout as his bid for a 1-0 shutout ended in a 2-1 walkoff defeat (literally) in Cleveland. All fingers pointed at Risberg due to a pair of misplays in the ninth.
Both the Chicago Tribune (he “was fighting every ball hit to him”) and Examiner (“he was wabbly all afternoon”) saw warning signs with Risberg, and it came to a head in the final frame. The Trib’s I.E. Sanborn described the first mistake, which was nearly a footnote:
[Braggo] Roth, first up, hit softly to Risberg, who fumbled. [Bill] Wambsganss sacrificed. [Eddie] Collins threw out [Terry] Turner and it looked all over.
And after a walk put runners on the corners, though ...
[Josh] Billings hit a fast bounder to Risberg, who tore in, tried to take it on a three-quarters hop and it hit him on the chest. He scrambled after the ball and almost forced [pinch-runner Smoky Joe] Wood at second, but his toss was a bit too wide for Eddie Collins to pinch.
That tied the game, and still the 27th out proved elusive. Scott gave up a single to left that loaded the bases, and so Pants Rowland called in Eddie Cicotte to try to get the game to extras.
Instead, he walked Ray Chapman to force home the game-winning run, and so the White Sox were back to struggling after a one-day respite.
Joe Jackson’s illness was part of the problem. Even in the midst of a tough start, he had big shoes to fill, as Shano Collins found out. Collins came up big the day before, going 4-for-5 while sliding over to take Jackson’s spot in left field midgame, so Rowland gave him another start and batted him cleanup.
That proved to be a bad idea. From Sanborn:
Four times the men ahead of him gave John Collins chances to score them and four times he failed. Three times a single would have given the Sox the one run that probably would have averted a defeat, and once a fly ball was all that was necessary. In two of the pinches Shano struck out.
Happy Felsch’s RBI single through the left side in the first inning provided Chicago’s only run. The Indians out-hit the White Sox 11-6, with the 7-8-9-1 part of the Sox’ batting order going 0-for-14.
Record: 11-7 | Box score