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Sox Century: May 5, 1917

Upon further review, Ernie Koob no-hits the White Sox

The headlines from the Chicago Examiner, left, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The May 4 finale in Cleveland was rained out, allowing the White Sox an extra day off and a change of scenery.

It didn’t help Swede Risberg, who committed yet another game-altering error in a 1-0 loss to the Browns in St. Louis.

This time, it came in the sixth inning. Burt Shotton led off with a fly ball behind second base. Risberg called off Eddie Collins and Happy Felsch, only to muff the catch and give Shotton second. Shotton then came home immediately on a George Sisler single for the only run of the game.

Eddie Cicotte, who threw a no-hitter the last time he pitched in St. Louis, was saddled with the hard-luck defeat, even though he allowed just five hits. This time, he watched his counterpart throw a no-no, although Ernie Koob’s feat wasn’t identified as such immediately.

It shows up as a no-hitter in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch account, but the Chicago newspapers called it a one-hitter. The play in question -- a grounder to second by Buck Weaver — was described similarly by both sides. Here’s the Chicago Tribune:

Weaver’s lone hit came with one down in the first inning. He chopped a high bounder to the first base side of Koob. Ernie Johnson, who was subbing at second, tore in and tried to pull a brilliant stop and throw, but failed. The double play on Eddie Collins’ rap to Koob sterilized that hit.

And the Post-Dispatch:

Weaver crashed a grounder at Ernie Johnson, who was second-sacking for Pratt, and Ernie gave it a valorous battle. He first fielded it with his chest, and knocked it silly at his feet. He then laid a prehensile paw on the pill and came up in ample time to assist Sisler with the out. But he suddenly lost his prehensileness and tossed the ball over his shoulder like a superstitious person throwing salt to avoid the fight.

Both descriptions sound hittish, but could go either way. But the Post-Dispatch -- maybe aided by having home print deadlines? -- was able to report on the change of heart from the official scorer.

The official scorer of yesterday’s game, J.B. Sheridan, sought sounder counsel from the umpires, the ballplayers and those who were better able to feel the pulse of the play in question.

To a man the Browns and the enemy and the umps agreed that Johnson deserved an error and Koob a no-hit game. There was the suspicion of gang ethics here; but the able and honorable official scorer yielded reluctantly under the preponderance of evidence and erased the hit, substituting an error.

No specific timeframe is given for the reversal, so perhaps the Chicago stories had already been sent. Whatever the case, perhaps anticipating claims of homerism, the Post-Dispatch landed a pre-emptive strike.

“Never go back and change a decision,” said one of the aliens who probably forgot that when Cicotte got his no-hit game on April 14, Jimmy Austin crashed into “Chic” [sic] Gandil, almost dismembering a leg, but the play was scored an error with ominous unanimity because Cicotte was then on the threshold to the Hall of Fame.

Sure enough, the Chicago papers shot back the next day, but revealing what was said now would spoil the outcome of half the doubleheader.

Record: 11-8 | Box score