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Sox Century: June 12, 1917

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Eddie Cicotte loses in extras after Home Run Baker lives up to his name

Frank “Home Run” Baker.
National Photo Company Collection / Library of Congress

The Washington Senators made Eddie Cicotte look mortal by handing him his first loss in a month his last time out.

The Yankees made it two in a row for the White Sox’ ace, but mostly because Pants Rowland didn’t want to use his bullpen during a Cicotte start. The knuckleballer lost a 3-1 lead in the ninth because Home Run Baker lived up to his name, and was still around to give up a walk-off single to Tim Hendryx with two outs in the 12th.

Cicotte’s line: 1123 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.

The game was frustrating before and after Baker followed Wally Pipp’s walk with a blast to right field, which was only 258 feet away in the Polo Grounds. The New York Tribune showed how much fun sportswriting could be when the accuracy of quotes wasn’t such a big deal.

Home Run Baker, the brittle but talented agriculturist of Trappe, Md., trundled up carrying a couple of clubs. The Home Run King has not been working at his trade a whole lot this season owing to his extreme fragility.

[New York manager] Wild William Donovan walked part of the way over from first base and began to exhort Baker to make good on his monicker. “Yonder,” said Wild William, with a sweeping gesture, “is the right field stand. A hit into it will do the team considreable good at this point in the pastime. Hit it right there.”

Hardly had Wild William lowered his dexterous digits when the crack of the bat smote the otherwise quiet air. The ball travelled like a bullet in the direction in which Donovan had been pointing. It cleared the rim of the lower grandstand by a scant six inches.

The game shouldn’t have come down to Baker’s blast, because the White Sox knocked out Yankee starter George Mogridge with five hits and two runs over 113 innings, with both runs scoring on a Joe Jackson triple. Cicotte gave up an RBI triple of his own in the bottom of the first, but otherwise held the Yankees off the board until the ninth.

But the White Sox could only muster one more run, which came after three two-out singles off Allen Russell in the sixth inning. Other scoring chances went by the wayside, especially in the later innings.

The White Sox had their shots in extra innings against Slim Love, who also happened to be Love native (Mississippi). The 6-foot-7-inch, 195-pound lefty earned an amusing introduction from the Chicago Tribune:

In the seventh Russell gave way to a pinch hitter and Slim Love, the tallest left hander on the face of the earth apparently, came forth.

Love walked five over five innings, which opened up a few opportunities. Buck Weaver spoiled the best one in the 12th by overrunning third base on an Eddie Collins infield single. Second baseman Fritz Maisel threw behind Weaver to nab him at third, and instead of runners on the corners and one out for Jackson and Happy Felsch, the Sox had far more work left to get a go-ahead run home.

It was a contentious game all around. A super-sized umpire crew had its hands full, according to the New York Tribune ...

There was a fight in the air all through the game. The umpires -- there were three again, count ‘em, three -- frequently were forced to intervene when the repartee that passed between the two dugouts got unusually acrimonious. Kid Gleason and Wild William Donovan exchanged a number of more or less pointed compliments.

... which was seconded by the Chicago Examiner in the form of a 100-year-old “not” joke:

Both teams were scrapping continually. Personal remarks sailed between the benches with such violence that Umpire [George] Hildebrand finally ordered all hands to shut up. They did — not.

Part of it was due to the presence of Cicotte, who triggered the usual complaints about — and calls for investigation into — his supposed ball-doctoring. Between the barking and bitching and extra innings, the game lasted an interminable three hours and seven minutes.

Record: 33-16 | Box score