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Sox Century: July 14, 1917

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Reb Russell coaxes a gem out of his bothersome arm

Reb Russell.
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

Reb Russell’s status was a concern since spring training, when he battled “fibrous growths” on his left arm. After averaging 47 appearances and 244 innings over his first four years, Russell had only appeared in 21 of the team’s first 80 games, throwing 99 innings. Moreover, that pace was slowing. He started just one game over the previous fourtnight, and had only topped five innings in a game once over the previous month.

So it was a minor revelation when he went the distance against the Yankees in this one. The White Sox offense built a substantial lead, and Russell held up his end of the bargain by holding New York to a mere unearned run for a rather straightforward 4-1 victory.

Russell scattered eight hits and issued no walks during his complete game, exceeding the expectations of just about everybody at Comiskey Park according to the Chicago Examiner:

Russell’s hurling was a pleasing surprise for Manager Rowland and some 12,000 fans. The “Rebel” was given the assignment on the theory that he would need help. He was able to take care of himself, and probably would have scampered off with the shutout honors if his mates hadn’t concentrated all their bad baseball in the eighth inning.

The lone run came around when Shano Collins dropped a Les Nunamaker flyball to start the eighth. Nunamaker went from first to third on another error and scored on a single, but Russell was able to get a double play afterward to limit the damage.

He did have a fairly large cushion to work with. Part of it was excellent work from the top of the order. Nemo Leibold had a perfect day at the plate, singling twice, walking twice and scoring twice from the leadoff spot. His presence played a big role in both the White Sox’ scoring innings.

In the third, he started the threat with a one-out walk, took second on a Buck Weaver single, third on a fielder’s choice, and scored when Happy Felsch doubled to right. That two-bagger counted for two runs when Nunamaker couldn’t handle the throw to the plate.

Likewise, he made the fifth inning more intriguing when his bunt down the line was good for a single instead of a mere sacrifice. That gave the Sox runners on first and second with nobody out, and both runners came around to score. First, Pipp handled Weaver’s subsequent bunt and fired wildly to third, which gave the Sox a 3-0 lead and Leibold third base. Eddie Collins then hit a sac fly to score Leibold for a 4-0 lead. Russell made it hold up with little help required.

Record: 51-30 | Box score