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Sox Century: July 19, 1917

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Babe Ruth beats the White Sox for the first time in three tries

Babe Ruth
Ernie Harwell Collection / Detroit Public Library

The last time the White Sox faced the Red Sox, a promising series crashed to a thud when they dropped a doubleheader to close out the set at Fenway Park, followed by Buck Weaver and Fred McMullin getting served with arrest warrants.

This series at Comiskey Park continued that theme, minus the melee. The White Sox had gotten the best of Babe Ruth in their first two meetings, but this time Boston’s ace found a way to win. His offense spotted him two quick runs against Lefty Williams before he even took the mound, and he held off a late White Sox rally to preserve a 3-2 victory.

Del Gainer — spelled “Gainor” in the Chicago Examiner — gave Ruth material with a two-run blast off Williams in the first inning, and on a two-strike count. Throwing a strike in 0-2 situations was a kangaroo-court fine back in the day, and sure enough, the Examiner accused Williams of “trying to pad his strikeout record.”

From that point on, Ruth kept the Sox at arm’s length. The Sox had chances, as evidenced by their eight hits and three walks. Happy Felsch capitalized on one of them in the fourth inning when he doubled Joe Jackson home from first.

However, the Red Sox regained that run when Larry Gardner dropped a bloop double on the chalk down the left field line, then scored on one of (future White Sox) Harry Hooper’s four hits to give Boston a 3-1 lead. Williams was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh, and Albany’s Mellie Wolfgang survived four baserunners to throw two scoreless innings in his fifth and final appearance of the season.

Ruth “weakened just a trifle” toward the end of the game, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Sox threatened in the eighth by loading the bases on an infield single with two outs, but Shano Collins lined out to center.

With one out in the ninth, Swede Risberg got to third by himself on a triple, and Ray Schalk singled him home to cut Boston’s lead to one, but Ruth wriggled out of it with a flyout and fielder’s choice to seal a complete-game victory in the opener. The Red Sox reduced Chicago’s lead in the American League to 1½ games. The White Sox had three games in hand on Boston at this point, all of them in the win column.

Record: 55-32 | Box score