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Sox Century; Aug. 21, 1917

Reb Russell continues his mastery of Boston

Reb Russell
Bain News Service / Library of Congress

A month ago, it looked like Reb Russell had the Red Sox’ number when he threw a four-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Boston on July 22.

Today, Russell confirmed he owned the Red Sox in 1917 by throwing a five-hitter in another 2-0 victory, and against Babe Ruth to boot.

The Chicago Tribune painted a picture of an ideal effort all around:

Backed by support that was iridescent as well as immaculate, Tex Russell again strode to the slab, just as he did in Boston last month, and again baffled the Red Sox so completely that they were licked 2 to 0 in the third game of the series here with the aid of timely hits by Eddie Collins and Russell himself.

There was no indication of crooked arm in Russell’s slab work. He held the Bostonians to five singles, four of which were garnered by [Jack] Barry and [Del] Gainer in widely separated pairs, nor was there an error behind him to put men within scoring distance when a hit was made.

It was a demonstration of the value in baseball of that homely four lettered word for which the euphemistic synonym is confidence.

They had to be that good, because Ruth had control over his part of the proceedings, at least during the first half of the game. He held the White Sox scoreless through five on just two hits while trying to earn his 20th win of the season.

Fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Collins interfered. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, and his second two-bagger resulted in the Sox’ first run. Fred McMullin led off with a single, and Collins drove him home all the way from first with a double. The Tribune said third-base coach Kid Gleason urged McMullin home so hard that “he followed the runner home.”

That gave the Sox the only run they needed, but they tacked on insurance an inning later. Swede Risberg led off with a two-base walk. The fourth ball was a wild one, and catcher Sam Agnew fired to second in anticipation of Risberg attempting to advance. It sounds like Risberg had no such intention, at least until Agnew’s throw got away. The error cost Boston, because the good-hitting-pitcher Russell delivered an RBI single.

That capped a fine bounce-back game for Risberg, who had started committing errors in bunches. The box score shows that he scored a run, and the recaps say that he saved a run in the first inning, foiling the only threat Russell faced. The Chicago Examiner’s description:

Boston’s first inning was a thriller. With one out Barry poled a single to left. Del Gianer fouled out to [Ray] Schalk but Duffy Lewis came through with a single and two REd Sox were perched upon the hassocks. Harry Hooper was next up and Harry got hold of one. He hit straight over second base and everybody thought the old ball game was over. Risberg dived at the ball and made the stop. He tossed it to Eddie Collins in time to force Lewis for the third out. Risberg’s great play changed the entire complexion of the ball game.

That play and the ensuing effort by Russell added to the Red Sox’ frustrations, because if the Examiner is correct, they probably came to the park in a bad mood based on the way the previous day ended.

The White Sox won a double-header from the Red Sox yesterday. After the ball game was over Chick Gandil disposed of Lore Bader, one of Barry’s pitchers, in a one-roudn fistic encouter on the way to the shower baths.

The trouble has been brewing for some time, according to players, and reached its head yesterday when Bader espoused the cause of Del Gainer, who had a verbal battle with Gandil during the ball game.

The story details an exchange of attempted spikings at first base — Gainer sliding spikes high after getting doubled off, followed by Gandil sliding unnecessarily into first base. In both cases, the first baseman avoided the incoming feet, but words were exchanged afterward, with Bader joining the fray.

After the game Gandil tarried on the way to the dressing rooms until the Red Sox bunch overtook him, then had it out with Bader before a small group of spectators. All accounts agreed that one punch settled the argument for the rest of the season and Bader was the recipient of the punch.

The White Sox now led the American League by three games and one KO.

Record: 74-45 | Box score