FORGOTTEN:PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR
AN ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU: MARCH: FROM ONEMOREINNING
BABE Ruth reared back and threw a curve ball to the Washington Senators lead off man Ernie Foster and umpire Brick Owens called it a ball. It was a typical baseball day. Clear blue azure sky, a bit warm but with a nice comfortable feel to it, and a good crowd in attendance to see that sensational Red Sox pitcher, Babe Ruth, who by the way wasnt a bad hitter either. A nice day for a game. Ruth shook his head at the call, went back to the mound and threw another pitch, which seemed to nick the plate. Ball two. The Babe put his hands on his hips and looked back at Owens with what some people described as a glare. Owens looked back at Ruth with what some people described as a look that signified, well thats the way I saw it and thats what it is. He then proceeded to call the next pitch ball three. Ruth yelled something at Owens, kicked some dirt around the mound, went into his windup and threw a pitch over the middle of the plate. Owens hesitated for a split second and then yelled out in a loud, clear voice, Ball four, take your base. The next few moments have ingrained themselves into the legend and history of baseball.
RUTH stared at Owens in disbelief, waved his hands into the air, and then charged the mound, screaming at the top of his voice. He pushed Owens back several times and then emphasized his feel-
Ings by punching him in the jaw. When order was restored Ruth was out of the game, Eddie Foster was on first, and striding in to relieve the Babe was journeyman pitcher Ernie Shore. From this moment on the incredible takes place. Foster, with a big lead off first, heads towards second and Ernie Shore throws a perfect bullet to second for out number one. And thats it!. Ernie Shore then goes on to retire the next 26 men for not only a no-hitter but a perfect game!
NEVER before and never since (this was in 1917) has anyone come into a game in relief and accomplished this feat. Up until 1991 Shore was given credit for a perfect game. Recently an eight man committee established by Major League baseball decided that a no-hit game is one in which the game ends after nine or more innings without a hit given up. It was declared that since Ruth had started and Shore had relieved him, the game was now considered to be a combined no-hitter. So much for the brilliance of eight-man committees.
THIS was Ernie Shores shining moment. Its not generally known but both he and Ruth came to the Boston Red Sox along with Ben Egan for $25,000. Later they both ended up with the New York Yankees and even shared a room together. His lifetime won and lost record was 65 wins and 42 losses with a 2.45 ERA. He did have a 3-1 record in World Series play. He lasted for seven years and died in 1980 and is forgotten for the most part by the baseball world. Well, maybe not. He retired and lived out his remaining days in Winston-Salem. He served as Forsyth County Sheriff and was fondly thought of by the local townspeople. When it came time to build a new Minor League ballpark there was only one name considered and so now the Winston-Salem Warthogs play in the Ernie Shore Sports Stadium. Some of the alumni who have played there you may have heard of: Wade Boggs, Cecil Cooper, Dwight Evans, Harvey Haddix, Sparky Lyle, Jim Lonborg, and Wilbur Wood.
EVERY once in a while some baseball historian mentions his perfect game which is now not considered his, but that is every once in a long, long, while.
TY COBB, ROGERS HORNSBY, JOE JACKSON, ED DELAHANTY, TED WILLIAMS, BILLY HAMIL- TON, TRIS SPEAKER, ED BROUTHERS, BABE RUTH, HARRY HEILMAN, PETE BROWNING, WEE
WILLIE KEELER, BILL TERRY, GEORGE SISLER, LOU GEHRIG, JESSE BURKETT, NAPOLEAN LA-JOIE, RIGGS OLD HOSS STEPHENSON: Which player of the 20 listed here is not in the Hall of Fame?
RIGGS STEPHENSON HAS THE 20TH HIGHEST BATTING AVERAGE IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES. ALL OF THE ABOVE 19 NAMES AHEAD OF OLD HOSS ARE IN THE HOF. STEPHENSON ISNT.
SOMETIMES a fleeting moment can change the destiny of things to come.
Its a windy afternoon at the University of Alabama. Quarterback Riggs Stephenson, solidly built with an accurate and strong throwing arm, gets the snap of the ball, cuts to his right, rears back to throw, and is blindsided,by two linebackers who smash him to the turf. He lands on his shoulder and what could have been a Hall of Fame baseball career ends at that moment. Why bring in baseball when its football that we are talking about here? Well, baseball was Stephensons first love. Realizing that his quarterbacking days were over because of his shoulder injury he concentrated on playing first base in the Minors, which wasnt such a good idea. His throwing arm, because of the injury, was so weak that when he came up to the Majors he was quickly converted to the outfield, which also wasnt such a good idea. It was his hitting though that that kept him in the Majors. With Cleveland, because of his poor throwing arm, he was mostly a part time player. Could he hit though! In five years with the Tribe his averages were:
1921/.330 1922/.339 1923/.319 1924/.371 1925/.296
IN 1926 Cleveland traded Riggs to the Cubs where in 281 times at bat he hit .338. The best was yet to come. Playing full time for Chicago in 1927, he got up 527 times and hit .344 with 82 RBIs and 46 doubles. He followed that with .324 and in 1929 he had his best year, hitting .362 with 110 RBIs, 17 HRs, and 36 doubles. That year was the only time any outfield in ML history had all three members getting 100 or more RBIs in the same season. Riggs, Hack Wilson, and Ki ki Cyler. It wasnt until has last year in baseball that his average dipped below .300.
He played in two World Series and had a total of 14 hits in 37 at bats for a .378 BA. He was a hitting machine under any circumstance.
AH THAT football injury! With a decent throwing arm who knows what he could have achieved. His lifetime batting average is the twentieth best in the history of the game. All nineteen of the players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame. A case might be made for Old Hoss as well, bad arm and all. Here are the names of Hall of Famers who have BAs inferior to Riggs:
Roger Bresnahan .279 Fred Clarke .312 Jimmy Collins .294 Frank Chance .296 Rabbit Marranville .258 (forget it, I dont care how good a fielder you are, nobody with a .258 lifetime average should be in the HOF) Ray Schalk .253 (ditto), Max Carey .285 Chick Hafey .317 Harry Hooper .281 (Harry Hooper ?) Babe Herman .324 (he was quite possibly a worse fielder then Stephenson), Brooks Robinson .267 Rick Ferrell .281 Joe Morgan .271
Recent new comers are not much better:
Dave Winfield .283 Kirby Puckett .308 George Brett .312 Robin Yount .290 Bill Mazeroski .261 (he was a fine fielder but not that fine a fielder and .261 and he makes the HALL? Come on). So many of the aforementioned made it for their glove so why not Old Hoss for his bat!
IT SEEMS to me that the twentieth highest batting average in the history of a game that has had over 16,000 participants over the years should be good enough to qualify for inclusion. Youll notice hes ahead of the likes of Joe Dimaggio, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Hack Wilson, Peewee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Eddie Collins, Bobby Doerr, etc.
THE HALL has long ago lost its significance for me as an institution for the very best in the sport. It is so watered down with players who have credentials that dont warrant their inclusion. Having stated that, how do you justify leaving out the nineteenth best average in the history of the game.
OLD HOSS batted .319 or better in 12 of his 14 years. A forgotten player!
RIGGS STEPHENSON: 14 YEARS. 1,310 GAMES 63 HRs. 773 RBIs .336 BA