Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel, and the 1916 World Series
The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers will meet tonight to open up the 114th Fall Classic. Game 1 will feature two of baseball’s best left-handed pitchers in Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, but that is just one storyline to follow. Boston’s Manager Alex Cora played for both the Red Sox and Dodgers, as did L.A.’s skipper Dave Roberts. Of course, Roberts returns to the scene of “The Slide,” which earned him eternal Boston glory after Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. He is sure to be well received by the Boston fans, unlike a former (and perhaps soon-to-be again) division foe. Any guesses? But in a sport that thrives on its rich history, I would be remised if I didn’t take a big step back and look at the headlining players from the last time these two teams met in the World Series (heads up—you may have heard of them).
The year was 1916, and the Red Sox pitching staff was led by a 21-year-old Babe Ruth. The great lefty’s regular season numbers were utterly superb, even by today’s standards. He led the team with 23 wins and led the American League with a 1.75 earned run average, 40 games started, and 9 shutouts. Did I mention he pitched 323 and 2/3 innings that season? Staggering! Ruth also paced the Red Sox that year with three regular season home runs. Yes, three. Not to mention, he started (and won) Game 2 of the 1916 World Series and allowed just one run over 14 innings. The Brooklyn Robins (later renamed Brooklyn Dodgers) were led by their 26-year-old right fielder named Casey Stengel. He batted .279 with 8 home runs in 1916, good for 2nd and 3rd in team ranks during the regular season. Stengel went 4-for-11 in the World Series, but unfortunately, for the sake of a good story, the pair of future Yankee legends did not face one another at any point that Fall.
Babe Ruth’s Red Sox won the 1916 World Series by a tally of four games to one. It was the beginning of perhaps the best career in baseball history for Ruth, who was traded to the New York Yankees three years later. Casey Stengel played fourteen seasons, ending his career in 1925 with the Boston Braves. But he is in the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a manager, most notably for the Yankees. In twelve seasons as Yankee skipper, he won a record seven World Series Championships (and two American League pennants). So, which player turned manager will win it all this year? Alex Cora’s Red Sox won 108 games in the regular season and knocked off the defending champions to get here, but Dave Roberts’ Dodgers have something to prove after coming up short in Game 7 last season. Whatever the outcome this World Series, it is highly unlikely that Cora will ask 14 innings from his Ace, Chis Sale, tonight.