World Series History: Babe Ruth Pitches 14 Innings
By: Tamar Chalker
Well, the World Series kicks off today and, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would only be less thrilled by the matchup if the Red Sox were there. Still, it is a good time to remember some notable World Series feats. This was originally intended to be a more Yankees-focused post, but I came across this story of Babe Ruth from before his days in the Bronx that I hadn’t heard before.
Ruth won seven World Series Championships during his career. Four were with the Yankees, but his first three came with the Red Sox. I feel like, as Yankees fans, we often gloss over a lot of Babe Ruth’s career prior to the infamous trade from Boston. By extension Ruth’s pitching career often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, as he only made a handful of starts in pinstripes, and they weren’t particularly notable.
On October 9, 1916, Babe Ruth started Game 2 of the World Series, where the Red Sox would eventually beat the Brooklyn Robins. The Red Sox were playing their games that postseason at Braves Field in Boston, where they had won the World Series in 1915.
Ruth had led the AL in ERA that season, with a 1.75 ERA and he faced off against Brooklyn southpaw Sherry Smith, who owned a 2.34 ERA. The Babe sat down the first two batters, but Hi Myers knocked the ball between centerfielder Tilly Walker and right fielder Harry Hooper (seriously – old timey baseball names are amazing). By all accounts the outfielders bungled the play and Myers legged out an inside the park home run for the 1-0 lead.
In a feat that we will never see again, both Ruth and Smith were still on the mound when the tied game reached the 14th inning. Ruth, who had not given up a hit since the eighth inning, sat down the Robins in order. Dick Hoblitzell drew a walk for the fourth time that day. He was bunted over to second and replaced by Mike McNally. Larry Gardner was 0-5 and the Boston manager decided to pull him in favor of “Sheriff” Del Gainer.
It was the right call. Gainer lined the ball to left, plating McNally and giving Ruth the complete game win. This would be the longest game in World Series history for over 100 years. The record was broken by the same teams on October 26, 2018. The Red Sox and Dodgers went 18 innings, with the Dodgers coming out on top that time and you know you don’t even have to check the box score to know no pitchers threw 14 innings in that game.