By special dispensation I am permitted one article a year about the Boston Red Sox. This dreary chore has had few moments of cheer since 1916, but in 1919 I was able to report that Babe Ruth had pitched in a no-hit game. There hasn't been much to report since.
The Babe was then considered the best lefty in the American League, and that day he started against the old Washington Senators at Fenway Park. The Babe threw four straight balls and with nobody out and a man on first he was yanked in favor of a rookie named Hodges, as I recall. Hodges took the mound amid tumultuous rejoicing.
On his first throw, Hodges got the base runner trying to steal second, and then retired the next 26 batters. In this manner, Babe Ruth got to pitch in a no-hitter, and the Red Sox wisely sold him to the Yankees.
I was watching the Red Sox on TV the other evening as the Yankees beat them needlessly in the Bronx, and I came up with a solution to the vexing problem of players' salaries. It pops up persistently and it isn't really that hard to settle. They told us that 38,000 fans were at the game in Yankee Stadium, and a few moments later we were switched to a glimpse of the Astros-Padres game out West where the camera swept the field to show all the empty seats. Very simple: If a San Diego outfielder thinks he needs more money, all he needs to do is come East and play for the Yankees.
It grieves me to recall from my professional baseball days that money was never in question, a fact that permits me to state that I would play for the Yankees without emolument if they'd have me.
The most I ever earned playing baseball was $2.38 per game, net. This was in 1928. I was backup left fielder for the Freeport Whurahwee Indians, a pickup team in the Tri-town Sunday School League. (The Whurahwee Tribe was the one that came out of the woods, looked about, and shouted, "Whurahwee?")
And it so happened that summer that Stanley Linscott, who played left field for the Yarmouth town team, was caught stealing chickens in Ken Bailey's henhouse, and I was asked to fill in for him while he was in the reformatory. I played three games for Yarmouth and they gave me $5 a game, but I had to pay carfare and buy two hot dogs. It figured out about $2.38. We lost all three games, but I did acquire a sweatshirt with a big Y on it. A tag sewn inside the sweatshirt tail said, "Property Yale Univ. Athletic Dept."
I cite these facts only to establish my competence as a baseball expert. I think the Red Sox need a new third-base coach. The one they're using sends too many runners around to be tagged out at the plate. We New Englanders don't understand the tactics of this. Why not just leave the runners stranded on base the way we always did?
Other than that, I have no remarks at this time except to deplore the lavish waste of new baseballs. The shag boy hands out every foul ball as a souvenir, whereas we used to play a whole season with one baseball. If it got whacked into the puckerbrush we had to hunt until we found it. If it couldn't be found, we kept hunting. If the cover got knocked off, we wound the ball with friction tape. We played a twilight game with Standish that shows how awkward that was.
The Standish diamond was never groomed closely. Left field was a jungle of hardhack, sweet fern, juniper bushes, and weeds that made it somewhat hard to play. When a squiggler came through short, I got to it all right. But just as I was about to pick it up a collie dog jumped out of the bushes, grabbed it in his jaws, and ran off toward Cornish Center.
Standish scored, and we had a big rhubarb over that, claiming interference by a fan, but the game was delayed almost until dark while somebody drove to Bridgton on a lumber truck to buy a new baseball. And wouldn't you know? Just as play resumed, the collie brought back the ball, dropped it by the pitcher's feet, and sat up to be patted.
We won, 3 to 2.