Friday, July 11, 2014
Vintage Fridays: Barry Shetrone, 1960 Topps #348
Answer: They were both born in Baltimore, and played for the hometown Orioles. Of course, the Bambino played for the International League team, and Barry played for the American League club that we all know and love. Also, Barry finished his illustrious 60-game big league career 713 home runs shy of Ruth's one-time record. Details, details.
Barry Shetrone's rookie card is the flimsy pretense I'm using to talk about Babe Ruth on this, the 100th anniversary of the Sultan of Swat's major league debut. Two days earlier, the Red Sox had purchased the contracts of Ruth and pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan from the minor-league Baltimore Orioles for a sum of over $25,000. On Saturday, July 11, 1914, 19-year-old George Herman Ruth took the mound at Fenway Park to face the Cleveland Naps (known today as the Indians). He earned the win by limiting the visitors to three runs (two earned) on eight hits, while striking out a single batter and walking none. He was hitless in two trips to the plate, and was actually removed in favor of pinch hitter Duffy Lewis, who singled and took over in left field for Olaf Henriksen the next inning. Dutch Leonard earned the save by relieving Ruth and tossing two spotless innings, as Boston prevailed 4-3 in an hour and 33 minutes. The Babe appeared in only five games for the BoSox in 1914, four as a pitcher and one other as a pinch hitter. He became a more regular fixture in the following year, going 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 32 games on the bump (he also completed 16 of his 28 starts) and batting .315/.376/.576 in 103 plate appearance with the first four homers of his career. I wonder how many of the fans in attendance at Fenway on that Saturday afternoon in midsummer realized that they were witnessing history.