Sign up to get email alerts for each new posts

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1 to 15 to 2...You ain't seen nothing!

The last few games have been as up-and-down as they come for Boston's bats. One night the Sox get five hits and one run over 16 innings, the next they get 15 runs and 16 hits, and then they slide back down to two runs against what is arguably the worst team in the majors. But this type of roller-coaster is nothing compared to what transpired at Fenway one week in 1950.

Ironically, the Red Sox were squaring off from June 6-8 of '50 with the predecessors of today's Orioles -- the St. Louis Browns. Owner Bill Veeck's club was the perennial celler-dweller of the American League, and Veeck was so desperate for patrons and press while playing in the shadow of Stan Musial's Cardinals that a year later he would send 3-foot-7-inch Eddie Gaedel up to the plate as a pinch-hitter. There were no "little people" on the 1950 Browns, but the Sox still had their way with them -- winning the first two games of the weekday series by scores of 20-4 and 29-4.

Boston had a devastating lineup including Ted Williams, Vern Stephens, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Billy Goodman that was enroute to compiling an incredible .302 team batting average, but this was unlike anything the Fenway Faithful had seen before. The 49 runs and 51 hits the Sox collected in the first two games of the series set major league records, as did the 29 runs and 60 total bases in the June 7 contest alone. Boston had been white-hot in the week before the Browns came to town, scoring 11 runs in consecutive games against the Indians and 17 and 12 against the White Sox. If ever there was a time to bet your paycheck on the home team, it would seem to be for the June 8 finale. It was "getaway day" for St. Louis, and it's hard to imagine a team wanting to get away more. (In 1954, in fact, they'd leave the midwest altogether and move to Baltimore.)

It only took three batters and a Williams homer for Boston to build a 2-0 lead against Browns starter Ned Garver, and the Sox led 4-1 after three innings. But Garver was a better pitcher than his team deserved -- he would be the first hurler to win 20 games for a last-place, 100-loss club the next year -- and he gutted it out through seven innings and helped his teammates earn back some of their dignity with a 12-7 victory. Ned even hit a home run, and the loss seemed to have a damning effect on the Sox. They dropped eight of their next nine games, including a four-game stretch in which they scored just five runs.

What does it all mean? Don't count your runs before they go up on the Wall, or as Yogi Berra would say:  "In baseball you don't know nothing!"

1 comment:

  1. I felt like I was there, such vivid descriptions. SK