Nov 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Duck boats line up inside of Fenway park prior to the World Series parade and celebration for the Boston Red Sox. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It Was Not Just Babe Ruth

I was recently reading an article about an incident in the distant past of baseball. In 1976 Charlie Finley, the mercurial owner of the Oakland Athletics, attempted to unload a bevy of star players to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. This was simply purchasing power at its finest as Tom Yawkey and George Steinbrenner opened up their checkbooks.

Then commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, stepped in and halted the sale citing “Best interests of baseball.” At the time there was a nice photo of Joe Rudi in a Sox uniform just before he had to return to Oakland. That brought me back to the yard sale the Red Sox conducted in another age. Started with the transaction that sent Babe Ruth to New York.

The New York Yankee dynasty was built on the foundation of Boston Red Sox players and not just Ruth.

Carl Mays had 26 wins for the 1920 Yankees and 27 wins for the 1921 team.

Bullet Joe Bush was sent to NY in 1921 and won 26 games in 1922.

Sad Sam Jones won 23 for Boston in 1921 and then went to NY. Won 77 games in five seasons with NY.

Everett Scott was shipped out after the 1921 seasons and was the Yankees regular SS for the next 4 years.

Herb Pennock left after the 1922 season and was a cornerstone of the NY staff for a decade.

Wally Schang left after the 1920 season and was the Yankees regular catcher for five seasons.

Waite Hoyt left after 1920 and made the Hall of Fame thanks to his NY career.

And Ruth after 1919.

Just look at those pitchers! That was the heart of the NY staff for most of the 1920s and you win with pitching. I’ve read fantasy projections that had the Sox winning several pennants if they didn’t get rid of those players. The thing was they were all in the prime or approaching their prime years.

There were other players like Bob McGraw, Mike McNally, Harry Harper and the productive (for one season) Del Pratt that were also tossed in on some deals, but the targets were always players that were young and proven productive.

The deals were incredibly lopsided as the Sox would receive money and or talent that was not even close. The Sox slide started in 1919 with a losing season and did not stop until the 1930s when Tom Yawkey attempted to purchase a pennant.

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Tags: Babe Ruth Boston Red Sox

  • Earl Nash

    Wow. I thought I knew baseball history. I read a book about Charlie Finley and he was a jackass, but had some innovative ideas. The rich history is one thing that makes this game the best one in the world.

  • melvin brookes

    true, but Bush Pennock and Schang were all players that came up with the World Champion A’s Dynasty of Connie Mack from 1910-1914. The Red Sox bought them dearly and for a lot of money in trades with Connie Mack when Mack broke up his team during the escalating salary war of the Federal League after 1914-15 to Boston, which then proceeded to win championships in 1915 and 1918 using ex-A’s players.

    Another point is that the American League as a whole had agreed to make the NY Yankees stronger. For the first twenty years of its existence, the Highlanders/Yankees had been pretty awful. the cash used by Jacob Ruppert et al. to buy all these players from the Red Sox from Harry Frazee 1) was lent to Ruppert by syndicates and banks controlled at least in part by the other owners, or influenced by them 2) the other AL owners did not want John McGraw’s NY Giants controlling NYC and the emerging media 3) they really wanted Babe Ruth in NYC 4) Frazee wanted the money the most, and he had the most talent to sell.

    Everyone was on board with this, all eight owners. After 1920, only Connie Mack himself ever actually posed any threat to the NY Yankees, coming up with a team from 1929-31 that not only won three straight pennants, but won more than 100 games each of those years, with four HOFers — Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons and Jimmy “Beast” Foxx. That team also won the World Series in 1929 & 1930, and went seven in 31 with the Gashhouse Gang of St. Louis.

    After that, no other AL team won back to back pennants other than the Yankees until Earl Weaver’s Orioles and then the Athletics did it again in 1969-71, and 1972-74, when this time the As won a world championship three years in a row, boasting HOFers Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, and many other excellent players. The Orioles won 100 games each of their years, but fell in 69 to the Miracle Mets, and in 71 to the Clemente Pirates.

    The Red Sox of 1900-1920 (along with the As of 1900-1914) were the two most dominant teams of the deadball era of the American League–it’s important to note that some players, like Pennock, Schang and Bush played for both, and all three went on to help Ruth win four straight pennants for the NY Yankees in 1921-25. Wally Schang especially is an underrated player, one of the best defensive catchers and very fine at getting on base. All he did, if you look at his record, was WIN.