The year before Babe Ruth’s trade broke the pre-internet baseball world, Duffy Lewis (whose first name was also George), got traded from the Sox to the Yanks after missing the 1918 season while serving in the Navy during the first World War.
Lewis played for the Sox from 1910-17 along with fellow outfield stars Harry Hooper and Tris speaker, and when Fenway Park opened in 1912, his defensive prowess on the incline in front of the Green Monster became known as Duffy’s Cliff. He’d help the Sox win three rings before the trade.
Ironically, Lewis was the only player to ever pinch-hit for the Bambino.
Ever heard of him?
George Herman Ruth, also known as Babe, The Bambino, The Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout, etc. will forever be known as the linchpin of the rivalry. While the rivalry between the two cities long predates and is about so much more than baseball, the sale of Ruth’s contract from Beantown to the Bronx was a defining moment; the ripple effect continued for almost a century.
After six seasons with the Sox between 1914-19, during which the Sox won their third, fourth, and fifth rings, Boston’s musically-minded owner, Harry Frazee, sent Ruth to New York for $100,000 and a $350,000 loan that mortgaged Fenway Park.
The trade turned the tables more dramatically than anyone could have foreseen. Ruth, who’d begun to transition from pitching to full-time slugging, went on to set most of baseball’s offensive records. The Yankees, who had never won a World Series in their short franchise history, began their likely-eternal tenure as the winningest team in MLB history. Their 27 championships, including four with Ruth, are more than double the total won by any other team. The Sox, who’d been one of the most successful American League teams since winning the first-ever World Series in 1903, wouldn’t win another until 2004. The championship drought became known as The Curse of the Bambino, and Yankees fans were known for chanting “1918! 1918!” to taunt Sox fans. Fittingly, they mounted a historic comeback against the Yankees to break it, and have been the more successful team in this millennium, winning four championships (04, 07, 13, 18) to the Yankees’ one (2009).