Babe Ruth

On the Bambino's 124th birthday, a list of former White Sox involved in Babe Ruth milestones

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On the Bambino's 124th birthday, a list of former White Sox involved in Babe Ruth milestones

The great Babe Ruth was born this day in 1895.

Ruth hit a tremendous .340/.470/.681 with 98 home runs and 331 RBIs in 354 career games against the White Sox, back when there were only eight teams in the American League. In his amazing career, Ruth set several records and attained countless milestones. A number of former White Sox players had a part in many of those historic moments. I scanned the all-time White Sox roster to see who was on hand when the Bambino rewrote the history books.

All of the players in boldface below played for the White Sox at one time or another, though they may not have been with the White Sox at the time of Ruth’s milestone.

Everett Scott (1926)

July 11, 1914

Scott was the starting shortstop for the Red Sox the day Ruth made his major league debut. Scott played 40 games for the White Sox at the tail end of his career in 1926. In between, Scott posted a consecutive-game streak of 1,307 games, which stood as the record until Lou Gehrig broke it.

Ellis Johnson (1912, 1915)

Sept. 5, 1914

Johnson pitched in eight major league games: three for the White Sox in 1912, one more for the White Sox in 1915 and four games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1917. Johnson’s biggest link to baseball history took place in an International League game in Toronto on Sept. 5, 1914. Pitching for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Johnson gave up a home run to a young Ruth of the Providence Grays — the only minor league home run of Ruth’s career.

Dickey Kerr (1919-21, 1925)

July 19, 1920 (Game 2)

Kerr was the rookie sensation who earned two wins in two complete-game starts for the Black Sox in the 1919 World Series; certainly he was giving it his all, even if some of his teammates weren’t. The following season he was one of a quartet of White Sox 20-game winners along with Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams and Red Faber. On July 19 of that season, in Game 2 of a doubleheader, he went the distance in an 8-5 slugfest win over the Yankees. He allowed three home runs, two of which were off the booming bat of Ruth. Ruth’s first home run was his 30th of the season, making him the first player in major league history to hit 30 home runs in a season and also making Kerr the first pitcher to allow a player’s 30th home run of a season. Kerr later managed in the minors, including the 1940 Class-D Daytona Beach Islanders. On Kerr’s pitching staff that season was a young Stan Musial, who went 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA.

José Acosta (1922)

Sept. 24, 1920 (Game 1)

Nineteen men born in Cuba have played for the White Sox (entering the 2019 season), the first of whom was a right-handed pitcher from Havana named José Acosta. The diminutive hurler, listed at 5-foot-6 and 134 pounds, made five appearances for the White Sox in 1922. He got his start in the majors in 1920 with the Washington Senators. The first home run he ever allowed as a big leaguer came as a Senator on Sept. 24, 1920, in Game 1 of a doubleheader. It just so happened to be Ruth’s 50th blast of the season, the first time any big leaguer ever reached 50 in a single campaign.

Bert Cole (1927)

July 18, 1921

Ruth hit his 36th home run of the season in a 10-1 rout over the Tigers on Monday, July 18, 1921, at Detroit’s Navin Field. It went really far, as the New York Times mentioned the following day:

“According to the wielders of the local measuring stick, Ruth’s homer today was his longest of the season. The Detroit statisticians aver that it is 560 feet from the plate to the point where the ball soared out of sight over the centre field barrier, and they brought out the old surveying rod and sextant to prove the contention.”

What wasn’t mentioned — because they simply had no idea at the time — was that this home run, the 139th of Ruth’s career, set a new career major league record. The previous mark was held by a 19th century giant/Giant (he was 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and played for the New York Giants) named Roger Connor.

And by the way, historian Bill Jenkinson once estimated this home run as the longest ever in a major league game (in his book "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs," a highly entertaining read) at an astounding 575 feet (approximately). The home run was off Cole, a lefty from San Francisco, pitching in only his seventh career major league game. He later pitched 66.2 uninspiring innings for the White Sox in 1927 at the end of his career.

Phil Douglas (1912)

Oct. 9, 1921

“Shufflin’” Phil Douglas debuted in the majors with a three-game trial with the White Sox in 1912. By 1921 he was the Giants’ Game 1 starter in the World Series against the Yankees. Four days later he started Game 4, where he allowed the first postseason home run of Ruth’s career.

The next season was Douglas’ last. Near the end of the season, after a dispute with manager John McGraw, Douglas penned a letter to Cardinals outfielder Les Mann stating that he wanted to leave the team and that “I don’t want this guy (McGraw) to win the pennant.” The letter made its way to the desk of Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and Douglas was banned from baseball.

Douglas finished 1922 with a major league leading 2.63 ERA despite not pitching beyond July.

Tommy Thompson (1938-39) and Randy Moore (1927-28)

May 30, 1935 (Game 1)

Ruth’s final major league game came as a member of the Boston Braves on May 30, 1935, in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Philadelphia’s Baker Bowl. Ruth made an out in his lone plate appearance before being lifted from the game. Two former White Sox were part of the Braves starting nine: Thompson, the right fielderm, who joined the White Sox a few years later, and Moore, the first baseman, who had started his career with the Sox several years earlier.

One hundred twenty four years ago today the Babe was born.

Seven hundred fourteen career home runs.

Countless players made into the answers of trivia questions. This is just a sampling.

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Sammy Sosa used Babe Ruth's bat for historic homer in 1998

Sammy Sosa used Babe Ruth's bat for historic homer in 1998

As he was rewriting history, Sammy Sosa paid tribute to one of the best in the game.

Sosa hit 20 home runs June 1998, a Major League Baseball record. The bat he used for the milestone homer on the final day of the month was actually a Babe Ruth model, he claims.

When NBC Sports Chicago sat down with Sosa earlier this season, he recounted the story of that magical dinger:

"The bat that I used that last home run was a Babe Ruth bat," Sosa said. "Somebody gave it to me somewhere because I received so many gifts. And one day, I'm like, hmmm...kinda looking good."

Sosa doesn't remember who gave the bat to him, but he knows 100 percent it was the lumber he used to go yard off Alan Embree in the 8th inning on June 30, 1998.

En route to a 66-homer season, Sosa really turned it on as the weather warmed up that summer. He had only 13 homers entering June before crushing 20 in 27 games (114 at-bats).

Sosa's slash line for that month was absolutely ridiculous: .298/.331/.842 with a 1.173 OPS. Yes, you read that right — an .842 slugging percentage! He also drove in 40 runs in those 27 games, but somehow, the Cubs managed just a 12-15 record that month.

Theo Epstein called his shot as Cubs stop 'torturous' run

Theo Epstein called his shot as Cubs stop 'torturous' run

Theo Epstein pulled a Babe Ruth.

Just, you know, 86 years after The Great Bambino and the Cubs president didn't have a bat in his hands.

A few dozen feet from where Ruth called his shot in the 1932 World Series, Epstein called his own shot at Wrigley Field about his then-underperforming team.

Speaking with the media ahead of that game, Epstein acknowledged how difficult it's been to watch this Cubs lineup underperform for such a long stretch.

"It's frustrating," he said. "Baseball is designed to torture you. And then it makes it that much better when things happen to go your way. But a series like that [in St. Louis] can be torturous.

"... You just show up the next day, move on and we're going to be sweeping somebody sometime soon."

That all came to fruition in the 48 hours since Epstein made those comments as his team went out and did exactly what it is supposed to do against a 13-23 Marlins team that doesn't have a prayer of contending in 2018.

The Cubs battered the Marlins into submission during the three-game set at Wrigley Field, scoring 31 runs in the series while hitting .364 with a 1.097 OPS as a team. The Cubs even hit .382 (13-for-34) with runners in scoring position, an area of the game that has haunted them in the past.

It'd be easy to look at the tanking Marlins and just chalk it up to that, but remember, the Cubs offense did very little against this very same pitching staff in Miami the first series of the season.

Plus, Monday night's starter — Jarlin Garcia — entered the game leading all of Major League Baseball in ERA before the Cubs tattooed everything he threw near home plate.

The Cubs scored 31 runs in the three-game sweep, reaching double digits on both Monday and Wednesday. They managed to plate only 4 runs in Tuesday night's game, but 4 runs is still more than they could manage for 9 straight games from April 25 through May 5.

Yeah, it's the Marlins and yeah, it's just one series. But suddenly, the Cubs' season numbers don't look so bad.

Anthony Rizzo collected two more hits, putting his batting average over .200 for the first time since his second at-bat on March 30, the second game of the season against these Marlins in Miami.

Addison Russell finally homered. Kris Bryant has suddenly come on in the power department. Willson Contreras is hitting liners all over the field. Javy Baez still leads MLB in RBI. Ian Happ has silenced the doubters and stopped the questions — for now — about whether he needs a trip to the minor leagues.

Hell, we're even seeing Kyle Schwarber's name bounced around for the leadoff spot again and nobody's laughing. (For the record, Schwarber has been the only Cub who has put up consistent quality at-bats from the beginning of the season until now.)

"Just in terms of guys feeling a lot better about themselves," Bryant said. "Willson having a great game, Anthony finally getting a double. That was so fun joking around — he didn't have a double the whole first month!"

This is what we were supposed to see from this offense all along, especially on days where the wind is howling out toward the bleachers at 17 mph.

Albert Almora Jr. — who was one of four Cubs players to collect three hits Wednesday — apparently called his shot, too, telling Rizzo before Wednesday's game this team was ready for another offensive explosion.

He also has been telling the media for weeks how confident this team is and that a positive regression is coming.

"I was about to say something when [media] walked in, like 'Are you guys worried still?'" Almora joked. "But nah, you know, we're playing great and we're having a lot of fun. We're really jelling together now. Can't complain."

Things don't get much tougher for the Cubs after Starlin Castro and the Marlins leave town, either.

The White Sox — still searching for their 10th win on the campaign — come to town this weekend before the Cubs host the Braves in a make-up game next Monday, then leave for a seven-game road trip in Atlanta and Cincinnati.

The Braves woke up Wednesday morning ranked 10th in baseball in ERA, but the White Sox were 29th and the Reds 28th. In fact, apart from the four games against the Braves, the Cubs don't face a Top 10 pitching staff until June 5 when Jake Arrieta and the Philadelphia Phillies come to town.

Admittedly, June will be a tough month with three games each against the Phillies, Brewers and Cardinals plus seven against the Dodgers.

But for now, enjoy the peaks and valleys of the season when things are actually going the Cubs' way.

"Really good feeling heading into an off-day and Anthony's event [Wednesday night]," Bryant said, " and then starting up a nice series this weekend."