“Who are those guys”? Sundance to Butch

Are you ready for this? Good. How many of these guys do you recognize: Joe Harris, George Burns (nope not the comedian), Ira Flagstead, and Howard Ehmke? The names may strike a chord with a few of you, sound familiar and I dare say a couple of you may even know why. They are the stars of the 1923 Red Sox.

Joe Harris played left field and led the team in hitting, .335 and home runs with 11. 

George Burns was the first baseman, he hit .328 and led the team in RBI with 82. 

Ira Flagstead played right field and hit .312 with eight homers and 53 RBI. 

However, the real star of the team was this man,

 He is Howard Ehmke and he was the ace of the pitching staff and he did something in 1923 that had never been done before and is still an American League record.

First it must be understood that the 1923 version of Fenway Park’s Boston Red Sox were in a word, abysmal! They were 61-91 and they finished in dead last place, 37 games behind the Yankees. They entered last place on June 18th with a 6-2 loss against the Browns in St. Louis and they kept a stranglehold on the cellar for the remainder of the season. They hit 34 home runs as a team, their defense had a league worst 5.25 runs allowed and their pitching staff produced a league worst 4.20 ERA.

However, our boy Howard won 20 games! He went 20-17 with a 3.78 ERA accounting for 32% of the teams victories. Two of those wins were very special, very special indeed.

It was Friday September 7th and the Sox were securely entrenched in the cellar 33 1/2 games back. They were in Shibe Park in Philadelphia to take on Connie Mack’s A’s. In the seventh inning, Ehmke was hurling a no-hitter when A’s pitcher Slim Harris (no relation to Joe) stepped in and rifled one to the gap in left centerfield for a double. When the ball returned to the infield, the Red Sox appealed to the umpire that he missed first base. He was ruled out preserving the no-no which Howard completed.

Four days later, Ehmke was on the mound in the brand new Yankee Stadium. New York’s centerfielder Whitey Witt lead off the game and hit a hard ground ball to third baseman Howie Shanks. It bounced off his chest and was ruled a hit by the official scorer Fred Lieb. The only other Yankee to reach base that day, did so on a walk. Lieb refused to relent to the pressure to change the call and Ehmke missed out on throwing back to back no-hitters. However, he still holds the American League record for the least amount of hits surrendered in consecutive games, a total of one!

Fred Lieb would later say ruling Witt’s hit, a hit was the “saddest decision I ever made.”  

Howard Johnathan Ehmke pitched four years for the Red Sox, when they were in the midst of what can best be described as their dark ages. He was 51-64 with a 3.83 ERA yet 89 years later he still stands alone, a jewel in the crown of Fenway folklore.

And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, 1923-26, Howard’s time.

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About fenwaypark100

Hello and welcome, my name is Raymond Sinibaldi. An educator for more than two decades, a baseball fan for nearly 60 years, I have authored four books about baseball and her glorious history; with a fifth on the way in late spring of 2015; the first, The Babe in Red Stockings which was co-authored with Kerry Keene and David Hickey. It is a chronicle of Babe's days with the Red Sox. We also penned a screenplay about Babe's Red Sox days so if any of you are Hollywood inclined or would like to represent us in forwarding that effort feel free to contact me through my email. In 2012 we three amigos published Images of Fenway Park in honor of the 100th birthday of Fenway Park. That led to the creation of this blog. The following year, 2013 came my first solo venture, Spring Training in Bradenton and Sarasota. This is a pictorial history of spring training in those two Florida cities. The spring of 2014 brought forth the 1967 Red Sox, The Impossible Dream Season. The title speaks for itself and it also is a pictorial history. Many of the photos in this book were never published before. The spring of 2015 will bring 1975 Red Sox, American League Champions. Another pictorial effort, this will be about the Red Sox championship season of 1975 and the World Series that restored baseball in America. I was fortunate enough to consult with sculptor Franc Talarico on the “Jimmy Fund” statue of Ted Williams which stands outside both Fenway Park and Jet Blue Park Fenway South, in Fort Myers Florida. That story is contained in the near 300 posts which are contained herein. This blog has been dormant for awhile but 2015 will bring it back to life so jump on board, pass the word and feel free to contact me about anything you read or ideas you may have for a topic. Thanks for stopping by, poke around and enjoy. Autographed copies of all my books are available here, simply click on Raymond Sinibaldi and email me.
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