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On this day in Tigers history: Detroit takes two from the Red Sox

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Sept. 19, 1917 saw the Tigers win a doubleheader at Fenway Park

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox Photo by Rob Trubia/Getty Images

I was scrolling Twitter during the Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics game Monday night when this tweet caught my eye. Baseball Reference said “Looking for a fun way to explore baseball history? Type ‘Random’ in the search bar on our site and see what you find.” I couldn’t possibly ignore that invitation, could I?

Of course not.

So I went to baseball-reference.com and searched “random” once. Twice. Three times — and more. I wasn’t looking for anything specific other than something interesting. Eventually I found the box score of a Brooklyn Robins vs. Boston Red Sox game from 99 years ago. That gave me the idea to see what the Tigers were up to a century ago.

When I searched for and found what I was looking for, I was fascinated. I thought others might be too, so I decided to write about it.

Let’s take a dive into history!

Sept. 19, 1917: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox, doubleheader game one

The Tigers beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a score of 5-2 in the first game, in one hour and 58 minutes total. Think about that — a full nine innings in under two hours.

Five Hall of Famers played in the game: Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann for the Tigers and Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth, and Herb Pennock for the Red Sox. Interestingly, Ruth was only a pinch-hitter for Boston’s starting pitcher. He walked in his sole plate appearance — one of only 12 walks he drew in 1917.

The players with the best names to appear in the game were Chick Shorten and Dick Hoblitzell for Boston and Ossie Vitt for Detroit.

Other tidbits about the game include:

  • Bill James was the lone native Detroiter.
  • There were only three extra-base hits: two doubles and a triple.
  • Cobb stole his 45th base of the season.
  • James, the starting pitcher for Detroit, pitched a complete game, despite giving up nine hits. He faced 38 batters over nine innings.
  • The Tigers took advantage of their men on base, only stranding two baserunners the entire game. They scored five runs on just four hits.
  • Only two umpires were present, one at home plate and one at first base.

You can see the entire box score for yourself here.

Sept. 19, 1917: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox, doubleheader game two

Detroit beat Boston 1-0 in the second match, with a game duration of one hour and 20 minutes. Both starting pitchers completed their games — Hooks Dauss (he had the best name in this game by far) for the Tigers and Carl Mays for the Red Sox.

Recorded attendance for game two was 9,830 — not too shabby for a Wednesday afternoon, considering Fenway Park’s average attendance in 1917 was 4,848. The average attendance at Navin Field for that season was 6,017, and the average MLB attendance was 4,186.

Losing pitcher Carl Mays had a record of 20-8 after Sept. 19 and finished the season 22-9. He completed 27 of the 33 games he started in 1917. Mays completed 20 games seven times and won 20 games five times during his 15-year career.

Some other fun facts:

  • Tigers third baseman Bobby Veach hit a triple, the only extra-base hit of the game. Veach also had the only stolen base.
  • Cobb was one of three batters with an average over .300. He was batting .376 at the end of Sept. 19.
  • Both teams left three men on base, and only one double play was turned in the game.

Click here to see the full box score.

So that’s what the Tigers were doing a century ago Tuesday. What do you think?

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