Babe Ruth of the Red Sox out-duels Walter Johnson 1-0 in 13 innings
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Ruth said early on that he was meant to toe the rubber.
“As soon as I got out there, I felt a strange relationship with the pitcher's mound,” Ruth said. “It was as if I'd been born out there. Pitching just felt like the most natural thing in the world.”
Johnson had even more experience. The man known as “The Big Train” already had six 20-plus win seasons by 1916. Johnson already eclipsed the 200-win mark and won an MVP by the time he squared off with Ruth that afternoon.
Longevity, a strength of both hurlers, played out to the fullest. Ruth and Johnson both went the distance in the 13-inning affair. Johnson scattered five hits over his 12.2 innings of work while Ruth surrendered a lone infield single to Clyde Milan to mark the Senators’ only hit after the seventh inning.
As he did so many times in his career, Ruth had a chance to end it with a home run in the bottom of the 12th inning. But Milan reached over the right field wall and robbed Ruth of the walk-off homer to preserve the scoreless tie. (It’s worth noting that over 693 combined innings on the mound in 1916, neither Ruth nor Johnson surrendered a home run that season.)
Johnson eventually gave up the game-winning run in the bottom of the 13th and took the tough-luck loss.
Despite his 417 career wins, hard luck became a theme of Johnson’s 21-year career with the Senators. Johnson finally reached and won the World Series in his 18th season in the big leagues.
Johnson always preached the “control what you can control” philosophy.
“The best pitching in the world will not win where your infield lets in a flock of runs,” Johnson said, “and the best pitching in the world cannot win where your own club fails to score.”