1917 Baseball Season Headlines
Jim Thorpe So-So at Baseball
The reason Jim Thorpe never did much in baseball, allegedly, was because he could not hit breaking-ball pitchers. In 1917, for example, he spent 77 games in Cincinnati, hitting .247 with four home runs and 36 RBI before heading to New York for 26 games, a .193 average, and four RBI. He must have gotten hold of at least a few such pitches during his coda season in 1919, however, when he batted .327. There is no record of the type of pitch Hippo Vaughn threw when Thorpe broke up the greatest no-hit duel in history on May 2, 1917.
Lefty Hippo Vaughn Wins 23
Chicago's Hippo Vaughn (23-13, a 2.01 ERA, 195 strikeouts, and five shutouts in 1917) and Pittsburgh's Wilbur Cooper (17-11, a 2.36 ERA, 99 Ks, and seven shutouts that year) were the two top southpaws in the National League during the late 1910s. Originally with the Yankees, Vaughn won 142 games for the Cubs over a seven-year span before his skills deserted him in 1921.
Max Carey Leads Pitiful Pirates
The Pirates were so bad in 1917 that the 51 RBI collected by Max Carey topped the club that season. With that kind of support, future Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes could manage just a 3-16 record that year.
Ernie Shore Runs Out of Steam
It has still not been decided whether or not Ernie Shore's gem in relief of Babe Ruth, in which he retired the succeeding 27 batters, qualifies as a perfect game. Ruth walked the first Senator of the game, was ejected for arguing the call, and Shore pitched nine perfect innings in relief. In any case, 1917 was Shore's last productive season. He finished as a teammate of Ruth's with the 1920 Yankees.
Rogers Hornsby Tops in SA, Triples
Rogers Hornsby in 1917 was a lean, hungry young Texan of seemingly unlimited hitting ability who had not yet found an infield position to call home. After being stationed mostly at third as a rookie in 1916, he played short all of 1917, posting a league-high .484 slugging average, 17 triples, and 253 total bases.
Dave Robertson Vies for National League Dinger Title
In 1916 and 1917, with nearly a third of his extra-base hits being four-baggers, Dave Robertson tied for the National League home run crown both years with the identical sum of 12. World War I then carved nearly two full seasons out of his career, leaving him with only one more year as a full-time player.
Edd Roush Wins National League Bat Title
The last surviving Federal League participant as well as the last living player of the 1919 World Series, Edd Roush died in 1988 at the age of 94. In 1917, he took the National League batting crown with a .341 average. Something of an iconoclast and very much his own man, Roush was a frequent holdout when he was not offered what he felt was his worth.
Read highlights and summaries of some of the other major events of the 1917 baseball season on the next page.
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