The Orioles are headed to Boston to close out the first half of the season. Given the team’s recent struggles and the time of year, fans are perhaps most interested in the upcoming trade deadline and who the Orioles, as sellers, might offer up to other teams in exchange for young prospects. The Orioles don’t have any Babe Ruths on their roster, but in 1914 they did, and midway through the season they sold him to the Red Sox.
It was on this day in 1914 that Jack Dunn, who owned the International League Orioles, offered Ruth in a package deal to fellow owner Connie Mack. The International League Orioles, a minor league outfit, were doing just fine on the field at the time as they were leading the pack in first place. They weren’t doing nearly as well at the gate, however, attracting as few as 50 fans to one home contest.
Dunn was in financial trouble and ready to sell the prized youngster he spotted some five months earlier at Baltimore St. Mary’s Industrial School, a reformatory school for boys run by the Jesuits. Mack recognized Ruth’s talent but rebuffed Dunn’s offer reportedly pleading poverty himself.
The Cincinnati Reds also passed on the future baseball legend despite having a previous agreement to take two Orioles players. The Reds instead selected George Twombly, an outfielder, and Claud Derrick, a shortstop. Reds fans haven’t forgotten that fateful move, which many years later has inspired a “We picked the wrong George” Facebook page.
Dunn’s efforts at a fire sale were not to be denied. A few days later he sold Ruth along with pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan to Red Sox owner Joe Lannin. The entire deal was reportedly worth a $25,000. Dunn’s sale continued and five additional players departed Baltimore. The Orioles fell from first place to sixth place, more than 20 games behind the Providence Grays - and Ruth.
Though he won his first game for the Red Sox on the mound, Ruth finished the season in the minors with the champion Grays. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a postcard image of that championship team.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds will appear this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.