There was a lot that was “slim” about the pitcher Slim Love.
His frame was slim – 6 foot, 7 inches, 195 pounds. And, his baseball career (a few big league seasons between 1913 and 1920) was rather slim, too.
When I wrote about him a couple days ago (click here), I focused on this slimness, his mediocre statistics, and his only pitch, an undisciplined fastball.
Slim’s pretty short list of overall pitching stats (highlighted by an awful lot of walks) made for, well, slim pickings when it came to summing up his career.
But, he was the tallest man in major league baseball at the time and had a very good nickname. So I settled for that.
It could be said that I, an Orioles fan, was unduly hard on Love because he was a Yankee. OK, point taken.
The more I thought about Love, however, the more I thought, “If he was that mediocre, how did he make it through so many major league seasons?”
(You may insert any number of current mediocre pitchers in response here. I’m not going to play that game, but I will say – you do have a point.)
So, I poked around some more. And, I stumbled on something. And, when I say “stumbled” I don’t mean literally, but I came upon it nearly by chance. As if Slim Love himself had steered this newspaper under my nose, controlling his legacy in a way that he couldn’t his fastball.
Slim, I think, wants you to know about this.
Wednesday, June 26, 1918
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
“And along came Slim Love and Babe Ruth was shackled.” (New York Tribune)
Love was a Yankee, Ruth was still with the Red Sox.
Slim Love Pitching for the Yankees. June 26, 1918
Love gave up only three hits in his 3-1 victory that day, bringing the Yankees to within a game of the league-leading Sox.
Slim Love’s own two RBI double was the difference in the Yankees’ victory. “It was a lovely hit and the 6,000 howlers in the stands howled their OK,” wrote Charles Taylor of the Tribune.
As for Babe Ruth?
Babe Ruth, Red Sox. 1918
Being “shackled” meant Ruth went just 1-for-4 that day; his one hit a double that drove in the sole Red Sox run. Which, isn’t really shackled by my accounts, unless, of course, you’re Babe Ruth and much more is expected of you than of ordinary batters.
But, this is Slim’s story.
And, Love, Taylor wrote, “had a lovely day. His old southpaw wing never fluttered so gracefully or with better results.”
(There’s no baseball writer – or baseball blogger – today who could write a line like that, and that’s a shame.)
Every ballplayer – at every level of the game – deserves at least one great moment.
Every batter deserves a 4-for-4 game, or a home run that cuts through the clouds and breaks someone’s windshield, setting off a line of car alarms in the parking lot.
Every batter deserves a Babe Ruth kind of day.
Every pitcher deserves one no-hitter (and Love did have one of those in the minor leagues).
And, every pitcher should be given a moment when their pitches are so spot-on perfect that they would shut down Babe Ruth himself.
Every pitcher deserves that Slim Love kind of day.
POSTSCRIPT: The Red Sox went on to win the World Series that season (defeating the Cubs). They would not win another World Series for 86 years. The Yankees, with a 60-63 record, sunk to fourth. In December 1920, the Red Sox would sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000, which kick started a Yankees’ revival that has led, over the years, to 27 World Series championships.
FUN FACT: Slim Love and Babe Ruth were – very briefly – teammates. In December 1918, the Yankees traded Love to Ruth’s Red Sox. But, before Spring Training or a single game with the Sox, Love was bundled up yet again and traded to the Tigers.