On April 11, 1917, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Babe Ruth led off a terrific season by beating the Yankees 10-3, allowing only three hits. The 22-year-old was less than four years out of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reform school in Baltimore.
Ruth went on that year to compile a 24-13 record with 35 complete games, six shutouts and an ERA of 2.01. He also batted .325 with two home runs. It was his third successful season in the big leagues, and his success went to his head. He began to argue with umpires about the strike zone. On June 23, in a game against Washington, umpire Buck Owens called his first four pitches balls. The Babe stormed off the mound and punched Owens in the head. He was thrown out of the game and suspended for 10 days. Ernie Shore came in to relieve him and retired all 26 batters. Ruth was later credited with the combined no-hitter.
The Red Sox finished second to the Chicago White Sox that season. Pressure grew to make Ruth an every day player to take advantage of his hitting. Finally, in May 1918, the Red Sox started to put him in the lineup every day as a first baseman, outfielder or pitcher. In 1919, he pitched only 17 of his 130 games and hit a record 29 home runs. On Dec. 26, 1919, a day long mourned in Boston, Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees.
Ruth learned to play baseball from Brother Matthias Boutlier at St. Mary’s. Of his ballplaying at the school he later said,
Sometimes I pitched. Sometimes I caught, and frequently I played the outfield and infield. It was all the same to me. All I wanted was to play. I didn’t care much where.