Mans­field’s Sher­rod Smith and Babe Ruth pitched World Se­ries long­est game

The Covington News - - LOOKING BACK -

Sher­rod Malone (Sherry) Smith, who was Babe Ruth’s los­ing mound op­po­nent in the long­est World Se­ries game ever played — 14 in­nings in 1916 — was a na­tive of Mans­field, Ga. He was born at Mans­field on Fe­bru­ary 18, 1891.

Smith served 22 years in the game as a pitcher and man­ager and hurled for Brook­lyn, Pitts­burgh and Cleve­land in the ma­jors. A south­paw, Sherry had one of the most de­cep­tive moves ever seen in catch­ing run­ners off base and also was noted for his con­trol.

He pitched for eight sea­sons at Brook­lyn, par­tic­i­pat­ing in two World Se­ries with the Dodgers, and five more years with the In­di­ans.

Al­though the win­ner in only one game, Smith turned in three great pitch­ing ex­hi­bi­tions in the World Se­ries. He is chiefly re­mem­bered for his long duel with Babe Ruth, then a pitcher, in the sec­ond game of the 1916 World Se­ries be­tween the Dodgers and the Red Sox. It was the Bam­bino’s first ap­pear­ance a sa pitcher in the Se­ries and he de­feated Smith, 2-1 in 14 in­nings, Oc­to­ber 9.

The Babe pitched score­less ball af­ter Hi My­ers, Brook­lyn cen­ter­fielder, hit a home run in the first in­ning and yielded only five more hits. Smith gave up seven safeties, walked six — un­usual wild­ness for him — and struck out two. He yielded a run in the third in­ning on a triple by Everett Scott, who scored when Sec­ond Base­man Ge­orge Cut­shaw fum­bled a grounder.

The Red Sox were held score­less un­til the 14th when Smith walked Dick Hoblitzel. Mike McNally ran for Hoblitzel, Duffy Lewis sac­ri­ficed him to sec­ond and Pinch-Hit­ter Del Gainer sin­gled to plate the win­ning run. Smith did not ap­pear again in the 1916 World Se­ries, which the Sox, won in five games.

Smith won one game and lost one in the 1920 Se­ries against the In­di­ans, the team he was to join two years later. He was a 2-1 vic­tor in the third game, the Dodgers scor­ing both their runs in the first in­ning, knock­ing out Earl Cald­well, to give Smith an early lead. Sherry al­lowed three hits in a duel with Wal­ter Mails the rest of the way.

Mails hooked up with Smith again as the start­ing pitcher in the sixth game and won a 1-0 duel by al­low­ing only three hits. Smith held the In­di­ans to seven, Tris Speaker scor­ing the only ruin the sixth in­ning.

Ge­orge Moriarty, long time um­pire in the Amer­i­can League, con­sid­ered Smith sec­ond only to Ed Walsh in the art of pick­ing run­ners off base. Writ­ing about Smith’s move to first base, Moriarty said that his throw “was so un­canny and con­fus­ing that the play­ers dubbed it the mir­a­cle move.” For years they tried ev­ery means of tim­ing it, but they were obliged to give it up as a fu­ture task. To the run­ner on base it ap­peared that Smith was look­ing right at the bat­ter. More than that, the run­ner was pos­i­tive the pitch­ers had started his de­liv­ery to the plate. Then in a jiffy, Smith would step to­ward first, un­cork a throw close to the ground and the first base­man would eas­ily tag out the vic­tim.” Al­though watch­ing closely, Moriarty said he never had oc­ca­sion to call a balk on Smith.

Com­ing out of Stone Moun­tain Col­lege for Boys, Smith signed with Greens­boro in 1910, went to Jack­sonville, Fla., and was drafted by Pitts­burgh in 1911. Af­ter sev­eral as­sign­ments to Minneapolis, Green­wood, Miss.,, In­di­anapo­lis, and Spring­field, Ohio, he was re­leased by Pitts­burgh to Louisville in 1913 and he sub­se­quently was with Grand Rapids and Ne­wark, un­til Brook­lyn ac­quired him late in 1914. Ex­cept for a year in the Army, Smith re­mained with Brook­lyn un­til 1922 and then went to Cleve­land un­der un­usual cir­cum­stances.

Charley Eb­bets, owner of the Dodgers, wanted to in­clude Smith in a deal with a mi­nor league club and in­duced all Na­tional League clubs to waive on him. Cleve­land, how­ever, re­fused and he went to the In­di­ans to be­come one of their most de­pend­able pitch­ers. He never worked in less than 30 games a sea­son and only once did he pass the 50 mark in is­su­ing free tick­ets, in 1917, when he gave up 51. As an ex­am­ple of his con­trol, Smith yielded only 27 walks in 33 games in 1920. Ap­pear­ing in 331 ma­jor league con­tests, Sherry had a record of 103 wins and 104 losses.

Af­ter he was re­leased by Cleve­land he man­aged At­lanta, Cedar­town, Greenville and Ma­con.

Fol­low­ing Smith’s re­tire­ment form the game in 1932 he worked as a law en­force­ment of­fice in Por­terdale, Madi­son and Rei­dsville.

Sher­rod was mar­ried to Ad­dilu Ozburn on Fe­bru­ary 18, 1920. Mrs. Smith still lives in Rei­dsville and teaches piano there. The Smith’s have two chil­dren, Sher­rod Jr. and Sara (Mrs. New­ton An­der­son of Ma­con).

It may have been a co­in­ci­dence that on the very day that his son Sher­rod Jr. was born, Sherry hurled a 14-in­nin game against the im­mor­tal Wal­ter John­son of Wash­ing­ton and beat the Big Train 2-1. When he got to the ho­tel af­ter the game, he got a tele­gram say­ing he was the fa­ther of a boy. Sherry had many trib­utes paid him from great base­ball men in­clud­ing Max Carey, one of the finest base steal­ers the game has ever known.

Carey said “I’ve stolen bases from them all but this ‘Sherry’ Smith; never yet have I stolen one from him, nor do I hope to.”

Casey Sten­gle said re­cently that Sherry was in a class by him­self in the pick­off at first base. In fact, it was told in the early 1920’s that he would of­ten walk a bat­ter to just pick him off first.

When base­ball fans talk about the War­ren Spahns, Whitey Fords, Lefty Groves and all those fa­mous left­handed, may they never for­get the great left­hander form New­ton County, Sher­rod ‘Sherry’ Smith.

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