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