Friday, February 11, 2005
February 11th, 1918
Ed Barrow Named Red Sox Manager
Barrow is in the Hall of Fame and was the first man inducted solely for his performance as general manager of a team, Barrow being credited with helping build Yankee dynasty when he joined the club in 1920. (There are others in the Hall of Fame, like Clark Griffith, who served a GM-like role but they were also managers or owners.) While that is an impressive legacy of its own, Barrow's place in the history of the game stretches far beyond that. Until this year, Barrow was the last manager to win a World Series with the Red Sox. Playing a shortened schedule in 1918, the Sox went 75-51, and won the World Series over the Cubs.
Barrow was impressed with his young pitcher Babe Ruth, but less for Ruth's pitching (which was still impressive, his ERA was ninth in the league) than for his hitting. Despite playing in fewer than one hundred games, Ruth tied for the league lead in home runs (eleven) and was second and third in doubles and RBIs respectively. In the off-season, Barrow finally managed to convince the Red Sox that Ruth's value lay not in retiring hitters, but in being one himself. It was, of course, a brilliant move as Ruth led the league in 1919 in a plethora of categories, including posting an OPS+ of 219, still one of the top twenty OPS+ of all-time. Despite Ruth's success, the Sox lost their championship form and finished 66-71 in 1919 and famously sold Ruth to the Yankees after the season. Barrow managed the Sox to a 72-81 record in 1920 and after the season moved into the Yankees' general manager position.
Barrow earned his place in the Hall of Fame for his work with the Yankees, but even if he had retired after his tenure with the Sox, he would have merited induction simply for converting Ruth to a hitter, an event as important in baseball history as the invention of the curveball or the breaking of the color barrier.