a certain baseball scout for the Cincinnati Reds had made a different
choice one afternoon in Baltimore, Babe Ruth very well might have begun
his major league baseball career in Cincinnati instead of Boston.
1914 the Reds had a "working agreement" with the Baltimore team, which
played in the Class AAA International League. That agreement gave the
Reds the right to pick two players from the Baltimore roster and sign
them to a Cincinnati contract.
During the summer of 1914, Reds president Garry Herrmann sent
his emissary to the East Coast to take a look at the Baltimore team. The
man Herrmann selected was Harry Stevens. Stevens had no baseball
experience; he was working for the Reds because he was a friend of the
Fleischmann family, owners of the club.
Stevens was regarded by some as the proverbial company spy. A year
earlier, 1913, he had ruffled some feathers when he joined the
organization. Joe Tinker, manager of the Reds, took it as a personal
insult that the club would hire a man to look after the players both at
home and on the road, so he quit. The team hired Buck Herzog, who came
from the New York Giants in a trade for outfielder Bob Bescher.
Other than his trips with the Reds in 1913, Stevens' baseball experience
was minimal. Nevertheless, when the time came for a scout to be sent to
Baltimore to look over the prospects, it was Stevens who was sent. He
was charged with picking two players whom the Reds would want for their
team the following season.
say he failed is a classic understatement.
Pitching on that Baltimore team at the time were George Herman Ruth and
Ernie Shore. Playing shortstop was Claud Derrick. A member of the
outfield was George Twombly.
Stevens watched a few games, talked with some Baltimore officials and
made his decision. He would take shortstop Derrick and outfielder
Twombly back to Cincinnati.
No, he wasn't interested in the fellow named Ruth or the other pitcher
named Shore. He would take the shortstop and outfielder.
What a selection!
Derrick's career with the Reds lasted two games. Three days after
arriving in Cincinnati, Derrick was shuffled off to the Chicago Cubs for
first baseman Fred Mollwitz, who went on to bat .162 for the Reds the
remainder of the 1914 season.
Twombly stuck around a little longer, but he, too, had a poor career in
Cincinnati. He batted .233 in 1914 and .197 the next year. After
appearing in three games in 1916, he was gone from Cincinnati.
The Boston Red Sox also had a working agreement with the Baltimore club.
After the Reds had their chance at two players, Boston made its
selections. The Boston scout was considerably more efficient. He took a
pair of pitchers back to Boston.
Ruth was one of the pitchers and Shore the other. Ruth, as everyone
knows, went on to become an outstanding pitcher before he turned
home-run-hitting outfielder with the New York Yankees. Shore was not as
accomplished as Ruth but in four seasons after going to Boston from
Baltimore, he won 56 games certainly enough to have pleased Reds fans
in those days.
Had Babe Ruth originally played major league baseball with the
Cincinnati Reds, his career might have been drastically different. He
might never have become an outfielder. His pitching prowess might not
have been fully developed.
But Reds followers will have to always wonder what might have been.