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Yankees History: The stupidest games of the 1923 season

The 1923 Yankees went down in history, but let’s take them down a peg.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Here in 2023, we are 100 years way from 1923, which was a pretty big one in Yankees’ history. It was the year of the franchise’s first ever World Series title, and kickstarted what has become the most successful team in Major League Baseball. It was a year of winning.

However, just by the very nature of baseball, not every game ends in a win. The 1923 Yankees won 98 games, but that still leaves 54 losses and then another two before they eventually clinched the Fall Classic. Several of those losses are dumb ones. So in honor of a team that won so much, let’s remember that they sometimes lost, and take a look at the stupidest losses from the 1923 season.

September 23: Yankees 2, Red Sox 3 (16 innings)

The Yankees had already clinched the AL pennant when they took on Boston in a late-September doubleheader. They had already lost the opener when they took the field for game two.

Now you might think, eh, late September doubleheader with nothing really to play for, they must not have brought out a full-strength lineup. Yes, they were resting a few people, but there were still several regulars in the lineup including Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig was also in the starting nine, albeit before he had made the first base job his own. It was a decently strong lineup that — in theory — had enough to beat the last placed Red Sox.

After taking a lead in the top of the fifth inning, they immediately coughed it back up in the bottom half. Eventually, they rallied to tie the game at two in the seventh. From there, they had another full nine innings to score, but failed to, before eventually losing on a walk-off in the 16th. Mind you, Boston never changed pitchers in that time, meaning they scored just two runs on a pitcher who threw 16 innings in one game.

October 7th: Yankees 7, Athletics 9

While that Red Sox game happened late in the season, the regular season ended on an equally stupid note. Miller Huggins ran out an equally decent, but not full strength team as the Yankees wrapped up the regular season against the sixth-placed A’s.

Things seemed to be going pretty decently as they jumped out to a 7-4 lead. However, reliever George Pipgras couldn’t hang onto the lead, allowing a run in the sixth and then four in the ninth, coughing up the lead against a team that had the second-lowest run per game average in the AL that season. The Yankees’ offense couldn’t answer in the bottom of the ninth, dooming them to a 9-7 loss.

September 11th: Yankees 0, Red Sox 1

It’s becoming a theme that these games happened late in the season.

The Yankees were only shutout seven times in 1923, and this one is arguably the most egregious. The Red Sox had the worst pitching in the AL that season, allowing 5.3 runs per game, 0.3 ahead of the next worst team. Their starter in this particular game — Howard Ehmke — wasn’t the worst of the bunch, but he was only a league average pitcher that year.

Yet on that day, he not only shutout the Yankees, but held them to just one hit. That lone hit came from Whitey Witt, when he led off the game for the Bombers with a single. While he then got a little help on a fielder’s choice after an error to get Whitt at third in the very next play, Ehmke then retired all but one of the remaining batters in the game. One lone walk was the only other scrap of offense the Yankees got all day. Not surprisingly, one hit was their worst total of that year.