May 5, 1950: ‘That Williams is quite a hitter and you just can’t keep getting him out forever’

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

“You see, it’s like this. You get the guy out a couple of times and the law of averages is bound to catch up with you.”  – White Sox starter Billy Pierce.1


Ted WilliamsLeft-hander Billy Pierce led both leagues with a 1.97 earned-run average in 1955. His 20 wins led the American League two years later, the second season in a row he’d won 20 games.

In 1950, Pierce was 23 years old and in his third full season with the Chicago White Sox. It was still early in the 1950 season when he started against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Pierce was 1-0. He had worked in relief in two prior appearances and had yet to give up a run. The White Sox had played only eight games and were 3-5, in seventh place.

Boston hadn’t had all the postponements the White Sox had, and the Red Sox had a record of 10-7. They were in second place, one game behind the Detroit Tigers, on the strength of a six-game winning streak that ran through May 3. They had lost to visiting Cleveland on May 4.

Manager Joe McCarthy selected right-hander Joe Dobson to start this Friday afternoon game.2 Dobson was 33 years old. He’d begun his career with the Indians back in 1939 and joined the Red Sox in 1941. Over the four prior postwar seasons, he had compiled a record of 61-37. He was 2-1, with a 3.38 ERA, over his first three appearances in 1950.

Dobson retired the three White Sox he faced in the top of the first, each out being made by an infielder.

Pierce struggled at the start, walking the first three Boston batters he faced – Dom DiMaggio (center field), Johnny Pesky (third base), and Ted Williams (left field). The bases were loaded for 1949’s RBI co-champion, shortstop Vern “Junior” Stephens. (Stephens and Ted Williams tied with 159 RBIs apiece, tops in both the American and National Leagues.)

Stephens blooped a single into right field, adding another RBI to his career total – and almost adding two. Pesky was tagged out easily before he could get to home plate, on a perfect throw by right fielder Dave Philley to White Sox catcher Phil Masi. Second baseman Bobby Doerr struck out and rookie first baseman Walt Dropo grounded to second baseman Cass Michaels who threw to shortstop for the force out, but Boston led, 1-0.3

Third baseman Hank Majeski singled in the top of the second. Red Sox catcher Birdie Tebbetts walked in the bottom of the second. They were the only players to reach base.

It was three-up, three-down for the White Sox in the top of the third inning. The first two Boston batters – Pesky and Williams – struck out in the Red Sox third. But Stephens picked up another RBI with a solo home run, a line drive into the left-field screen, for a 2-0 lead.

Dobson retired the White Sox in the top of the fourth. In the home half, the Red Sox threatened but didn’t score. Tebbetts hit a one-out double to center field. Dobson walked and so did DiMaggio. The bases were loaded for Johnny Pesky, but he struck out. Pierce faced Williams with the bases still loaded but induced a popup to third base.

The White Sox scored twice, tying the game 2-2, in the top of the fifth inning. Left fielder Gus Zernial singled, but Majeski grounded into a double play. Masi singled. Rookie shortstop Chico Carrasquel homered into the screen atop the left-field wall, just about three feet inside the foul line.4 It was his first major-league home run. Pierce struck out.

The score remained 2-2 through the sixth. Majeski singled with one out in the top of the seventh but was caught stealing.

In the bottom of the seventh, Johnny Pesky walked. Pierce had already struck out Ted Williams once and got him to pop up to third base with the bases loaded. This time Williams swung at the first pitch and homered to right field, hitting a curveball that didn’t curve about a dozen rows deep into the lower seats in Section 1 in right field. It was 4-2, Red Sox.

After the game, Pierce said, “It was supposed to be a sweeping curve but it didn’t break very much and he hit it perfectly. This is no alibi, but I had trouble getting a grip on the mound out there. It’s clay and you don’t get any traction.”5

After Stephens made an out, Doerr singled, but he was erased on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play when trying to steal, with Dropo at the plate.

Dobson faced three batters in the top of the eighth. In the bottom half, Howie Judson replaced Pierce as pitcher for the White Sox; Pierce had been lifted for a pinch-hitter. The Red Sox added another run. The first two batters walked – right fielder Tommy O’Brien and Tebbetts. Dobson bunted them to second and third. DiMaggio grounded to shortstop, but hit the ball too solidly and Carrasquel threw the ball home for the second out, erasing O’Brien.

With Pesky at the plate, DiMaggio was picked off first base – or would have been had not Judson’s throw been so wild, some 15 feet wide of first baseman Luke Appling.6 Tebbetts scored. Judson was charged with an error. Pesky walked. Williams was walked, too. The bases were loaded for Stephens, but he grounded out.

In the White Sox ninth Dobson gave up a pair of one-out singles, but then worked him way out of the jam with a force out at third base and then a groundball force out at second base. He got the win, increasing his lifetime record against the White Sox to 15-4.7

The Chicago Sun-Times calculated that since 1945 this defeat had left the White Sox with a record of 7-40 against Boston, with only two wins in the last two years.8 Chicago batters had outhit the Red Sox in this game eight to six, but White Sox pitchers doled out 13 walks while Dobson walked no one.9 Three Red Sox who reached on walks eventually scored, and that was the difference in the game.

It was a nice win for the Red Sox, but it was played on a chilly day and before what the Providence Journal said was the smallest Fenway crowd in two years: 3,415 paying customers and 588 women.10



This article was fact-checked by Ray Danner and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and



1 Hy Hurwitz, “Williams Homer Gives Red Sox Victory Over White Sox, 5-2,” Boston Globe, May 6, 1950: 4.

2 McCarthy was replaced by Steve O’Neill 59 games into the season, when the Red Sox were 31-28.

3 Dropo was 0-for-4 in this game, but at year’s end he led the two leagues in runs batted in, with 144.

4 John C. Hoffman, “White Sox Do Boston Swoon, Tumble 5-2,” Chicago Sun-Times, May 6, 1950: 27.

5 Will Cloney, “Onslow and Cast Outdo Vaudeville,” Boston Herald, May 6, 1950: 6.

6 Edward Burns, “Boston Homers Beat Sox, 5-2,” Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1950:  A1.

7 F.C. Matzek, “Stephens’, Williams’ Drives Give Boston 5-2 Victory,” Providence Journal, May 5, 1950: 6.

8 Hoffman.

9 Hoffman wrote that they had “walked everyone but the peanut vendors.”

10 Matzek.

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 5
Chicago White Sox 2

Fenway Park
Boston, MA


Box Score + PBP:

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1950s ·