Shooting for .400, Ted Williams didn’t manage a single in the Boston Red Sox’ September 1 doubleheader with the Washington Senators, nor a two-base hit. He didn’t hit a triple, either, but he improved his batting average by three points, from .407 to .410.
He did hit three home runs — two in the first game and one in this second game.
He also walked four times, twice in each game. The walks ratcheted his on-base percentage up to .554 — more than 55 percent of the time “The Kid” had come up to bat, he got on base. His 34th home run, hit in the second game, gave him a one-homer edge over New York’s Charlie “King Kong” Keller for the league lead. Williams had homered in each of the last four calendar days the Red Sox had played, with six home runs over the span.
After the Red Sox rallied for a 13-9 win in the doubleheader’s opener, Arnold Revola “Red” Anderson was Senators skipper Bucky Harris’s choice to pitch the second game. The right-hander was working in his first (and only) full year in baseball. Hailing from Lawton, Iowa, he’d pitched in two 1937 games and two 1940 games, all for Washington, but this game was his 32nd of 1941. He worked mostly in relief; this was his fourth start. His record coming into the September 1 game was 3-5 (4.57 ERA).
Red Sox manager Joe Cronin gave Joe Dobson the game ball. Likewise a righty, Dobson was in his third season and appearing in his 98th career game. He’d mostly relieved in 1939 and 1940, with a 5-10 combined won-lost record. This was his 15th start of the 1941 season. His earned-run average was 5.83 and he had a record of 8-5.1
Senators left fielder George Case was the first batter of the second game. He singled but was caught stealing. Dobson got outs from the next two batters. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Anderson walked Red Sox right fielder Pete Fox but third baseman-manager Cronin hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Senators got on the Fenway Park scoreboard first. Leading off the second, shortstop Cecil Travis singled. First baseman Mickey Vernon tripled to the right-field corner, driving in Travis. The third batter, third baseman George Archie, hit a deep sacrifice fly to Dom DiMaggio in center field, and Vernon scored. It was 2-0, Washington. Dobson got the next two batters out.
Boston got one back in the bottom of the inning when Ted Williams reached second base after Buddy Lewis dropped his fly ball to right field. Williams scored on Jimmie Foxx’s single, a ball hit hard off Anderson’s glove and into short left field by the Red Sox first baseman.2 Second baseman Bobby Doerr followed with another single, but Anderson induced a fly ball to shortstop and a 4-6-3 double play.
Case walked and was again caught stealing in the top of the third, but there was otherwise little apparent adventure. In the bottom of the inning, DiMaggio singled, but this time it was Pete Fox who hit into a double play.
After Dobson retired the side in the fourth inning, the Red Sox scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead that they never relinquished. With one out, Williams was walked. Foxx singled to center, Williams stopping at second. After Doerr struck out, catcher Frankie Pytlak singled and Williams scored.
Shortstop Skeeter Newsome singled and Jimmie Foxx scored. Dobson came up to bat and hit a fly ball to left field that Case misplayed for an error. Pytlak scored Boston’s third run of the inning, but Dobson was thrown out trying to reach second base for the third out.
Dobson walked the first Washington batter in the fifth but retired the next three — and all three he faced in the top of the sixth.
It was three up, three down for Anderson in the fifth, but he ran into enough trouble in the sixth that he was driven from the game.
Ted Williams led off with his third homer of the day. It came on a 3-and-1 pitch and was sent “into the bleacher-grandstand separation in right field.”3 The one strike of the at-bat had been on a “savage” foul ball Williams hit over the right-field roof.
Anderson was the second Iowan in the doubleheader to give up a homer to Ted Williams. Middle Amana native Bill Zuber had surrendered the second of his two home runs in the 13-9 Red Sox first-game win.
Williams’s solo home run in game two gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead, but a special dispatch to the Washington Post declared that it “ignited the Boston offense for the second time.”4 Foxx flied out to center, but both Doerr and Pytlak singled. Newsome flied out to shortstop for the second out, but Dobson singled, to first base, and the bases were loaded. DiMaggio singled and drove in both Doerr and Pytlak, pushing Boston’s advantage to 7-2.
Anderson departed, relieved by Steve Sundra. George Case was not having a good game. He’d already been caught stealing twice, and now he committed his second error in left field when Pete Fox hit one there. Dobson scored Boston’s eighth run. Then Cronin doubled off the wall in left, driving in DiMaggio and Fox.
Williams came up a second time in the inning and hit another one over the right-field roof — but again it went foul. And then he walked. Jimmie Foxx struck out to end the inning.5 Red Sox 10, Senators 2.
That proved to be the final score. The other two hits Dobson gave up were in the top of the seventh, back-to-back singles by Vernon and Archie. He also walked Sundra leading off the eighth, but there were otherwise no baserunners in his final three innings. And Sundra set down all six Red Sox he faced in the seventh and eighth.
Dobson got the win, of course, a complete-game five-hitter. After Washington scored its only two runs in the game in the second inning, Dobson kept the Senators scoreless on only two base hits the rest of the way. Anderson took the loss.
In 1941 Williams led the major leagues in batting average (.406), bases on balls (147 — a league-leading 25 of them intentional walks), on-base percentage (.553), OPS (1.287), home runs (37), and runs scored (135).
There was even a home run that wasn’t in the first inning of the September 7 game at Yankee Stadium. Ted’s ball “struck the right-field foul pole and caromed into foul territory into the stands. Under a screwy local rule, it was a ground rule double. If it had caromed into fair territory, it would have been good for a homer.”6 Although the foul pole is always deemed in fair territory, this is the way the ground rule was at Yankee Stadium at the time. Though homerless, The Kid was 3-for-4 that day with a walk.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.
1 Dobson’s career improved, particularly in the first postwar years, and he ended his career 137-103 with a 3.62 career ERA.
2 Burt Whitman, “Williams Wallops 3 Homers as Sox Win Two,” Boston Herald, September 2, 1941: 14.
3 Hy Hurwitz, “Ted Lifts Hit Mark to .401 Before 22,577 Sox Fans,” Boston Globe, September 2, 1941: 1, 4.
4 Special Dispatch, “8 Pitchers Fail to Halt Boston Bats,” Washington Post, September 2, 1941: 20.
5 Shirley Povich wrote that Foxx “has lost the snap in his wrists.” Shirley Povich, “This Morning,” Washington Post, September 2, 1941: 19.
6 Gerry Moore, “Ted Lifts Average to .413 as Sox Bow,” Boston Globe, September 8, 1941: 12.