The foundation of a Yankee dynasty was constructed in Boston and shipped to New York. Both teams changed dramatically with Boston sinking to the American League basement.
Recently Ben Kairalla wrote an excellent article on a near trade that would have haunted Red Sox Nation. Historically there was another near trade and that was Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams. This was discussed until both GM’s sobered up (true) and thought better of the two icons trading places. But let’s go back to the grand daddy of all Red Sox trade blunders that did happen.
The usual response is Babe Ruth, but it goes far deeper than just Ruth. Ruth was not the first of many to climb aboard the train from Boston to Grand Central Station and call New York their new home. The core of the great Yankee teams of the early 1920s had their roots firmly in Boston. The flags should have been on Fenway Park and not a soon to be built Yankee Stadium.
Carl Mays was shipped to the Yankees before Ruth left town. Mays had twice won 20+ games for the Red Sox and won two games in the 1918 World Series. The submarine tossing righty was 5-11 for the 1919 Red Sox and at the end of July went to the Yankees where Mays went 9-3. With the Yankees Mays twice won 20+ games and was part of the 1921-22 pennant winners.
Duffy Lewis is in the Red Sox Hall of Fame and is famed as part of the great outfield of Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Lewis. Lewis played only two seasons in New York and never appeared in a World Series, but he is part of the great diaspora to New York.
Promising 20-year-old right-hander Waite Hoyt had a 6-6 season with Boston before joining the Yankees in 1921. How did that work out? Hoyt pitched 10 years for the Yankees winning 157 games and appearing in six World Series. Hoyt is also in the HOF.
Need a catcher? Boston had Wally Schang who hit .305. Off to New York for the 1921 season and a .318 average. Schang played in three World Series for the Yankees and was the primary catcher from 1921-25.
Where can you find a slick shortstop who can still handle the bat? Look to Boston and grad Everett Scott. Scott became the starter for NY from 1922-24 and hit .318 in the 1923 World Series that the Yankees won. Oh, yes, and what is short without a good third baseman. Joe Dugan came along in 1922, also. Dugan played seven seasons for the Bombers hitting .286.
You win with pitching and Boston still had it in 1921. Bullet Joe Bush went 16-9 and Sad Sam Jones had a 23-16 for the Sox. Any guess where they were in 1922? If you said the Yankees we have a bingo! Bush finished at 26-7 and Jones went 13-13, but led the AL with eight saves.
The 1922 Yankee rotation had Hoyt, Bush, Jones, and Mays with only Bob Shawkey as the non Boston starter. The positional players had Ruth, Schang, Scott, and Dugan who all had called the Red Sox home. And the 1922 Red Sox? They went 61-93 and dead last. But the Red Sox still had some talent and you know what that means.
Herb Pennock went 10-17 for the Red Sox in 1922 but had a lifeline sent his way. Off to the Yankees and a 162-90 record for 11 seasons, five wins in the World Series, and eventual induction into the HOF. But Boston was on a roll as in the next 10 seasons saw the Red Sox finish last eight times. The franchise was dead. The talent picked clean like locust hitting a wheat field.
The last great heist happened in 1930 with Red Ruffing. Ruffing was a talented right-hander who twice led the AL in losses while pitching for the Red Sox. Ruffing went to the Yankees and then to the HOF after winning 231 games in the Bronx and going 7-2 in the World Series. Ruffing also hit 36 career home runs and had a career .269 average.
The Red Sox history dramatically changed with the pipeline to New York and Ruth may have been the most notable, but the Yankee foundation for the championships in the 1920s was constructed in Boston with a long list of departed stars.