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This Date In Red Sox History: August 8 - Tris Speaker Day, Red Ruffing Acquired

Happy birthday to one of the newest Red Sox, Craig Breslow. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Happy birthday to one of the newest Red Sox, Craig Breslow. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Games of Note: Tris Speaker has not one, but two huge August 8ths in his career, and both them Red Sox-related. In 1914, Speaker records his second unassisted doubly play of the season. This is where we insert the reminder that Tris Speaker was a Hall of Fame center fielder, and this was his second unassisted double play of the season, with the first coming on April 21.

Speaker doubles Detroit Tiger baserunner Harry Heilmann off of second base after catching a liner in the outfield to accomplish the feat, giving him his second unassisted double play of the year, tying a record set by Socks Sebold in 1907 that still stands today. Speaker would accomplish this once more while with Cleveland in 1918, and did so in the same month: he recorded the first of two on April 18, and the second on April 29. Four players ever have recorded two unassisted double plays as outfielders in the same season, and Speaker managed it twice. It wasn't just unassisted double plays that Speaker dominated, either, as he's the all-time leader for double plays involving an outfielder (139), and led the league five times, the most ever, or, once more than the highly acclaimed Willie Mays did in his own Hall of Fame career.

Speakers' other notable August 8th came in 1922, while with Cleveland, facing his former Boston club. The Red Sox beat the Indians 15-6 at Fenway, racking up 21 hits on the way to that score. For his part as manager of the Indians, the final result wasn't anything worth remembering, but the player portion of Tris Speaker, Player Manager, went deep twice to right field at his old ballpark. Both were solo shots, so they didn't help close the gap much, and the loss to a 40-65 Red Sox team put his Indians back at .500, and 10 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Browns.

Transactions: The Red Sox purchased Charles "Red" Ruffing for $4,000 and two players to be named later on this day in 1923. Ruffing had been signed by Danville of the Three-I League when he was 18 at the start of the year, but Boston's purchase was the first step in what would be a 22-season and 24-year-long major-league career.

Ruffing pitched with the Red Sox from 1924 until he was dealt to the New York Yankees on May 6, 1930, in exchange for Cedric Durst and $50,000. Considering that Durst was bad even at his best, and would retire at 33 following the 1930 season, it's safe to say the major appeal here for Boston was the 50 grand.

Ruffing wasn't any kind of special pitcher until he left Boston, though, so don't be too hard on the Sox for sending him packing. (Granted, he was pitching for the historically bad iterations of the Sox, so it's not as if he received much help, either.) Over seven years and 1,121 innings, Ruffing compiled a 92 ERA+, and had a K/BB that hit an even one assuming you were kind enough to round up.

It's with the Yankees that his career took off, once New York manager Bob Shawkey noticed that Ruffing needed to revamp his delivery so as not to throw with just his arm. The 15 years spent there resulted in well over 3,000 innings, an ERA nearly 20 percent better than the league average, four 20-win seasons, two campaigns where he led the AL in strikeout rate (one of those in total punch outs, too), and six All-Star appearances.

Ruffing would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967, 20 years after he retired. He's a bit of an odd choice for Cooperstown, given that his career honestly wasn't that impressive. Yes, he won 273 games, but he also played for 22 years. His career ERA was just nine percent above average, and while he was part of talented Yankees teams, he wasn't exceptional nearly long enough to get the kind of attention that he eventually did. Using WAR as a yardstick has its faults, but Ruffing amassed under 50 in his career, despite 22 seasons -- that's an average of just over two wins per year. Still, Hall-worthy or not, Ruffing was very good for a long time, but not until he left a moribund Boston franchise.

Birthdays: It's newest Red Sox Craig Breslow's 32nd today. It's also former Sox farmhand and current Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo's 23rd birthday, and Ross Ohlendorf's 30th.