Game of the Week: June 11, 1937: Boots Beats Grove in Debut

From the SABR Games Project:

The Detroit Tigers found themselves on a nice little four-game winning streak in early June of 1937. They had taken the final two games of a three-game series against the New York Yankees on June 5-6, and then swept the Philadelphia A’s in a two-game series heading into Friday’s contest against the Boston Red Sox on a beautiful 78-degree afternoon in Detroit’s Navin Field. The Tigers were now in third place, only 1½ games behind the front-running Yankees.

The prospects for victory did not appear great that day, however; the Tigers were going up against Red Sox ace Lefty Grove and, indeed, the Red Sox scored three times in the top of the second for a 3-0 lead. The Tigers countered with two in their half of the second on a Gee Walker home run with Hank Greenberg on base. But when the Tigers’ starter, rookie George Gill surrendered a run in the top of the third, acting manager Del Baker1 summoned another rookie, just recalled from Beaumont of the Texas League. To the Navin Field mound strode one Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger, a right-hander from the hills of western Maryland who, despite his ultimately short career, would prove to be one of baseball’s most colorful and eccentric characters.

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