1927 World Series
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The 1927 Yankees are considered by many to be the greatest team in the history of baseball; author Donald Honig picked them as such in his 1982 book: Baseball's 10 Greatest Teams. Not only did they win the American League pennant by 19 games, but in the 1927 World Series, they obliterated the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in four games.
The New York Yankees
The 1927 New York Yankees had perhaps the most feared line-up in the history of baseball. Nicknamed Murderers Row, their batting order boasted the all-time great Babe Ruth at the top of his considerable powers, hitting .356 with a then-record 60 home runs and 164 RBI that year. He was complemented by future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig at first base, who hit .373 with 47 home runs and a league-leading 175 RBI, Tony Lazzeri at second base who drove in 102 runs with a .309 average, and CF Earle Combs, who hit .356 and scored 137 runs as the team's lead-off hitter. LF Bob Meusel also drove in over 100 runs, with a .337 average. The rest of the team, composed of shortstop Mark Koenig (.285), third baseman Joe Dugan (.269) and catcher Pat Collins (.275) was not as awesome, but no one was an easy out either.
The team's pitching staff was led by another Hall of Famer, Waite Hoyt, who had his best season with a 22-7 record and a league-leading 2.63 ERA to add to his league-leading wins total. Three more pitchers won 18 or more games, rookie Wilcy Moore (19-7, 2.28), Herb Pennock (19-8, 3.00) and Urban Shocker (18-6, 2.84). Moore would have won the ERA title under current rules, but in those days qualification was based on the number of complete games pitched, and he made only 12 starts all year: 13 of his wins and a league-leading 13 saves (figured retroactively) came during his 38 relief appearances. Rounding out the staff were veteran Dutch Ruether (13-6, 3.38), George Pipgras (10-3, 4.11) and swingman Myles Thomas (7-4, 4.87). This was a staff almost as strong as the team's fearsome hitters.
Not surprisingly, the Yankees ran away with the pennant under the leadership of manager Miller Huggins. They finished with a record of 110-44, 19 games in front of the second-place Philadelphia Athletics. They were overwhelming favorites to win the World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates were by no means a weak team, but they certainly suffer in comparison with their American League rivals. The Pirates went 94-60 for manager Donie Bush during the regular season, finishing 1½ games ahead of the defending World Champions St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates also had their share of future Hall of Famers, but they were not quite of the caliber of those of the Yankees. The team's best hitter was RF Paul "Big Poison" Waner, who hit a league-leading .380 and drove in 131 runs, also a league-leading total. His brother, rookie CF Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner hit .355 and scored a league-leading 133 runs, in spite of his almost complete lack of power (he collected 25 extra-base hits and 27 RBI all year, in over 650 plate appearances). 3B Pie Traynor hit .342 and drove in over 100 runs, joining SS Glenn Wright who also topped the century mark. However, Wright and Paul Waner also led the team in home runs with 9 each, underscoring the huge difference in power with their rivals: the Pirates hit 54 home runs as a team, fewer than Babe Ruth by himself, and barely a third as many as the Yankees' 158.
Other solid hitters for the Pirates included 1B Joe Harris, who hit .326 with 73 RBI, 2B George Grantham (.305) and LF Clyde Barnhart (.319). In fact, catcher Johnny Gooch, who hit .258, was the only regular besides Wright to hit below .300, and back-up outfielder Kiki Cuyler added his own .309 average in 285 at bats to the parade, as the Pirates batted .305 as a team - pitchers included !
The Pirates' pitching was not as dominant. Two veterans of the 1925 World Championship team, Lee Meadows and Ray Kremer both posted 19 wins, with Kremer leading the league with a 2.47 ERA. Carmen Hill had pitched part of six seasons in the majors before 1927, never winning more than 3 games. In 1927, he put everything together, winning a team-leading 22 games against 11 losses, with a 3.24 ERA at age 31. Vic Aldridge went 15-10 as the fourth starter, but his 4.25 ERA was well over the league average. In the bullpen, Johnny Miljus put together a good season, posting a 1.90 ERA in 76 innings, with an 8-3 record.
Game 1: October 5
|New York Yankees||1||0||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||5||6||1|
|W: Waite Hoyt (1-0) L: Ray Kremer (0-1) SV: Moore (1)|
- attendance: 41,467
The 1927 World Series opened under sunny skies and balmy weather at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, October 5. The crowd of 41,467 saw Yankee right-hander Waite Hoyt (22-6, 2.64 era) and Pirate ace Ray Kremer (19-8, 2.47 era) oppose each other in Game One.
The Governor of Pennsylvania, John S. Fisher was at Forbes Field, as well as New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis was seated near the Yankees’ dugout. National League President John A. Heydler was in another field box.
Adding to the festivities was a brass band in red coats that paraded around the field before the game. The photographers took pictures of Pirates' Manager Donie Bush and the Yankees' Miller Huggins shaking hands. The Babe was photographed with Huggins, Bush, Mayor Walker, Lou Gehrig, and the Waners.
Sitting with the Yankee party in Colonel Jacob Ruppert's field box was Bob Connery, the President of the St. Paul Club and former chief scout of the Yankees. Waite Hoyt went over to Ruppert before the game. "Don't be nervous, Colonel," Hoyt said. "Don't you be nervous," retorted Ruppert. "Never mind me. I don't have to pitch." Rumour has it, though, that the Pirates were unnerved simply by watching the Yankees' big hitters take batting practice before the game.
Earle Combs hit the first ball Kremer threw and drove it deep to left field, where Clyde Barnhart caught it. After Mark Koenig struck out swinging, Babe Ruth came up. He swung at the first ball and singled to right field for the first hit of the series. Then on a count of three and two, Gehrig hit a short fly to right field. Paul Waner tried to make a shoestring catch, but the ball got through him for a triple and Ruth scored.
In the bottom of the first, the Pirates tied the game at one. Lloyd Waner was hit by a pitch, moved to third on his brother's double, and tagged on Glenn Wright's sacrifice fly. With one out in the third, second baseman George Grantham kicked Koenig's grounder behind first base for an error. Ruth again hit Kremer's first pitch and smashed a single to right, sending Koenig to third. Gehrig walked.
With the bases loaded, Kremer walked Bob Meusel, forcing home Koenig. Tony Lazzeri then grounded to Wright, who got the ball to second in time to force Meusel, but Grantham could not get rid of it in time to complete a double play. Ruth scored. With Gehrig on third and Lazzeri on first, a double steal was attempted. Catcher Earl Smith made a bluff throw to second and then threw to Pie Traynor at third, catching Gehrig halfway between the bases, but Smith let Traynor's return throw to the plate get past him for an error. Gehrig scored. The Yankees led 4 to 1.
The Pirates picked up one run in the bottom of the third on Kremer's double and Paul Waner's single, making the score 4 to 2. After Hoyt developed a blister on a finger of his pitching hand in the fourth, Huggins watched him carefully. Koenig doubled to center in the fifth and went to third when Ruth grounded out to Grantham. Gehrig's sacrifice fly to Paul Waner scored Koenig.
The Pirates came back with one run in the bottom of the inning on Lloyd Waner's double and Barnhart's single to left. After Lazzeri doubled in the sixth, Pirates Manager Donie Bush lifted Kremer and brought in right-hander Johnny Miljus, who retired the side.
Pittsburgh came up in the eighth trailing 5 to 3. Wright lined a single over Lazzeri's head. Then Traynor lined a single to center. Wright stopped at second. Huggins decided that Hoyt had had enough and called for Wilcy Moore.
Grantham grounded to Gehrig who threw to Koenig in time to force Traynor at second. On the play, Koenig was bowled over and had the air knocked out of him. Wright went to third on the play and scored on Joe Harris's single to center, making the score 5 to 4. On a daring run and long slide, Grantham beat Combs's throw to third. Smith then grounded to Gehrig, who stepped on first to end the inning. Moore retired the Pirates in order in the ninth. The Yankees won Game One of the World Series, 5 to 4.
Game 2: October 6
|New York Yankees||0||0||3||0||0||0||0||3||0||6||11||0|
|W: George Pipgras (1-0) L: Vic Aldridge (0-1)|
- attendance: 41,634
With a crowd of 41,634 at Forbes Field, the Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates played Game Two of the World Series on Thursday, October 6, 1927. Under sunny skies with warm temperatures, right-handers George Pipgras (10-3, 4.12 era) and Vic Aldridge (15-10, 4.26 era) pitched for the Yankees and Pirates, respectively.
The Pirates opened the scoring in the bottom of the first after Lloyd Waner tripled down the left field foul line. Then Clyde Barnhart drove Babe Ruth up against the concrete wall in right to catch his sacrifice fly. Waner scored.
Down 1 to 0, the Yanks came up in the third. Earle Combs singled between Joe Harris and George Grantham. When Mark Koenig lined a single over second, Combs raced to third. Then Lloyd Waner fumbled the ball, Combs scored, and Koenig reached third. Ruth then lifted a high sacrifice fly to Lloyd Waner and Koenig scored. Lou Gehrig doubled to the exit gate in right center. Glenn Wright then made an acrobatic stop of Meusel's drive toward left but could not regain his balance to throw Meusel out. Gehrig reached third base. When Tony Lazzeri hit a sacrifice fly to Paul Waner, Gehrig scored. The Yankees led 3 to 1.
Pipgras pitched beautifully. His fast ball was blazing and his curve broke well. Over the first seven innings, he scattered only six hits. With the score 3 to 1 in the eighth, Meusel singled over second. On a hit-and-run play, Lazzeri singled to right field. Meusel raced to third. When Aldridge threw a wild pitch almost knocking Joe Dugan down, Meusel scored and Lazzeri went to second. Dugan attempted a sacrifice, but catcher Johnny Gooch pounced on the ball and threw to third base to get Lazzeri, who was called out as he slid over the bag.
Aldridge then walked Benny Bengough and Pipgras. With the bases loaded, manager Donie Bush took out Aldridge and replaced him with Mike Cvengros, a left-hander, who hit Combs, forcing in Dugan. When Koenig singled, Bengough scored making the score 6 to 1.
In the home half of the eighth the Pirates scored a run on a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly. Pirates’ right-hander Joe Dawson pitched the ninth. Pipgras retired the Pirates in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees won, 6 to 2, and led the series two games to none.
Game 3: October 7
|New York Yankees||2||0||0||0||0||0||6||0||x||8||9||0|
|W: Herb Pennock (1-0) L: Lee Meadows (0-1)|
|HR: Babe Ruth NY|
- attendance: 60,695
The teams traveled to New York for Game Three.
On Friday, October 7, 1927, the third game of the World Series was played at Yankee Stadium in New York. With 60,695 fans at the ballpark, left-hander Herb Pennock pitched for the Yankees, and Lee Meadows, a right-hander, started for the Pirates. Before the game Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were presented with a floral horseshoe and floral bats.
The Pirates made one change to their line-up, inserting Hal Rhyne at second base and in the second slot of the lineup, in place of an injured George Grantham. The Yankees made a change of their own by using third-string catcher Johnny Grabowski in the spot occupied by Pat Collins and Benny Bengough over the previous two games.
Pennock opened the game by retiring Lloyd Waner on an easy roller to Mark Koenig. Rhyne and Paul Waner then hit fly balls to Bob Meusel in left. With the Yankees up in the first, on a count of two and two Earle Combs slapped a single over second base. Koenig got an infield hit on a ground ball that bounced off Meadows' glove and was kicked about by Rhyne. Combs reached second. After Ruth popped to Wright behind second, Gehrig got hold of a fastball and drove it to the running track in left center field. Combs and Koenig scored, but Gehrig was thrown out at the plate. The Yankees led 2 to 0.
Pennock was in total control. He retired the Pirates in order without a hit over the first seven innings. Lazzeri opened the home half of the seventh with a single into short center, only the Yankees' fifth hit of the game. Joe Dugan sacrificed Lazzeri to second, and when Meadows tried to beat the runner to the bag, Dugan was safe at first.
Miller Huggins sent up Cedric Durst to bat for Grabowski. When he grounded out, Lazzeri went to third and Dugan to second. Rhyne fielded Pennock's slow grounder but threw to the plate too late to get Lazzeri. Dugan landed on third and Pennock on first. Koenig then doubled to the right-field bleachers scoring Pennock and putting Combs on third.
Left-hander Mike Cvengros replaced Meadows. Ruth then walloped a home run high into the right-field bleachers. The crowd cheered wildly as he trotted around the bases behind Combs and Koenig. The inning finally ended when Cvengros struck out Gehrig and Meusel. The Yankees led 8 to 0.
In the eighth, Benny Bengough replaced Grabowski behind the plate. Pennock had not given up a hit. The southpaw got Glenn Wright to ground out to Koenig, but the perfect game ended when Pie Traynor singled to left. Clyde Barnhart then doubled to right center scoring Traynor. That made the score 8 to 1.
In the ninth, Heinie Groh, hitting for Cvengros, popped up to Pennock. Lloyd Waner then singled down the third base line. Rhyne flied to Combs for the second out. After Waner stole second uncontested, his brother Paul popped up to Lazzeri for the final out of the game. Behind Pennock’s three-hit masterpiece, the Yankees won Game Three of the World Series, 8 to 1.
The players were jubilant. Pennock had been masterful. Ruth and Gehrig had hit well and Dugan, Lazzeri, Koenig, and Combs glittered in the field.
"Pennock pitched a wonderful ball game. He had everything except for weak moments and for a time I thought he was going to have not only a shutout but a no-hit game to his credit," Huggins told reporters.
Game 4: October 8
|New York Yankees||1||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||1||4||12||2|
|W: Wilcy Moore (1-0) L: Johnny Miljus (0-1)|
|HR: Babe Ruth NY|
- attendance: 57,909
Looking to become the manager of the first American League club to sweep a World Series in four straight games, Miller Huggins sent right-hander Wilcy Moore (19-7, 13 saves, 2.28 era) to the mound against the Pirates on Saturday, October 8, 1927. Right-hander Carmen Hill (22-11, 3 saves, 3.24 era) pitched for the Pirates.
Lloyd Waner opened the game with a drive off Moore's glove that the Pirates' outfielder beat out for a hit. Mark Koenig threw out Clyde Barnhart as Waner advanced to second. Glenn Wright singled to right and Waner scored. The Yankees tied the game at one in the bottom of the first. Earle Combs singled to right, moved to second on Koenig's hit to right, and scored on Babe Ruth's single to right.
The Yankees came up in the sixth. Combs singled to short center field. After Koenig missed a third strike, Ruth came up and hit his second home run of the series into the center field stands. The crowd cheered wildly. Ruth circled the bases and was greeted at home plate by Lou Gehrig. The Yankees led 3 to 1.
In the seventh, Earl Smith grounded to Gehrig and was beaten by a toss to Moore, who came to cover first base; however, Moore dropped the ball for an error. Pitcher Emil Yde ran for Smith. Fred Brickell batted for Hill. Lazzeri, in his haste to make a double play on Brickell's grounder, misplayed the ball. Yde reached second, and Brickell was safe at first. Then Lloyd Waner dropped a sacrifice bunt, moving Yde to third and Brickell to second. Barnhart singled over second base, scoring Yde and sending Brickell to third. The Pirates tied the game at three when Paul Waner lifted a sacrifice fly to Combs, scoring Brickell.
There was a new battery for the Pirates in the seventh: right-hander Johnny Miljus and catcher Johnny Gooch. The score remained tied through the seventh, eighth and top of the ninth. The Yankees came up in the ninth with a chance to win the game and the series. Miljus opened the ninth with a walk to Combs. Koenig then dropped a bunt down the third base line for a single. With Ruth batting, Miljus suddenly let loose a wild pitch. Combs took third and Koenig went to second. Bush ordered Miljus to walk Ruth.
The bases were loaded. Gehrig came up and missed a third strike. Meusel then came up with one out, and Miljus struck him out on a called third strike for the second out. Lazzeri was the next batter. With Combs, Koenig, and Ruth on the bases, Lazzeri swung and hit a long foul ball into the left field bleachers for strike one. On the next pitch, Miljus uncorked another wild pitch, and Combs raced home with the winning run.
The Yankees had won the 1927 World Series.
- Gordon J. Gattie: "The 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates: More Than the Murderers' Row Opponent", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Steel City Stories, The National Pastime, SABR, 2018, pp. 33-37.
- Fred Glueckstein: The '27 Yankees, Xlibris Books, Philadelphia, PA, 2005.
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