1938 Brooklyn Dodgers
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1938 Brooklyn Dodgers / Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers / BR Team Page
Managed by Burleigh Grimes
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers were never in contention, finishing 7th in an 8-team league and were out of the pennant race almost from the beginning of the season. However, the year was memorable for a number of events:
- On June 15th, the Dodgers hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the first night game ever played in the New York City area. Unfortunately for the hosts, the game became more famous because Johnny Vander Meer pitched his second consecutive no-hitter for the Reds.
- On June 19th, the Dodgers hired Babe Ruth as a coach. For Ruth it was a first opportunity to get back in the game after leaving the Boston Braves in acrimony in 1935. With manager Burleigh Grimes on tenuous ground, Ruth was hoping that the job would open the door to being the team's next manager. However, team boss Larry MacPhail had other ideas, as he was grooming shortstop and team captain Leo Durocher to succeed Grimes. Ruth's presence on the team had the anticipated return, though, as attendance increased markedly the rest of the season, in spite of the team being out of the pennant race.
- On August 2nd, the Dodgers played the first game of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals using experimental yellow baseballs. It was the only time in major league history such balls were used in a regular season game.
- On August 19th, Ruth got into a celebrated fight with Durocher. The problem started when, from his first-base coaching position, Ruth called for a hit-and-run in extra innings with Durocher at the plate. The play worked and the Dodgers won the game, but Durocher did not agree with the tactic, which he thought to be overly risky for the situation. The two almost came to blows in the dugout, but it was Ruth's reputation which suffered, as it brought focus on the fact that he had been lackadaisical about learning an relaying the team's signs and had trouble working with others.
After the season, as expected, Grimes was dismissed and MacPhail appointed Durocher as player/manager. Leo had no place for Ruth, who was let go and would never again appear at a major league game in uniform after that.
Awards and Honors
- John McMurray: "Babe Ruth, Brooklyn Dodgers Coach", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 44, Number 2 (Fall 2015), pp. 93-99.