Monday, August 04, 2008
ROLL OUT THE BARREL:THE 1927 Yankees
The season was anything but over for the Yankees and for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. They just were rolling along, rolling over teams. Like the team’s theme song – it was the time of “roll out the barrel, we’ll have a barrel of fun!”
The mystique and drawing power of the Yankees was such that a second big-voiced man was kept on the payroll to use a megaphone to shout out the names of the pitchers and batters to those who sat in the distance reaches of Yankee Stadium. The mystique and drawing power of Murderer’s Row was such that more than ever before fans came to the ballpark with baseball gloves hoping to catch a ball smashed by Ruth or Gehrig or one of the other Yankee sluggers.
There was a culture in place for all the sluggers, for all members of the Yankees. Miller Huggins had schooled each and every player about attitude, disposition, bearing. If they didn’t get it the first time there was always time for lectures and lessons in Hug’s spartan Yankee Stadium office that consisted of a desk for him, a desk chair and a leather couch for all others.
Players were required to report for games at 10:00 at the Stadium - -to sign in, not to practice. It was a way designed to cut down on late night goings on. No food, no beer was allowed in the clubhouse between games of a doubleheader. There was a machine-like way about the Yankees, a precise, orderly, ritualistic rhythm that was repeated game after game. When the team was at bat and there were two outs, the regulars stood at the ready, poised at the second step of the dugout primed to rush out to their defensive positions on the field when the final out of the inning occurred.
There was to be no blackslapping, no flamboyant displays, no noisemaking or razzing, no teasing of players on the other teams.
"We were never rough or rowdy," Waite Hoyt said, “just purposeful."
Throughout that long 1927 season, no Yankee ever had a fight on the field. And only once was a player thrown out of a game by an umpire - Joe Dugan
Unseen by the fans and the opposition, the only emotional show taking place at Yankee Stadium after a victory was players exiting the dugout into the clubhouse chanting all the way:
"Roll Out the Barrel!"
"Roll Out the Barrel."
Waite Hoyt explained: “When we were challenged, when we had to win, we stuck together and played with a fury and determination that could only come from team spirit. We had a pride in our performance that was very real. It took on the form of snobbery. And I do believe we left a heritage that became a Yankee tradition"
Those Yankees who were not in the day’s starting lineup were expected to pay attention to everything that was happening on the field. There was no slouching in the dugout and no conversation about anything but baseball despite Waite Hoyt’s famous lines: “In the daytime you sat in the dugout and talked about women. And in the nighttime you went out with women and talked about baseball. It’s great to be young and a Yankee.”
The Yankee bullpen was in left field on an embankment that was slightly graded. Huggins called down when he needed to and when the phone rang it was usually a signal that a pitcher should get ready. Ed Barrow sat in his mezzanine box at Yankee Stadium observing all that took place on the field. If there was any lolling around, any one trying to sneak a snooze, any food being consumed "Cousin Eggbert" used the telephone in his box to get things in Yankee order usually blending profanity with annoyance with questions like "What the hell do you think we are paying you for?"
(Excerpted from Harvey Frommer’s FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING: : BABE RUTH, LOU GEHRIG AND THE 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES, THE GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM EVER)
Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 39 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) will be published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.