Wednesday, October 07, 2009
NY Yankees ’27 World Champions
A lot of hype and hoopla surrounds the 2009 World Series especially as it swirls around the Yankees of New York - - an odds on favorite to win it all.
Win or lose it - - the Yankees of 2009 are no way the powerhouse the Yankees of 1927 were.
What happened before the World Series of 1927 would provide a source of controversy through the ages. The Waner brothers, Lloyd, “Big Poison” and Paul, “Little Poison,” sent up their baseball cards to Babe Ruth who was at ease in a manner of speaking in his room in a hotel in Pittsburgh.
"Why, they're just kids," he said, "if I was that little, I'd be afraid of getting hurt."
That was the first year the Waners played together in the Pirate outfield. “That was a great thrill for us,” Paul recalled. “We even brought Mother and Dad and our sister to the World Series.
"We won before it even got started,” Babe Ruth wrote later. “The first two games were scheduled for Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. Naturally we showed up a day early and worked out in the strange park.”
The Pirates,” Ruth recalled,” had their workout just before we went out onto the field. We came out from the clubhouse. Most of the Pirates had dressed and were sitting in the stands to watch us go through practice.”
Earl Combs hit a shot into the centerfield stands. Mark Koenig hit a ball off the right field wall and one off the left field barrier. Then it was Babe Ruth’s turn.
“The first ball I hit over the roof of the right field grandstand,” the Bammer said. “I put another one into the lower tier. Then I got hold of one and laid it into the centerfield bleachers.”
"We really put on a show,” Ruth said. “Lou and I banged ball after ball into the right field stands. Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri kept hammering balls into the left field seats.”
All of the games of the 1927 World Series were scheduled for 1:30 P.M starts except for 2 P.M for a Sunday game. Prices for seats for all games were six dollars, five dollars, three dollars and one dollar. Four umpires were assigned.
Outside of Forbes Field scalpers asked $25 a ticket, a price that was considered extreme gouging, which it was. The price for a World Series program featuring Miller Huggins and Pittsburgh manager Owen J. Bush on its cover, sold for 25 cents.
The pitching match up was Yankee right-handed ace Waite Hoyt against the big horse of the all right-handed Pirate staff, Ray Kremer, National League ERA leader who had won 19 of 27 decisions. The sloppy, herky-jerky game played in two hours and four minutes finally ended Yankees 5, Pirates 4.
Grantland Rice in the New York Herald-Tribune wrote: "It was scramble and rush and hullabaloo and stampede to look upon a gaudy spectacle which turned out to be one of the dullest games of the year. If Pittsburgh couldn't beat the Yankees today, it may be a tough job later on."
Babe Ruth shouted: “Well, it won’t be long now boys. It won’t be long now.”
Miller Huggins, a gambler, a hunch player, a manager with six starting pitchers available to him - tabbed George Pipgras, the big guy from Minnesota, as a surprise starter for the second game of the series Thursday, October 6th, still using the old, greasy glove, the one that had stood him in good stead in minor league stops at Atlanta, St. Paul, Charleston, and more, Pipgras took the mound against the Pirates.
Vic Aldridge, in his eighth major league season, a 15-game winner, took the mound for Pittsburgh.
Festive Forbes Field became boo city in the late innings. Jeers and catcalls rained down from unhappy Buc rooters. Others simply expressed their displeasure with the home team’s ineffectiveness by exiting the ball park. The Bucs lost, 6-2.
“I was fast that day,” Pipgras recalled. “I didn’t throw but three curves. They kept coming up there looking for the curve but never got it.”
It was called “The World’s Dullest World Series after just two games!” in a New York Herald-Tribune headline.
On Friday October 7, lines for bleacher seats were up and running at 5 A.M. - five hours before the gates of Yankee Stadium were scheduled to open.
There were 60,695 on hand, “the biggest money crowd in the history of the title series,” in James R Harrison’s phrase in The New York Times. There was also the biggest gate ever to that point in time for a World Series game - $209,665. Southpaw Herb Pennock, called “the aristocrat of baseball” by writer Will Wedge, was unbeaten in four World Series decisions.
The Yankees scored in the first inning off Buc right-hander, bespectacled Lee Meadows. Gehrig poked the ball to the running track in left center field scoring Combs and Koenig both of whom had singled.
The Squire Pennock set down Pittsburgh batter after batter. The Bucs were hitless through the seventh inning, an inning when the Yankees put the game away by scoring six times. The highlight of the Yankee big inning came when Mike Cvengros, a surname according to Grantland Rice “that you said with a sneeze,” relieved Meadows.
A three run shot, Ruth’s first home run of the world series, pushed the Yankee lead to 8-0. It triggered wild cheers for the Colossus of Clout as he made his way around the bases behind Combs and Koenig.
The screams of one fan captured the moment: “Take off those Pirates uniforms,” he bellowed, “we know you’re the St. Louis Browns.” The Yankees surely manhandled the Bucs like they treated the Browns. Maybe Worse.
The 8-1 romp placed the Yankees one win away from becoming the first American League team to sweep a World Series.
Saturday October 8th was damp, cloudy like the spirits of the Pirates. Rain in the morning would hold the announced Yankee Stadium attendance down to 57,909.
In the fifth inning, Ruth's second home run of the Series scored Earle Combs. The Yanks led 3-1. The Ruthian blast, according to James Harrison in The Times: “climbed uphill, while 60,000 shrieked in ecstasy and turned their eyes on the right field bleachers.
Desperate, the Pirates, fought back. They tied the score in the seventh. However, that was as far as they got. The Yankees, as everyone seemed to know they would, won the game.
Outside the Stadium about 3,000 Babe Ruth admirers waited patiently. Many policemen kept them company, at the ready to ease the Yankee icon to his car, parked on 157th Street.
The 1927 World Series, quickest ever played, lasted only 74 hours and 15 minutes and was just the second four game sweep in World Series history, the Braves over Athletics in 1914 was the first.
The Pittsburgh offense was held to a .223 average. Yankee pitchers combined for an incredible earned run average of only 2.00. Outscoring the Pirates 23-10, the men of Murderer’s Row trailed a total of only two innings during the entire series. The Yankees used only 15 different players, just four pitchers. The New York Times declared on October 12th that it had no argument with those “who assert that these Yankees are the greatest team in more than 50 years of baseball history. George Herman Ruth once again demonstrated that he is the superman of the game. . .
(Dodger manager) Uncle Wilbert Robinson put it, 'That guy ought to be allowed to play only every other day.’”
The Yankees were the toast of the town, the champions, not only the best team in baseball in 1927, but they had strong bragging rights now to the mantle of the best baseball team of all time.
It was, as Waite Hoyt said, great to be young and to be a Yankee.