1934 American League All-Star Team

P-Lefty Gomez, NYY

P-Mel Harder, CLE

P-Schoolboy Rowe, DET

P-Bobo Newsom, SLB

P-Fritz Ostermueller, BOS

P-Tommy Bridges, DET

P-Bobby Burke, WSH

P-Johnny Murphy, NYY

P-George Earnshaw, CHW

P-George Blaeholder, SLB

C-Mickey Cochrane, DET

C-Bill Dickey, NYY

1B-Lou Gehrig, NYY, 1st MVP, ONEHOF Inductee

1B-Jimmie Foxx, PHA

1B-Hank Greenberg, DET

1B-Hal Trosky, CLE

2B-Charlie Gehringer, DET

2B-Buddy Myer, WSH

3B-Billy Werber, BOS

SS-Billy Rogell, DET

LF-Bob Johnson, PHA

LF-Heinie Manush, WSH

LF-Al Simmons, CHW

CF-Earl Averill, CLE

RF-Babe Ruth, NYY

 

gomez2

P-Lefty Gomez, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

1931

26-5, 2.33 ERA, 158 K, .131, 0 HR, 4 RBI

All-Star: Yes (3 IP, 4 R, 2 HR Allowed)

MVP Rank: 3

WAR Rank: 4

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1972)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

1934 AL Pitching Triple Crown

1934 AL Pitching Title

WAR for Pitchers-8.4

Earned Run Average-2.33

Wins-26

Win-Loss %-.839

Walks & Hits per IP-1.133

Hits per 9 IP-7.125

Innings Pitched-281 2/3

Strikeouts-158 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-25

Shutouts-6

Adjusted ERA+-176

Adj. Pitching Runs-60

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.1

Base-Out Runs Saved-65.70

Sit. Wins Saved-6.1

Base-Out Wins Saved-7.1

2nd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1931, Gomez went 24-7 in 1932, but his ERA was 4.21 so he didn’t make this list. He did pitch in his first World Series that year, completing the one game he started, allowing two runs with one of them earned. He made the All-Star game in 1933, but again didn’t make this list. This year he was fantastic as you can tell by all the stats in which he led the American League.

In Babe Ruth’s last year with the Yankees, Joe McCarthy guided them to a second place finish with a 94-60 record. New York finished seven games behind the Tigers. The Bronx Bombers were tied at the top of the league as late as July 31, but their 35-24 record the remainder of the season wasn’t enough to keep up with Detroit.

SABR says,

“During the season, Lefty participated in an experiment up at West Point with Van Lingo Mungo and Carl Hubbell to try to measure the speed of their fastballs. It involved the shooting of a rifle at the same time as they threw a fastball and comparing velocities. According to Lefty, his fastball was clocked at 100 miles per hour, second to Mungo’s.”

Of course, who knows how true it is that Gomez could actually throw 100 miles an hour. Still, whatever he was throwing was working in the Thirties and he’d continue to be one of the AL’s big winners for many years. I don’t think he’s Hall of Fame worthy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not good.

harder3

P-Mel Harder, Cleveland Indians, 24 Years Old

1932 1933

20-12, 2.61 ERA, 91 K, .161, 0 HR, 5 RBI

All-Star: Yes (W, 5 IP, 0 R)

MVP Rank: 16

WAR Rank: 5

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Shutouts-6

Win Probability Added-5.8

Errors Committed as P-7 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Comparing two pitchers like Lefty Gomez and Harder for their careers is tough, especially considering the quality of the teams for which they pitched over the years. I would probably give the nod to Harder, who has a slim chance at making my Hall of Fame, as compared to Gomez, who almost certainly doesn’t. If Harder could have pitched while supported by the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who knows what his record would have been.

Cleveland actually had a decent year this season, finishing 85-69 and in third place under Walter Johnson. That was still 16 games behind the Tigers, but at least it gave its fans something for which to cheer.

Wikipedia says,

“Harder was one of the most successful All-Stars of the 1930s, appearing in all four games from 1934 to 1937, and setting a record with 13 consecutive innings without an earned run. He won the 1934 All-Star game after relieving Red Ruffing with none out and two men on in the fifth inning, with an 8–6 lead; one run scored on a double steal, but Harder allowed only one hit in his five innings as the AL won 9–7. “

Can you imagine an All-Star game nowadays allowing one of its pitchers to pitch five innings as Harder did? You’re lucky if you get two innings out one of the stars and that’s if they pitch at all due to myriad rules that complicate a pitcher’s eligibility to participate in the game.

rowes

P-Schoolboy Rowe, Detroit Tigers, 24 Years Old

24-8, 3.45 ERA, 149 K, .303, 2 HR, 22 RBI

All-Star:  No

MVP Rank: 4

WAR Rank: 6

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. 57 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-1.840

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Lynwood Thomas “Schoolboy” Rowe was born on January 11, 1910 in Waco, TX. The six-foot-four, 210 pound righty pitcher started with Detroit in 1933, going 7-4 with a 3.58 ERA. This season, he became a star and helped guide the Tigers the World Series.

SABR says,

“Lynwood’s passion, however, was baseball, and his childhood accomplishments on the diamond seemed larger than life. By the time the towering right-hander finished Hugh Goodwin Grammar School, he was a slugging and pitching legend on the sandlots of El Dorado. According to one report, he acquired the sobriquet Schoolboy from local sportswriter John Erp when he was a 14-year-old pitching in an adult church league. According to other reports, the name originated from opponents and fans who yelled, ‘Don’t let that schoolboy beat you.’ Yet another account claimed that the moniker derived from the youngster’s job hawking newspapers on street corners.

“Rowe began one of the most unlikely and memorable stretches in Tigers history when he defeated the Boston Red Sox on May 27 to earn his first victory of the season as a starter. Starting and occasionally relieving, Rowe won 21 of his next 23 decisions, including the record-tying 16 consecutive victories. ‘Rowe’s brilliant performances,’ wrote Tigers beat reporter Sam Greene, ‘have had the effect of inspiring the other pitchers.’ Some of Rowe’s most compelling accomplishments were against the New York Yankees, whom the Tigers fiercely battled for the pennant. On two separate occasions, Rowe defeated the Bronx Bombers twice in a series while starting on short rest.”

newsom

P-Bobo Newsom, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

16-20, 4.01 ERA, 135 K, .183, 0 HR, 8 RBI

All-Star: No

WAR Rank: 10

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. 83 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-149

Losses-20

Batters Faced-1,159

1st Time All-Star-Louis Norman “Bobo” or “Buck” Newsom was born on August 11, 1907 in Hartsville, SC. The six-foot-three, 200 pound righty pitcher started his long career in 1929 with Brooklyn for two years. He then played with the Cubs in 1932. Between those three seasons, Newsom pitched six games and gave up 14 runs. It was an auspicious beginning for Newsom who then got a chance to revive his career in the Junior Circuit with the perennially terrible Browns.

                With Rogers Hornsby at the controls, the Browns again finished in the second division, compiling a 67-85 record and placing sixth.

Newsom almost threw a no-hitter on Sept. 18, but in the 10th inning, he blew it as the Browns lost to the Red Sox, 2-1. There’s a whole article on it from SABR that I suggest you read, but here’s a snippet:

“Newsom, meanwhile, continued to baffle the Boston lineup. Despite the gift of five walks and errors by Strange and Melillo, the Red Sox failed to reach him for another run or anything approaching a base hit through eight innings.

“In the Red Sox’ ninth, Morgan drove a liner that center fielder Ray Pepper misplayed for an error. With Morgan on third and one out, Lary tried to execute a squeeze play but missed the pitch, and Morgan was run down between third and home. Newsom had not allowed a hit through nine. The Browns in their half failed to capitalize on a double by Debs Garms and the game went into extra innings knotted at 1-1.”

Newsom ended up allowing one hit, seven walks, and struck out nine in the game.

ostermueller

P-Fritz Ostermueller, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

10-13, 3.49 ERA, 75 K, .167, 0 HR, 4 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

 

1st Time All-Star-Frederick Raymond “Fritz” Ostermueller was born on September 15, 1907 in Quincy, IL. The five-foot-11, 175 pound lefty pitcher started with this great rookie year and looks like he’s off and running to a tremendous career. Well, it would be long, but not tremendous.

Bucky Harris took over the managing reins of the Red Sox from Marty McManus and moved the team up from seventh to fourth with a 76-76 record.  However, according to Wikipedia,

“But Harris’s stay in the Boston dugout lasted only one season. He and Eddie Collins, the Red Sox’ general manager, had feuded since their playing days and Yawkey may have hired Harris without consulting Collins. When Joe Cronin, the hard-hitting, 28-year-old playing manager of the Senators, became available on the trade market, Yawkey and Collins moved quickly, sending shortstop Lyn Lary and $225,000 to Washington on October 26, 1934, for Cronin, and then naming him manager for 1935. Harris then took Cronin’s old job, returning to Clark Griffith and the Senators.”

As for Ostey, SABR says,

“For the 1934 season, Ostermueller finished at 10-13, but he led Red Sox starters with a 3.49 ERA, seventh best in the American League. He pitched 198 2/3 innings in 33 appearances, and completed 10 of 23 starts. Fritz’s year was shortened on September 12 when he walked off the mound in the first inning at Tiger Stadium with an injury to his left shoulder. Ostey had some other memorable moments in his rookie year, including a Fourth of July triumph over the Yankees in relief of Wes Ferrell.”

bridges3

P-Tommy Bridges, Detroit Tigers, 27 Years Old

1932 1933

22-11, 3.67 ERA, 151 K, .122, 0 HR, 11 RBI

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t Play)

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

 

Led in:

 

Games Started-35

3rd Time All-Star-Players like Bridges are the reason I have my own Hall of Fame. He consistently pitched well, helping Detroit to numerous pennants, but didn’t come close to making it into Cooperstown. Fine, the Bridges family can take comfort he’s in my Hall, based in the fields just outside of Cooperstown, just to taunt them.

However, Bridges’ fame in 1934 came not from his 20-win season or for helping Detroit into the World Series, but from giving home run number 700 to the Bambino on July 13.

SABR has an article about Bridges’ victory over Dizzy Dean in the Series that I suggest should be read. I have just a bit here:

“The Detroit papers dramatically described Dean’s loss to the Tigers as his Waterloo and compared it to the Brooklyn Bridge collapsing. In reality it was a very tight game with only a few mishaps on the Cardinals’ part that determined the game. Both pitchers hurled superbly. Dean went eight innings and yielded only six hits and fanned six; Bridges gave up seven hits and struck out seven. The difference came from Dean’s three walks, one that led to a run, and Fullis’s key misplay in the sixth inning.”

Altogether, Bridges would pitch in three games in the Series, winning one, losing one and giving up nine runs (seven earned) in 17 1/3 innings pitched. St. Louis would go on to victory in the Fall Classic, but Bridges would certainly get many more opportunities to shine in the postseason.

burke

P-Bobby Burke, Washington Senators, 27 Years Old

8-8, 3.21 ERA, 52 K, .228, 0 HR, 4 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 44 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.107

1st Time All-Star-Robert James “Bobby” or “Lefty” Burke was born on January 23, 1907 in Joliet, IL. The six-foot, 150 pound lefty pitcher started with Washington in 1927. He switched between starting and relieving but never won more than eight games in a season, which he did in 1931 and this season. Wikipedia says,

“On August 8, 1931, while with the Senators, Burke no-hit the Boston Red Sox 5-0 at Griffith Stadium. It was the last no-hitter by a Washington-area Major League Baseball team until Jordan Zimmermann on September 28, 2014.

After making the World Series in 1933, the Senators fell apart, dropping to 66-86 under manager Joe Cronin. That was good for seventh place and it would be Cronin’s last season with Washington. He would move onto the Red Sox where he would manage for 13 seasons.

SABR says,

“According to John Jevitz of the Old Timers’ Baseball Association of Joliet, Burke was a ‘very quiet man and would fade into a crowd.’ Shy and even withdrawn, Burke did not talk much about himself or his career in baseball…He served in the Navy during World War II, after which he returned to his childhood home in Joliet, and became active in coaching baseball in a local park district league. He later owned and operated Bob Burke’s Plainfield Fishing Resort.

“Burke eventually retired with his wife, Virginia (nee Greif), to Port St. Lucie, Florida. On February 8, 1971, Burke died at his home in Florida at the age of 64. According to his Florida death certificate, the causes were natural.”


murphyj

P-Johnny Murphy, New York Yankees, 25 Years Old

14-10, 3.12 ERA, 70 K, .099, 0 HR, 2 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Putouts as P-19

1st Time All-Star-John Joseph “Johnny” or “Fireman” or “Grandma” or “Fordham Johnny” Murphy was born on July 14, 1908 in New York, NY. The six-foot-two, 190 pound righty pitcher pitched two games with the Yankees in 1932 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1933. This season, he started half of his games, the only time in his career he’d do so and probably the only time in his career he’d make this All-Star team despite leading the league in saves (as computed later) four times.

Wikipedia says,

“Overall, he appeared in 415 games, winning 93, losing 53 (for a winning percentage of .637) with an earned run average of 3.50. He led the AL in wins for a relief pitcher seven times. While the save was not then an official statistic, Murphy four times led the AL in that category. In eight World Series games and 16⅓ innings (spread over six different Series), Murphy won two games, lost none, saved four, and posted an ERA of 1.10. Nicknamed “Fordham Johnny”, “Fireman” and “Grandma” (either for his rocking-chair pitching motion, or his fastidious nature), Murphy was on seven World Series winning teams, the most of any pitcher in history.

“As one of his first tasks, Murphy secured the services of manager Gil Hodges, under contract to the Washington Senators, by acquiring Hodges in a November 27, 1967, trade for pitcher Bill Denehy…With Hodges in command, the 1969 Miracle Mets stunned the baseball community by winning the NL East, sweeping Atlanta in the NLCS, then defeating a heavily favored Baltimore Orioles squad in five World Series games.

“However, not quite three months later, Murphy suffered a heart attack and died at age 61 early on January 14, 1970, in New York City.”

earnshaw3

P-George Earnshaw, Chicago White Sox, 34 Years Old

1929 1931

14-11, 4.52 ERA, 97 K, .203, 0 HR, 6 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Home Runs Allowed-28 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After making the All-Star team in 1931, Earnshaw pitched two more seasons with the A’s, but was finally let go in the Philadelphia fire sale. Before this season, he was Traded by the Philadelphia Athletics with Johnny Pasek to the Chicago White Sox for Charlie Berry and $20,000. Earnshaw didn’t have a good ERA, but was the White Sox’ best pitcher.

Lew Fonseca started out the year as Chicago’s manager and the team went a dismal 4-11. Jimmy Dykes took over for him and he didn’t fare any better as the White Sox went 49-88 under Dykes and 53-99 altogether. Fonseca would never manage again and finished with a career 120-196 record. Dykes would be with this team for a long time.

SABR says,

                “After the ’51 season, Earnshaw left baseball and settled on a farm near Hot Springs, Arkansas. Like many other players as far back as Cap Anson, he had visited the resort regularly to shape up for spring training by soaking in the 130-degree waters and hiking the mountain trails, but his new home was a long way from the Social Register. His daughter Barbara believed he wanted to escape the demands of fame.

“George Earnshaw died in a Little Rock hospital on December 1, 1976. [Ed.-12 years after I was born]. The cause of death was not published. His second wife, Hazel, and the three children from his first marriage survived. He was buried in Hot Springs, but in 1992 his widow had the body exhumed and cremated.”

blaeholder

P-George Blaeholder, St. Louis Browns, 30 Years Old

14-18, 4.22 ERA, 66 K, .093, 0 HR, 2 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Hits Allowed-276

1st Time All-Star-George Franklin Blaeholder was born on January 26, 1904 in Orange, CA. (I eat at a restaurant called Tulsa Rib Company in that city often.) The five-foot-11, 175 pound righty pitcher started with the Browns in 1925 and then didn’t pitch in the Majors in 1926. In 1927, he was back with the Browns and was a consistent pitcher for them for years, just not good enough to make this list.

SABR says,

“The slider. Mention it and batters’ knees buckle. The pitch helped make Cy Young Award winners out of Clayton Kershaw and Zack GreinkeRandy Johnson and David Cone, as well as Steve CarltonRon Guidry, and Bob Gibson. There’s debate about who invented the slider. Chief Bender, the right-hander with the Philadelphia A’s, threw what many called a nickel curve; or as Tom Swift explained in his SABR biography of the Hall of Fame hurler, a precursor to the slider. Two other right-handers are often mentioned as the first practitioners of the pitch: George Uhle, who thrice won 20-plus games for the Cleveland Indians in the 1920s, and George Blaeholder, a longtime workhorse for terrible St. Louis Browns teams in the late 1920s and 1930s. Both Baseball Digest (1961) and The Sporting News (1952) cited Blaeholder as the inventor of the slider.

“Just over five years after he hung up his spikes, Blaeholder died on December 29, 1947, at the age of 43 from liver cancer. He was buried in Westminster Memorial Park, in Westminster, California.”

cochrane8

C-Mickey Cochrane, Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933

.320, 2 HR, 75 RBI

All-Star: Yes (0-1)

MVP Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1947)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1933)

Led in:

1934 AL MVP (2nd Time)

8th Time All-Star-Things changed quite a bit for Cochrane between 1933 and 1934. For one thing, he was traded by the Philadelphia Athletics to the Detroit Tigers for Johnny Pasek and $100,000. Then Detroit made him their manager and he guided them to a pennant and also was named American League MVP for the second time. It certainly wasn’t his best hitting season as his power dropped and he hit just two homers, but the writers liked his leadership abilities and named him the Junior Circuit’s best player.

Detroit had been improving over the last few years, but having Black Mike as a catcher and manager was the piece that finally put them over the top. The Tigers went 101-53 and then faced the Gashouse Gang in the Series, which they lost four games to three.

Wikipedia says,

                “In 1934, Mack started to disassemble his dynasty for financial reasons and put Cochrane on the trade block. He found a willing recipient in the Detroit Tigers. Their owner, Frank Navin, was also suffering from financial troubles. They had not finished higher than third since 1923, and had developed a reputation for being content with mediocrity.

“It was with Detroit where Cochrane cemented his reputation as a team leader and his competitive nature drove the Tigers, who had been picked to finish in fourth or fifth place, to the 1934 American League championship, their first pennant in 25 years. Cochrane routinely platooned Gee Walker, a right-handed batter, to spell left fielder Goose Goslin and center fielder Jo-Jo White, who were both left-handed batters. Cochrane’s leadership and strategic skills won him the 1934 Most Valuable Player Award, remarkable considering that Lou Gehrig had won the Triple Crown.”


dickey5

C-Bill Dickey, New York Yankees, 27 Years Old

1929 1930 1931 1933

.322, 12 HR, 72 RBI

All-Star: Yes (1-2, 1 R, 2 BB)

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1954)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

 

Led in:

 

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-5.68 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as C-5.54 (4th Time)

5th Time All-Star-Ho-hum, the two American League All-Star catchers are Mickey Cochrane and Dickey, easily the two best catchers in the Junior Circuit. While Cochrane could put together some seasons that were offensive gems, Dickey was just Mr. Reliable, steadily plugging along behind the plate. That’s going to change in a couple years as his power is going to increase and he’ll have some of his better seasons. Still, even though Dickey’s not at his best yet, he still has made five of these lists and the next one he makes will put him in my Hall of Fame.

SABR says,

“Dickey was picked for the All Star Game again in 1934, and this time he played. He singled in the second inning to end Carl Hubbell’s string of five consecutive strikeouts of future members of the Hall of Fame (Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin). Cochrane replaced Dickey behind the plate in the seventh inning as the American League won, 9-7.   Dickey’s season was cut short when he broke the second finger of his right hand in a game against Cleveland on August 22. The incident happened in the ninth inning when the finger was struck by a foul tip off the bat of Cleveland pitcher Mel Harder.”

Dickey has the perfect nickname – The Man Nobody Knows. He played in the shadow of Cochrane and he played in the shadow of his more famous teammates, including the man I’m writing about next. Yet it wasn’t until he started turning it on with the bat that the Yankees would start making the World Series regularly.

gehrig9

1B-Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, 31 Years Old, 1st MVP, 1934 ONEHOF Inductee

1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933

.363, 49 HR, 166 RBI

All-Star: Yes (0-4, 1 BB, 3 K)

MVP Rank: 5

WAR Rank: 1

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1934)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1939)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1928)

 

Led in:

 

1934 AL Batting Title

1934 AL Triple Crown

Wins Above Replacement-10.2

WAR Position Players-10.2

Offensive WAR-10.0 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.363

On-Base %-.465 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.706

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.172

Games Played-154 (4th Time)

Total Bases-409 (4th Time)

Home Runs-49 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-166 (5th Time)

Adjusted OPS+-206

Runs Created-189 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-93 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-8.5 (2nd Time)

Times on Base-321 (4th Time)

Offensive Win %-.859

AB per HR-11.8

Base-Out Runs Added-97.44 (3rd Time)

Win Probability Added-8.8 (2nd Time)

Situ. Wins Added-8.4

Base-Out Wins Added-9.2 (3rd Time)

9th Time All-Star-Remember the MVP controversy with Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout in 2012? Cabrera won the MVP that year because he won a Triple Crown despite Trout’s unprecedented rookie campaign. People were saying you have to give it to Miggy because he led the league in homers, RBI, and batting average. Yet there were many times before the MVP wasn’t given to a Triple Crown winner, including this season with Gehrig. How did the Iron Horse finish fifth in the MVP voting?

I guess it’s up to me to give him his due and I’ll start with making him this year’s inducted into the ONEHOF, the One-Player-Inducted-A-Year Hall of Fame. Jake Beckley in 1902 was the last first baseman to receive that honor. Next year’s nominees are Paul Waner, Hardy Richardson, Elmer Flick, Johnny Evers, Larry Doyle, Art Fletcher, Wally Schang, Joe Sewell, Lefty Grove, Bill Terry, and Mickey Cochrane.

Then aside from that, I gave him the MVP, the first time he’s won it from me though he has won two MVPs from the baseball writers.  Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty Gomez, and Schoolboy Rowe all finished ahead of Gehrig in the voting. Gehringer is the only of those players I would even consider and I don’t think he’s close to Biscuit Pants.

Gehrig kept his streak alive this year on July 14 due to some shenanigans from manager Joe McCarthy and some incredible fortitude by number four. Pinstripe Alley says,

“When game time arrived and Gehrig found no relief in his ailing back, he and manager Joe McCarthy decided to slate the first baseman at the shortstop position for the game against the Tigers, batting leadoff. Gehrig was set on keeping his incredible streak going, and struggled into the batter’s box to lead off the first inning of a game that would already be declared unusual by anyone who took a quick glance at the lineup card.

“Unable to take a full swing, Gehrig somehow forced a single into right field, and made the painstaking journey to first base before being pinch run for. The streak was still alive, and Gehrig had a hit to show for it.”


foxx7

1B-Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 26 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933

.334, 44 HR, 130 RBI

All-Star: Yes (2-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI)

MVP Rank: 10

WAR Rank: 3

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1951)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1931)

 

Led in:

 

Bases on Balls-111

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-10.78

Range Factor/Game as 1B-10.45

7th Time All-Star-Connie Mack is starting to do what he did when the A’s last were good, in the 1910s, and will begin selling off his best players. Still, Foxx is still with the team and at 26 years old and one of the best players in baseball, it would probably pain Mack to get rid of Double X and he won’t do so for a couple of years.

Philadelphia is already to drop, falling to fifth with a 68-82 record. It’s going to get worse.

SABR says,

“Even as the Athletics plummeted in the standings during 1934–35, Foxx kept pounding away. In those two otherwise gloomy seasons, he added 80 more home runs, batted a combined .340, and drove in 245 runs.

“Yet, seemingly unknown at that moment, a malady of body and mind was growing inside Jimmie Foxx. The affliction would not destroy Foxx quickly. It would gradually erode his gifts to the point where he would never attain the supremacy for which he seemed to be destined. On October 8, 1934, while barnstorming in Winnipeg, Canada, Jimmie was struck violently on the left side of his head by a pitched ball. Batting helmets were not worn at that time. Although x-rays were negative, Foxx was diagnosed with a concussion.

“He stayed in the local hospital for four days, but two days after leaving was too lethargic to play in an exhibition game in Spokane. Although this should have raised a red flag, Foxx resumed a prearranged tour to the Far East with other American League stars and sailed across the Pacific Ocean. There he played in every one of his team’s international games, including 18 in Japan. Upon returning to Philadelphia on January 6, 1935, Jimmie confirmed that he would resume the grueling duties of catcher, a position that he had not manned in seven years.”

greenberg

1B-Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

.339, 26 HR, 139 RBI

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 6

WAR Rank: 8

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1956)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

 

Led in:

 

Doubles-63

Extra Base Hits-96

1st Time All-Star-Henry Benjamin “Hanmmerin’ Hank” Greenberg was born on New Year’s Day, 1911 in New York, NY. I guess his parents didn’t get to watch the ball drop that year. The six-foot-three, 190 pound righty first baseman had one at-bat with Detroit in 1930 and then didn’t play in the Majors until 1933, when he became the regular first baseman for the Tigers. He showed what was to come this year and for a stretch of time in the Thirties, the American League could boast of having three of the all-time great first sackers, Hammerin’ Hank, The Iron Horse, and Double X.

Greenberg’s rise helped Detroit make the World Series and the big man lit it up, hitting .321 (nine-for-28) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and seven RBI. It didn’t help as the Tigers lost to the Gashouse Gang, four games to three.

SABR has a wonderful article on Greenberg’s decision to play on Rosh Hashanah this year and I suggest you read the whole thing. This is just a bit:

“To make matters even more worrisome for Detroit rooters, Hank Greenberg, the Tigers’ young slugging sensation, and the hero of the day in the September 9 contest, was struggling with his own decision regarding his availability on the following day. September 10, 1934, was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the traditionally observed start of the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. Greenberg, who never viewed himself as particularly observant of Jewish rituals and traditions, nonetheless wanted to be respectful of his parents’ wishes. And yet he was also a key run producer in a lineup that had not been producing many runs of late.”

I remember a few years ago, Shawn Green of the Dodgers had to make that same decision.

trosky

1B-Hal Trosky, Cleveland Indians, 21 Years Old

.330, 35 HR, 142 RBI

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 7

WAR Rank: 9

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Six percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-154

Putouts-1,487

Def. Games as 1B-154

Putouts as 1B-1,487

Assists as 1B-86

Errors Committed as 1B-22

Double Plays Turned as 1B-145

1st Time All-Star-Harold Arthur “Hal” Trosky was born on November 11, 1912 in Norway, IA. The six-foot-two, 207 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing first baseman started with Cleveland in 1933, but this was officially his rookie year and it was impressive. Has there ever been a position (not counting pitcher) in the history of the game that had as much production as the 1934 American League first basemen?

Do you remember another famous first baseman from Iowa? In the 1800s, the greatest player was Cap Anson and he was from the Hawkeye State. Anson’s racism makes him persona non grata around baseball circles nowadays.

SABR says,

“The day before that homer, September 17 [1933], provided a brush with baseball royalty. In the second game of a doubleheader against the Yankees, Trosky was playing deep behind first base when Babe Ruth hit a screaming line drive down the line that carried the rookie’s mitt almost halfway into right field. (Hal later had the glove bronzed for his personal collection.)

“In 1934, Trosky’s first full year in the major leagues, he was little short of spectacular. He played every inning of all 154 games, hit .330 with 35 home runs, drove in 142 runs, and posted a slugging percentage of .598. He finished seventh in balloting for American League Most Valuable Player. (Triple Crown winner Lou Gehrig could muster no better than fifth place as the award went to Mickey Cochrane, catcher-manager of the pennant-winning Detroit Tigers.)”

Trosky had a great year, but wouldn’t have the career of the other three first basemen on this list.

gehringer6

2B-Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers, 31 Years Old

1928 1929 1930 1932 1933

.356, 11 HR, 127 RBI

All-Star: Yes (2-3, 3 BB, 1 SB)

MVP Rank: 2

WAR Rank: 2

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1949)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1932)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-154 (4th Time)

Runs Scored-135 (2nd Time)

Hits-214 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 2B-154 (5th Time)

Assists as 2B-516 (4th Time)

6th Time All-Star-No one could have been happier about Detroit winning the American League pennant than The Mechanical Man who had been consistently great on this team for a long time. That didn’t change this year as seen by his finishing second in the Most Valuable Player voting along with being second in WAR. I gave the MVP to Lou Gehrig and the writers gave it to Gehringer’s teammate, Mickey Cochrane, but the Detroit second baseman could have easily won it from either of us.

In his first World Series, Gehringer hit the cover off the ball, batting .379 (11-for-29) with five runs scored, a double, and a homer. It didn’t help the Tigers win, however, as they lost to the Cards, four games to three.

SABR says,

“In 1934 the Tigers, under new player-manager Mickey Cochrane, bounced back from a fifth-place finish with a 101-53 record and their first World Series appearance since 1909. Gehringer led the AL in runs (134) and hits (214) and was the Tigers’ leader with a .356 average (second to Gehrig by seven points). That was the year the infield combined for 462 RBIs (first baseman Greenberg 139, Gehringer 127, shortstop Billy Rogell 100, and third baseman Marv Owen 96). The Tigers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. They made 12 errors in the Series, and Gehringer, who had made only 17 during the season, had three of them. After the season, he was part of the all-star team that toured Japan.”

myer2

2B-Buddy Myer, Washington Senators, 30 Years Old

1933

.305, 3 HR, 57 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 40 percent chance)

 

2nd Time All-Star-At this time in the American League, there wasn’t any second baseman who could match Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer, but Myer was starting to come into his own. He didn’t have Gehringer’s power, but he displayed a good glove and could hit for average. Myer still has a couple decent years ahead.

I posted a story in Myer’s 1933 write-up about a fight between Ben Chapman and him which involved Chapman hurling anti-Semitic smears at the Washington second baseman. Was Myer Jewish? According to Wikipedia,

“In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an ‘All Time All-Star Argument Starter’, consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Myer was the shortstop on Stein’s Jewish team. Baseball historian Bill James reported that Myer ‘told a home-town newspaperman shortly before his death in 1974 that he was not Jewish, he was German’, and that he ‘never set the record straight’. Despite this late-life denial, the truth appears to be that while Myer’s father of the same name, Charles Solomon Myer, was of Jewish origin, his mother Maud was not. Thus, Myer was ethnically only half-Jewish, and was not raised in the faith.”

It should be noted in the SABR account of the fight there is no mention of any slurs. They blame the brouhaha on Chapman sliding into Myer and cutting his foot. Of course, it could be a combination of both. One thing I learn all the time is life is too complicated to look at just one side of an issue.

werber

3B-Billy Werber, Boston Red Sox, 26 Years Old

.321, 11 HR, 67 RBI

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 12

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Plate Appearances-714

Stolen Bases-40

Errors Committed-43

Assists as 3B-323

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.61

Range Factor/Game s 3B-3.53

1st Time All-Star-William Murray “Billy” Werber was born on June 20, 1908 in Berwyn, MD. The five-foot-10, 170 pound righty third baseman started with the Yankees in 1930 and then didn’t play in the Majors in 1931 and 1932. He came back to New York in 1933, amassing just two at-bats before being purchased with George Pipgras by the Boston Red Sox from the New York Yankees for $100,000. This was Werber’s best season ever, but he’s still got one or two All-Star seasons left.

SABR tells of an injury that Werber got this year that plagued the rest of his career:

“In those days before air conditioning, teams kept a bucket full of ammonia water in the dugout so that players could sponge off. Werber’s teammate Lefty Grove had a habit of kicking the bucket and sending water flying everywhere after a bad inning on the mound. The team, unbeknownst to Werber, had replaced the bucket with a heavier one with iron bands, to discourage Grove from taking out his frustrations. One afternoon Werber, who had a bit of a temper himself, popped up with men on base and proceeded to attack the bucket with the front of his foot. The result was a broken toe on his right foot. Werber continued to play for the rest of the season and still finished with a .321 batting average in 152 games, leading the league with 40 stolen bases and pounding out 200 hits and scoring 129 runs. But his toe continued to bother him for the rest of his 11-year big-league career, and he was never able to replicate his 1934 performance.”

rogell2

SS-Billy Rogell, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old

1933

.296, 3 HR, 99 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

 

Led in:

 

Defensive WAR-2.2

Games Played-154 (2nd Time)

Assists-518

Def. Games as SS-154 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-518

2nd Time All-Star-In order to win a pennant, you generally need a team that can do it all – hit, pitch, and field. Detroit definitely had hitting with people like Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer and could certainly pitch thanks to Schoolboy Rowe and Tommy Bridges. It’s fielding, though, was led by this man, the sure-handed Fire Chief, Billy Rogell.

With he and Gehringer manning the middle of the Tigers’ infield, the team won the American League pennant for the first time since 1909. In the Series, Rogell hit .276 (eight-for-29) with a double. Detroit lost the World Series to the Cardinals, 4-3.

Rogell was part of a famous play in World Series history, according to Wikipedia, which says,

“After driving in a run with a single to right in the fourth inning of game four, Spud Davis was replaced by Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean as a pinch runner at first base. Pepper Martin then stepped in and hit a ground ball to Gehringer at second. Gehringer turned and threw to Rogell who forced out Dean at second, and then fired the ball squarely into Dean’s forehead on the relay throw to first. The ball ricocheted off Dean’s head and landed over a hundred feet away in the outfield. Dean, always known for his quick wit and humorous nature, remarked after a visit to the hospital, ‘The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing.’ Rogell would say of the play later, ‘If I’d have known his head was there, I would have thrown the ball harder.’”

johnsonb

LF-Bob Johnson, Philadelphia Athletics, 28 Years Old

.307, 34 HR, 92 RBI

All-Star: No

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. 60 percent chance)

 

Led in:

 

Power-Speed #-17.7

Putouts as LF-302

Assists as LF-16

Assists as OF-17

Range Factor/Game as LF-2.29

1st Time All-Star-Robert Lee “Indian Bob” Johnson was born on November 26, 1905 in Pryor, OK. The six-foot, 180 pound righty leftfielder started with Philadelphia in 1933 and would be a consistent player for the A’s for a good stretch. Probably not good enough to enter my Hall of Fame, but we’ll have to see. Unfortunately he was part of Philadelphia after its decline so he never got to play in a World Series.

Wikipedia has details of his nickname and his 1934 season:

“As a rookie Johnson hit .290 with 20 home runs, 103 runs and 93 RBI, and was second in the AL with 44 doubles.

“Born in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, Johnson grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and thereafter made the city his home. His nickname was derived from his lineage, which was one-quarter Cherokee. Due to the abundance of quality outfielders in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he did not reach the major leagues until 1933, when he was 27.

“Johnson took full advantage of playing in Shibe Park, which had long been a decidedly friendly environment for right-handed hitters such as Simmons and Jimmie Foxx. In 1934 Johnson improved his average to .307, including a 26-game hitting streak, and added a career-high 34 home runs along with 111 runs and 92 RBI; he also led the league with 17 assists. On June 16 he tied an AL record by going 6-for-6 with two home runs and a double.”

I’m surprised how good Johnson’s career was. He’ll make a few of these lists.

manush5

LF-Heinie Manush, Washington Senators, 32 Years Old

1926 1928 1932 1933

.349, 11 HR, 89 RBI

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 1 BB, 1 SB)

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1964)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 1 percent chance)

 

5th Time All-Star-If you examine the Hall of Fame inductees, you’ll see some of the most sketchy picks are made by the Veteran’s Committee. The picks of the writers are surprisingly solid though not perfect. I don’t believe Manush should be in the Hall of Fame, but it’s not like he had a terrible career. Only 20 percent of players who make at least one of these All-Star teams end up making five or more, so Heinie has nothing of which to be ashamed. But should he be in the Hall? I’m not so sure.

As for the rest of Manush’s life, SABR says,

                “Manush remained active throughout his life, and was a staunch competitor to the end. Golf was his game of choice as a retiree and he played almost every day in Florida, many games with Paul Waner. ‘Pound for pound, Paul was the greatest. We had been friends since 1927, and what a guy he was. Day in and day out, Waner could beat me anytime he wanted to. He was a real good putter. I called him “One Putt” and that’s all he ever took. He still had that beautiful swing. But he couldn’t hit the ball more than about 150 yards. I usually saw him about once a week.

“Manush moved to Florida and continued his competitiveness in a different sport: golf. He played just about every day until his death, which came on May 12, 1971, in Sarasota, Florida, after a long fight with cancer. The connection between Manush and Goslin continued as Goslin died three days later in New Jersey.”

simmons10

LF-Al Simmons, Chicago White Sox, 32 Years Old

1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933

.344, 18 HR, 104 RBI

All-Star: Yes (3-5, 3 R, 2 2B)

MVP Rank: 11

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1933)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1953)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1929)

 

Led in:

 

Fielding % as LF-.985 (5th Time)

10th Time All-Star-When I wrote Simmons’ blurb for the 1933 season, I talked about his death, which is something I do when I surmise the player won’t be making any more of these lists. Obviously I was wrong about Simmons, who surprised me by making the All-Star team this year. The more of these lists he makes, the more outstanding his overall career looks. I would put in the top 25 players of all-time at this point in baseball history.

Wikipedia wraps us his career, saying,

                “Simmons was one of the best hitters in MLB history. He had a career batting average of .334. He hit .340 or better in eight different seasons, with four seasons of better than .380. He recorded a .300 batting average and 100 or more RBI in his first 11 major league seasons.

“Simmons accumulated 1,500 hits in 1,040 games and 2,000 hits in 1,393 games, which remains the shortest number of games needed to attain both marks in major league history. He compiled 200 hits or better in a season six times, with five of those being consecutive (1929–33), and had 199 and 192 hits in 1926 and 1934. He compiled more hits than any right-handed batter in AL history until surpassed by Al Kaline. Simmons recorded 8 five-hit games and 52 four-hit games in the majors.”

Okay, now I’m pretty sure this is Simmons’ last All-Star team, unless something fluky happens. For the era in which he played, there weren’t many better than Bucketfoot Al.

averill4

CF-Earl Averill, Cleveland Indians, 32 Years Old

1929 1931 1932

.313, 31 HR, 113 RBI

All-Star: Yes (2-4, 1 2B, 1 3B)

MVP Rank: 17

WAR Rank: 7

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1975)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

 

Led in:

 

Games Played-154

Def. Games as CF-154 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as CF-13 (5th Time)

Double Plays Turned as CF-3 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as OF-154 (3rd Time)

Putouts as CF-410 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as OF-2.74

 

4th Time All-Star-A very unusual thing happened this season – seven players led the league in games played with 154. They were Averill, Lou Gehrig (of course), Averill’s teammate Hal Trosky, Detroit players Billy Rogell, Marv Owen, and Charlie Gehringer,  and  St. Louis’ Jack Burns. Two other players played 153 games and another played 152.

I think about this because it seems like it’s unusual to have players play full seasons nowadays. Yet in the American League in the 2019 season, four players actually played 162 games and then the next player dropped to 159 games. In the National League there were seven players who played at least 160 games.

That actually surprises me as I would have thought playing every day was a thing of the past. I remember reading some player rating book during Cal Ripken’s streak and the authors wondered what the point of his being in the lineup daily was. They produced some stats that showed he started to fade in September. (I looked it up and yes, Ripken’s OPS in September was worse than every other month he played, but he was surprisingly consistent during the year.) So I thought now with the stats dominating decision making in the Major Leagues, managers wouldn’t be so keen on putting players out there every day.

During the Thirties, with the Depression happening, people appreciated the players toiling at their craft daily. IF they’re going to pay their hard-earned money for a ticket, they certainly want to see their heroes out on that field.

Babe Ruth Autographs Ball For Prince Kaya

RF-Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, 39 Years Old

1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933

.288, 22 HR, 84 RBI

All-Star: Yes (0-2, 2 BB, 1 K)

Hall of Fames:

ONEHOF: Yes (Inducted in 1923)

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1936)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1917)

 

18th Time All-Star-This will be my last write-up for George Herman Ruth, the greatest player up to this time in history and my guess for the greatest player of all-time. Is there anyone who doesn’t rate the Babe number one? Bleacher Report did an article in 2017 and rated the Bambino number one and Willie Mays number two. In 1998, the Sporting News ranked all the players and came up with the same top two. ESPN had the same top two in 2013. Britannica concurred with all of the lists.  Ranker puts Ruth at one and Ty Cobb at two. Stadium Talk actually reverses the order of the Sultan of Swat and the Say Hey Kid. I could go on and on but I think the point is made, in all the time baseball has been played, there wasn’t a better player than this Yankees’ legend.

My top 10 through this point is:

  1. Babe Ruth, RF, 18 All-Star teams made
  2. Walter Johnson, P, 18
  3. Ty Cobb, CF, 19
  4. Cy Young, P, 17
  5. Tris Speaker, CF, 18
  6. Eddie Collins, 2B, 17
  7. Honus Wagner, SS, 15
  8. Rogers Hornsby, 2B, 15
  9. Pete Alexander, P, 15
  10. Cap Anson, 1B, 10

The player closest to making this list is Ruth’s teammate, Lou Gehrig.

Ruth also has made the All-Star team as a rightfielder more times than any other player. My full list for all the positions:

P-Walter Johnson, 18

C-Charlie Bennett, 9

1B-Cap Anson, 13

2B-Eddie Collins, 17

3B-Home Run Baker, 9

SS-Honus Wagner, 13

LF-Fred Clarke, 10

CF-Tris Speaker, 18

RF-Ruth, 11

Ruth died of cancer on August 16, 1948 at the age of 53.

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