The 1932 World Series was played between the New York Yankees (American League) and the Chicago Cubs (National League), with the Yankees holding home field advantage. The Yankees swept the Cubs, four games to none. The series was otherwise noteworthy for Babe Ruth's "called shot," for his tenth and last World Series appearance overall, and for the arguments that developed between the two teams. The heated atmosphere started before the series even began.
In this Series played a record thirteen future Hall of Famers.
Anger, emotion and controversy were the big stories of the 1932 Series and that was before the first pitch was ever even thrown. Babe Ruth, the most beloved (and hated) player in all of baseball, lived up to his reputation by ripping apart the Chicago Cubs organization in the press while sticking up for one of his former teammates. Remembering the contributions of shortstop Mark Koenig to the Yankees' great teams of 1926-1928, several New York players berated the National League champions for only offering him a half-share of the World Series payoff. Although he had been a late-season acquisition, the former Yankee had batted .353 in thirty-three games for his new team and many felt that he was being cheated. Chicago tempers were also flared by the return of Joe McCarthy, who had been fired by the Cubs after the 1930 season. Many around the league had felt that the Yank's new skipper had been unfairly treated after winning the pennant in '29 and taking his team to second place the following year. However, many of his supporters quickly turned on him after he accepted a position with the hated American League powerhouse. Two years later he walked back onto Wrigley Field in a New York uniform determined to get the "last laugh" over his former employer. He certainly had the advantage this time as the Yankees won the first two games back home in the Bronx and were now locked in a 4-4 stalemate. What would follow has become one of the most memorable and controversial moments in the history of baseball...
With one out in the fifth, Babe Ruth stepped up to the plate and prepared to stare down Chicago's Charlie Root. "The Bambino" had launched a three-run rocket off of the Cub's veteran in the first, but took a called strike on the first pitch. Two balls and another strike followed as "The Babe" acknowledged it with a raised hand. Confident that a "K" was coming, the Cubs fans started taunting Ruth from the stands. As the noise level rose to a deafening roar, Ruth pointed to center field (although some contest that he was pointing back at Root) and prepared his wind-up. Whatever the gesture, it certainly silenced the fans as he delivered the next pitch over the centerfield wall for the go-ahead score. Even Lou Gehrig (who was on-deck at the time) maintained that Ruth had definitely "called his shot" although Root wasn't buying into the "Sultan of Swing" sensationalism. He was quoted as saying, "If he had, I would have knocked him down with the next pitch." Ruth never expounded upon the matter and was content with another contribution to baseball folklore. It still remains a mystery.
Gehrig and Ruth both traded two-homer days in a close Game 3 that ended 7-5 in the Yankees' favor. New York prepared the next day to close out the Cubs for their third consecutive sweep, but did not get off to a good start as they fell behind 4-1 when Chicago's Frank Demaree knocked a three-run homer in the first. Despite the Cubs' strong start, New York stormed back, thanks in part to the bat of Tony Lazzeri who had two, two-run homers during a late Yankees rally. In a game that was tied 5-5 for six innings, the Yanks wound up with a 13-6 win and another World Championship. Although Ruth's "called shot" was the most widely contested and celebrated moment of the 1932 Series, it was Lou Gehrig who was without a doubt, the biggest hitter. Gehrig went nine-for-seventeen with a .529 average, slugged three homers, scored nine runs and tallied eight RBIs. He was backed up by Bill Dickey, who batted .438, Earle Combs, who hit .375 and Joe Sewell and "the Babe" who both finished with a .333 average. Strangely, the "called shot" would be Ruth's last homerun in World Series play.