1927 World Series
In the 1927 World Series, the New York Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games.
This was the first sweep of a National League team by an American League team.
That year, the Yankees led the American League in runs scored, hits, triples, home runs, base on balls, batting average, slugging average and on base percentage. It featured legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at their peaks. The team won a then-league record 110 games, finished with a 19-game lead over second place, and are considered by many to be the greatest team in the history of baseball.
The 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates, with MVP Paul Waner, led the National League in runs, hits, batting average and on base percentage.
As legend has it, the "Murderers' Row" Yankees took a show-off batting practice before Game 1 in which they purposely rocketed as many as they could into the seats, while the Pirates team looked on. A stunned Lloyd Waner then turned to his older brother and opined, "They're big, aren't they?" Whether true or not (this was standard procedure for Ruth in any case), New York had little trouble dispatching Pittsburgh, who did not see another Series for 33 years.
The 1927 New York Yankees had perhaps the most feared line-up in the history of baseball. Nicknamed "Murderers Row," their batting order boasted the all-time great Babe Ruth at the top of his considerable powers, hitting .356 with a then-record 60 home runs and 164 RBI that year. He was complemented by future Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig at first base, who hit .373 with 47 home runs and a league-leading 175 RBI, Tony Lazzeri at second base who drove in 102 runs with a .309 average, and CF Earle Combs, who hit .356 and scored 137 runs as the team's lead-off hitter. LF Bob Meusel also drove in over 100 runs, with a .337 average. The rest of the team, composed of shortstop Mark Koenig (.285), third baseman Joe Dugan (.269) and catcher Pat Collins (.275) was not as awesome, but no one was an easy out either.
The team's pitching staff was led by another Hall of Famer, Waite Hoyt, who had his best season with a 22-7 record and a league-leading 2.63 ERA to add to his league-leading wins total. Three more pitchers won 18 or more games, rookie Wilcy Moore (19-7, 2.28), Herb Pennock (19-8, 3.00) and Urban Shocker (18-6, 2.84). Moore would have won the ERA title under current rules, but in those days qualification was based on the number of complete games pitched, and he made only 12 starts all year: 13 of his wins and a league-leading 13 saves (figured retroactively) came during his 38 relief appearances. Rounding out the staff were veteran Dutch Ruether (13-6, 3.38), George Pipgras (10-3, 4.11) and swingman Myles Thomas (7-4, 4.87). This was a staff almost as strong as the team's fearsome hitters.
Not surprisingly, the Yankees ran away with the pennant under the leadership of manager Miller Huggins. They finished with a record of 110-44, 19 games in front of the second-place Philadelphia Athletics. They were overwhelming favorites to win the World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates were by no means a weak team, but they certainly suffer in comparison with their American League rivals. The Pirates went 94-60 for manager Donie Bush during the regular season, finishing 1.5 games ahead of the defending World Champions St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates also had their share of future Hall of Famers, but they were not quite of the caliber of those of the Yankees. The team's best hitter was RF Paul "Big Poison" Waner, who hit a league-leading .380 and drove in 131 runs, also a league-leading total. His brother, rookie CF Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner hit .355 and scored a league-leading 133 runs, in spite of his almost complete lack of power (he collected just 25 extra-base hits in over 650 plate appearances). 3B Pie Traynor hit .342 and drove in over 100 runs, joining SS Glenn Wright who also topped the century mark. However, Wright and Paul Waner also led the team in home runs with 9 each, underscoring the huge difference in power with their rivals: the Pirates hit 54 home runs as a team, fewer than Babe Ruth by himself, and barely a third as many as the Yankees' 158.
Other solid hitters for the Pirates included 1B Joe Harris, who hit .326 with 73 RBI, 2B George Grantham (.305) and LF Clyde Barnhart (.319). In fact, catcher Johnny Gooch, who hit .258, was the only regular besides Wright to hit below .300, and back-up outfielder Kiki Cuyler added his own .309 average in 285 at bats to the parade, as the Pirates batted .305 as a team - pitchers included!
The Pirates' pitching was not as dominant. Two veterans of the 1925 World Championship team, Lee Meadows and Ray Kremer both posted 19 wins, with Kremer leading the league with a 2.47 ERA. Carmen Hill had pitched part of six seasons in the majors before 1927, never winning more than 3 games. In 1927, he put everything together, winning a team-leading 22 games against 11 losses, with a 3.24 ERA at age 31. Vic Aldridge went 15-10 as the fourth starter, but his 4.25 ERA was well over the league average. In the bullpen, Johnny Miljus put together a good season, posting a 1.90 ERA in 76 innings, with an 8-3 record.
Fans in 1927 witnessed the play of what many baseball historians consider to be the greatest team in the history of baseball, The 1927 New York Yankees. With an all-star lineup known as "Murderer's Row", New York outscored its opponents by nearly four-hundred runs and hit .307 as a team. Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest ever, set the original single season mark with sixty homeruns which was more than any other American League team had combined. The Sultan of Swat also had plenty of help from his fellow sluggers in pinstripes. Outfield counterparts, Earle Combs in center and Bob Meusel in left, hit .356 and .337 respectively. Lou Gehrig had his first big season, batting .373 with forty-seven homers and a league leading one-hundred seventy-five RBIs. Second year man Tony Lazzeri ranked third in the loop with eighteen homers. The pitching staff boasted four men who won eighteen or more wins, led by Waite Hoyt at 22-7. Herb Pennock and Wilcy Moore gained nineteen victories apiece while Urban Shocker added eighteen. This lethal trio complemented the dominant offense by claiming the league's three best ERAs. Moore, who pitched primarily in relief, led the way with a 2.28 mark. With a 110-44 record, the Bronx Bombers ran away with the American League pennant, winning by a staggering nineteen games.
On the National League side, the Pittsburgh Pirates had managed a pennant, but were clearly not the caliber that New York represented. Game 1 opened at Forbes Field, but the "homefield advantage" offered the Pirates little comfort in a 5-4 loss that was highlighted by several crucial fielding errors by the home team. Little changed in Game 2 as the Yankees netted another 6-2 victory off the arm of George Pipgras who beat Pittsburgh's Vic Aldridge, Mike Cvengros and Joe Dawson.
Herb Pennock, who entered Game 3 with a 4-0 Series record, went the distance for the third outing mowing down the first twenty-two Pirates he faced - the closest thing to a perfect game in a World Series until Don Larsen in 1956. The result was an 8-1 triumph that left the Yankees one win away from sweeping the Series and reclaiming their crown.
Game 4 was anyone's for nine innings as neither team blinked in a 3-3 stalemate. Pittsburgh manager, Donie Bush, had turned to Carmen Hill, who had peaked in 1927 as the ace of his pitching staff. Hill had never won more than three games, but in 1927 he chalked up twenty-two. New York's Miller Huggins went with Wilcy Moore, a promising rookie who had made only twelve starts in his fifty appearances. Both had planned to go the distance, but the mental fatigue was starting to take its toll.
Pittsburgh's John Miljus came in as relief in the seventh inning and looked strong until the ninth. Earle Combs walked and Mark Koenig beat out a bunt to advance the runner. Ruth was walked intentionally after a wild pitch advanced the runners and left first base vacant, filling the bases with no outs and Lou Gehrig coming up next. Miljus managed to strike out the next two batters, but threw a disastrous second wild pitch to Tony Lazzeri, scoring Combs and ending the game. The Yankees had won their second championship title and the crowning achievement to a magnificent season. They also became the first team ever to sweep the National League in a World Series.