After sharing the Polo Grounds with the National League’s New York Giants the previous 10 years, the Yankees moved just across the Harlem River into brand new Yankee Stadium in 1923. Evicted from the Polo Grounds by envious Giants manager John McGraw, who resented the growing popularity of the Yankees following their acquisition of Babe Ruth three years earlier, New York’s American League entry christened the huge ballpark in the Bronx by capturing their third consecutive A.L. pennant. The Yankees finished the regular season with a record of 98-54, 16 games ahead of the second-place Detroit Tigers.
The American League’s most well-balanced team, the Yankees finished third in the junior circuit with 823 runs scored, while also surrendering a league-low 622 runs to the opposition. Newly-acquired Herb Pennock headed New York’s league-leading pitching staff. The 29-year-old left-hander compiled a record of 19-6, a 3.13 ERA, and 21 complete games. Bob Shawkey won 16 games, Waite Hoyt posted 17 victories and a team-leading 3.02 ERA, Joe Bush won 19 games and threw 22 complete games, and Sam Jones finished 21-8 with 18 complete games.
New York’s starting lineup also made significant contributions to the team’s successful title defense. Leadoff hitter Whitey Witt batted .314 and scored 113 runs. Leftfielder Bob Meusel batted .313 and knocked in 91 runs. First baseman Wally Pipp batted .304 and finished second on the club with 108 runs batted in. Once again, though, the central figure on the team was Babe Ruth, who was also the American’s League’s dominant player over the course of the season. Ruth topped the junior circuit with 41 home runs, 131 runs batted in, 151 runs scored, 399 total bases, 170 walks, a .545 on-base percentage, and a .764 slugging percentage. He also placed second in the league with a .393 batting average, while finishing among the leaders with 205 hits and 45 doubles. Only the .403 batting average compiled by Detroit outfielder Harry Heilmann prevented Ruth from winning the Triple Crown. Ruth’s magnificent performance earned him recognition as the American League’s Most Valuable Player at season’s end.
Having lost the previous two World Series to the Giants, the Yankees entered the Fall Classic seeking to gain a measure of revenge. Things didn’t look too promising at first after they lost Game One on an inside-the-park home run by Giants’ outfielder Casey Stengel. However, the Yankees won four of the next five contests, outscoring the Giants by a combined margin of 26-12, to capture their first world championship. After performing so poorly in the previous year’s Fall Classic, Babe Ruth acquitted himself far better in the 1923 Series, batting .368, hitting three home runs, walking eight times, and scoring eight runs.
Although the Yankees finished first in the American League and Babe Ruth was the circuit’s top offensive performer in 1923, both the second-place Detroit Tigers and the third-place Cleveland Indians boasted superior lineups. Finishing second in the league with 830 runs scored, Detroit’s
batting order included the great Ty Cobb and A.L. batting champion Harry Heilmann. Cobb batted .340 and scored 103 runs. In addition to leading the league with a .403 batting average, Heilmann placed among the leaders with 18 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 121 runs scored, 211 hits, 44 doubles, 331 total bases, a .481 on-base percentage, and a .632 slugging percentage.
Meanwhile, Tris Speaker led a Cleveland Indians attack that scored a league-leading 888 runs. The 35-year-old Speaker had the most productive offensive season of his career, establishing career highs with 17 home runs and 130 runs batted in, scoring 133 runs, batting .380, and leading the league in doubles for the fourth straight year, with 59. He also placed in the top five in hits, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• April 18- The New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-1 in the first game played at Yankee Stadium. In the third inning, Babe Ruth hit the stadium's first-ever home run, a shot off Howard Ehmke with Whitey Witt and Joe Dugan on base.
• May 19 - For the first time in major league history, brothers on opposite teams hit home runs in the same game. Boston Red Sox catcher Rick Ferrell homered off his brother Wes Ferrell in the second inning, but the Cleveland Indians pitcher returned the favor by homering in the third on a pitch called by his sibling. It ended up being the only time the Ferrell brothers homered in the same game.
• June 23 - After going two-for-four with a double, two runs batted in, and a run scored, New York Yankees star first baseman Wally Pipp was rested by manager Miller Huggins, allowing recently signed rookie Lou Gehrig to make his major league debut in the Yankees' 10-0 victory over the St. Louis Browns. Gehrig did not receive an at bat.
• July 22 - Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators became the first man ever to strike out 3,000 batters.
• September 4 - Sad Sam Jones pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees in a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Athletics.
• September 7 - Boston Red Sox pitcher Howard Ehmke tossed a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Athletics, marking the second time in four days Philadelphia was no-hit.
• September 14 - Boston Red Sox first baseman George Burns turned the third unassisted triple play in major league history during the second inning of Boston's game against the Cleveland Indians. Boston won, 2-0.
• October 15 - The New York Yankees defeated the New York Giants, 4-2, in Game Six of the World Series to win their first World Championship, four games to two. The Yankees opened their new Yankee Stadium in April, making it the third time that a team had inaugurated a new stadium with a World Series win. The three consecutive matchups between the Yankees and Giants (1921–1923) marked the only time, to date, that three straight World Series featured the same two clubs.
• Radio station WEAF in New York became the first station to broadcast a World Series.
• Cleveland’s Stan Coveleski won the ERA title with a mark of 2.76.
• Coveleski’s Indians teammate George Uhle led the league with 26 wins and 358 innings pitched.
More From Around the Web
On December 18, 1991, the Toronto Blue Jays sign free agent ...
On December 18, 1975, the Oakland A’s hire Chuck Tanner as ...
On December 18, 1974, Hall of Famer Harry Hooper dies at the ...
- 1923 World Series, American League, Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Bob Shawkey, Casey Stengel, George Burns, George Uhle, Harry Heilmann, Herb Pennock, Howard Ehmke, Joe Bush, Joe Dugan, John McGraw, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Rick Ferrell, Sam Jones, Stan Coveleski, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Waite Hoyt, Wally Pipp, Walter Johnson, Wes Ferrell, Whitey Witt, Yankee Stadium