After finishing 23 ½ games out of first place the previous year, the Washington Senators captured their first American League pennant in 1924. By doing so, Washington ended New York’s three-year reign as A.L. champions. The Senators finished two games ahead of the second-place Yankees, with a record of 92-62. The Detroit Tigers finished third, six games off the pace.
The 1924 campaign ended up being an extremely fulfilling one for the Senators’ Walter Johnson, who spent the previous 17 seasons pitching for mostly losing teams in Washington. Furthermore, the 36-year-old hurler made something of a comeback, surpassing 20 victories for the first time in five years. Thought to be well past his prime, Johnson led all A.L. pitchers with 23 victories, against only 7 defeats, and he also finished first with a 2.72 earned run average, 158 strikeouts, and six shutouts. The baseball writers rewarded Johnson for his outstanding performance by naming him the league’s Most Valuable Player at season’s end.
There were others who also contributed significantly to Washington’s unexpected run to the pennant. Young outfielder Goose Goslin led the league with 129 runs batted in, and he also finished among the leaders with a .344 batting average, 199 hits, 17 triples, and a .516 slugging percentage. Fellow outfielder Sam Rice batted .334, scored 106 runs, stole 24 bases, and led the league with 216 hits. Meanwhile, Tom Zachary, George Mogridge, and Firpo Marberry helped the Senators compile a league-leading 3.34 ERA. Zachary went 15-9, with a 2.75 ERA. Mogridge won 16 games and relief ace Marberry topped the circuit with 15 saves.
With the New York Giants capturing their fourth straight National League pennant, the 1924 World Series featured two of the game’s most legendary figures – Walter Johnson and Giants manager John McGraw. The Fall Classic ended up being an exciting seven-game affair that was one of the closest in history. Four of the games were decided by one run, and two went into extra innings.
After New York won Game One on a Ross Youngs single in the 12th inning, Washington took Game Two on a Roger Peckinpaugh double in the ninth. The two teams then split the next four games, thus setting up a Game Seven showdown.
The decisive seventh contest went 12 innings, with Washington finally emerging victories when two ground balls took bad hops over the head of New York third baseman Fred Lindstrom. Johnson, who lost his previous two starts in the Series, earned his first World Series victory in relief.
Although the Yankees failed to repeat as A.L. champions, Babe Ruth remained the league’s best player. In addition to finishing second to Goslin with 121 runs batted in, Ruth topped the junior circuit with 46 home runs, a .378 batting average, 143 runs scored, a .513 on-base percentage, and a .739 slugging percentage, which exceeded the mark posted by league runners-up Harry Heilmann and Ken Williams by 206 points.
Harry Heilmann also had a tremendous year for the third-place Tigers, placing among the league leaders with a .346 batting average, 114 runs batted in, 107 runs scored, 45 doubles, 16 triples, a .428 on-base percentage, and a .533 slugging percentage.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• September 22 - With his Detroit Tigers holding a commanding lead over the Boston Red Sox, player-manager Ty Cobb inserted young prospect Charlie Gehringer as a defensive replacement at shortstop. Gehringer failed to log an at-bat in his major league debut.
• Washington's Goose Goslin established himself as the star of the 1924 World Series, batting .344, hitting three home runs, and driving in seven runs.
• Washington's Firpo Marberry (15 saves) became the first relief specialist in major league baseball history.
• On August 2, Joe Hauser of the A's set a new American League record by amassing 14 total bases in a game.
• Sam Rice of Washington hit safely in 31 consecutive games.
• Walter Johnson's American League strikeout crown was his record 12th.
- 1924 World Series, American League, Babe Ruth, Charlie Gehringer, Firpo Marberry, Freddie Lindstrom, George Mogridge, Goose Goslin, Harry Heilmann, Joe Hauser, John McGraw, Ken Williams, New York Giants, Roger Peckinpaugh, Ross Youngs, Sam Rice, Tom Zachary, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Washington Senators