The 1933 baseball season featured two firsts: the inaugural Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the initial Negro League Baseball All-Star Game. Connie Mack piloted the American League’s star-studded team to a 4-2 victory over John McGraw’s National League squad in the first meeting of Major League Baseball’s elite, played at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 6. Babe Ruth appropriately won the game for the junior circuit with a two-run homer. The greatest stars of black baseball also met at Comiskey Park some two months later, on September 10, with the West defeating the East by a score of 11-7.
Meanwhile, with 38-year-old Babe Ruth’s offensive production dropping precipitously, the Yankees found themselves unable to fend off an extremely well-balanced Washington Senators team for first-place in the American League. The Senators claimed their third and final league championship by finishing the season with a record of 99-53, seven full games ahead of second-place New York. The Philadelphia Athletics finished a distant third, 19 ½ games off the pace.
Featuring solid hitting and very strong pitching, the Senators were the junior circuit’s most complete team. They placed second in the league with a team ERA of 3.82, finished third with 850 runs scored, and topped the circuit with a team batting average of .287. Alvin Crowder anchored Washington’s pitching staff, leading the league with 24 victories while also finishing second with 299 innings pitched. He received a considerable amount of help from Earl Whitehill, who finished third in the league with 22 wins, and Monte Weaver, who placed among the league leaders with a 3.26 ERA.
The tandem of Heinie Manush and Joe Cronin led the Senators on offense. Manush finished first in the league with 221 hits and 17 triples, and he also placed in the top five with a .336 batting average and 115 runs scored. Player-manager Cronin batted .309, finished near the top of the league rankings with 118 runs batted in, topped the circuit with 45 doubles, and led all A.L. shortstops in fielding.
The Senators came up short against the New York Giants in the World Series, falling in five games to their National League counterparts. N.L. MVP Carl Hubbell threw two complete-game shutouts, as New York’s pitching staff compiled a 1.53 ERA against Washington’s lineup.
Although the Senators were the American League’s most well-balanced team in 1933, the second-place New York Yankees remained the junior circuit’s top offensive ball club. Despite Babe Ruth’s decline in offensive production, New York led the A.L. in runs scored for the eighth straight year, crossing the plate a total of 927 times. Ruth had his worst statistical season in nearly a decade, batting just .301, hitting only 34 homers, and driving in just 103 runs. Lou Gehrig replaced him as New York’s best player, leading the league with 138 runs scored, placing second with 139 runs batted in, 359 total bases, and a .605 slugging percentage, and also finishing among the leaders with 32 home runs, a .334 batting average, and 198 hits.
But Philadelphia’s Jimmie Foxx posted superior numbers to Gehrig in virtually every offensive category, establishing himself in the process as baseball’s greatest player for the second consecutive year. Foxx captured the A.L. Triple Crown by leading the league with 48 home runs, 163 runs batted in, and a .356 batting average. He also finished second to Gehrig with 125 runs scored, and he topped the circuit with 403 total bases and a .703 slugging percentage that was almost 100 points higher than runner-up Gehrig's mark of .605. A’s owner/manager Connie Mack already began dismantling his mini-dynasty that ruled the American League from 1929 to 1931 by selling Al Simmons, Jimmie Dykes, and Mule Haas to the White Sox at the end of the previous season. High-priced stars Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane would soon be shown the door as well. Considering the state of flux the A’s found themselves in at the time, they did well to finish third in the junior circuit in 1933. The members of the BBWAA recognized Foxx’s overwhelming contributions to that effort by naming him the league’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight time.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Joe DiMaggio, who joined the Yankees three years later, hit safely in 61 consecutive games while playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.
• July 19 - Rick and Wes Ferrell became the first brothers on opposing teams to hit home runs in the same game, as Wes' Indians defeated Rick's Red Sox, 8-7, in 13 innings.
• August 3 - For the first time in two years (August 2, 1931), the New York Yankees were shut out by their opponent.
• August 14 - Jimmie Foxx hit for the cycle and drove in nine runs to lead the Philadelphia Athletics to an 11-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
• December 12 - The Philadelphia Athletics traded Lefty Grove, Max Bishop and Rube Walberg to the Boston Red Sox for Bob Kline, Rabbit Warstler and $125,000. They also sent Mickey Cochrane to the Detroit Tigers for Johnny Pasek and $100,000, then packaged Pasek with George Earnshaw in a deal with the Chicago White Sox that netted them Charlie Berry and $20,000.
• Mickey Cochrane became the first catcher ever to lead the majors in on-base-percentage (.459).
• Philadelphia's Lefty Grove finished 24-8, to tie Washington’s Alvin Crowder for the league-lead in victories. Grove also led the league with 21 complete games, and he finished among the leaders with a 3.20 ERA and 275 innings pitched.
• Ski Melillo of the St. Louis Browns established a new major league record for second basemen by compiling a .991 fielding average.
• Cleveland’s Willie Kamm set a new major league record for third basemen by posting a .984 fielding average.
• New York’s Ben Chapman stole 27 bases to lead the league in steals for the third straight time.