With a nebulous cloud hanging over Major League Baseball throughout the 1942 campaign due to the United States’ involvement in World War II, the New York Yankees went about their business as usual, winning their sixth American League pennant in seven years. The Yankees finished the regular season with a record of 103-51, nine full games ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox.
Strong both at the bat and on the mound, New York led all of baseball with 801 runs scored, while also posting a league-leading 2.91 team ERA. Yankee pitchers allowed the opposition to score only 507 runs, which represented the lowest total surrendered by the team since 1919 – the last year of the Dead-ball Era. Tiny Bonham headed New York’s starting rotation, finishing the year with a record of 21-5, a 2.27 ERA, and a league-leading 22 complete games and six shutouts. Spud Chandler, rookie Hank Borowy, and 37-year-old Red Ruffing combined to win another 45 games. Bonham, Chandler, and Borowy finished second, third, and fifth among A.L. hurlers in earned run average.
Although the Yankees experienced something of a power-shortage on offense, compiling their second-lowest home run total in 18 years (108), they nevertheless scored 40 more runs than any other team in baseball. Charlie Keller led the club with 26 round-trippers. He also knocked in 108 runs, scored 106 others, batted .292, and compiled an on-base percentage of .417. Joe DiMaggio had a slightly subpar season, hitting only 21 home runs, driving in “just” 114 runs, scoring 123 others, and batting “only” .305. Joe Gordon, though, had arguably his finest season in New York, hitting 18 homers, driving in 103 runs, batting .322, and compiling an on-base percentage of .409. The Yankee second baseman’s outstanding performance ended up winning him A.L. MVP honors, in an extremely close vote over Boston’s Ted Williams.
New York took the opening game of the World Series against St. Louis, defeating the Cardinals 7-4 behind Red Ruffing. However, St. Louis rallied to win the next four contests, disposing of New York in five games. The defeat marked the Yankees’ first World Series loss since the Cardinals defeated them 16 years earlier in the 1926 Fall Classic. New York posted an overall record of 32-4 in eight World Series in between.
Although the Yankees represented the American League in the World Series and the members of the BBWAA named Joe Gordon A.L. MVP, Boston’s Ted Williams clearly established himself over the course of the season as the junior circuit’s best player. Williams captured the A.L. Triple Crown, leading the league with 36 home runs, 137 runs batted in, and a .356 batting average. He also finished first with 141 runs scored, 145 walks, 338 total bases, a .499 on-base percentage, and a .648 slugging percentage.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Rogers Hornsby.
• Boston's Tex Hughson led all American League pitchers with 22 wins, 22 complete games, and 281 innings pitched. He also placed among the leaders with a 2.59 ERA.
• Cleveland's Clint Brown set a record by making 220 consecutive mound appearances in relief.
• Washington's George Case topped the American League with 44 steals in 50 attempts.
• Red Sox rookie Johnny Pesky batted .331, scored 105 runs, and led the league with 205 hits.
• Boston second baseman Bobby Doerr batted .290 and knocked in 102 runs.
• The American League won the All-Star Game 3-1 at the Polo Grounds on July 6. Detroit’s Al Benton worked the final five innings to get the save.
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- 1942 World Series, Al Benton, American League, Bobby Doerr, Charlie Keller, Clint Brown, George Case, Hank Borowy, Jeff Heath, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Pesky, New York Yankees, Red Ruffing, Rogers Hornsby, Spud Chandler, St. Louis Cardinals, Ted Williams, Tex Hughson, Tiny Bonham