The 1947 season will always hold special historical significance since it marked the integration of major league baseball, making it truly the national pastime for the first time. Jackie Robinson made his debut with the National League’s Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15th, thereby becoming the first player of African-American descent to don a major league uniform since the Walker brothers, Fleet and Welday, played in the American Association in the 1880s.
Yet, while Robinson is widely remembered for being the man who integrated major league baseball, Larry Doby never received the credit he deserved for doing the same in the American League. Doby made his debut with the Cleveland Indians on July 5th, less than three months after Robinson joined the Dodgers. Since American League teams were historically more conservative than their National League counterparts in their acceptance of black players, Doby faced obstacles equal to those Robinson encountered in the senior circuit.
The 1947 season also ushered in a new era in baseball in that the World Series was televised for the first time. Although coverage was limited to New York City and the surrounding area, baseball fans had an opportunity to witness an exciting Fall Classic played between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Yankees returned to the World Series for the first time in four years by finishing the regular season with a record of 97-57, 12 games in front of the second-place Detroit Tigers, and 14 games ahead of the third-place Boston Red Sox. An extremely well-balanced team, the Yankees led the American League with 115 home runs, 794 runs scored, a .271 team batting average, and a 3.39 team earned run average. Allie Reynolds anchored New York’s starting rotation, finishing the campaign with a record of 19-8, a 3.20 ERA, and 17 complete games. Meanwhile, Joe Page established himself as the junior circuit’s top reliever, compiling a 14-8 record and a 2.48 ERA, and leading the league with 17 saves.
Tommy Henrich and Joe DiMaggio led the Yankees on offense. Henrich hit 16 home runs, batted .287, topped the circuit with 13 triples, and finished second in the league with 98 runs batted in and 109 runs scored. Although DiMaggio failed to compile the lofty numbers he typically posted before entering the service, he nevertheless placed among the league leaders with 20 home runs, 97 runs batted in, 97 runs scored, a .315 batting average, and a .522 slugging percentage. The members of the BBWAA named DiMaggio A.L. MVP for the third time, selecting him over Ted Williams in an extremely close vote even though the Red Sox slugger won the Triple Crown for the second time in his career.
The Yankees subsequently defeated the Dodgers in an exciting seven-game World Series, with Spec Shea posting two of New York’s victories and outfielder Johnny Lindell driving in seven runs. Series highlights included a two-out, two-on, game-winning double by Brooklyn pinch-hitter Cookie Lavagetto in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Four that turned a no-hit bid by Yankee starter Bill Bevens into a 3-2 Dodger victory. Backup outfielder Al Gionfriddo also provided Dodger fans with a thrill in Game Six when he made a circus catch against the Yankee bullpen in deep left-center field on a drive hit by Joe DiMaggio. The Yankees finally prevailed in Game Seven, though, behind an RBI single by Tommy Henrich and the stellar pitching of Joe Page.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• April 27 – Suffering from throat cancer, Babe Ruth addressed a packed house at New York's Yankee Stadium on Babe Ruth Day, telling the fans in attendance, "…the only real game, I think, in the world is baseball."
• July 8 – At Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, the American League defeated the National League, 2–1, in the All-Star Game.
• July 10 – Cleveland Indians pitcher Don Black tossed a no-hitter in a 3–0 win over the Philadelphia Athletics.
• September 3 – Bill McCahan of the Philadelphia Athletics threw a no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Washington Senators.
• November 27 – Joe DiMaggio edged out Triple Crown winner Ted Williams (.343 BA, 32 home runs, 114 RBIs) for A.L. MVP honors by one point when one member of the BBWAA failed to include Williams anywhere on his ballot. DiMaggio became the first outfielder or first baseman to win the award without leading his league in any of the Triple Crown categories.
• In addition to leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and batting average, Williams topped the circuit with 125 runs scored, 335 total bases, 162 walks, a .499 on-base percentage, and a .634 slugging percentage.
• Yankees pitcher Spud Chandler retired with the highest winning percentage in history, .717.
• Outfielder Johnny Lindell led the Yankees in the 1947 World Series with a .500 batting average and seven runs batted in.
• On October 2, Yogi Berra became the first player in history to hit a pinch-hit home run in the World Series.
• The Yankees tied the American League record by winning 19 straight games.
• Hank Greenberg, the American League’s reigning homer and RBI king, was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $75,000 prior to the start of the 1947 campaign.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Carl Hubbell, Lefty Grove, Frankie Frisch, and Mickey Cochrane.
• After the 1947 World Series, the Yankees fired GM Larry MacPhail for brawling in public.
• Al Lopez retired having caught a major-league record 1,918 games (since broken).
• Bob Feller led all A.L. hurlers with 20 wins, 196 strikeouts, 299 innings pitched, and five shutouts.
• Joe Gordon hit 29 home runs, drove in 93 runs, and scored 89 others for fourth-place Cleveland.
• Teammate Lou Boudreau batted .307 and led the league with 45 doubles.
• George Kell batted .320 and knocked in 93 runs for second-place Detroit.
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