The National League began experimenting with a livelier ball in 1929, and the results were immediate and significant. Only two players in the senior circuit hit more than 30 home runs the previous year. In 1929, that number jumped to five, with four men hitting as many as 39 long balls. No player in the league drove in as many as 140 runs in 1928, and only one scored as many as 130 times. In 1929, the number in both categories jumped to four. Throughout the league as a whole, 5,769 runs were scored in 1928. In 1929, the number rose to 6,609.
The pennant-winning Chicago Cubs led the offensive onslaught, topping the major leagues with 982 runs scored. Chicago finished the regular season with a record of 98-54, 10 ½ games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates, who also placed second in the league with 904 runs scored. The Cubs boasted one of the most fearsome right-handed-hitting attacks in baseball history. Left fielder Riggs Stephenson batted .362 and drove in 110 runs. Right fielder Kiki Cuyler hit .360, knocked in 102 runs, and scored 111 others. Center fielder Hack Wilson hit 39 home runs, led the league with 159 runs batted in, scored 135 times, and batted .345. Meanwhile, playing for his fourth team in four years, Rogers Hornsby captured N.L. MVP honors by hitting 39 home runs, driving in 149 runs, batting .380, leading the league with 156 runs scored, 409 total bases, and a .679 slugging percentage, and also placing among the leaders with 229 hits, 47 doubles, and a .459 on-base percentage.
Not just a one-dimensional team, the Cubs also allowed the second-fewest runs of any team in the National League (758). The threesome of Pat Malone, Charley Root, and Guy Bush heading Chicago’s pitching staff. Malone led the league with 22 victories and five shutouts, and he also finished among the leaders with 19 complete games and a 3.57 ERA. Root posted 19 wins and 19 complete games, and he placed near the top of the league rankings with 272 innings pitched and a 3.47 ERA. Bush added 18 victories and 18 complete games.
Despite their outstanding team balance, the Cubs proved to be easy prey for the powerful Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, losing the Fall Classic in five games. The A’s outscored the Cubs by a combined margin of 26-17 in the five contests, overcoming deficits in the latter stages of Games Four and Five, to capture their first world championship since 1913.
Although the Chicago Cubs won the National League pennant rather handily in 1929, four of the circuit’s top players performed for other teams. Playing in the tiny Baker Bowl, Lefty O'Doul and Chuck Klein both posted prolific offensive numbers for the fifth-place Phillies. O'Doul led the league with a .398 batting average, 254 hits, and a .465 on-base percentage, and he also finished among the leaders with 32 home runs, 122 runs batted in, 152 runs scored, and 397 total bases. Klein led the league with 43 home runs, and he also finished among the leaders with 145 runs batted in, 126 runs scored, a .356 batting average, 219 hits, 45 doubles, 405 total bases, and a .657 slugging percentage.
Meanwhile, both Mel Ott and Bill Terry had big years for the third-place New York Giants, who finished 13 ½ games off the pace. The 20-year-old Ott compiled huge numbers in his break-out season, batting .328, leading the league with 113 bases on balls, finishing second to Klein with 42 homers, and also placing among the leaders with 151 runs batted in, 138 runs scored, a .449 on-base percentage, and a .635 slugging percentage. Terry batted .372, drove in 117 runs, scored 103 others, and collected 226 hits.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• April 27 - Brooklyn relief pitcher Clise Dudley became the first player ever to hit a home run off the first pitch he saw.
• May 8 - Carl Hubbell pitched a no-hitter for the New York Giants in an 11–0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
• July 6 - After losing 10-6 in the opener of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies, the St. Louis Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning on their way to a 28-6 victory in the second game. The two teams combined to collect a record 73 hits in a double header.
• October 5 – Philadelphia’s Lefty O'Doul collected six hits in nine at-bats in a double header with the New York Giants on the last day of the season, to finish the year with a .398 batting average. The mark represents an all-time high for National League outfielders.
• Chicago’s Hack Wilson led all hitters in the World Series with a .471 batting average.
• Rogers Hornsby's .380 batting average established a Chicago Cubs team record - the fourth such record he set during the decade.
• Johnny Frederick of Brooklyn established an all-time rookie record with 52 doubles.
- 1929 World Series, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, Charley Root, Chicago Cubs, Chuck Klein, Clise Dudley, Dazzy Vance, Guy Bush, Hack Wilson, Johnny Frederick, Kiki Cuyler, Mel Ott, Pat Malone, Philadelphia Athletics, Riggs Stephenson, Rogers Hornsby