The National League opened the 1933 campaign without John McGraw in uniform for the first time in three decades. After the longtime Giants’ manager resigned 40 games into the previous season, Bill Terry replaced him at the helm for the remainder of the year. Baseball bid McGraw a classy adieu by naming him manager of the National League entry in the first All-Star Game, held in Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 6. Connie Mack's American League squad won the contest 4-2 on a Babe Ruth home run.
Terry ended up doing an outstanding job as McGraw’s replacement, leading the Giants to the National League pennant in his first full year as manager. New York finished the 1933 season with a record of 91-61, five games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates. Chicago finished third, six games back. Boston came in fourth, nine games off the pace, just one-half game ahead of the fifth-place St. Louis Cardinals.
The Giants had neither the best hitting nor the best fielding team in the senior circuit in 1933. They finished just fourth in the league with 636 runs scored. Terry and Mel Ott paced New York on offense. Terry placed among the league leaders with a .322 batting average, while Ott batted .283 and finished third in the league with 23 home runs and 103 runs batted in.
The fact that those numbers seem relatively low really should come as no surprise. After experimenting with a livelier ball in 1930, the National League reverted back to a more conventional sphere the following year. The result was a marked decrease in the total number of runs scored throughout the league – 7,025 in 1930, and 5,537 in 1931. By 1933, the run total dropped to just 4,908 – the lowest figure since 1920. For the first time in years, National League pitchers thrived, with the league ERA gradually dropping from a 20th century high 4.97 in 1930, to just 3.34 in 1933.
Led by the trio of Carl Hubbell, Hal Schumacher, and Freddie Fitzsimmons, New York had the best pitching staff in the senior circuit, surrendering a league-low 515 runs to the opposition and leading the league with a 2.71 team ERA. Schumacher finished among the league leaders with 19 victories, 21 complete games, seven shutouts, and a 2.16 ERA. Fitzsimmons posted 16 wins and a 2.90 ERA. Hubbell anchored the staff, leading the league with 23 victories, a 1.66 ERA, 308 innings pitched, and 10 shutouts, en route to earning N.L. MVP honors. His 1.66 ERA was the lowest mark compiled in the senior circuit since Grover Cleveland Alexander finished the 1916 campaign with a mark of 1.55.
Hubbell continued his dominance against the Washington Senators in the World Series, leading his team to victory by throwing 20 scoreless innings over the course of two complete-game wins. The Giants defeated the Senators in five games, with their pitching staff posting a team ERA of 1.53 over the course of the five contests. New York outscored Washington by a combined margin of 16-11.
While New York’s superior pitching proved to be the difference in the National League pennant race, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates featured the top two offenses in the senior circuit. Paul Waner had a fine season for second-place Pittsburgh, batting over .300 for the eighth straight year and placing among the league leaders with 101 runs scored, 191 hits, 38 doubles, and 16 triples. Meanwhile, the Branch Rickey-inspired farm system began to pay huge dividends in St. Louis. Although the Cardinals finished fifth in the league, they featured two of the senior circuit’s best young players in Joe Medwick and Pepper Martin. Medwick finished near the top of the league rankings in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, doubles, and total bases. Martin led the league with 122 runs scored and 26 stolen bases, and he also finished among the leaders in batting average, hits, triples, and on-base percentage. Boston Braves outfielder Wally Berger also had a big year, batting .313 and finishing second in the league with 27 home runs, 106 runs batted in, 299 total bases, and a .566 slugging percentage.
Philadelphia’s Chuck Klein was the league’s top offensive performer for the third consecutive year. Klein won the N.L. Triple Crown by topping the circuit with 28 home runs, 120 runs batted in, and a .368 batting average. He also led the league with 223 hits, 44 doubles, 365 total bases, a .422 on-base percentage, and a .602 slugging percentage.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• November 21 – Despite winning the National League Triple Crown, Chuck Klein was sold to the Chicago Cubs for $125,000 and three players. Klein remains the only player in baseball history to be traded after winning the Triple Crown the previous year.
• Cincinnati's Red Lucas paced the major leagues in fewest walks per game - an incredible .74.
• Lloyd Waner's eight strikeouts remain the fewest ever by a major league regular outfielder.
• Philadelphia’s Mickey Finn died of an ulcer.
• Pittsburgh’s Arky Vaughan led the majors with 19 triples.
• Dizzy Dean of St. Louis led the major leagues with 199 strikeouts.
- 1933 World Series, Arky Vaughan, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, Chuck Klein, Connie Mack, Dizzy Dean, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Hal Schumacher, Joe Medwick, John McGraw, Lloyd Waner, Mel Ott, New York Giants, Paul Waner, Pepper Martin, Red Lucas, Wally Berger, Washington Senators