The defending world champion New York Giants appeared to be headed towards their second consecutive World Series for much of the 1934 campaign. The Giants spent 127 straight days in the top spot in the National League, before the St. Louis Cardinals finally tied them for first place on September 28 when Cardinals’ ace Dizzy Dean shut out the Reds 4-0. Dean’s younger brother Paul (also known as “Daffy”) defeated Cincinnati the very next day, to give St. Louis a lead it never relinquished. The Cardinals claimed the National League pennant by finishing the regular season with a record of 95-58, two games ahead of the second-place Giants.
New York had the National League’s best pitching staff for the second straight year, surrendering a league-low 583 runs to the opposition. Carl Hubbell had another outstanding year, winning 21 games and leading all N.L. hurlers with a 2.30 ERA. Hal Schumacher also pitched extremely well for the Giants, finishing second in the league with 23 victories and placing fourth with 297 innings pitched.
But the St. Louis starting rotation featured the senior circuit’s best pitcher in 1934. Dizzy Dean led the league with a record of 30-7, 195 strikeouts, and seven shutouts, en route to earning N.L. MVP honors. He also placed among the leaders with a 2.66 earned run average, 24 complete games, and 311 innings pitched. Dean initially drew criticism for predicting during the preseason that he and his brother would combine to win a total of 45 games for the Cardinals. However, by season’s end, the Dean brothers posted a total of 49 victories between them.
Still, Dizzy and Daffy had a considerable amount of help from their St. Louis teammates. In fact, the Cardinals finished first in the National League in both team batting average (.288) and runs scored (799). Joe Medwick hit 18 home runs, drove in 106 runs, scored 110 others, batted .319, and led the league with 18 triples. Ripper Collins topped the circuit with 35 homers, 369 total bases, and a .615 slugging percentage. He also placed near the top of the league rankings with 128 runs batted in, 116 runs scored, a .333 batting average, 200 hits, and 40 doubles.
Perhaps the player who best-exemplified the Cardinals’ aggressive style of play, though, was Pepper Martin, the former hobo, who led the league with 23 stolen bases. Martin’s daring outfield play and mad dashes on the base paths very much epitomized the aggressive brand of baseball the Cardinals played - one that prompted New York sportswriter Frank Graham to nickname them the “Gashouse Gang.”
The Cardinals subsequently faced the hard-hitting Detroit Tigers in the World Series. With the Dean brothers leading the way (they each won two games), St. Louis won a hard-fought seven-game Series. The Fall Classic ended on a bizarre note when Detroit fans pelted Joe Medwick with garbage after the St. Louis outfielder slid aggressively into Tiger third baseman Marv Owen during the Cardinals’ 11-0 Game Seven route. Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis subsequently ordered Medwick to leave the game for his own safety.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• April 17 - Casey Stengel made his Major League managerial debut, as his Brooklyn Dodgers lost to the Boston Braves, 8-7, at Ebbets Field on Opening Day.
• July 10 - At the All-Star Game held at the Polo Grounds in New York City, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell struck out five consecutive American League batters: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin, all future Hall-of-Famers. Nevertheless, the American League ended up defeating the National league by a score of 9–7.
• Paul Waner captured the second of his three batting titles with a mark of .362.
• Dizzy Dean became the last National League hurler to win 30 games, posting exactly 30 victories for the pennant-winning Cardinals.
• Paul Dean no-hit the Dodgers on Sept. 21.
• Paul Waner topped the National League with 122 runs scored and 217 hits.
• New York's Mel Ott tied Ripper Collins for the N.L. lead with 35 home runs. Ott also topped the circuit with 135 runs batted in, and he finished among the leaders with 119 runs scored and a .326 batting average.
• Giants player-manager Bill Terry finished second in the league with a batting average of .354.
• John McGraw died.
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- 1934 World Series, Bill Terry, Carl Hubbell, Casey Stengel, Chuck Klein, Dizzy Dean, Hal Schumacher, Joe Medwick, John McGraw, Kenesaw Landis, Mel Ott, Paul Dean, Paul Waner, Pepper Martin, Ripper Collins, St. Louis Cardinals