Even though they received outstanding seasons from Johnny Mize and Joe Medwick, the perennially-contending St. Louis Cardinals finished just fourth in the National League in 1937, a full 15 games behind the pennant-winning New York Giants. Mize hit 25 home runs, knocked in 113 runs, and placed second in the senior circuit with a .364 batting average. Medwick led National League hitters in virtually every statistical category, en route to earning league MVP honors. The outfielder became the last N.L. player to win the Triple Crown by topping the circuit with 31 home runs, 154 runs batted in, and a .374 batting average. Medwick also led the league with 111 runs scored, 237 hits, 56 doubles, a .641 slugging percentage, and 406 total bases. Had a broken toe and subsequent arm problems not forced Dizzy Dean to miss several starts over the second half of the campaign, the Cardinals likely would have provided significantly more competition to the Giants in the battle for the league championship.
Instead, New York’s stiffest competition for first-place ended up being the Chicago Cubs. The Giants finished the season just three games ahead of second-place Chicago, with a record of 95-57.
The Cubs boasted the National League’s best offense, topping the senior circuit with 811 runs scored. Billy Herman batted .335 and scored 106 runs. Frank Demaree hit 17 homers, batted .324, scored 104 runs, and finished second to Medwick with 115 runs batted in. Stan Hack batted .297 and placed among the league leaders with 106 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. Augie Galan hit 18 homers, scored 104 runs, and topped the circuit with 23 steals. Despite missing a significant amount of playing time, Gabby Hartnett batted .354 and drove in 82 runs.
In the end, though, the Giants’ superior team balance enabled them to successfully defend their National League title. New York finished third in the league with 732 runs scored and also allowed the second fewest runs of any team in the senior circuit (602). Mel Ott paced the Giants on offense, batting .294, compiling an on-base percentage of .408, driving in 95 runs, scoring 99 others, leading the league with 102 walks, and tying Medwick for the N.L. lead with 31 home runs. Meanwhile, Carl Hubbell continued to anchor New York’s pitching staff, leading all N.L. hurlers with 22 wins and 159 strikeouts, and finishing near the top of the league rankings with 18 complete games and 262 innings pitched, en route to earning a third-place finish in the MVP voting. Hubbell received a considerable amount of help from Cliff Melton, who won 20 games and placed second in the league with a 2.61 ERA.
The Giants came up short against the Yankees in the World Series for the second straight time, losing the Fall Classic to their crosstown rivals in five games. Carl Hubbell’s complete-game 7-3 victory in Game Four enabled the Giants to avert a sweep.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• May 9 - In the Cincinnati Reds' 21-10 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi tied the modern Major League record by collecting six hits in six consecutive times at bat.
• May 19 - In a pitchers' duel between Dizzy Dean and Carl Hubbell, Dean was called for a balk in the sixth inning, resulting in a run for the Giants. Enraged, he began throwing at New York batters, hitting Johnny McCarthy and inciting a bench-clearing brawl. Dean was fined $50 for his actions.
• May 27 - Mel Ott's ninth-inning home run helped Carl Hubbell post his record 24th consecutive victory, as the Giants defeated the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field by a score of 3-2.
• Giant Jo-Jo Moore led all World Series hitters with a .391 mark.
• Pirate Gus Suhr's National League record streak of 822 consecutive games played ended (record has since been broken).
• Although the American League defeated the National League in the All-Star Game 8-3, Joe Medwick became the first player to collect four hits in the Midsummer Classic.
• Dizzy Dean broke his toe in the All-Star Game and never recovered his blazing fastball.
• Pittsburgh's Arky Vaughan topped the National League with 17 triples.
• Three rookie hurlers in the National League surpassed 20 victories, establishing a modern Major League Baseball record.
• In addition to leading the league with 811 runs scored, the Cubs topped the circuit with a .287 team batting average, a .416 slugging percentage, and a .975 fielding average.
• Boston’s Jim Turner led the National League with a 2.38 ERA and finished tied for the lead with five shutouts.
- 1937 World Series, Arky Vaughan, Augie Galan, Billy Herman, Carl Hubbell, Cliff Melton, Dizzy Dean, Ernie Lombardi, Frank Demaree, Gabby Hartnett, Gus Suhr, Jim Turner, Jo-Jo Moore, Joe Medwick, Johnny McCarthy, Johnny Mize, Mel Ott, New York Giants, New York Yankees, Stan Hack