The Yankees showed improvement under second-year manager Bill Donovan in 1916, finishing the campaign with their first winning record in six seasons – a mark of 80-74 that earned them a fourth-place finish in the American League. The team’s improved play reaped huge benefits at the box office, since New York drew almost twice as many paying customers to the Polo Grounds as they did the previous season – a total of 469,211 fans that represented the second-highest figure in franchise history.
Several players emerged to help rejuvenate a Yankees team that had been mired in the American League’s second division the previous five years. First baseman Wally Pipp established himself as one of the circuit’s top sluggers, leading the league with 12 home runs, finishing second with 93 runs batted in, and also placing among the leaders with 14 triples. Returning to the game after a one-year hiatus following a contract dispute with his former manager Connie Mack, Frank Baker finished second to Pipp in the junior circuit with 10 home runs. The third baseman had earlier acquired the nickname Home Run after leading the American League in home runs four straight times, from 1911 to 1914.
New York’s pitching staff also featured several new faces. After spending the previous two seasons pitching in the rival Federal League, left-hander Nick Cullop posted a record of 13-6 for the Yankees, along with an outstanding 2.05 ERA. Southpaw George Mogridge won only six of his 18 decisions, but he compiled a very solid 2.31 ERA. Making his major league debut with the team, 25-year-old rookie Urban Shocker won four games as a spot-starter, while posting an ERA of 2.62. New York’s best player, though, was Bob Shawkey, who emerged as the team’s top starter one year after being acquired from the Philadelphia Athletics. The 25-year-old right-hander finished 24-14, with a 2.21 ERA, 21 complete games, 277 innings pitched, and eight saves. Shawkey gave the Yankees the true staff ace they lacked the previous four seasons.By Bob_Cohen
- Bill Donovan, Bob Shawkey, Connie Mack, Frank Baker, George Mogridge, New York Yankees, Nick Cullop, Polo Grounds, Urban Shocker, Wally Pipp