The fortunes of two franchises changed dramatically on January 3, 1920, when the Yankees and Red Sox collaborated on a deal that forever linked the two organizations. The Yankees had failed to win a single pennant prior to 1920, while the Red Sox had captured the American League flag six times and won five World Series. However, the trade the two teams consummated that day changed the landscape of professional sports forever. Seeking to finance a Broadway musical entitled No-No Nanette, Boston owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000. Frazee also received an additional $300,000 for a loan against the mortgage of Fenway Park. The deal set the Yankees on course to become the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports. Meanwhile, the Red Sox went 86 years before winning another World Series.
The arrival of Ruth in New York could not have come at a better time, since it coincided with the tumultuous events that followed the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. Baseball needed a savior, and Ruth proved to be the right man, in the right place, at the right time. After establishing a new single-season home run record by hitting 29 homers for the Red Sox the previous year, Ruth shattered his own mark by blasting an amazing 54 round-trippers in his first year in New York. Yankee fans came out in droves to watch The Bambino hit a ball farther than they believed possible, enabling the team to set a new single-season attendance record by drawing 1,289,422 paying customers to the Polo Grounds. The Yankees also experienced a great deal of success on the field, finishing the campaign a close third in the American League, just three games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians, with a franchise-best record of 95-59.
While Ruth clearly served as the central figure in New York’s resurgence, he received a considerable amount of help from his Yankee teammates. Carl Mays led the pitching staff with a record of 26-11, 26 complete games, and 312 innings pitched, while compiling an ERA of 3.06 and throwing a league-leading six shutouts. Bob Shawkey posted a mark of 20-13 and a staff-best 2.45 ERA, while also tossing 20 complete games. Jack Quinn chipped in with 18 victories.
On offense, Wally Pipp followed Ruth in the batting order, hitting 11 home runs, driving in 76 runs, scoring 109 others, batting .280, and leading the team with 14 triples. Second baseman Del Pratt batted .314 and finished second on the club with 97 runs batted in. Shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh scored 109 runs. Rookie outfielder Bob Meusel made his debut with the team, batting .328, hitting 11 homers, driving in 83 runs, and leading the club with 40 doubles.
But the 1920 Yankees were all about Babe Ruth. Ruth not only led the American League with 54 home runs, but he batted .376 and topped the circuit with 137 runs batted in, 158 runs scored, 148 walks, a .532 on-base percentage, and an .847 slugging percentage. No other team in the league hit as many home runs as the 54 Ruth hit for the Yankees. St. Louis Browns first baseman George Sisler finished second in the circuit with 19 round-trippers. Sisler also placed second to Ruth in slugging percentage with a mark of .632 – 215 points lower than the Babe’s figure of .847.By Bob_Cohen
- Babe Ruth, Black Sox Scandal, Bob Meusel, Bob Shawkey, Boston Red Sox, Carl Mays, Del Pratt, Fenway Park, George Sisler, Harry Frazee, Jack Quinn, Jacob Ruppert, New York Giants, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Roger Peckinpaugh, Wally Pipp