The start of the dynasty!
After finishing a close third in the American League in 1920, the Yankees entered the off-season with the league championship in mind. To reach that end, they turned once again to the Red Sox, making Boston manager Ed Barrow their new General Manager. Barrow, whose resume also included stints as a league president at the minor-league level and as manager of the Detroit Tigers, carried with him a reputation for being a strict disciplinarian. A shrewd judge of talent, Barrow signed Honus Wagner to his first professional contract many years earlier. He also converted Babe Ruth from a pitcher into an outfielder during his time in Boston. Barrow ended up serving as the Yankees General Manager for the next 25 years, organizing and developing their farm system.
Shortly after assuming his new role of General Manager, Barrow completed an eight-player trade with the Red Sox that sent second baseman Del Pratt and three other lesser players to Boston for a package of four players that included pitcher Waite Hoyt and catcher Wally Schang. Only 21 years old at the time of the deal, Hoyt ended up spending nine full seasons in New York, during which time he compiled an overall record of 157-98, en route to earning a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 31-year-old Schang brought with him to New York a considerable amount of experience and a winning attitude, since he previously won championships with both the Athletics and the Red Sox.
Once the 1921 campaign got underway, the Yankees built on the momentum they established one year earlier by capturing their first American League pennant. New York finished 98-55, 4 ½ games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians. In the process, the Yankees established a new A.L. record by scoring a total of 948 runs during the regular season.
Several players contributed to the team’s powerful offense. Schang scored 77 runs, batted .316, and compiled a .428 on-base percentage. Wally Pipp knocked in 97 runs, scored 96 others, and batted .296. Aaron Ward, who took over at second base from the departed Del Pratt, batted .306, drove in 75 runs, and scored 77 others. Roger Peckinpaugh had his finest offensive season, scoring 128 runs, batting .288, and compiling a .380 on-base percentage. Second-year outfielder Bob Meusel finished near the top of the league rankings with 24 home runs and 135 runs batted in, while also scoring 104 runs, accumulating 16 triples, and batting .318. Once again, though, Babe Ruth carried the team on his back with another record-setting performance. Ruth established new single-season marks with 59 home runs and 171 run batted in, while also batting .378, collecting 16 triples, 44 doubles, and 204 hits, and leading the league with 177 runs scored, 145 walks, a .512 on-base percentage, and an .846 slugging percentage. Many baseball historians still consider Ruth’s incredible year to be the greatest single-season performance of all-time.
New York’s pitching staff did an outstanding job as well. Carl Mays led the league with a record of 27-9 and 337 innings pitched, while throwing 30 complete games and compiling a 3.05 ERA. Waite Hoyt won 19 games in his first year in pinstripes, posted an ERA of 3.09, and tossed 21 complete games. Bob Shawkey chipped in with 18 victories and 18 complete games.
The Yankees subsequently made their first World Series appearance against the Giants, in a best-of-nine Series played entirely within the confines of New York’s Polo Grounds. After winning the first two games by identical 3-0 scores, the Yankees went on to lose five of the next six contests, falling to the Giants in eight games. Injured during the Series, Babe Ruth sat out the final two contests after batting .313, hitting one home run, and driving in four runs in the first six games. Giants’ manager John McGraw found the victory particularly satisfying since he had become increasingly unhappy over the Yankees’ growing popularity with the New York fan base. Over the course of the regular season, the Yankees drew 1,230, 696 fans to the Polo Grounds, some 250,000 more than the Giants drew themselves.By Bob_Cohen
- Aaron Ward, Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Bob Shawkey, Boston Red Sox, Carl Mays, Del Pratt, Ed Barrow, John McGraw, New York Giants, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Roger Peckinpaugh, Waite Hoyt, Wally Pipp, Wally Schang