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The Yankees began defense of their first American League pennant without their best player in 1922.  Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis suspended Babe Ruth for the first six weeks of the season after Ruth ignored a rule in place at the time prohibiting World Series participants from playing in exhibition games during the off-season by taking part in a barnstorming tour following the Yankee loss to the Giants in the 1921 Fall Classic.  Landis himself created the rule to prevent Series participants from undermining the value of the World Series by subsequently “restaging” its events.

Despite his suspension, Ruth started his 1922 season on May 20 as the Yankees’ new on-field captain.  However, just five days later, he was ejected from a game for throwing dirt on an umpire and then climbing into the stands to confront a heckler.  The team subsequently stripped him of the captaincy.

In spite of the tumult surrounding Ruth, the Yankees entered the campaign with an even deeper squad than the one that captured the first A.L. pennant in franchise history the previous year.  On December 20, 1921, GM Ed Barrow negotiated a seven-player trade with the Red Sox that sent Roger Peckinpaugh, three marginal starting pitchers, and $100,000 to Boston for shortstop Everett Scott and pitchers Sad Sam Jones and Bullet Joe Bush.  Jones and Bush, both 29 years of age at the time, combined to win a total of 39 games for the Red Sox the previous year.  Meanwhile, Scott, an outstanding leader and solid defensive shortstop, was in the midst of appearing in 1,307 consecutive games - the third-longest such streak in history.  The Yankees also purchased 26-year-old centerfielder Whitey Witt from the Philadelphia Athletics.   

The depth of New York’s roster became more and more apparent as the season wore on.  The pitching staff featured four solid starters.  Bob Shawkey finished 20-12, with a 2.91 ERA and a team-leading 22 complete games and 300 innings pitched.  Waite Hoyt won 19 games for the second straight year, and Sam Jones chipped in with another 13 victories.  Meanwhile, Joe Bush reaped huge benefits for the team in his first year in pinstripes, compiling a record of 26-7, a 3.31 ERA, and 20 complete games, en route to earning a fourth-place finish in the league MVP voting.  Carl Mays turned out to be the only disappointment on New York’s staff.  Plagued by the lingering fallout caused by a bean-ball incident that occurred on August 16, 1920 in which he threw a pitch that struck and killed Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman, Mays finished the year with a record of only 13-14.

The loss of Babe Ruth for a significant part of the season hurt New York’s offense considerably.  After scoring an A.L. record 948 runs the previous year, the Yankees tallied a total of only 758 runs in 1922 – the fourth most in the junior circuit.  Nevertheless, the lineup produced enough runs to help the team successfully defend their A.L. title by finishing the regular season 94-60, just one game ahead of the St. Louis Browns.  Wally Pipp was New York’s most reliable hitter, leading the team with a .329 batting average and 190 hits, while also driving in 90 runs and scoring 96 others.  Leadoff hitter Whitey Witt set the table by batting .297, compiling a .400 on-base percentage, and scoring 98 runs.  Wally Schang batted .319 and posted a .405 on-base percentage.  Bob Meusel hit 16 home runs, knocked in 84 runs, and batted .319.  Despite his shortened season, Babe Ruth was once again the team’s most productive hitter.  Appearing in only 110 games, he batted .315 and led the club with 35 home runs, 99 runs batted in, a .434 on-base percentage, and a .672 slugging percentage.  Furthermore, his presence in the Yankee lineup upon his return enabled the team to draw more than one million paying customers to the Polo Grounds for the third consecutive year.

Nevertheless, the season ended in utter disappointment for the second straight time when the Giants again defeated the Yankees in the World Series, this time by a 4-0 count (the Yankees managed a tie in Game Two).  The Giants outscored the Yankees 18-11 during the Fall Classic, with Ruth making virtually no impact.  With Giants manager John McGraw instructing his pitchers to throw nothing but curveballs to Ruth, the Yankee slugger found himself unable to make the necessary adjustments.  He managed just two singles in 17 times at-bat, for a batting average of only .118. 

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Bob Shawkey, Carl Mays, Ed Barrow, Everett Scott, Joe Bush, John McGraw, Kenesaw Landis, New York Giants, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Ray Chapman, Roger Peckinpaugh, Sam Jones, Waite Hoyt, Wally Pipp, Wally Schang, Whitey Witt

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