The 1926 World Series - Cards shock Yankees!
After failing to advance to the World Series in each of the previous two seasons, the Yankees returned to the Fall Classic in 1926, earning the right to represent the American League by finishing the regular season with a record of 91-63, three games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians. The St. Louis Cardinals served as New York’s opponents, advancing to the postseason for the first time since joining the National League in 1892 by winning the pennant with a record of 89-65, just two games in front of the runner-up Cincinnati Reds. Both clubs led their league in slugging and runs scored, boasting lineups that featured several future Hall of Famers. Player/manager Rogers Hornsby led a St. Louis team that included first baseman Jim Bottomley and left fielder Chick Hafey, each of whom eventually joined Hornsby in Cooperstown. Meanwhile, four members of New York’s starting lineup later made it into Cooperstown – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, and Earle Combs. Both teams also had solid starting pitching, with Grover Cleveland Alexander and Jesse Haines heading the St. Louis staff, while fellow future Hall of Famers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt anchored New York’s starting rotation.
Pennock, who won 23 games during the regular season, got the Yankees off to a good start, allowing the Cardinals just three hits during a 2-1 complete game victory in the first contest, played at Yankee Stadium. The Cardinals evened the Series the next day, though, defeating the Yankees 6-2, behind the four-hit, 10-strikeout pitching of the 39-year-old Alexander.
The Cardinals took a two-games-to-one lead after the Series shifted to St. Louis’ Sportsman’s Park two days later. Jesse Haines was the star of the game, shutting out New York 4-0 on only five hits, and helping his own cause with a two-run homer off Yankee starter Dutch Ruether. After scoring a total of only four runs in the first three contests, New York’s lineup finally erupted in Game Four, assaulting St. Louis pitching for 10 runs and 14 hits during a 10-5 victory that evened the Series at two games apiece. Babe Ruth led the Yankee attack, establishing a World Series record by hitting three home runs in one game for the first of two times. Herb Pennock and St. Louis starter Bill Sherdel engaged in their second consecutive pitcher’s duel in Game Five, with Pennock once again coming out on top, this time by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
The Fall Classic returned to New York for the remainder of the Series, with the Yankees considered the heavy favorites to clinch their second world championship at home. However, the Cardinals proved to be a stubborn foe, clobbering New York pitching for 10 runs and 13 hits during a lopsided 10-2 victory that evened the Series once again. Continuing to defy Father Time, Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched his second complete game of the Series. The ancient right-hander had yet to experience his greatest moment, though.
After (at least according to legend) spending most of Game Seven nursing a hangover he acquired the previous night from celebrating his Game Six victory, Alexander entered the decisive seventh contest in the bottom of the seventh inning, with two men out and the bases loaded, and the Cardinals clinging to a 3-2 lead. Alexander calmly struck out Yankee slugger Tony Lazzeri on four pitches, before shutting out the Yankees over the final two frames to preserve the Cardinals’ first world championship. He allowed only one man to reach base, issuing a walk to Babe Ruth with two men out and no one on base in the bottom of the ninth inning. Ruth subsequently ended the Series when he unsuccessfully tried to steal second base with Lou Gehrig standing in the batter’s box.
While Alexander was unquestionably the hero of the Series for St. Louis, Jim Bottomley was the team’s top batsman. The Cardinals first baseman knocked in five runs and collected 10 hits in 29 times at-bat, for a .345 batting average.
Meanwhile, Herb Pennock, Earle Combs, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth all excelled for the Yankees. Pennock compiled a record of 2-0 during the Fall Classic, threw two complete games, and posted an exceptional 1.23 ERA. Combs batted .357, Gehrig knocked in four runs and batted .348, and Ruth hit all four of New York’s home runs, drove in five runs, batted .300, and walked 11 times, equaling the total of 11 bases on balls the Cardinals drew as a team over the course of the Series.
St. Louis Cardinals, 89-65
New York Yankees, 91-63
St. Louis Cardinals, Rogers Hornsby (player/manager)
New York Yankees, Miller Huggins
Bill Dinneen, Hank O'Day, Bill Klem, George Hildebrand
Hall of Famers:
Cardinals: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jim Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Rogers Hornsby (player-manager), Billy Southworth.
Yankees: Miller Huggins (manager), Earl Combs, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth, Waite Hoyt.
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- 1926 World Series, Babe Ruth, Bill Sherdel, Bob Meusel, Chick Hafey, Dutch Ruether, Earle Combs, Herb Pennock, Jesse Haines, Jim Bottomley, Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, Pete Alexander, Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony Lazzeri, Waite Hoyt, Yankee Stadium