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Three straight years of failing to reach the World Series did not sit well with the Yankees.  After finishing second in the American League the previous season, 13 ½ games behind the Philadelphia Athletics, New York turned the tables on Philadelphia in 1932, compiling a regular season record of 107-47, en route to finishing 13 games ahead of the second-place A’s.

The Yankees scored the most runs in the American League for the seventh consecutive time, crossing the plate a total of 1,002 times, while surrendering only 724 runs to the opposition – the second-lowest total in the junior circuit.  Lefty Gomez headed New York’s pitching staff, finishing the year with a record of 24-7, despite posting an unusually high 4.21 ERA.  Red Ruffing had his finest season-to-date, finishing second on the team with a record of 18-7, while leading the staff with a 3.09 ERA and 22 complete games.  George Pipgras contributed 16 victories, while 27-year-old rookie Johnny Allen posted an exceptional 17-4 record.

Nevertheless, the strength of the Yankees lay in their overpowering lineup.  Bill Dickey batted .310 and established new career highs with 15 home runs and 84 runs batted in.  Tony Lazzeri batted .300 and drove in 113 runs.  He was joined in the middle of the Yankee infield by 21-year-old Frank Crosetti, who replaced Lyn Lary as the team’s starting shortstop.  Although Crosetti failed to match Lary’s offensive output from one year earlier, he helped stabilize New York’s interior defense, while also offering the team additional speed at the bottom of the batting order.  Joe Sewell scored 95 runs and set a major-league record by striking out only three times in 576 total plate appearances.  Earle Combs batted .321 and finished third in the league with 143 runs scored.  Ben Chapman batted .299, knocked in 107 runs, scored 101 others, and led the league with 38 stolen bases.  Babe Ruth began to show signs of aging, failing to win the home-run title for the first time in seven years.  Nevertheless, he managed to hit 41 round-trippers, drive in 137 runs, score 120 others, bat .341, and lead the league with a .489 on-base percentage.  Lou Gehrig overtook Ruth as the team’s best player, placing among the league leaders with 34 home runs, 151 runs batted in, 138 runs scored, a .349 batting average, 208 hits, 370 total bases, a .451 on-base percentage, and a .651 slugging percentage.  In fact, Gehrig accomplished something on June 3rd in Philadelphia that even the Bambino himself never achieved, becoming the first 20th century player to hit four home runs in one game.  As luck would have it, though, Gehrig’s extraordinary performance failed to receive top billing in the New York newspapers the next day since longtime Giants’ manager John McGraw chose the very same afternoon to announce his impending retirement.  Gehrig ended up finishing second to Philadelphia slugger Jimmie Foxx in the A.L. MVP voting.     

The Yankees subsequently faced the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, in what essentially amounted to a coronation.  The Yankees outscored their overmatched opponents by a combined margin of 37-19 during the four-game sweep, also out-homering the Cubs by a margin of eight to three.  Bill Dickey batted .438 and knocked in four runs during the Series, while Earle Combs batted .375, drove in four runs, and scored eight others.  Lou Gehrig did more damage to the Cubs than anyone else, though, batting .529, hitting three home runs, knocking in eight runs, and scoring nine others.  Yet, as was the case throughout most of his career, Gehrig found himself being upstaged by Babe Ruth, who also had a big Series, batting .333, hitting two homers, and driving in six runs.  Although Gehrig clearly outperformed the Babe over the course of the four games, Ruth became the focal point of everyone’s attention when he allegedly “called his shot” in Game Three, played in Chicago’s Wrigley Field.  With the score tied 4-4 in the fifth inning, Ruth raised two fingers in the air after taking a second consecutive called strike from Cubs pitcher Charlie Root.  The Babe then hit the next pitch into the center field bleachers, bringing the Wrigley Field crowd to its feet.  Gehrig immediately followed with his second home run of the game, giving the Yankees all the runs they needed to post a 7-5 victory over the stunned Cubs.  Nevertheless, the Iron Horse once again took a backseat to Ruth, since the defining moment of the Series ended up being the Babe’s “called shot.”

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
1932 World Series, Babe Ruth, Ben Chapman, Bill Dickey, Charley Root, Chicago Cubs, Earle Combs, Frankie Crosetti, George Pipgras, Joe Sewell, Johnny Allen, Lefty Gomez, Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, Red Ruffing, Tony Lazzeri, Wrigley Field

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