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After watching Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics represent the American League in each of the previous three World Series, the Yankees returned to the Fall Classic in 1932.  New York made its first postseason appearance since 1928 after finishing the campaign with a record of 107-47, 13 games ahead of second-place Philadelphia.  Although not as highly-publicized as 1927’s Murderer’s Row team, New York’s 1932 squad was an extremely powerful ball club as well.  In addition to posting 107 victories, the Yankees topped the junior circuit with 1,002 runs scored, while also allowing the opposition to cross the plate 724 times – the second-lowest total in the American League.  New York’s roster included no fewer than nine future Hall of Famers, making it unquestionably one of the most talented teams in baseball history.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs, who represented the senior circuit in the 1932 Fall Classic, weren’t nearly as dominant as their American League counterparts.  They won the National League pennant by finishing four games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates, with a record of only 90-64.  The Cubs scored almost 300 fewer runs than the Yankees over the course of the regular season, although they also allowed the opposition to cross the plate almost 100 fewer times.  Yet, Chicago had a considerable amount of talent as well, boasting four players who eventually gained admittance to Cooperstown – Billy Herman, Gabby Hartnett, Kiki Cuyler, and Burleigh Grimes.

Once the World Series got underway, it soon became apparent that the Cubs were no match for the far more powerful Yankees.  After falling behind by a score of 2-0 early in Game One, New York scored eight unanswered runs against Chicago starter Guy Bush, en route to posting a 12-6 victory at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees then defeated Chicago’s best pitcher in Game Two, scoring five times against 22-game winner Lon Warneke, who dropped a 5-2 decision to 24-game winner Lefty Gomez.

Although the first two contests were filled with a considerable amount of heckling from both benches, things grew increasingly contentious when the Series moved to Chicago for Game Three.  Chicago players took particular exception to earlier comments made by Babe Ruth berating them for failing to award an entire share of the money they earned for finishing first in the National League to Ruth’s former teammate, Mark Koenig, who batted .353 for the Cubs after joining them during the season’s second half.  After being jeered by Chicago players and fans alike throughout the entire contest, Ruth put an end to the taunting by delivering one of the most memorable blows in the history of the Fall Classic.  Stepping into the batter’s box with the score tied 4-4 in the fifth inning, Ruth took two consecutive called strikes from Chicago pitcher Charlie Root, after which he raised two fingers in the air.  While some accounts suggest that Ruth’s gesture merely signified he still had one strike remaining in the count, others firmly contend that he “called his shot,” hitting the very next pitch into the center field bleachers.  Either way, the blast brought the Wrigley Field crowd to its feet, effectively thrusting a dagger into the collective hearts of the Cubs players.  Lou Gehrig followed with a solo homer of his own, giving the Yankees all the runs they needed to post a 7-5 victory.  The home runs were the second of the contest for both Ruth and Gehrig. 

After falling behind early in Game Four by a score of 4-1, the Yankees belabored Chicago pitching the rest of the day, scoring eight times in the final three frames, en route to sweeping the Series with a 13-6 victory.  Two homers by Tony Lazzeri and one by Earle Combs punctuated the New York win.

The Yankees dominated the Cubs to such an extent that they outscored their overmatched opponents by a combined margin of 37-19 during the four-game sweep.  They also out-homered them, eight to three.  Bill Dickey batted .438 and knocked in four runs, while Earle Combs batted .375, drove in four runs, and scored eight others.  Lou Gehrig did more damage to Chicago than anyone else, 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, 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, Bill Dickey, Billy Herman, Burleigh Grimes, Charley Root, Chicago Cubs, Earle Combs, Gabby Hartnett, Guy Bush, Kiki Cuyler, Lefty Gomez, Lon Warneke, Lou Gehrig, Mark Koenig, New York Yankees, Red Ruffing, Tony Lazzeri, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium

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