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After becoming the first team to win three straight world championships the previous year, the Yankees joined the New York Giants of 1921-1924 as just the second club in either league to advance to the World Series four consecutive times.  New York earned the right to represent the American League in the 1939 Fall Classic by finishing the regular season with a record of 106-45, 17 games in front of the second-place Boston Red Sox.  Considered by most baseball historians to be one of the very greatest teams ever assembled, the 1939 Yankees dominated their opposition to such an extent that their run-differential of 411 remains the largest in major league history.  In addition to leading the majors with 967 runs scored and 556 runs allowed, New York topped all of baseball with 166 home runs, a .374 on-base percentage, and a .451 slugging percentage.  Nine Yankee players earned A.L. All-Star honors, and four members of the team also placed in the top ten in the league MVP voting.  Joe DiMaggio won the award for the first of three times by leading the league with a .381 batting average, while also hitting 30 homers, knocking in 126 runs, and scoring 108 others, despite appearing in only 120 games. 

Needless to say, New York entered the World Series a heavy favorite to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, who returned to the Fall Classic for the first time since their tainted triumph over the Chicago Black Sox two decades earlier.  In fact, Cincinnati’s 97-57 record, which enabled them to finish 4 ½ games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the senior circuit, allowed them to place higher than fourth in the N.L. standings for the first time in 13 years.  The Reds were led into the Fall Classic by catcher Ernie Lombardi, first baseman Frank McCormick, and staff aces Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters.  Lombardi, who captured league MVP honors one year earlier, led the team with 20 home runs and drove in 85 runs.  McCormick hit 18 homers, batted .332, and topped the senior circuit with 128 runs batted in and 209 hits.  Derringer had the greatest year of his career, finishing the campaign with a record of 25-7, a 2.93 ERA, and 28 complete games.  Walters earned N.L. MVP honors by leading all league hurlers with a record of 27-11, a 2.29 ERA, 137 strikeouts, 31 complete games, and 319 innings pitched.

The Reds proved to be a worthy foe in Game One, maintaining a 1-1 tie with the Yankees heading into the ninth inning.  However, after New York starter Red Ruffing retired Cincinnati in order in the top of the frame, Charlie Keller stroked a one-out triple against Derringer in the bottom of the inning.  Bill Dickey followed immediately with an RBI single, giving the Yankees a 2-1 victory.

New York scored four times against Walters in the first four innings of Game Two, with the final run coming on a home run by Babe Dahlgen – the man who replaced Lou Gehrig at first base for the Yankees.  Walters didn’t allow the Yankees any more runs after that, but New York starter Monte Pearson surrendered just two hits to Cincinnati the entire game, en route to posting a 4-0 complete-game victory.

Yankee power prevailed in Game Three, with four New York home runs knocking in all seven runs during a 7-3 victory.  Charlie Keller homered twice for New York, with Joe DiMaggio and Bill Dickey each going deep once as well.

Game Four remained scoreless heading into the seventh inning, before each team scored four times in the final three frames to send the contest into extra innings.  The Yankees then scored three runs in the top of the 10th inning, with their final two scores coming on the Series’ most memorable play.  Charlie Keller crossed the plate for New York’s sixth run, delivering in the process an accidental blow with his knee to the head of Cincinnati catcher Ernie Lombardi.  With the ball jarred loose from Lombardi, who lay beside home plate for several seconds trying to gather his wits, Joe DiMaggio charged home from third base with an insurance run, avoiding the receiver’s belated tag with a brilliant hook slide.  The play came to be known as “Lombardi’s Snooze,” very much symbolizing the manner in which New York embarrassed Cincinnati throughout the Fall Classic.  The Yankees outscored the Reds in the four games by a combined margin of 20-8, also out-homering them, 7-0.  Keller was the hitting star, batting .438, hitting three home runs, knocking in six runs, and scoring eight others.  The four-game sweep gave the Yankees their fourth straight world championship.  Over the course of those four World Series, they lost a total of only three games.

By Bob_Cohen
 

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Tagged:
1939 World Series, Babe Dahlgren, Bill Dickey, Bucky Walters, Charlie Keller, Cincinnati Reds, Ernie Lombardi, Frank McCormick, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Lou Gehrig, Monte Pearson, New York Yankees, Paul Derringer, Red Rolfe, Red Ruffing

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