The 1930 baseball season was filled with record-breaking hitting. Baseball had been riding a roller coaster of offense that started in 1920, when Babe Ruth fired the first 54 shots in the home run revolution, and continued throughout the 1920s, as home runs and run-scoring increased almost every year. The home run trend peaked in 1930; in 1931, the baseball was deadened, assuring a long life for many of the hundreds of hitting records set the year before.
Whether viewed from a hitting or a pitching perspective, the 1930 season was equally wild. The New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals each scored more than 1,000 runs, and the Philadelphia Phillies allowed 1,199. Seventy-one individual hitters, nine whole teams -- and the National League -- batted over .300; the league set a record for total home runs with 892.
On the pitching side, only one National League hurler, Brooklyn's Dazzy Vance, had an ERA lower than 3.87. The National League ERA, swelled by the Phillies' 6.71 team mark, was 4.97.
In the most telling commentary on baseball's lack of balance, the Cardinals sent outfielder Showboat Fisher to the minor leagues at a time when he was hitting .374 in 254 at-bats. Perhaps fittingly, no MVP honors were awarded in either league.
The A's Al Simmons won
the American League
batting title in 1930 and
went on to win it again
in 1930. Hack Wilson's 56 home runs established a National League record. The Giants' Bill Terry batted .401, the last National League .400 batting mark and the second-to-last in the majors; Terry's 254 hits tied Lefty O'Doul's 1929 performance for the National League record.
Wilson drove in the most runs ever, 190,
to outdo Lou Gehrig's 174 (sixth-best in history), Chuck Klein's 170 (eighth-best), and Al Simmons's 165 (13th-best). Klein banged out 59 doubles (to tie with Tris Speaker for seventh on the all-time list) and scored 158 runs (to tie with Babe Ruth for the fifth-most ever); Kiki Cuyler's 155 runs are ninth-best and Simmons and Woody English are tied for tenth place, all-time, with 152 runs.
In spite of the heroics of Wilson, Cuyler, and English, the Cubs came up 2 games short in the National League pennant race. St. Louis took the flag with a team that featured an eerie consistency on both sides of the ledger: The Cards led the league in runs with a lineup in which all eight hitters batted over .300 -- only Chick Hafey made the top four in a major hitting category, ranking fourth in slugging average -- and a staff of five pitchers with between 12 and 15 wins.
An oddity of the race was that last-place Philadelphia outhit the pennant-winners, .315 to .314, on the strength of twin .380-plus-hitters O'Doul and Klein, who hit 96 doubles and 62 homers between them.
The slugging A's won their second straight American League pennant, as Jimmie Foxx and Simmons combined for 321 RBI and 73 homers and catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .357. With 128, little Max Bishop was second in walks to the Babe and scored 117 runs.
The Athletics pitching staff consisted of three starters with ERAs well over 4.00 and Lefty Grove, who put up numbers that would look impressive in any year, much less the most disastrous year for pitchers in this century. The 28-5 Grove led the league in wins, winning percentage, games, strikeouts, and saves; in a year when the overall American League ERA rose by nearly half a run to 4.65, Grove lowered his ERA over the previous year by 0.27 to 2.54, lowered his walks total by 21, and upped his strikeouts by 39.
Grove finally got his first World Series start in 1930 and combined with George Earnshaw to dispatch the Cards in six games. The A's were held to a .197 batting average but still out-scored St. Louis 21-12, as Grove and Earnshaw went a combined 44 with a 1.02 ERA.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1930 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1929 Baseball Season
- 1931 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth