In his last great year, the 37-year-old Ruth hit .341 with 120 runs, 137 RBI, and a league-leading 130 walks. Under manager Joe McCarthy and for the first time in the six seasons since his famous "bellyache" in 1925, the Babe did not lead the American League in home runs. Philadelphia's Jimmie Foxx won the Triple Crown with 58 homers, 169 RBI, and a .364 batting average. (Lou Gehrig was second in hitting at .349, tied for second in RBI with 151, and fourth in home runs with 34.)
Combs, the greatest leadoff man of the 1920s, also had his last big season, batting .321 and scoring 143 runs (third-most in the American League). Ben Chapman stole a league-high 38 bases and banged out 41 doubles, 15 triples, and ten homers. Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing won a combined 42 games (Ruffing was runner-up to Lefty Grove in ERA at 3.09); 26-year-old Johnny Allen went 17-4 to lead the junior circuit in winning percentage.
Defending champions Philadelphia scored plenty of runs, as the one-two punch of Foxx and Al Simmons outproduced Ruth and Gehrig, only to be let down by their second-line pitching. Grove won another ERA title at 2.84 and posted a 25-10 record, while George Earnshaw and Rube Walberg (Connie Mack's only other reliable starters) slipped to ERAs of 4.78 and 4.73.
Paul Waner hits 62
doubles, setting a National
League record in 1932.
The once-fearsome home run attack of the Cubs disappeared along with Hornsby and Hack Wilson, who was shipped off to Brooklyn before the season; the offensive load was carried by rookie second baseman Billy Herman, who scored a team-high 102 runs, and veterans Kiki Cuyler and Riggs Stephenson, who hit .324 with 49 doubles (third in the National League behind Paul Waner with 62 and league MVP Chuck Klein with 50).
Cubs pitching, however, led the National League with a 3.44 team ERA on the strength of Lon Warneke, the National League wins leader with 22 (against only six losses) and the ERA titlist at 2.37, 19-11 Guy Bush, 15-10 Charlie Root, and 15-17 Pat Malone.
Brooklyn's Lefty O'Doul won the batting crown at .368. The Giants' Mel Ott and Philadelphia's Klein tied for home run honors with 38. First baseman Don Hurst led in RBI with 143; Klein, the outfielder, had 137.
The 1932 World Series featured one of the best-known episodes in Ruth legend -- the supposed "called shot" off Root. There was, as lore has it, bad blood between the two teams over the Cubs' alleged bad treatment of their former manager and then-Yankee skipper McCarthy, and the fact that the Cubs had voted only a half-share in the Series money for ex-Yankee shortstop Mark Koenig. New York was leading the Series 2-0 when Ruth came to bat.
With the score tied four-all in the fifth inning of game three, he took strike one from Root. As the Cubs players heckled Ruth -- and the fans hurled insults and fruit -- the Babe held up his hand, a gesture he repeated after strike two. He drove the next pitch deep into the center field stands; New York went on to win the game 7- 5 and sweep the 1932 World Series.
It will never be known for certain, but on-deck hitter Gehrig insisted that Ruth had meant to call his home run and point out where it would go.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1932 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1931 Baseball Season
- 1933 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth