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1937 Baseball Season

The 1937 baseball season broke open with one of the many controversies in the career of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean. In a preview of the 1988 balk brouhaha, baseball commissioner Ford Frick had ordered umpires to enforce the rule requiring pitchers to come to a discernible stop in the stretch position. During a Giants-Cardinals matchup on May 19, a balk of this type was called against Dean in the sixth; he became enraged and began throwing at the New York batters. The result was a bench-clearing brawl and a $50 fine for Dean.

In his next start, Dean made a mockery of the balk rule by coming to a several-second stop in his delivery. When he publicly called Frick a "crook" a few days later, he was suspended indefinitely. To add to his troubles, Dean broke his big toe in the 1937 All-Star Game, an injury that led to an unconscious change in his delivery and, in turn, arm trouble. He never again pitched in a regular rotation and retired soon after with a 150-83 record and a 3.04 lifetime ERA.

Without their ace, the Cardinals slipped to an 81-73 record, 15 games out, in spite of an MVP performance by Ducky Medwick. The muscular left fielder was "Mr. Everything" for the St. Louis offense, leading the National League in batting at .374, RBI with 154, doubles with 56, hits with 237, and runs with 111; he tied New York's Mel Ott for the league lead in homers with 31. Medwick won the Triple Crown that year, the last National League player to do so. Teammate Johnny Mize drove in 113 runs, hit 40 doubles (second in the National League), and batted .364 (also second-best).

Third-place Pittsburgh featured the three top triples hitters in the National League; Arky Vaughan with 17, Gus Suhr with 14, and Lee Handley with 12. Outfielder Paul Waner was third in batting at .354.

Runner-up Chicago scored the most runs of any National League team, 811, and finished three games out. Four Cubs -- Billy Herman, Stan Hack, Augie Galan, and Frank Demaree -- made the top five in runs scored, and Galan and Hack were first and second in stolen bases with 23 and 16.

The New York Giants successfully defended their National League flag, thanks to Ott's 95 RBI and great defense from shortstop Dick Bartell, who also hit .306 with 38 doubles, 14 homers, and 91 runs scored. Carl Hubbell went 22-8 and fellow lefty Cliff Melton turned in a 2.61 ERA, second only to Boston's Jim Turner at 2.38.

In the American League race, monster seasons from the Tigers' pure hitter Charlie Gehringer and slugger Hank Greenberg couldn't prevent another Yankee pennant. Gehringer won the batting title at .371 and scored 133 runs. Greenberg led the American League in RBI with 183 -- the third-highest total of all time -- and also had 40 homers, 49 doubles, and 102 walks.

The Yankees machine scored the most runs in the league (979), allowed the fewest (671), and finished at 102-52, 13 games up on Detroit. Lou Gehrig hit .351 with 159 RBI and 37 homers; Joe DiMaggio hit .346 with an American League-high 151 runs, 15 triples, and a league-leading 46 homers. Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing led the American League in wins with 21 and 20, and Gomez took the ERA title at 2.33; reliever Johnny Murphy worked 39 games and saved ten. Ex-Yankee Johnny Allen, pitching for Cleveland, went 15-1 with a 2.55 ERA.

The Yankees made short work of the Giants in their second consecutive October meeting, outscoring them 28-12 in five games. Lefty Gomez went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA; no Giants starter had an ERA lower than Carl Hubbell's 3.77.

Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1937 season.

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