Following are more headlines from the 1938 baseball season, including Ernie Lombardi's 1938 National League batting title.
Johnny Vander Meer: Two No-Nos
During his minor league apprenticeship, Johnny Vander Meer looked liked another wild lefthander. His performance for the Reds in 1938 made believers of his skeptics, as he hurled back-to-back no-hitters in June. In his next start, he hurled three no-hit innings before yielding a hit to Boston's Debs Garms. However, Vander Meer had to return later to the minors before he became a finished pitcher. For his career, he was a mediocre 119-121. He was always tough to hit, but had serious problems with control.
Bill Dickey Best Behind Plate
In 1938, Bill Dickey hit .313 with 27 home runs and 115 RBI. He also hit .400 in New York's 1938 World Series sweep of the Cubs. Dickey, considered by some as the greatest catcher in American League history, caught 1,712 games in his career. He never played another position, not even for a single inning. Dickey saw it all with the Yankees. He played with Babe Ruth during the tail end of Ruth's career. He teamed with Lou Gehrig for many years and played with Joe DiMaggio for a few. And even when New York won five straight World Titles in the late 1940s and early '50s, Dickey helped the team as a coach.
Ernie Lombardi Takes 1938 National League Bat Title
Ernie Lombardi was the only catcher in major league history to win an undisputed batting title. In 1938, he hit .342 and had well over the number of plate appearances that modern rules require for a hitting leader. Another Reds catcher, Bubbles Hargrave, had just 326 at-bats when he won in 1926. Lombardi took a second crown in 1942 with a mere 309 at-bats.
Bill Lee Tops National League in Wins
In 1938, Bill Lee got good support from his Cubs teammates during the regular season (22 wins, best in the National League), but next to none in the 1938 World Series. He made two starts and pitched well, yet lost both when his teammates scored just one run in his 12 innings on the mound and made two critical boots behind him. Lee was brilliant during the season, leading the league in winning pct. (.710), ERA (2.66), starts (37), and shutouts (nine). At one point, he posted 32 consecutive scoreless innings. His trademark was his extremely high leg kick.
Bob Feller Racks Up 240 Ks
Bob Feller, who joined the Indians in 1936 as a 17-year-old, became the team's ace as a 19-year-old. In 1938, Feller went 17-11 and led the American League in strikeouts (240). He also limited opponents to a .220 batting average -- the best mark in the American League. By the age of 21, Rapid Robert would win 82 games. Feller probably missed out on between 80 and 90 wins due to the war.
Find highlights from the 1938 baseball season on the next page.
To learn more about baseball, see: