Cleveland spitballer Stan Coveleski took the ERA title for the 1923 baseball season.
Cleveland spitballer Stan Coveleski took the ERA title for the 1923 baseball season.

In 1923, the Giants-Yankees rivalry extended beyond the white lines of the baseball diamond. John McGraw's venerable National League club evicted the upstart Yankees from their newly renovated home park, the Polo Grounds, which the two teams had shared since 1913. The Yankees responded by building Yankee Stadium, a monumental state-of-the-art facility a short distance across the Harlem River in the Bronx. As luck would have it, both teams won their third straight pennants to meet again in October.

The Yankees had an easy time of it during the season, winning the American League flag by 16 games over the offensive-minded Detroit Tigers. Detroit featured Harry Heilmann, the batting champ at .403; Ty Cobb, who hit .340 and scored 103 runs; and first baseman Lu Blue, who drew 96 walks to score 100 runs on only a .284 batting average.

A half-game behind Detroit were the Cleveland Indians, the league's top scorers with 888 runs. They were paced by 35-year-old Tris Speaker, who posted 130 RBI (tied for league-best with Babe Ruth), 133 runs, and a .380 batting average (good for third place behind Ruth's .393). Cleveland spitballer Stan Coveleski took the ERA title at 2.76, and teammate George Uhle led in wins with 26 and innings pitched with 358. The St. Louis Browns fell from second place to fifth that season after an eye injury benched their ace, Gorgeous George Sisler.

Ruth regained his status as the American League's best hitter by leading in runs with 151, home runs with 41, slugging at .764, and on-base average at .545. He also drew 170 walks, the most by any batter until 2001. Ruth won the MVP Award over Chicago's Eddie Collins.

But contrary to their all-slugging image, the real strength of this Yankee team was pitching. Herb Pennock, another Red Sox refugee, went 19-6 for New York to lead the American League in winning percentage. Waite Hoyt was second in ERA at 3.01, and Sad Sam Jones led New York in victories with 21. The Yankees' 3.66 team ERA led all American League staffs.

It was the other New York team that led its league in runs scored, with 854, but the Giants' attack was more of a team effort. Ross Youngs batted .336 with a league-high 121 runs scored; Frankie Frisch was fifth in hitting at .348, scored 116 runs, and drove in 111; and Irish Meusel led the National League in RBI with 125.

Once again, New York beat out a strong-armed Cincinnati Reds team that compiled an ERA of 3.21, thanks largely to a career year from Dolf Luque, one of the first Cubans to star in the major leagues. He led the National League in wins with 27, shutouts with six, winning percentage at .771, and ERA at an incredible 1.93. In a year when two National League teams batted in the .290s, opponents hit only .235 off Luque.

Rogers Hornsby won the batting title at .384, beating out teammate Jim Bottomley at .371, but his heroics had no bearing on the pennant race. The Cardinals finished at 79-74, 16 games out. Cy Williams's league-leading 41 home runs mattered even less, as his Phillies lost 104 games and came in last.

Colorful Giants outfielder Casey Stengel hit Yankee Stadium's first-ever World Series homer, an inside-the-parker that gave Rosy Ryan a 5-4 victory over the Yankees' Joe Bush. Stengel also cracked a game-winning homer in game three. But the Yankees finally broke the Giants' spell to win games four, five, and six, taking the Series four games to two. Ruth batted .368 with three home runs, and his team batted .293. Bob Meusel knocked in eight runs in the Series, while Joe Dugan drove in five.

Check out the next page for some of the headlines of the 1923 baseball season.

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1923 Baseball Season Headlines

Maybe all the Yankees needed to win the 1923 World Series was a new stadium! Read about the Yankees' winning season and other headlines below.

Jack Bentley: 13-8, .427 BA

Playing for Baltimore in 1920, Jack Bentley led the International League in ERA and RBI. The following year, he topped the International League in batting and homers and was 12-1 as a pitcher. It seemed for a while that he could also do double duty in the majors. In 1923, he went 13-8 for the Giants and hit .427. By 1926, however, his arm was out of gas.

Carl Mays Beats A's 23 Times

The A's never got another crack at Carl Mays after he beat them for a record 23rd straight time on August 24, 1923. The Yankees released him that fall after exiling him to the bullpen for most of the season (he went 5-2 with a 6.22 ERA). Mays proved he wasn't yet washed-up by winning 20 games for the Reds in 1924.

Babe Ruth's Bat Bounces Back

Babe Ruth's dismal performance in the 1922 World Series nearly cost manager Miller Huggins his job. After Ruth's big 1923 World Series,

however -- a 368 average, three home runs, and three RBI -- his teammates shared the sentiments of Waite Hoyt, who once said, "Every major leaguer and his wife should teach their children to pray: 'God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy, and God bless Babe Ruth.' "

Lu Blue Nets Walks, Runs

Almost every player was enamored with hitting home runs by the mid-1920s. One notable exception was Lu Blue, a nimble switch-hitting first baseman who tagged more than six homers in a season just once, yet scored more than 100 runs in a year six times (in 1923, he tallied a .284 average, one home run, and 100 runs). Blue was gifted at collecting walks (96 in 1923). His total of 127 walks in 1931 was the White Sox season record for 60 years.

Cy Williams Hits 41 HRs

Cy Williams led the National League in home runs four times, the last when he was approaching 40 years of age. He was crowned the home run champion in 1923 with 41 four-baggers. Nearly age 28 before he won a regular job in the majors, Williams went on to surpass 250 round-trippers -- only the second National League player to do so (Rogers Hornsby was the first).

Yankee Stadium Opens Doors

Yankee Stadium opened in the vicinity of East 161st Street in the Bronx on April 18, 1923. The entire structure took just 284 days to complete.

Charlie Grimm Bats Career-Best

Owing in part to his 23-game hitting streak at the start of the season, Charlie Grimm hit a career-high .345 in 1923. Grimm was one of the first to accumulate 1,000 RBI without ever netting 100 in a season.

For highlights of the 1923 baseball season, see the next page.

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1923 Baseball Season Highlights

During the 1923 baseball season, Ross Youngs scored a league-high 121 runs.
During the 1923 baseball season, Ross Youngs scored a league-high 121 runs.

The 1923 baseball season was a great one for the New York Yankees -- Yankee Stadium opened up and the team won the 1923 World Series. Cy Williams topped the National League in homers, and Babe Ruth was selected as the American League's MVP.

More highlights of the 1923 baseball season follow:

  • The Yankees cop their third straight American League flag.
  • The Giants follow suit in the National League.
  • The Yankees get World Series revenge, beating the Giants in six games.
  • Babe Ruth bounces back to hit .368 with three homers in the 1923 World Series.
  • Aaron Ward of the Yankees leads all 1923 World Series hitters with a .417 BA.
  • Babe Ruth is selected the American League's MVP.
  • Rogers Hornsby takes his fourth consecutive National League bat crown (.384).
  • Hornsby tops the National League in OBP (.459) and SA (.627).
  • Harry Heilmann begins his odd knack for copping the American League bat crown every other year as he hits .403.
  • Babe Ruth regains the American League homer crown by belting 41.
  • The Phils' Cy Williams hits 41 homers to top the National League.
  • Yankee Stadium opens on April 18; New York wins 4-1 over Boston on a three-run homer by Babe Ruth.
  • Ruth reaches base an all-time season record 379 times.
  • Radio station WEAF in New York becomes the first station to broadcast a World Series.
  • The Yankees collect an American League record 30 hits vs. Boston on Sept. 28.
  • On July 7 vs. Boston, Cleveland scores 13 runs in the sixth inning after two men are out.

Find even more highlights of the 1923 baseball season in our final section.

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More 1923 Baseball Season Highlights

Following are some of the other highlights from the 1923 baseball season, including several no-hitters and an unassisted triple play.

  • Pittsburgh's Charlie Grimm sets a National League record by hitting in 23 consecutive games to begin the season.
  • New York's Jack Bentley hits .427, a National League record for pitchers.
  • George Uhle of Cleveland bangs out 52 hits, a season record for pitchers.
  • The Yankees become the first team in history to average less than one error per game.
  • On August 24, Yankee Carl Mays beats the A's for a record 23rd consecutive time.
  • Sam Jones of New York no-hits the A's on September 4.
  • Howard Ehmke of Boston no-hits the A's on September 7.
  • Ehmke loses another no-hitter in his next start on a questionable decision by the official scorer.
  • George Burns, Red Sox first baseman, performs an unassisted triple play on Sept. 14.
  • Ernie Padgett, Braves shortstop, performs an unassisted triple play on Oct. 6.
  • Yankee Everett Scott leads American League shortstops in FA for a record eighth consecutive year.
  • Lou Gehrig debuts with the Yankees, batting .423 in 26 at-bats.
  • Paul Strand of Salt Lake City in the Pacific Coast League collects an OB record 325 hits in a season.
  • Pete Schneider of Vernon in the Pacific Coast League hits five homers and a double in one game.
  • Giant Frankie Frisch leads the National League in hits (223), total bases (311), and runs produced (215).
  • Ruth is the American League runner-up in batting with a .393 BA, his personal best.
  • Ruth's .545 OBP sets a major league record that will stand until 1941.
  • George Sisler, the American League's leading hitter in 1922, is idled all season after sinus surgery and never really recovers his batting eye.
  • Dolf Luque of Cincinnati leads Major League Baseball with 27 wins and a 1.93 ERA.

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