The New York Yankees found out just how dependent they were on the 30-year-old Babe Ruth during the 1925 baseball season. In spring training, their overweight and worn-down right fielder suffered an intestinal abscess brought on by too much eating and drinking. Stomach surgery and a suspension levied by manager Miller Huggins for insubordination limited Ruth's season to 98 games, and the Yankees collapsed to seventh place with a 69-85 record.
The good news for New York was that Huggins seized the opportunity to rebuild his aging team, replacing outfielder Whitey Witt with young Earle Combs, catcher Wally Schang with Benny Bengough, and first baseman Wally Pipp with rookie Lou Gehrig to form the foundation of the famous "Murderer's Row." Ironically, Gehrig started his famous consecutive-game streak on June 1, less than a month after Everett Scott's then-record 1,307-game streak ended. Scott had played shortstop every game from June 20, 1916, to May 5, 1925.
Washington, though, repeated in 1925, going 96-55 to finish 81/2 games ahead of a rebuilding Philadelphia A's team, which featured young slugger Al Simmons and rookies Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove. The Senators were a running team; Sam Rice and Goose Goslin were tied for second in stolen bases with 26 apiece, and Goslin hit a league-leading 20 triples. Rice and Goslin also scored a combined 227 runs and drove in 200. American League MVP shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh batted .294 and formed, with 28-year-old player/manager Bucky Harris, the team's double-play combo.
Key Washington acquisitions shored up the bench and the pitching staff, including first baseman/outfielder Joe Harris, who hit .323 with 12 homers in 100 games; Dutch Ruether, who went 18-7 after being released by Brooklyn; and ex-Indian Stan Coveleski, who matched Walter Johnson in victories with 20 and led the American League in ERA at 2.84.
Johnson, now age 37, slipped slightly to 20-7 with a 3.07 ERA. Rookie Grove surpassed him in strikeouts 116-108 to take the American League crown. Relief ace Firpo Marberry led the American League in games with 55 and saves with 15. Yankee Bob Meusel led the league in home runs with 33, and Detroit's Harry Heilmann barely beat out Tris Speaker for the batting title on the final day of the season, .393 to .389, with an exciting September charge.
In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds dominated nearly every pitching category and compiled a league-low 3.38 team ERA, an amazing accomplishment for the 1920s' biggest run-scoring year. Eppa Rixey and Pete Donohue each won 21 games, and Rixey, Donohue, and Dolf Luque combined for 879 innings pitched. The trio was also one, two, and three in ERA at 2.63 for Luque, 2.89 for Rixey, and 3.08 for Donohue.
The Cardinals boasted the National League's top hitter in Rogers Hornsby, who batted .403 and won a second Triple Crown. St. Louis, though, finished 18 games out of the money.
It was the Pittsburgh bats that made the big noise in 1925, as the Pirates won their first pennant since 1909 and became the first National League team to score 900 runs. Pittsburgh was led by Kiki Cuyler's league-topping 144 runs and 26 triples, Max Carey's National League-high 46 stolen bases, and third baseman Pie Traynor's 39 doubles and .320 batting average.
The Pirates won a seven-game 1925 World Series that was almost the reverse of 1924. Johnson won games one and four, only to lose the deciding contest 9-7; Peckinpaugh was a defensive disaster with eight total errors at short. One of the few Senators highlights was Rice's diving circus catch of Earl Smith's game three drive into the right-field stands.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1925 baseball season.
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1925 Baseball Season Headlines
While Babe Ruth's health -- and the Yankees' season -- were in the dumps, other players had very good years. Here are some of the headlines from the 1925 baseball season.
Senators Take Flag
The Washington Senators were the 1925 American League Champions. Bobby Veach joined the club just in the nick of time to participate in his only World Series. First baseman Joe Judge and outfielder Sam Rice were Senators teammates for 18 seasons.
Harry Heilmann Tops the American League in BA
Led by Harry Heilmann, all three regular Tigers outfielders in 1925 finished among the top five hitters in the American League. Heilmann paced the loop with a .393 mark; Ty Cobb was fourth at .378; and Al Wingo fifth at .370 (Wingo is the only player in history to hit .370 or better in his lone year as a regular).
Dazzy Vance Shuts Batters Down
With only four pitchers in the majors able to achieve as many as 100 strikeouts in 1925, Dazzy Vance of the Dodgers collected 221 Ks, 81 more than runner-up Dolf Luque of the Reds. Vance posted the second-best winning percentage in the National League even though he toiled for a team that finished just a half-game out of the cellar.
Kiki Cuyler Outdoes Himself
A good, never spectacular hitter in the minors, Kiki Cuyler seemed to catch National League hurlers off guard when he hit .354 as a rookie in 1924. When he exceeded all of his first-year stats in his sophomore season by averaging .357, nailing 18 home runs, and totaling 102 RBI, even greater things were expected of him. But though he was a solid player for more than a decade, he never again scaled the heights he reached in 1925. Cuyler paced the National League in 1925 with 144 runs scored and 26 three-base hits.
Bob Meusel Nets 138 RBI
Bob Meusel had one of the most remarkable seasons in history in 1925: He played for a seventh-place team, hit .290 (two points below the American League average), and yet paced the loop with 33 home runs and 138 RBI (70 more than any other Yankee player produced that season).
Pie Traynor Hits .320 at Third
Some 50 years ago, Pie Traynor was voted the best third baseman of the first half-century; in the time since, his reputation has suffered considerably. No matter how true it may be that his glovework was overrated, the fact remains that his .320 career batting average (also his average in 1925) is among the best ever for a hot-corner player.
Sam Rice Hits a BA High
In almost every aspect, Sam Rice had his best season in 1925, posting a career-high .350 average. The season culminated with his extraordinary catch of Earl Smith's bid for a home run in the 1925 World Series -- if indeed he really held onto the ball when he tumbled into the stands. Opinions were divided among witnesses.
Find more headlines from the 1925 baseball season in the next section.
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More 1925 Baseball Season Headlines
Following are some of the other major headlines from the 1925 season, including Earle Combs's sophomore season highlights.
Pete Donohue's Skein Ends
During the years between 1922 and 1926, Pete Donohue racked up 96 victories, more than any pitcher in the National League. His record string of 20 straight wins over the Phils was broken on Aug. 19, 1925, when Cy Williams hit an opposite-field single in the ninth inning to pin a 5-4 loss on Donohue. In 1925, he went 21-14 with a 3.08 ERA and led the National League in complete games (27) and innings pitched (301). Besides his record skein against the Phillies, Donohue had another claim to fame: He was credited with perfecting the changeup. His change couldn't have fooled too many hitters, though; he fanned a mere 571 batters in his 12-year career.
Joe Harris Revs Up in Series
A utility man for most of the regular 1925 season, Joe Harris replaced Earl McNeely, the previous year's series hero, in the opener of that year's fall classic and remained in the lineup when his bat came up hot. He rapped .440 and slugged three home runs in the seven games.
Earle Combs Back in Action
Idled by a broken leg most of his rookie season in 1924, Earle Combs claimed the Yankees' job at center field the following year (he tallied a .342 average, three home runs, and 61 RBI in 1925). For the next four decades, almost without interruption, the Bronx Bombers would have a future Hall of Famer patrolling the middle pasture in Yankee Stadium.
Joe Sewell Fans Four Times
Joe Sewell's batwork alone made him one of the top shortstops of his era; in 1925, he fanned just four times to post the fewest strikeouts by a regular player in a full season. When his glove is figured into the equation, Sewell emerges as one of the best infielders ever. Despite his small size (he stood just 5'61/2") he had good power, great range, and an excellent arm. He also hit .312 in his career, including a .336 average in 1925. In fact, Sewell had 98 RBI that year despite hitting only one home run. Sewell got his start with Cleveland in 1920. Just two weeks after shortstop Ray Chapman suffered his fatal beaning, the Tribe brought in rookie Sewell to replace him.
Roger Peckinpaugh Named American League MVP
No winner of the Most Valuable Player Award ever had a more miserable World Series or a shorter time left to him in the majors than Roger Peckinpaugh. In game seven of the 1925 Series, his dropped a pop fly in the seventh inning and a wild throw in the eighth stuck Walter Johnson with four unearned runs in his 9-7 loss to the Pirates; the following year, Peckinpaugh lost his job to rookie Buddy Myer.
Take a look at the next page for highlights of the 1925 season.
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1925 Baseball Season Highlights
During the 1925 baseball season, the Yankees collapsed while Babe Ruth suffered from health problems, but they started to rebuild the team, bringing in Lou Gehrig, among others. The Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1925 World Series, beating the Washington Senators.
These and more highlights of the 1925 baseball season follow:
- The Pirates break the Giants' string and win the National League flag.
- Washington cops its second straight American League flag.
- Babe Ruth's famous "stomachache" idles him for much of the season and holds him to .290 BA and 25 homers.
- Minus Ruth's big bat, the Yankees fall to seventh place.
- The Pirates triumph in the exciting seven-game 1925 World Series, rallying from a three-games-to-one deficit.
- Joe Harris of the Senators leads all 1925 World Series hitters with a .440 BA, three homers, and six RBI.
- Senator Roger Peckinpaugh's eight errors in the 1925 World Series are a record and make him the goat.
- Rogers Hornsby is selected the National League MVP.
- Roger Peckinpaugh wins the American League MVP Award, which is given only for regular-season performance.
- Bob Meusel, Ruth's New York teammate, leads the American League in homers (33) and RBI (138).
- Harry Heilmann continues his penchant for taking the American League bat crown every other year, as he hits .393.
- Rogers Hornsby wins his sixth straight National League bat crown (.403).
- Hornsby wins the Triple Crown, leading in BA, homers (39), and RBI (143).
- Dazzy Vance leads the majors with 22 wins and 221 Ks.
- Joe Sewell of Cleveland fans just four times, the fewest in a full season by a regular player.
- Rogers Hornsby's .756 SA sets an all-time National League record.
- George Burns steals home for the 27th time, a National League career record.
- Sam Rice collects an American League record 182 singles.
- Walter Johnson hits .433, a record for pitchers with 75-plus at-bats.
- Tony Lazzeri of Salt Lake City in the Pacific Coast League hits 60 homers, an OB record.
- Pete Donohue of the Reds loses to the Phils after beating them 20 straight times.
- On July 3, Brooklyn's Milt Stock bangs out four hits for a record fourth day in a row.
- George Sisler hits in 34 straight games to begin the season, an American League record.
- Eddie Collins gets his 3,000th hit.
- Max Carey tops the National League in steals for a record tenth time.
- On June 20, Carey becomes the first switch-hitter to hit for the cycle.
Find even more highlights from the 1925 baseball season in our final section.
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More 1925 Baseball Season Highlights
Following are more highlights from the 1925 baseball season, including:
- Tris Speaker collects his 3,000th hit.
- Philly's Al Simmons collects 253 hits, an American League record for outfielders.
- Simmons leads the American League in total bases (392), runs produced (227), and hits.
- On May 5 in St. Louis, Ty Cobb goes 6-for-6 with three homers.
- Yankee Everett Scott's streak of 1,307 consecutive games played ends.
- Yankee Lou Gehrig bats for Pee Wee Wanninger on June 1 and starts a skein of 2,130 consecutive games.
- Dazzy Vance no-hits the Phils on Sept. 13.
- Pittsburgh's Glenn Wright performs an unassisted triple play on May 7.
- Wright becomes the first player in Major League Baseball history to collect at least 100 RBI in each of his first two seasons.
- Pirate Kiki Cuyler hits 26 triples, the most by any player between 1915 and the present.
- Cuyler's 144 runs top the majors.
- Rogers Hornsby leads the majors in SA (.756), runs produced (237), and OBP (.489).
- The A's finish second in the American League, their best finish since 1914.
- Grove's strikeout mark is the lowest ever to lead a league.
- Cincinnati's Dolf Luque posts the best ERA in the majors (2.63).
- Christy Mathewson dies at 45.
- The Cubs suffer their first cellar finish in their 53 years of existence.
- The Reds' Elmer Smith ties Tris Speaker's career record for outfielders when he makes his fourth unassisted DP.
- A's rookie Mickey Cochrane becomes the first catcher to hit three home runs in a game.
- Cochrane catches a rookie record 133 games.
- Joe Harris of the Senators is the first player to homer in his first World Series at-bat.
- The Browns' Elam Vangilder wins 11 games in relief, a new record.
- On June 15, the A's trail the Indians 15-4 in the bottom of the eighth, then beat the Tribe 17-15.
- The Baltimore Orioles of the International League win their OB record seventh straight pennant.
- Cincinnati's Sparky Adams has a .983 FA, a new record for second basemen.
- The Cards' Jim Bottomley tops the National League in hits (227) and doubles (44).
- Detroit's Al Wingo, in his only season with enough at-bats to qualify for a BA title, hits .370 and finishes fifth.
- Stan Coveleski, now with Washington, tops the American League in ERA (2.84 ) and win pct (.800).
- Johnny Mostil of the White Sox tops the American League in runs (135) and steals (43).
- The Pirates and A's both hit .307 to top the majors in BA.
- Tris Speaker, at age 37, hits .389 and tops the American League in OBP (.479).
- Major League Baseball hitters hit a combined .292 -- the highest composite major league average since 1986.