The 1927 baseball season was the one in which the home run era produced its greatest team -- the power-hitting New York Yankees -- but it opened with an unpleasant reminder of baseball's' corrupt pre-Ruthian past. Former pitcher Dutch Leonard accused Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker of fixing a 1919 game between Detroit and Cleveland. In spite of two incriminating letters produced by Leonard, commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis "permitted [Cobb and Speaker] to resign" from their clubs without any official finding of guilt or innocence. Both did resign, each signing with new teams for 1927 -- Cobb with Philadelphia and Speaker with Washington.
This mini-scandal resulted in the forced resignation of Ban Johnson from the American League presidency after 27 years of service, when he annoyed Landis by publicly protesting that his decision had smeared the two baseball legends without proof.
The public's attention was soon diverted, however, by the heroics of the 1927 Yankees, who led the American League on every day of the 1927 season and finished with a 110-44 record, 19 games ahead of a Cobb-led Philadelphia team. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, more than any other American League team, and led in on-base average at .487. His sidekick Lou Gehrig kept pace in homers until September, a month in which Ruth knocked an incredible 17; Gehrig finished with 47.
Ruth slugged .772 and Gehrig .765, both marks surpassed in history only by Ruth's 1920 and 1921 seasons, and between them Ruth and Gehrig accounted for almost 25 percent of the league's 439 home runs. Ruth was first in runs with 158, nine more than Gehrig, and second in RBI with 164, behind his teammate's 175. If Ruth had batted fourth and Gehrig third, these numbers may have been reversed.
Because of the idea left over from the Chalmers days that a man should not be voted MVP twice in his career, Ruth did not receive the American League prize. The MVP Award went instead to Gehrig, who won over Detroit's Harry Heilmann (a .398 hitter).
The rest of the New York order included leadoff great Earle Combs, who was third in runs with 137, first in hits with 231, and first in triples with 23; Bob Meusel, who hit 47 doubles; Mark Koenig, who scored 99 runs; and Tony Lazzeri, third in the American League in home runs with 18. This lineup scored a then-record 975 runs, slugged .489 (the best ever), and batted .307.
All this slugging overshadowed the Yankees' pitching, which compiled the American League's best ERA at 3.20. Waite Hoyt led in wins with 22; Wiley Moore, Hoyt, and Urban Shocker were first, second, and fourth in ERA at 2.28, 2.64, and 2.84; and four Yankees topped .700 in winning percentage. As a staff, New York also led the American League in shutouts, fewest hits, and fewest walks.
In the National League, Pittsburgh won a squeaker over St. Louis and the Giants, with the three teams separated by only 2 games. The Pirates were paced by the Waner brothers. Paul Waner won the batting title at .380 and led in RBI with 131, hits with 237, and triples with 17. Younger brother Lloyd Waner led in runs with 133 and was third in batting at .355.
Fired as manager and traded from St. Louis to New York, Rogers Hornsby rebounded to hit .361, second in the National League, with 26 home runs and 125 RBI. The fourth-place Cubs featured home run co-leader Hack Wilson and pitcher Charlie Root, who led in wins with 26 and innings pitched with 309. Pittsburgh's Ray Kremer won the ERA title at 2.47, and 40-year-old Pete Alexander mounted a comeback with the Cardinals to go 21-10 with the National League's second-best ERA of 2.52.
The 1927 World Series took only four days, as New York outscored the Pirates 23-10 and swept in four. Ruth batted .400 with two homers and seven RBI.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1927 baseball season.
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1927 Baseball Season Headlines
The 1927 baseball season ranks at the very top for the New York Yankees ballclub. Other players had a banner year as well. Here are some of the headlines from 1927.
Pitcher Walter Johnson Hits .348
As a pitcher, Walter Johnson was nearly done in 1927, winning just five games and tallying a 5.10 ERA. As a batter, he continued to be one of the most potent hitting hurlers of all time right to the end. His .348 batting average and .522 slugging average that year pumped up his lifetime hit total to 549 and home run total to 24. Johnson retired after 1927 with 416 career wins; only Cy Young won more. Johnson still holds the all-time record for shutouts with 110.
Johnny Neun Posts His Best Year
A first baseman who could hit well for average, Johnny Neun was relegated to the minors for most of his career. Almost all of his noteworthy accomplishments in the majors came in 1927; in addition to his unassisted triple play, he stole five bases in a game against the Yankees and swiped home in both ends of a doubleheader against the Senators.
Travis Jackson Super at SS
A solid defensive shortstop, the Giants' Travis Jackson enjoyed one of his best offensive seasons in 1927 (.318 average, 14 homers, and 98 RBI). In his 14-year Hall of Fame career, Jackson helped his team to four pennants. His World Series stats, though, were rather embarrassing. He managed only nine singles and a double in 67 series at-bats (.149 average).
Barnes Bros. Square Off
Brothers Virgil Barnes and Jesse Barnes were teammates on the Giants ballclub early in their careers before Jesse was swapped to the Braves, and on several occasions the two appeared on the mound in the same game. On May 3, 1927, they became the first brothers in the major leagues to pair off against one another as starting pitchers.
Rookie Lloyd Waner Nets 223 Hits
Lloyd Waner was a rookie sensation in 1927, hitting .355 with a league-leading 133 runs scored and a rookie-record 223 hits. He was good for about a hit and a half per game in each of his first five seasons. After that, he was little more than an average outfielder whose main strength was striking out almost as rarely as Joe Sewell. In 1941, as a part-time player, Waner came to bat 219 times without fanning once.
Find even more major headlines from the 1927 baseball season in the next section.
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More 1927 Baseball Season Headlines
Following are even more major headlines from the 1927 baseball season, including the death of Urban Shocker.
Bob Meusel Nets 103 RBI
In 1927, Bob Meusel finished seventh in the American League in RBI with 103 (a distant third on his team). The Yankees were so deep offensively and so much stronger than the other clubs in the league that they outscored their opposition by nearly 400 runs.
Charlie Root Leads Majors in Wins
Charlie Root joined the Cubs in 1926 and remained with them through 1941, winning a club-record 201 games. In 1927, Root topped both leagues with 26 wins and 309 innings pitched. His four shutouts tied for second while his 145 strikeouts were 39 Ks behind the lead in the National League. When Root began to falter as a starter in the middle 1930s, he moved to the bullpen, where he twice led the National League in relief victories. He and catcher Gabby Hartnett were battery mates a record 15 years.
Yanks Get a Deal on Wilcy Moore
Wilcy Moore did not start his professional career until he was age 25. After four undistinguished years in the minors, he won 30 games in the South Atlantic Association in 1926. Purchased by Yankees general manager Ed Barrow for about $4,500, he proceeded to stand American League hitters on their heads in 1927, collecting a combined 32 wins and saves.
Ted Lyons Collects 22 Victories
After Ted Lyons retired, Ken Smith wrote: "For 21 years, Lyons pitched as though the White Sox were in pursuit of the pennant. It was a game of make-believe." During his long sojourn with the Sox, the club never once finished as high as second place. In 1927, Lyons tied for first place in the American League with 22 wins in 308 innings pitched.
Urban Shocker: Out in Style
Urban Shocker may have been the best pitcher in the American League during the 1920s. With his health failing, he was used sparingly by the Yankees in 1927; nevertheless, he won 18 games in just 200 innings. He made one relief appearance the following year, was too weakened to continue, and died before the season ended.
Earle Combs Leads Pack in Outfield
Although Earle Combs led all American League outfielders in putouts in 1927 and again in 1928, his arm was not the strongest; consequently, he was sometimes stationed in left field. Offensively, he was the perfect table-setter for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and customarily ranked among the leaders in both runs (137 in 1927) and hits (231 that year, best in the loop).
Read about highlights of the 1927 baseball season on the next page.
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1927 Baseball Season Highlights
The New York Yankees completely dominated the 1927 baseball season. However, other teams were busy organizing their rosters for the future.
See highlights of the 1927 baseball season below:
- The Yankees romp to the American League flag by a 19-game margin and win an American League record (since broken) 110 games.
- The Pirates squeak by the Cards and Giants to cop the National League pennant.
- The Yankees sweep the 1927 World Series so convincingly that the team forever becomes known as "Murderer's Row."
- Babe Ruth is the series hero, hitting .400 with two homers and seven RBI.
- Rookie Wiley Moore is the 1927 World Series' leading pitcher, winning the finale and saving game one.
- Pirates star Kiki Cuyler is benched for the entire 1927 World Series after a dispute with Pittsburgh manager Donie Bush.
- Lou Gehrig is selected as American League MVP.
- Babe Ruth slugs a major league record 60 home runs (since broken).
- Ruth's teammate Gehrig hits 47 homers, giving the pair a teammate record 107 that will stand until 1961.
- Ruth hits more homers than every other team in the American League except his own.
- Cub Charlie Root tops the majors in wins with 26.
- Wiley Moore wins 19 games for the Yankees and ties for the American League lead in saves (13).
- Moore wins 13 games in relief, a new record for relievers.
- Moore leads the majors in ERA (2.28).
- For the fourth odd year in succession, Harry Heilmann takes the American League bat title (.398).
- Lou Gehrig's 175 RBI set a new major league record (since broken).
- The Yankees score a major league record 975 runs (since broken).
- The Yankees become the first team in Major League Baseball history to hit 100 triples and 100 homers in a season.
- Lloyd Waner collects a rookie record 223 hits.
- The Waner brothers hit a combined .367 with 460 hits -- both are major league season sibling records.
- Ty Cobb signs with the A's prior to the season after 22 years with Detroit.
- Cobb gets his 4,000th hit on July 19, off Detroit's Sam Gibson.
- Walter Johnson retires with a major league record 3,506 Ks (since broken).
- Johnson's 110 shutouts are still a major league record.
- On May 17, the Braves' Bob Smith pitches a 22-inning complete game, losing 4-3 to the Cubs.
- The Yankees beat the Browns an American League record 21 times in a season.
See our final section for more highlights from the 1927 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
More 1927 Baseball Season Highlights
Following are even more highlights from the 1927 baseball season, including the various roster changes made in both the National and American League that season.
- On May 3, Jesse and Virgil Barnes become the first major league brothers to oppose each other as starting pitchers.
- On May 30, Jimmy Cooney, Cubs shortstop, makes an unassisted triple play.
- On May 31, Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun makes an unassisted triple play.
- Paul Waner leads the National League in BA (.380), hits (237), triples (17), total bases (338), and RBI (131).
- Giant Rogers Hornsby tops the National League in walks (86), OBP (.448), and SA (.586), and ties in runs (133).
- Babe Ruth leads the majors in runs (158), walks (138), SA (.772), and OBP (.487).
- Lou Gehrig's 277 runs produced are the second most in American League history, topped only by Ruth's 289 in 1921.
- Gehrig's. 765 SA and 447 total bases set major league records for first basemen.
- Detroit trades Heinie Manush and Lu Blue to the Browns for three players.
- The Cubs' Sparky Adams leads the National League in at-bats a record third straight season.
- After the season, the Pirates trade Kiki Cuyler to the Cubs for Adams and Pete Scott.
- Released by the Dodgers, for whom he played his whole career, Zach Wheat signs with the A's.
- Fired as White Sox player/manager, Eddie Collins signs with the A's.
- The A's have a record seven future Hall of Famers on their active roster in 1927.
- The A's fan just 326 times, an American League record-low for a season by a team.
- Giants star Ross Youngs dies of Bright's disease at age 30.
- Lloyd Waner scores 133 runs and has just 27 RBI for a differential of 106 -- the largest in major league history.
- Ty Cobb gets five hits in a game for a career record 13th time.
- On June 19, Phillie Jack Scott (age 35) becomes the oldest pitcher to hurl two CGs in one day.
- Scott leads the National League in losses (21) and ties for the lead in games (48).
- Frankie Frisch sets a record for second basemen with 1,059 chances accepted.
- Frisch also sets a record for assists by a second baseman (641).
- The Yankees' .489 SA establishes a major league record.
- Pittsburgh's Remy Kremer cops the National League ERA crown (2.47).
- Dazzy Vance, as usual, tops the National League in Ks (184).
- Jesse Haines wins 24 games for the Cards and leads the majors in shutouts with six.
- New York's Earle Combs tops the American League in hits (231) and triples (23).
- Chicago's Hack Wilson and Philly's Cy Williams tie for the National League homer crown with 30 -- half of Ruth's total.