The Yankees declined from being stratospheric to merely awesome during the 1928 baseball season and were surprised to find themselves with a good fight on their hands. The Bronx Bombers started strong and finished with a 101-53 record, but Connie Mack's resurgent Athletics put together a 25-8 stretch in July and caught the New York ballclub in September.
The 1928 A's were a talented mixture of youth and age, including the up-and-coming Al Simmons (who hit .351 with 107 RBI), Jimmie Foxx, and MVP catcher Mickey Cochrane, as well as dead-ball veterans Ty Cobb (who hit .323), Tris Speaker, and Eddie Collins. The Philadelphia lineup was rounded out by outfielder Bing Miller, who was fifth in batting at .329, and Max Bishop, who drew 97 walks and scored 104 runs.
Mack's league-leading pitching staff was anchored by 28-year-old Lefty Grove, who was first in the American League in wins with 24 and Ks with 183; 17-12 Rube Walberg; 13-5 Eddie Rommel; and old men Jack Quinn, who went 18-7 at the age of 44, and Howard Ehmke.
The A's and Yanks met for a September 9 doubleheader showdown at Yankee Stadium, which was attended by a record crowd of 85,264. The Yankees swept, 3-0 and 7-3, and clinched the American League flag less than two weeks later. Philadelphia finished with a 98-55 record, 21/2 games out.
The Yankees pitching staff came down to earth in 1928, as only George Pipgras and Waite Hoyt won more than 20 games, and only Herb Pennock made the ERA leader board. But the hitters once again led the league in runs, with 894, and home runs, with 133 -- 44 more than the nearest team. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were first and second in home runs with 54 and 27, runs with 163 and 139, and slugging at .709 and .648. They tied for the league lead in RBI with 142.
The National League race was another dogfight, as the 95-59 Cardinals outlasted an intrepid New York Giants team that won 25 games in September but came up two games short at 93-61. St. Louis slugger Jim Bottomley led the National League in triples with 20 and tied the Cubs' Hack Wilson for the home run lead with 31. The St. Louis lineup was fortified by young outfielders Chick Hafey, who hit .337 and belted 46 doubles and 27 homers, and Taylor Douthit, who drew 84 walks and scored 111 runs.
The Giants matched the Cardinals exactly with 807 runs on the strength of Bill Terry's .326 average and 101 RBI, Fred Lindstrom's .358 mark and 39 doubles, and 19-year-old Mel Ott's .322 average and team-leading 18 home runs.
Playing for Boston, his third team in three seasons, the irascible Rogers Hornsby led the league in hitting at .387, on-base average at .498, and slugging at .632. Pittsburgh's Burleigh Grimes and New York's Larry Benton tied for the lead in wins with 25, and Brooklyn's Dazzy Vance took the ERA title at 2.09.
The Yankees dominated the 1928 World Series to an even greater degree than the year before, as they again swept 4-0. New York hitters scored 27 runs, 17 more than their pitchers allowed, and out-homered the Cardinals nine to one. To make their revenge for 1926 complete, the Yanks defeated Pete Alexander 9-3 in his only start. He recorded an ugly series ERA of 19.80.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1928 baseball season.
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1928 Baseball Season Headlines
Taylor Douthit a Hit in Field
In 1928, Taylor Douthit set all-time season records for the most putouts and most total chances by an outfielder. He also set the 20th-Century record for the most total chances per game. Douthit lost his job to Pepper Martin.
Rogers Hornsby Hits .387
In 1928, his sole year with the Braves, Rogers Hornsby became the first Brave of the 20th Century to win a hitting crown (.387). He also set 20th-Century season records for the franchise for both the highest batting and slugging averages (.632).
Jim Bottomley Reaches Prime
At his peak in 1928 (in which he led the National League with 20 triples and 136 RBI and tied for the loop-high with 31 home runs), Jim Bottomley suffered the same fate as virtually every Cardinals star in the 1920s and 1930s. Almost as soon as he turned age 30, his days as a regular were numbered. Even though Bottomley nearly led the circuit in batting in 1931, Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey wanted him platooned with rookie Ripper Collins.
Herb Pennock Tops the American League in Shutouts
Herb Pennock went 17-6 in 1928, leading the American League with five shutouts. He also posted a 2.56 ERA, the best of his 22-year career. With his 240-162 lifetime record, Pennock approached Hall of Fame credentials. Voters, however, were not fooled. With the powerful Yankees, Pennock went 162-90; with mere mortal teams, he was a mediocre 78-72.
Babe Ruth No. 1 Once Again
In 1928, Ruth and Gehrig once again finished one-two in the American League in every major slugging department except total bases, where Heinie Manush of the Browns snuck into second place just ahead of Gehrig. Between them, the Yankees' dynamite duo hammered seven home runs in the 1928 World Series and hit .593.
Find more headlines from the 1928 baseball season in the next section.
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More 1928 Baseball Season Headlines
Following are more headlines from the 1928 baseball season, including the renewal of Babe Ruth's contract.
Hack Wilson Bangs 31 Homers
Cubs slugger Hack Wilson was 5'6", weighed 190 pounds, and wore a size 18 collar and a size 51/2 shoe. Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown described him as "a high-ball hitter on the field and off it." His postgame escapades notwithstanding, Wilson paced the National League in home runs four times between 1926 and 1930. In 1928, he tied for the lead (31 round-trippers) with Cardinal Jimmy Bottomley.
Babe Ruth Renews Contract
With Yankees owner Jake Ruppert at his side, Babe Ruth signed a new contract with the Bombers. In 1930, Ruth earned an $80,000 salary, the highest in baseball. When informed that he was making $5,000 per year more than President Herbert Hoover, Ruth reportedly quipped, "I had a better year than he did." Ruth clubbed 54 homers in 1928 and 49 in 1930.
Mickey Cochrane Named MVP
By 1928, Mickey Cochrane had clearly established himself as the American League's premier receiver, taking the Most Valuable Player Award by two votes over Heinie Manush. Beginning the following year, he would have competition from Yankees rookie Bill Dickey, who hit .324 and led American League backstoppers in assists.
Goose Goslin Wins the American League Bat Title
Goose Goslin became the first Senator since 1902 to win a batting title (.379). He copped the honor on the last day of the 1928 season in a tight three-way race with Manush and Lou Gehrig. Goslin's 17 homers that year represented nearly half the Senators' total, as the club fell below .500 in its last season under player/manager Bucky Harris.
The Babe Brings it Home
In the two World Series games that Sportsman's Park hosted that year, seven home runs were hit -- all of them by the visiting Yankees, who won both clashes by identical 7-3 scores. Babe Ruth hit a record three home runs in game four of the Series and set a fall classic record by batting .625 (10-for-16); this mark would stand until 1990, when Cincinnati's Billy Hatcher hit .750 (9-for-12). Ruth also scored nine runs in the four-game affair.
Learn about some of the highlights of the 1928 baseball season on the next page.
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1928 Baseball Season Highlights
Once again, the New York Yankees took control, dominating the 1928 baseball season. Babe Ruth was on a roll and had a great team to play with. The season also featured more movement of players between other teams and several retirements.
Read on for highlights of the 1928 baseball season.
- The Yankees edge the A's by 21/2 games to take their third straight American League flag.
- The Cards, managed by Bill McKechnie, who piloted the 1925 Pirates, return to the top in the National League.
- The Yankees sweep a remarkably one-sided 1928 World Series.
- Waite Hoyt is the series' top pitcher, winning two CGs.
- Babe Ruth hits .625 in the 1928 World Series to set an all-time series BA record.
- Lou Gehrig hits .545 in the 1928 World Series and has a 1.727 SA, an all-time World Series record.
- Between them, Ruth and Gehrig hit seven homers and knock in 13 runs in the 1928 World Series.
- Jimmy Bottomley of the Cards is named National League MVP.
- Philly's Mickey Cochrane wins the American League MVP by two votes over St. Louis' Heinie Manush.
- Rogers Hornsby, playing now for the Braves, tops the National League in batting (.387).
- Washington's Goose Goslin wins the American League bat crown (.379) by one point over Heinie Manush.
- Babe Ruth tops the majors in homers (54), runs (163), walks (135), and SA (.709).
- Ruth and Lou Gehrig tie for the major league lead in RBI with 142.
- Gehrig leads the majors in runs produced (254) and is third in the American League in hitting (.374).
- Heinie Manush tops the American League in hits (241) and doubles (47).
- Cub Hack Wilson again ties for the National League homer crown (31), this time with Bottomley.
- Dazzy Vance's 2.09 ERA is the best in the majors.
- Vance wins 22 games, ties for the National League lead in shutouts (four), and leads the majors in Ks (200).
- Giant Larry Benton ties for most wins in Major League Baseball (25) and leads the National League in win pct. (.735).
- Rogers Hornsby, in his only season with the Braves, hits .387, a franchise record.
- Ty Cobb retires, and still holds career major league records for BA (.366) and runs scored (2,245).
- Cobb retires with major league records in hits (4,190), stolen bases (892), and RBI (1,933) (all since broken).
Read more 1928 baseball season highlights in our final section.
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More 1928 Baseball Season Highlights
Following are more highlights from the 1928 baseball season, including the retirement of Tris Speaker.
- Tris Speaker retires and still holds major league career records for doubles (793), as well as DPs by an outfielder (139).
- Speaker retires holding the record for assists by an outfielder (448) and putouts by an outfielder (6,787).
- Eddie Collins plays the last of his career record 2,651 games at second base.
- Giant Freddy Lindstrom's 231 hits set a National League record for third basemen and top the senior loop.
- Yankee Tom Zachary posts a 12-0 record.
- On July 10 vs. Cleveland, Washington's Milt Gaston pitches a 14-hit shutout.
- The Giants win 25 games in September to nearly overtake the Cards at the wire.
- Bob Meusel sets a major league career record when he hits for the cycle the third time.
- Babe Ruth leads the majors in runs a record eighth time.
- The last-place Phils have a 5.52 staff ERA, the worst in modern history to this point.
- Taylor Douthit of the Cards handles 566 chances, an all-time record for an outfielder.
- In January, the Giants trade Rogers Hornsby to the Braves for Shanty Hogan and Jimmy Welsh.
- In November, the Braves send Hornsby to the Cubs for five players and $200,000.
- In May, Washington sells George Sisler to the Braves for $7,500.
- Washington obtains Buddy Myer from the Red Sox for five players.
- Urban Shocker dies at 38 of heart disease.
- The Braves finish with a .327 win pct. (50-103), the poorest ever by a seventh-place team playing a 154-game schedule.
- Del Bissonette hits 25 homers, a Dodgers rookie record.
- Mickey Cochrane hits 12 triples, a record for American League catchers.
- Washington's Sammy West has a .996 FA, a new major league record for outfielders.
- Buddy Myer leads the American League in steals with 30.
- Kiki Cuyler, now with the Cubs, leads the National League in thefts with 37.
- Lefty Grove and Yankee George Pipgras tie for the American League lead in wins with 24.
- Washington's Garland Braxton is the American League ERA king (2.52).
- Paul Waner leads the National League in runs (142).
- Joe Sewell continues to be the hardest player to fan, as he Ks seven times.
- Babe Ruth tops the American League in strikeouts (87) for the fifth and last time.
- The Browns finish a surprising third, as they have two 20-game winners -- Al Crowder (21) and Sam Gray (20).
- Crowder tops the American League in win pct. (.808), becoming the only Brownie ever to do so.
- Red Ruffing of the Red Sox leads the league in losses with 25.
- The Red Sox finish last for the fourth straight year.
- The Pirates' .309 BA is the best in the majors by 13 points.
- The sixth-place Dodgers, thanks largely to Dazzy Vance, have the best ERA in the majors (3.25).
- Chick Hafey, the first bespectacled outfielder in Major League Baseball history, hits 27 homers for the Cards.