Connie Mack brought his Philadelphia A’s back to first place in the 1929 baseball season after a 15-year pennant drought. After finishing dead last seven years in a row, the ballclub rose to seventh in 1922, sixth in 1923, fifth in 1924, third in 1925 and ’26, and the runner-up position both in 1927 and ’28.
Mack built his team on young sluggers Al Simmons, who was second in hitting at .365 and first in RBI with 157, and Jimmie Foxx, who hit .354 and scored a team-high 123 runs. Simmons and Foxx were third and fourth in the American League in home runs with totals of 34 and 33, behind Babe Ruth at 46 and Lou Gehrig at 35.
From the minor leagues, Mack had purchased Foxx, second baseman Max Bishop, backup infielder Jimmy Dykes, and the heart of his pitching staff: 29-year-old Lefty Grove, who won the ERA title at 2.81, and righty George Earnshaw, who went 24-8 to lead the American League in wins. The A's staff of Grove, Earnshaw, 12-2 Eddie Rommel, hard-throwing Rube Walberg, and aged reliever Jack Quinn recorded the American League’s best team ERA at 3.44. They were the only staff under 4.00.
The American League race was over early, as Mack’s 104-46 White Elephants beat out second-place New York by 18 games. Ruth and Gehrig had their usual great years, but Bob Meusel slumped to .261 with only ten home runs. New York got little offensive contribution from Leo Durocher at short and Gene Robertson at third, and the team’s ERA was a fat 4.17. The Yankees’ season ended tragically, as beloved manager Miller Huggins died suddenly on September 25.
The Chicago Cubs, 98-54, finished first in the National League for the first time since 1918; Pittsburgh was 101/2 games back in second. The Cubs boasted the most fearsome righthanded-hitting attack in history, as left fielder Riggs Stephenson batted .362, center fielder Hack Wilson hit .345, and right fielder Kiki Cuyler hit .360. This trio combined for 71 homers, 337 runs, and 271 RBI.
The infield featured a double-play combination of shortstop Woody English (who scored 131 runs) and nomadic MVP Rogers Hornsby (who hit .380, clubbed 39 homers, drove in 149 runs, and scored 156). Pat Malone led the Cubs and the National League in wins with 22, Charlie Root added 19, and Guy Bush won 18.
Chuck Klein helped the
Phillies produce incredible
numbers in Baker Bowl.
Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker retired before
the 1929 season. Cobb holds the all-time career batting average record at .366.
When he retired, he was also the all-time major league career leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, and stolen bases. Speaker quit with a .344 average, eighth-best in history, and still holds the career mark for doubles with 793.
The 1929 World Series opened with one of the gutsiest gambles in Series history, when Connie Mack sent seldom-used Howard Ehmke to face the Cubs’ righthanded wrecking crew in game one. The gamble paid off handsomely, as Ehmke’s slow stuff struck out a then-record 13 on the way to a 3-1 win. Righties George Earnshaw and Eddie Rommel also got wins as Philadelphia won the 1929 World Series four games to one.
A great moment came in game four, when the A’s overcame an 8-0 deficit with a wacky ten-run seventh that included two balls lost in the sun by Hack Wilson. This is still the biggest inning in World Series history.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1929 baseball season.
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