In the 1934 baseball season, Bill Terry's New York Giants had another good showing, scoring 760 runs, second-best in the league, and allowing only 583, the fewest of any National League staff. Young Mel Ott hit .326 with 119 runs scored (second only to Paul Waner's 122) and drove in a league-leading 135; Ott also drew 85 walks and tied with Ripper Collins for the home run title at 35.
New York's other big gun, player/manager Terry, was second in the National League in hitting at .354 (behind Waner at .362) and scored 109 runs; leadoff man Jo-Jo Moore batted .331 and crossed the plate 106 times. Hal Schumacher won 23 games; Carl Hubbell won 21 contests and took the National League ERA title at 2.30.
It was, however, the rough and tumble St. Louis Cardinals, nicknamed the "Gashouse Gang" after the street gangs of one of Manhattan's worst neighborhoods, that won the pennant by two games in an exciting race. New York had led for 127 straight days, when on September 28, ace Dizzy Dean defeated the Reds 4-0 to bring the Cardinals even with New York. The next day, Dizzy's younger brother Paul won 6-1, while the Giants lost to Brooklyn. The day after that, the elder Dean shut out Cincinnati again, 9-0, to give St. Louis a lead it never relinquished.
Dizzy had been ridiculed for his preseason promise that the Dean brothers would win 45 games. By season's end, they had exceeded that total by four, and the 30-7 Dizzy was voted National League MVP. The other principal "Gashousers" were second baseman/manager Frankie Frisch, who hit .305; Collins, who batted .333 and drove in 128 runs; Leo Durocher, the league's top-fielding shortstop; Pepper Martin, the league's stolen base leader (23); and Ducky Medwick, who hit .319 with 18 triples.
Hard-hitting Detroit batted .300 -- the only major league team to do so -- on its way to a 101-53 record, seven games better than a New York Yankees team that finished second in runs scored. The 39-year-old Babe Ruth gave only a .288, 22-homer season performance; Lou Gehrig carried most of the weight, winning the Triple Crown with a .363 average, 165 RBI, and 49 homers. The New York pitchers rebounded to post a league-low 3.76 team ERA courtesy of titlist Lefty Gomez (who went 26-5 with a 2.33 ERA), 19-game winner Red Ruffing, and 14-game winner Johnny Murphy.
Charlie Gehringer, known
as "The Mechanical Man,"
led the American League
in runs, hits, and runs
Schoolboy Rowe (24-8) and Tommy Bridges (22-11) were Detroit's big winners. Jimmie Foxx drew an American League-high 111 walks and hit 44 homers for fifth-place Philadelphia, and Connie Mack sold 34-year-old Lefty Grove to the Boston Red Sox for $125,000. The defending champion Senators fell to seventh place, 34 out.
The Dean duo was the deciding factor in the close-fought, seven-game 1934 World Series. The brothers each recorded ERAs under 2.00 and won two games.
The 1934 World Series ended on a bizarre note, when in the midst of a St. Louis rout, the Detroit crowd interrupted the game to shower left fielder Medwick with garbage to protest his sixth-inning hard slide into Tiger third baseman Marv Owen. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ruled that the Cardinal outfielder leave the game for his own safety.
The departure made no difference to the Tigers, who went on to lose by a score of 11-0.
Check out the next page for some of the headlines from the 1934 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1933 Baseball Season
- 1935 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth