billsportsmaps.com

July 4, 2020

1929 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Athletics. With illustrated article: The 1929 and 1930 Philadelphia Athletics: the most overlooked team in baseball history.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: 1929 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 12:00 pm

mlb_al_nl_1929-map_w-uniforms_logos_standings_stats-leaders_1929-ws-champs_philadelphia-athletics_post_f_.gif
1929 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Athletics



By Bill Turianski on the 4th of July 2020; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
Sources…
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1929 AL season; 1929 NL season.
-SportsLogos.net.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-Most logos: sportlogos.net.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.
-Lost in History [the 1929-31 Philadelphia Athletics] (by William Nack from Aug 1996 at si.com/[vault]).
-Connie Mack’s Second Great Athletics Team: Eclipsed by the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, But Even Better (by Bryan Soderholm-Difatte, from 2013, at sabr.org).

Links to the other 4 maps in this category (MLB retro maps from the 1920s)…
-1925 MLB map (Pittsburgh Pirates, champions; w/ an article on MLB attendance, by team, circa the 1920s).
-1926 MLB map (St. Louis Cardinals, champions; w/ a chart of 1920s US city populations & cities with MLB teams).
-1927 MLB map (New York Yankees, champions; w/ an illustrated article on the 1927 NY Yankees).
-1928 MLB map (New York Yankees, champions; w/ an illustrated article on the 1928 NY Yankees).

    The 1929 and 1930 Philadelphia Athletics: the most overlooked team in baseball history

The 1927 and 1928 New York Yankees are remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, teams of all time. But in 1929, the Yankees finished a distant 18 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics of owner-and-manager Connie Mack. The Yankees also failed to win the AL pennant in the next two seasons of 1930 and ’31. So, not to take anything away from the “Murderer’s Row” Yankees, but something is going on here that needs to be put into perspective. Let me ask you this…if the 1927 and ’28 Yankees, led of course by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, were the greatest team of all time, then why didn’t the Yankees of the late-1920s-and-early-1930s win more World Series titles? Because Gehrig was still young and healthy, and Ruth was still in his prime.

It may surprise some to know that the Yankees of Ruth and Gehrig won only 4 World Series titles in the 12 seasons the two played together (in 1923, in 1927, in 1928, and in 1932). And that first Yankee title in 1923 was won when Gehrig wasn’t even a starter. So what stood in the way of the “Murderer’s Row” Yankees from winning more titles? The answer is the Philadelphia Athletics, who won 3 straight American League pennants, from 1929 to 1931. The Yankees finished 18 games behind the A’s in 1929. Then the Yankees finished 16 games behind the A’s in 1930. Then the Yankees finished 13.5 games behind the A’s in 1931. Heck, in 1930, the Yankees didn’t even finish in 2nd place (the Washington Senators did).

There are a couple of reasons why the dominant 1929-30 Philadelphia Athletics are so forgotten. First of all, the 1929-30 Philadelphia A’s have always been overshadowed by the 1927 and ’28 New York Yankees, and the long-ball legacy of the Ruth-&-Gehrig-led Bronx Bombers. And the second reason? It also has to do with New York…the largely New York-based sports media that basically ignored how great the 1929 (and 1930) Philadelphia Athletics actually were. As famed sportswriter Shirley Povich said, “The A’s were victims of the Yankee mystique. Perhaps the 1927 Yankees were the greatest team of all time. But if there was a close second, perhaps an equal, it was those A’s. They are the most overlooked team in baseball.”

The core of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1929 and ’30 was four Hall of Fame players…the slugging threesome of outfielder Al Simmons, catcher Mickey Cochrane, and 1st baseman Jimmie Foxx, plus pitcher Lefty Grove. Grove was one of the hardest-throwing left-handers ever (so said another great flamethrower, Walter Johnson). Lefty Grove had the best ERA in the AL for 4 straight seasons (1929-32). In 2001, Lefty Grove was named the second-best pitcher of all time, by Sabermetrics-founder Bill James. This foursome all came together in a 2-year span (1924-25), under Connie Mack (aka the Tall Tactician), who had a keen eye for talent, and an extensive scouting network.

Granted, if you want to talk pure hitting numbers, circa 1926 to 1932, the Philadelphia Athletics, for all their considerable offensive clout, were no match for New York Yankees. But no team was (and no team has been, ever). The Yankees absolutely dominated offensively between 1926 and 1932, leading not just the AL, but all of MLB, in scoring, in 6 of those 7 years. {You can see more on 1927 Yankees offensive stats in my 1927 map-&-article, here.} But home runs might get the headlines, but pitching and defense are ultimately the keys to a successful ball club. And the Philadelphia Athletics were a much more complete team, because their fielding – and especially their pitching – was superior. The 1929-to-’31 Athletics committed 137 less errors than the Yankees did in that same time period {see this, from en.wikipedia.org/[History of the Philadelphia Athletics]}. And the Athletics’ pitching from 1926 to 1932 was simply in a class by itself. In those 7 years, the Athletics had a total Pitching WAR (Wins After Replacement) that was 142.5, or a yearly average of 20.3 Pitching WAR. The Yankees in the same time period of 1926-32 had a total Pitching WAR of 65.2, or a yearly average of just 9.3 Pitching WAR. That is 11.0 less Pitching WAR, per year, from the Yankees, compared to the Athletics. It must be conceded that, in 1929 and ’30, the Yankees’ pitching staff was transitioning from the aged Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, to the young Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez, and the Yankees’ Pitching WAR in 1929 and ’30 was dead-last in the AL. But in all those 7 years (of 1926 to 1932), the Athletics pitchers had a better Pitching WAR than the Yankees in all but one season, in 1927, and that was by only 0.4 WAR {this data was found in this article at SABR.org, which is also linked to below}. It wasn’t just the A’s ace southpaw Lefty Grove, with a 7.1 Pitching WAR in 1929, that was so effective for the Philadelphia Athletics, there were two other standouts: Rube Walberg (6.1 Pitching WAR in 1929), and George Earnshaw (5.2 Pitching WAR in 1929). Grove and Walberg, using WAR, were among the 5 best pitchers in the AL from 1926 to ’32. From 1928 to ’32 (5 seasons) Lefty Grove had an astounding .795 winning percentage, with 128 wins and just 33 losses.

And there is this…“no New York Yankees team over any five-year period— not with Ruth, not with Gehrig, not with DiMaggio, not with Mantle, not with Jeter—ever had as high a winning percentage as the 1928–32 Philadelphia Athletics.” {Quotation from article by Bryan Soderholm-Difatte at SABR.org, which is linked to in the next paragraph below}. In the 5-year-span of 1928-32, the Philadelphia Athletics went 505-258 (.657). The Philadelphia A’s of that time-period also were the first ever team to win 100 games in a season for 3 consecutive seasons (1929-31).

Some flat out proclaim that Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics of the late-’20s/early-’30s were simply better than the Yankees of Ruth & Gehrig…
-Connie Mack’s Second Great Athletics Team: Eclipsed by the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, But Even Better (by Bryan Soderholm-Difatte, from 2013, at sabr.org).

-Lost In History – From 1929 to 1931, the Philadelphia A’s were the best team in baseball, with four future Hall of Famers and a lineup that dominated Babe Ruth’s legendary Yankees. So why hasn’t anyone heard of them (by William Nack from Aug 1996 at si.com/[vault]).

(Note: the above article by William Nack at Sports Illustrated is an absolute gem, but there is one discrepancy that I need to point out. Nack says, in reference to the New York-vs-Philadelphia rivalry that “In the early days of the 20th century Philadelphia was the nation’s second city, and its teams’ most memorable clashes on baseball diamonds–first against the Giants and later against the Yankees–expressed the city’s aspiration to reclaim its place as the nation’s center.” However, Philadelphia was definitely not the nation’s second city back then…Chicago was. Philadelphia was supplanted by Chicago as the second-most populous city in the USA as early as the 1890s {see this, from en.wikipedia}. I have 1920 US city populations listed on the map-page (at the upper-left-corner of the map), and they are US Census Bureau figures. Here are the 1920 city population figures from the US Census Bureau…Top 3 US cities’ populations in 1920, New York City: 5.6 million; Chicago: 2.7 million; Philadelphia: 1.8 million {source: census.gov/[Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1920]. I know it is a small point, and it does not diminish the author’s underlying theme, namely, that Philadelphians had (and certainly still have) a deep-rooted chip on their shoulders about the preeminence of New York City, and Philadelphia’s lost status as the former largest city in the country.)

I think there is another reason why the 1929-30 Philadelphia Athletics have been effectively banished from the collective memory of baseball fans. And that is this: the Philadelphia Athletics all but ceased to exist when the franchise moved to Kansas City, in 1955. Then the franchise moved again, 13 years later, in 1968, to Oakland, California. There was a diminished interest for the old team, back in Philly. After all, Philadelphia still had a major league ball club (the Phillies), so there never was that culture of loss and nostalgia that defines the Brooklyn Dodgers’ hallowed place in baseball history. There are many, many books written about the Brooklyn Dodgers. There are hardly any books written about the Philadelphia Athletics. Only the old-timers who had seen the greatness of the 1929-30 Athletics first-hand, there in Philadelphia, were keeping the flame alive, so to speak. The following generations of baseball fans in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) never were adequately told about the great Athletics teams in Philadelphia.

Even the Oakland A’s themselves have ignored, and still ignore, the greatness of the 1929-30 Philadelphia Athletics…
If you go to an Oakland A’s game at the Oakland Coliseum, the only vestige you will see of the 5-time-World-Series-title-winning-/-9-time-AL-pennant-winning Philadelphia Athletics is in the present-day team’s uniforms: the Athletics’ Gothic-A cap-logo and their shoulder-patch elephant-logo (which dates to 1902). Because sadly, the Oakland A’s do not, in any way, acknowledge their own franchise’s 5 World Series titles that were won in Philadelphia. Here is the Oakland A’s World Series-titles banner outside their ballpark…it only shows the 4 World Series titles that the franchise won in Oakland. In other words, the Oakland Athletics themselves do not even acknowledge the greatness that was the Philadelphia Athletics.

And if you think no other transplanted MLB teams do this, well, here is what the Los Angeles Dodgers have at their Dodger Stadium…a set of banners showing every Dodgers World Series title, including the 1955 WS title won when the team was still in Brooklyn. Also at Dodger Stadium are giant murals of Dodgers MVPs and Cy Young winners [both of which include Brooklyn Dodgers players]. There is also a giant World Series-ring sculpture of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers there at Chavez Ravine {here /here is where I found the last three images: The Artful Dodgers (at bryanhg.wordpress.com).} Remember, this is an MLB franchise (the Dodgers) that is a class act, but still…all this tribute to their former location (in Brooklyn), and yet the Brooklyn Dodgers only won ONE TITLE. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Athletics won 5 TITLES…and the Oakand A’s, the MLB franchise that originated as the Philadelphia Athletics 120 years ago, shows absolutely no tribute – at all – to where they came from (Philadelphia), and how great they were, way back then. Pathetic. Well, at least one fan in the Bay Area agrees with me…{Concept for a new banner at the Coliseum – 4/21/2020 (from the A’s Fan Radio site, asfanradio.com).

    The Philadelphia Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 1, to win the 1929 World Series

Before Game 1 (on October 8 1929 at Wrigley Field in Chicago), the big question was how the Cubs’ right-handed sluggers would fare against the Athletics’ ace pitcher, the southpaw Lefty Grove (Grove was one of the the best pitchers in 1929, with a 20-6 record, and an MLB-best 2.81 ERA). But Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack shocked everyone, by keeping Lefty Grove on the bench, and starting the unheralded, and seemingly washed-up 35-year-old side-arm junk-ball hurler Howard Ehmke. (In August, after the A’s had clinched the Pennant, Ehmke had stayed in Philadelphia during an A’s late-season road trip, with the job of scouting out the Cubs hitters when they came to town to play the Philadelphia Phillies. So Connie Mack had planned on this surprise move for some time.)

The Cubs right-handed power hitters were nullified by the soft-throwing right-hander Ehmke. Howard Ehmke struck out 13 (a World Series record that stood for 24 years), and allowed just one unearned run. The Athletics’ slugger Jimmy Foxx broke the scoreless game in the 7th inning with a solo HR, and the Athletics won Game 1 by the score of 3 to 1. {Here is a nice 2:28 video on Howard Ehmke, Philadelphia Athletics Howard Ehmke, Hero of the 1929 World Series, uploaded by Philadelphia Sports History at youtube.com.}

In Game 2 (also at Wrigley Field in Chicago), the Athletics broke ahead with a 6-run lead, with HRs by Jimmy Foxx and Al Simmons. In the bottom of the 5th inning, A’s starter George Earnshaw got into trouble, and Connie Mack put Lefty Grove on, in relief. Grove pitched 4 and 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, and the Athletics won Game 2 by the score of 9 to 3. (And the A’s pitchers struck out 13 Cubs, again.)

In Game 3 (at Shibe Park in Philadelphia), the Cubs beat the Athletics 3 to 1. The Cubs won on the strength of Pitcher Guy Bush, who allowed 1 run in 9 innings. The Cubs scored 3 runs in the 6th inning, with 2 runs driven in by a Kiki Cuyler single, and one run driven in by a Rogers Hornsby single. Athletics Pitcher George Earnshaw gave up just 1 earned run in 9 innings for the loss.

In Game 4 (at Shibe Park in Philadelphia), Connie Mack stuck to his right-handed pitchers policy, starting another journeyman, Jack Quinn. But Quinn gave up 7 runs in 6 innings. The Cubs had an 8-0 lead when the Athletics came to bat in the 7th inning. 13 batters later, the Cubs found themselves trailing 10-8. {Via Old-Time Baseball Photos on twitter, here is a photo of Mule Haas sliding into home for his Inside-the-park HR, which pulled the A’s to within one run at 8-7.} That 10-8 score stood, as Lefty Grove pitched two innings of perfect relief to clinch the victory. The eight-run comeback by the Philadelphia Athletics on October 12, 1929 is still the greatest comeback in MLB post-season history. In the illustration below, you can see a batter-by-batter re-cap of the legendary 7th inning 8-run comeback by the Philadelphia A’s (which featured 15 batters, 10 runs, and two balls lost in the sun by beleaguered Cubs Center Fielder Hack Wilson). {Here is a brief article at baseball-reference.com/blog on the greatest comebacks in MLB regular season & post-season history, Biggest Comeback Wins in Baseball History (by Alex Bonilla at sports-reference.com/blog on Jan 29 2019).}

Game 5 (at Shibe Park in Philadelphia). Connie Mack started Howard Ehmke again, but this time Ehmke was ineffective, and was replaced by Rube Walberg in the 4th inning, with the A’s down 2-0. That score stood until the 9th inning, with the A’s down to their last two outs. Then, for the second straight game, the Athletics produced a comeback rally. Max Bishop singled, then Mule Haas’ HR made it 2-2. Cochrane grounded out, but Al Simmons doubled, and after an intentional walk to Jimmie Foxx, Bing Miller doubled, to score Simmons and clinch the Series.

Below: 1929 World Series: Philadelphia Athletics beat Chicago Cubs 4 games to 1; the Series included the greatest comeback in MLB post-season history (A’s come back from 8 runs down to win Game 4, 10-8)...
philadelphia-athletics_1929_worldseries-champions_athletics-4-games_cubs-1_wrigley-field_shibe-park_athletics-have-greatest-comeback-in-mlb-postseason-history_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Logos from
sportlogos.net. Segment of 1929 Philadelphia Athletics WS program cover, from amazon.com. Segment of 1929 Chicago Cubs WS program from goldinauctions.com. Shibe Park [aerial photo from 1929 photo], unattributed at twitter.com/[@MLBcathedrals]. Wrigley Field [aerial photo from 1929], AP Photo via gladishsolutions.com. Mickey Cochrane, Connie Mack and Lefty Grove [photo circa 1929], AP Photo via ftw.usatoday.com. Small illustration of segment of 1929 Philadelphia Athletics road jersey, by Marc Okkonen at exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database. Howard Ehmke [photo from 1929], photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images at gettyimages.com. Jimmie Foxx [photo from 1928], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Al Simmons [photo from 1928], photo unattributed at bleacherreport.com. Photo segment of 1929 Philadelphia Athletics home uniform, from auction.lelands.com. 1929 WS Shibe Park unauthorized temporary bleachers atop neighboring row houses, colorized photo unattributed at twitter.com/[@BSmile]. Guy Bush [photo from 1929], photo by Sporting News via Rogers Photo Archive via gettyimages.co.uk. Kiki Cuyler [photo from 1929], unattributed at imagekind.com. Rogers Horsnby [photo circa 1929], unattributed at ebay.com. Al Simmons, Jimmie Foxx [photo from 1930], unattributed at baseballhistorycomesalive.com. Jimmy Dykes, Joe Boley, Max Bishop [photo from 1929], photo by Hank Olen/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images at gettyimages.com. Mule Haas [photo from 1928], from National Baseball Hall of Fame at njmonthly.com. Bing Miller [Fleer retro-trading card from 1960; photo circa 1929], from psacard.com. A’s players storm the field to congratulate for his Series-winning RBI, photo by National Baseball Hall of Fame Library/MLB via Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Post-script to the 1929 World Series title won by the Philadelphia Athletics…
Fifteen days after the Philadelphia Athletics’ thrilling World Series victory, the bottom dropped out of the US economy, with Black Tuesday. That was October 29, 1929, when the Stock Market crashed, ushering in the decade-long Great Depression. For the Philadelphia Athletics, this led to the eventual dismantling of their championship team. While the Athletics would go on to win the World Series again, in the following year of 1930 (beating the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 2), and then win the AL pennant for a 3rd straight time in 1931, the Depression put an end to any further glory for the Philadelphia Athletics. To avoid financial ruin of the ball club, owner/manager Connie Mack was forced to sell off his prize players for cash (and mediocre players). In 1932, Al Simmons went to the Chicago White Sox. In 1933, Lefty Grove went to the Boston Red Sox, and Mickey Cochrane went to the Detroit Tigers. And in 1935, Jimmie Foxx also went to the Red Sox. The Philadelphia Athletics never contended for another AL pennant. Connie Mack continued on as owner and manager, slipping into dementia. But none dared challenge him, and the Philadelphia Athletics declined to the point where it became inevitable that the franchise would move. Some people say the wrong baseball team moved out of Philadelphia, and I could not agree more.

1929 MLB stats Leaders.
ERA: Lefty Grove, Philadelphia Athletics. Wins: George Earnshaw, Philadelphia Athletics. Batting Avg: Lefty O’Doul, Philadelphia Athletics. HR: Babe Ruth, New York Yankees. RBI: Hack Wilson, Chicago Cubs. OPS: Rogers Hornsby, Chicago Cubs. Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for Position Players: Rogers Hornsby, Chicago Cubs. WAR for Pitchers: Willis Hudlin, Cleveland Indians.

Photo credits on map page…
Banner (Philadelphia Athletics, 1929 World Series Champions)…Photo segment of 1929 Philadelphia Athletics home uniform, from auction.lelands.com. 1929 Philadelphis Athletics WS winners’ ring, unattributed at pinterest.com. 1929 Philadelphia WS press pin, from robertedwardauctions.com/1929-philadelphia-athletics-world-series-press-pin. 1929 WS ticket [to 1929 WS game 5 at Shibe Park], from sports.mearsonlineauctions.com/1929-philadelphia-athletics-chicago-cubs-game-5-world-series-ticket-and-stub. 1929-34 Philadelphia A’s cap, from mlbshop.com. 1929 Philadelphia Athletics uniforms, by Marc Okkonen at exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/[al_1929_philadelphia]. 1929

Connie Mack [photo circa 1929], unattributed at pinterest.com. Al Simmons [photo circa 1928], 1961 Golden Press Card via baseball-almanac.com. Jimmy Foxx [photo circa 1932], colorized photo unattributed at pophistorydig.com. Lefty Grove [US Postal Service Stamp; original image circa 1930], from mysticstamp.com. Rube Walberg [photo circa 1929], photo by Getty Images via gettyimages.dk. George Earnshaw [photo from 1928], unattributed at sports.mearsonlineauctions.com. Mickey Cochrane [photo circa 1930], unattributed at pinterest.como. Jimmy Dykes [photo circa 1927], unattributed at baseball-fever.com/[thread: Philadelphia Athletics 1928-32].
1929 MLB Stats leaders…
Lefty Grove [photo circa 1929], photo by Getty Images via si.com. George Earnshaw [photo circa 1929], photo unattributed at phillysportshistory.com. Lefty O’Doul [photo from 1930], photo unattributed at digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org. Babe Ruth [photo circa 1928], photo unattributed at m.mlb.com/player. Hack Wilson [photo circa 1929], photo by AP via espn.com. Rogers Hornsby [photo from 1929], colorized photo unattributed at ebay.com. Willis Hudlin [photo from 1928], photo unattributed at letsgotribe.com/[top-100-indians-34-willis-hudlin].

Thanks to all at the following links…
Sources:
-University of Texas at Austin online archive (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection), legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states.html.
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1928 AL season1928 NL season.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.
-Attendances. Source: baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1928-misc.shtml.
-Lost in History [the 1929-31 Philadelphia Athletics] (by William Nack from Aug 1996 at si.com/[vault]).
-Connie Mack’s Second Great Athletics Team: Eclipsed by the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, But Even Better (by Bryan Soderholm-Difatte, from 2013, at sabr.org).
Most logos from:
-SportsLogos.net, sportslogos.net/[MLB logos].
1929-34 Philadelphia A’s cap, from mlbshop.com. Photo of 1929 NY Giants jersey from Alamy at alamy.com/stock-photo/new-york-giants-baseball. Photo of Detroit Tigers 1929 road ball cap from vintagedetroit.com. Segment of Philadelphia Athletics 1929 home jersey, from worthpoint.com.

Powered by WordPress