billsportsmaps.com

July 16, 2020

2019-20 National League (England/5th division): Monochrome Location-map w/ final standings (by PPG), featuring the one automatically promoted club (Barrow AFC) and the 6 play-off teams, and with Seasons in 5th division & Seasons in the Football League listed by club./+Illustrations for the 3 automatically promoted clubs from the 3 National Leagues (Barrow AFC from the National League; King’s Lynn Town from the National League-North; Wealdstone from the National League-South).

Filed under: >2019-20 English Football,Eng-5th level — admin @ 10:44 am

2019-20_national-league_aka-conference_map_6-play-off-teams_and-1-promoted-team-barrow-afc_w-2020-attendances_all-time-5th-div-seasons-all-time-football-league-seasons_post_c_.gif
2019-20 National League (England/5th division): Monochrome Location-map w/ final table (by PPG), featuring the automatically promoted club (Barrow AFC) & the 6 play-off teams, with Seasons in 5th division, Seasons in the Football League & Highest Placement, by club



By Bill Turianski on the 16th of July 2020; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

The National League (5th division) Play-offs start tomorrow [Friday 17 July 2020]:
Quarterfinal matches -
-Friday 17 July,
QF1: Boreham Wood v FC Halifax Town at Meadow Park in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
-Saturday 18 July,
QF2: Yeovil Town v Barnet at Huish Park in Yeovil, Somerset.
Semifinal matches -
-Saturday 25 July,
Harrogate Town v winner of QF-1 (Boreham Wood / Halifax Town) at Wetherby Road in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
-late Saturday 25 July,
Notts County v winner of QF-2 (Yeovil Town / Barnet) at Meadow Lane in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire.
Final -
at Wembley Stadium, London, the time and date to be determined. {2019-20 National League table with PPG; Play-offs bracket.}

This map is something new I am trying out. The map shows the badges of most of the clubs in the 5th division in all-grey-tone (monochrome) form, while the one automatically-promoted club (Barrow AFC), and the 6 play-off teams, are shown in regular full-color form. The chart alongside the map is also new. It shows the final table in abbreviated form, with 4 things: Games Played (G Pld), Goal difference, Points, and Points Per Game (PPG). The chart also lists, for each club, 2019-20 average attendance, plus: Seasons played in the 5th Division, and Seasons played in the Football League (with All-time Highest League Placement noted).

There is one more detail shown in the chart: green or red boxes…A green box for automatic promotion (Barrow); a pale green box for the play-off spots (Harrogate Town, Notts County, Yeovil Town, Boreham Wood, FC Halifax Town, Barnet); and a pale red box for the 3 clubs that were relegated out of the 5th division this season (Ebbsfleet United, AFC Fylde, Chorley).

Note: The reason why there were 3 teams relegated out of the 5th division this season, and not 4, is because of the knock-on effect that the dissolution of the former 3rd-division side Bury FC has had on the league pyramid. With Bury FC now defunct, the 3rd tier played the 2019-20 season as a 23-team league, meaning one less team (3 instead of 4 teams) would be relegated down to the 4th tier, come the end of the season. Likewise, the total relegated teams in the 4th tier was be diminished by one. There will be just one team relegated out of the Football League and into the 5th division: that club is Stevenage. As for 5th division clubs, the big beneficiary of this was Maidenhead United of Berkshire, who beat out Ebbsfleet United by a mere 0.002 PPG {table with three-decimal-point PPG}, so Maidenhead finished in 21st place, and Maidenhead would have been the fourth team relegated if Bury FC had survived.



Below are illustrated articles for:
The one automatically promoted club from the 5th division (Barrow AFC from the 2019-20 National League),
as well as the single automatically-promoted clubs from each of the 6th-level leagues (King’s Lynn Town from the 2019-20 National League North; Wealdstone from the 2019-20 National League South).

    The one club automatically promoted from the 5th Division in 2019-20…Barrow AFC, who return to the Football League after 48 years, joining EFL League Two for 2020-21

Barrow AFC, established 1901, are from Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria. Barrow wear Blue-with-White, and are known as the Bluebirds. They have played at their Holker Street ground since 1908.

The population of Barrow is around 56,000 {2011 figure}. Barrow-in-Furness is located, by road, 88 miles (142 km) SW of Carlisle. Barrow-in-Furness is located, by road, 106 miles (171 km) NNW of Liverpool. Barrow-in-Furness is located, by road, 297 miles (479 km) NE of central London.

Barrow used to be a steel city, but the Barrow Hematite Steel Company closed shop in 1963. Today, Barrow’s biggest economic driver is ship and submarine construction, and Barrow has been involved in submarine construction for around 150 years. This is why Barrow AFC have the image a submarine on their badge (see photos, captions and Barrow’s badge, in the illustration further below). BAE Systems Submarines, in Barrow, has produced virtually all Royal Navy submarines, since 1901. BAE Systems is the single largest employer in Barrow, with around 9,500 employees. The shipyard there is the largest, by workforce, in the UK. (In the illustration further below, you can see an Astute-class submarine built in Barrow.)

Barrow AFC are pretty isolated up in there on the Furness Peninsula. And in that sense they are similar to fellow Cumbrians Carlisle United, as well as the far southwestern-based Plymouth Argyle, in that their geographic isolation is a handicap – both in terms of sheer travel-time and cost, as well as in the difficulty of attracting top talent. And their geographic isolation most likely contributed to them being voted out of the Football League 48 years ago (see 6 paragraphs below).

The town of Barrow, and the Furness Peninsula which it is located on, were historically part of Lancashire (pre-1975). Barrow-in-Furness was situated in a detached and north-western enclave of the historic county of Lancashire, as you can see in a map I made, below, which shows the locations of all 17 of the Football League clubs from Lancashire in 1921-22, with the borders of the Historic Counties shown (including pre-1975 borders of Lancashire).

historic-county-of-lancashire_the-18-football-league-clubs_from-lancashire_1921-22_with-historic-counties_pre-1975-borders_h_.gif
Credits above – Map by Bill Turianski, July 2020. Original base map by Nilfanion at File:English metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties 2010.svg (en.wikipedia.org). Data of historic counties’ borders from wikishire.co.uk (an interactive map of the [Historic] counties of the British Isles). Information from Historic counties of England (en.wikipedia.org). Information from 1921-22 Football League (en.wikipedia.org).

Before joining the Football League in 1921, Barrow AFC played in the Lancashire Combination (from 1903 to 1921). Barrow won the Lancashire Combination in 1920-21. The following season of 1921-22, Barrow AFC, along with 21 other northern clubs, joined the Football League. This was when the Football League expanded from 66 teams to 88 teams, turning the 3rd tier into a two-league regional North-and-South set-up. (The Football League’s regional Third-Division-North-/-Third-Division-South set-up lasted 28 seasons, from 1921-22 to 1957-58, and was replaced by a national Third Division and a national Fourth Division in 1958-59.)

Barrow AFC spent 44 seasons in the Football League (1921 to 1972). The 44 seasons Barrow spent in the League back then is most notable for the club’s lack of success. The club remained in the 3rd Division North until 1958, when Barrow finished in 18th place and were one of 12 teams in the Third Division North to be relegated to the new national Fourth Division for 1958-59 {1957-58 Football League Third Division North; 1958-59 Football League Fourth Division}.

Barrow were mostly a bottom-half of the table 4th tier side from 1959 on into the mid-1960s, and they faced re-election four times in this period, each time avoiding the fate of being voted out of the League. However, in 1966-67, Barrow finally saw an upturn in performance, and finished in 3rd place, winning automatic promotion to the Third Division. This was Barrow’s only Football League promotion. The following season of 1967-68 saw Barrow reach 8th place in the 3rd division – this is the all-time highest league placement by Barrow AFC (a League-placement of #52 in the 92-team Football League). Barrow drew 6,000 per game in their first season in the 3rd division {european-football-statistics.co.uk/[Eng, 1968]}. But in the next season of 1969-70 – their third season in the 3rd division – Barrow fell back down to the 4th tier, with a 23rd-place finish. And it got worse.

At this time (the late 1960s and early 1970s), Barrow’s Holker Street ground had been re-purposed to accommodate a speedway track. This was done to generate more income for the club. Introducing the speedway at Holker Street coincided with a severe downturn in the team’s on-field performance. After relegation back to the 4th tier in 1970, Barrow finished dead last in the League in 1971, and faced re-election. They survived re-election in 1971. But then Barrow finished poorly again in 1971-72 (in 22nd place), drawing only 2,300 (second-worst attendance in the Football League {european-football-statistics.co.uk/[Eng, 1972]}. So once again Barrow faced re-election, and this time, Barrow were voted out of the Football League, being replaced by the then-recent FA-Cup-Giant-killers Hereford United. As it says in Barrow AFC’s Wikipedia page, ‘Though the reasons for not being re-elected were many, three factors have been highlighted: Barrow’s geographic isolation, Hereford United’s FA Cup victory against Newcastle United, and the decision of the Barrow board to introduce a speedway track around pitch at Holker Street, as a means of off-setting financial difficulties.’ The simple fact of the matter was that Hereford’s upset win over Newcastle in the 1971-72 FA Cup was such a momentous thing that it became almost inevitable that Hereford would be able to successfully apply for League membership. As Two Hundred Percent blog’s Ian King said in a recent article on Barrow, ‘Ultimately, though, it’s likely that it was felt that someone had to make way for Hereford United, and that Barrow were the sacrificial lambs.’ {-excerpt from Barrow AFC’s Long Road Back, by Ian King at twohundredpercent.net}.



After being voted out of the Football League, Barrow played in the Northern Premier League (from 1972-78). First of all, they had to promise to get rid of the speedway track at Holker Street, and it was gone by 1974. (That’s how bad a speedway track is, when you put one in a football ground…the venerable non-League Northern League would not even allow it.)

Then in 1978-79, Barrow were a founding member of the Alliance Premier League. The Alliance Premier League was the first time non-League football had organized a national non-League division…the 5th division in effect. (At first, there was no automatic promotion to the Football League. But after 8 years, automatic promotion between the 5th division and the Football League 4th Division was instituted, in 1986-87. The Alliance Premier League changed its name to the Conference in 1986, and then to the National League in 2015.)

Since being a founding member of the 5th division, Barrow has suffered four separate relegations and managed four separate promotions between the 5th and 6th levels. Barrow won promotion back to the 5th tier once again in 2015, but almost fell back to the 6th tier yet again in 2018…they were one game away from relegation that year, and if Woking had won on the last day of the season, Barrow would have been relegated. Barrow finished one point above the drop.

In June 2018, ex-Chesterfield and ex-Blackpool centreback Ian Evatt took over as manager of Barrow. Barrow had finished in 20th place in 2017-18, and there were few who saw much hope for any sort of quick turn-around, seeing as how Ian Evatt had inherited a squad that was down to just 7 players, and the team had a budget that was among the lowest in the 5th tier. Also in 2018-19, there was an ownership change at Barrow, with chief sponsor Paul Hornby taking over. Hornby first needed to assemble a board of directors and investors to just get to the end of the season. Then, with three other locally-born businessmen, Hornby put in 90% of a £500,000 investment (the final 10% came from local supporters, The Bluebirds Trust). And so things stabilised, and Ian Evatt guided Barrow to a respectable 10-place improvement, finishing the 2018-19 National League season in 10th place.

Ian Evatt had Barrow playing a rather attractive, ball-on-the-floor style of possession-based football. When Evatt was at Blackpool playing centreback under manager Ian Holloway, their style of play was to always bring the ball up from the back through crisp passing. In other words, Blackpool in the League Championship (in 2009-10) and then in the Premier League (in 2010-11) played the opposite of Route One football. Of course they were relegated from the Premier League, but it cannot be denied that the season before, Blackpool won the 2010 Championship play-offs playing possession-based football, and became the smallest-ever club (as measured by average attendance) to win promotion to the Premier League.

Evatt brought this mind-set to Barrow. At times, Barrow under Evatt were playing 3-4-1-2, with overlapping wingers moving between defensive and attacking positions, as the run of play dictated. Barrow supporters started calling the squad’s flowing style of play Barra-celona. It was a style of play that could exhaust a squad, but Evatt’s players were up to the task.

In 2019-20, Barrow started strong, and were in 1st pace by the 16th of November. By the new year, Barrow still held first place, being closely chased by Harrogate Town, Halifax Town, Yeovil, and Notts County. Barrow were powered by the midfield play of John Rooney (Wayne Rooney’s younger brother), and by the goals FW Scott Quigley. John Rooney scored 17 goals and made 10 assists in 37 appearances, and was voted Player of the Year by Barrow fans. Scott Quigley scored 20 goals in 35 appearances, and was the National League’s top-scorer. Winger/FW Dior Angus contributed 10 goals 36 appearances. (You can see photos of the three, further below). Barrow were averaging 2,010 per game, a 635-per game increase from the previous season. (Barrow’s last 6 season finishes and their average attendance figures can be seen in the illustration below, in a caption next to the photo of Ian Evatt.)

When the league stopped play on the 16th of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barrow had a four point lead on Harrogate Town (both having played 37 games [or 80% of the season]). On 22 April, the 24 National League clubs voted to cancel the season due to the coronavirus. On 17 June, the National League clubs voted to decide the 2019-20 season by Points Per Game (PPG). This meant Barrow AFC were champions of the 5th division, and would gain automatic promotion (back) to the Football League.

Barrow AFC were voted out of the Football League 48 years ago. They probably didn’t deserve to get voted out of the League in 1972, and took nearly a half-century for them to get back in. Barrow have now returned to the Football League, winning promotion in the modern era, where relegation elections are a thing of the past. But it seems only fitting that it actually took a vote to get Barrow back into the League.

Barrow AFC – winner of the 5th division (the 2019-20 National League), and promoted to the Football League’s League Two, for the 2020-21 season
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Photo and Image credits above -2019-20 Barrow AFC kits (illustration), from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrow_A.F.C. Barrow Docks and shipbuilding facility, photo by Paul White – UK Industries/Alamay Stock Photo via heritagefund.org.uk. Devonshire Dock Hall with Astute submarine it built, photo from BAE Systems Barrow via in-cumbria.com. 2 photos of Main Stand (Brian Arrowsmith Stand) at Holker Street, 1st photo from facebook.com/[unofficialbarrowafc]; 2nd photo from euro.stades.ch/[Barrow-Holker]. Ray Wilkie Popular Side Stand from the Holker End, photo by Mark Fletcher / MI News & Sports at twitter.com/[@markfletcher50]. Ray Wilkie Popular Side Stand, fully occupied on a cold and rainy night: photo from barrowafc.com. Ian Evatt, photo by Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk/sport. Scott Quigley, photo by Ian Allington at sportfurness.co.uk/[barrow-afc-2019-20-in-pictures]. Dior Angus, photo by Ian Allington at sportfurness.co.uk/[barrow-afc-2019-20-in-pictures]. John Rooney, photo by Rex Features via bbc.com/sport. Barrow fans with banner, photo by Ian Allington at sportfurness.co.uk/[barrow-afc-2019-20-in-pictures].

[Note: both segments below originally appeared in September 2019, in this post:
The 6th division in England: 2019-20 [Non-League] National League North & National League South (2 separate 22-team leagues, at the same level) – map, with 18/19-attendances-&-finishes chart./+Brief profiles of the two leagues’ leaders as of 9 Sept. 2019: King’s Lynn Town FC, and Wealdstone FC.]

    The two clubs automatically promoted from the 6th Tier in 2019-20…
    (King’s Lynn Town, winners of the National League North & Wealdstone, winners of the National League South)

King’s Lynn Town…back-to-back promotions put the Norfolk side into the 5th division for 2020-21.
King’s Lynn Town are from King’s Lynn, Norfolk (population 44,000), on Norfolk’s north coast, within the marshy lowland estuary called the Wash. The town of King’s Lynn is situated, by road, about 32 miles (52 km) west of Norwich. King’s Lynn Town wear Blue-jerseys-with-Yellow pants, and have the nickname of the Linnets. The club plays at the Walks Stadium, as did their predecessor-club. The club was established in 2010, as the Phoenix-club of King’s Lynn FC (1879-2009).

For their debut season 11 years ago, King’s Lynn Town were placed in the 9th level, in the United Counties League; they then won 2 promotions in 3 seasons…They won promotion to the 8th level in their second season (2011-12). And then they won promotion to the Northern Premier the following season of 2011-12. But then King’s Lynn Town languished for 7 seasons in the 7th tier. Midway through that spell, the club was transferred to the Southern League (in 2015-16). When the 7th level expanded from 3 to 4 leagues in 2017-18, King’s Lynn Town were placed in the Southern Premier-Central. The club finally won promotion to the 6th tier as a super-play-offs winner in 2019, beating Stratford Town and Alvechurch, en route to a 3-2 victory over Warrrington Town in the 7th-level’s super play-off final. When King’s Lynn Town made it to the 6th division, they had reached the level which was the highest point that the original club had achieved (back in 2008-09). Now, with promotion for the first time to the 5th division, King’s Lynn Town have won 4 promotions in eleven years.

In 2019-20, King’s Lynn Town started well, and had gained the top spot in the National League North in September. And the Linnets held the lead past the New Year. But York City supplanted them at the top in February. By mid-March, when the leagues were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, York City held a 2 point lead on King’s Lynn Town. However, King’s Lynn had two games in hand. And that was crucial, because, in June, it was voted to base all three of the National Leagues final standings on Points Per Game. That handed the title to King’s Lynn Town…via PPG.

King’s Lynn Town doubled their average attendance….
King’s Lynn Town, who drew 712 per game in 2018-19, doubled their crowd-size in 2019-20, to 1,417 per game. That was the 115th-best average attendance in the English leagues system this season in 2019-20. {See it on a map, here, which shows all clubs in England (and Wales) which drew over 1-K-per-game in 2019-20.}

King’s Lynn Town: 4 promotions in the club’s 11 seasons…
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Photo and Image credits above – Aerial shot [satellite image], screenshot from bing.com/maps. Main Stand, photo by Owen Pavey at footballgroundguide.com/king-lynn-town-the-walks.
Ian Culverhouse, photo by Geoff Moore at edp24.co.uk/sport. Adam Marriott, photo by Matthew Usher at edp24.co.uk/sport. Winning goal celebration of King’s Lynn Town, versus York City [18 Jan 2020]: screenshot of video uploaded by King’s Lynn Town TV at youtube.com.

Wealdstone win the National League South, to return to the 5th division after 32 years.
Wealdstone FC are from Ruislip, which is in NW Greater London (and was formerly situated in Middlesex). Wealdstone wear Royal-Blue-with-White-and-Yellow, and have two nicknames: the Stones, and the Royals. (In 2019-20, Wealdstone wore striking blue-and-yellow-striped jerseys.) Wealdstone were a founding member of the the 5th division in 1979-80 [as part of the first season of the Alliance Premier League, which was the precursor to the Conference National and then the National League]. The clubs’ greatest moment came in 1984-85, when Wealdstone not only won the Alliance Premier, but also won the FA Trophy: thus becoming the first club to ever win the non-League Double (see photos and caption below). The only problem was that Wealdstone were a couple years ahead of their time, because at that point, there was no automatic promotion – yet – between the 5th division and the Football League. That was instituted a mere two years later, in 1986-87. So Wealdstone, failing to grab the attention of the old-boys-club which kept vast amounts of worthy, title-winning non-League clubs out of the Football League for decades, remained in non-League football. (In the 29 seasons from when the Football League Fourth Division was formed, in 1958-59, to 1985-86 [which was the last season in the Football League with no automatic relegation out of the League], only three clubs ever got voted out of the Football League.)

And then, three years later, Wealdstone got relegated out of the 5th division, in 1987-88. Then it got worse: financial problems, in 1991, saw them lose their Lower Mead ground. Wealdstone were homeless for 17 years, first renting at Watford’s Vicarage Road, then in 1993 Wealdstone were renting at Yeading FC’s ground. Then in 1995 Wealdstone were renting at Edgeware FC’s ground. Then in 2005, Wealdstone were renting at Northwood FC’s ground. Finally, in 2008-09, Wealdstone acquired Ruislip Sports and Social club, and moved into Ruislip Manor’s Grosvenor Vale ground. Five seasons later, in 2013-14, Wealdstone won the Isthmian Premier, by 11 points over Kingstonian. Since being in the 6th tier (Conference South/National League-South), that is to say, since 2014-15, Wealdstone have finished in 12th, then in 11th, then in 8th, then in 13th, and last season, in 7th. In 2018-19, Wealdstone drew 882 per game. They were the lowest-placed team qualifying for the play-offs in 2018-19, and advanced past Bath City in the quarter-final, but then fell to eventually-promoted Woking in the semi-finals.

In 2019-20, Wealdstone started strong, and were in first place by September, drawing 900 per game. They never relinquished the lead, and by winter Wealdstone were drawing above 1-K-per-game for most of their home matches. When league play was stopped in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wealdstone had a 3 point lead on Havant & Waterlooville (with a game in hand). Wealdstone ended up averaging 1,031 per game, being one of the 43 non-League clubs that drew above 1,000 per game in 2019-20.

Now Wealdstone, a founding member of the 5th division, will return to the 5th tier after 38 seasons in the 6th and 7th divisions.
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Photo and Image credits above – Photo from the 11th of May 1985: 1984-85 Alliance Premier champions Wealdstone celebrating their 1985 FA Trophy win over Boston United (2-1), earning them them first ever non-League Double (5th division title & cup-win): photo unattributed at mylondon.news/sport. Photo of enamel pin of Wealdstone’s historic non-League Double of 1985: from wfcmegastore.co.uk. Aerial shot of Grosvenor Vale: screenshot of satellite image from bing.com/maps. Interior shot of Grosvenor Vale: photo by Ryan at groundhoppingwithryan.blogspot.com/2017/07/wealdstone-fc-grosvenor-vale.
Ross Lafayette, photo by Mont Image Media via harrowtimes.co.uk/sport. Dennon Lewis, photo Mont Image Media via kilburntimes.co.uk/sport. Dean Brennan, photo by Mont Image Media via kilburntimes.co.uk/sport. 8 February 2020, Wealdstone players celebrate a goal, when Wealdstone beat Bilericay Town 3-0 and drew a record crowd of 1,356 at Grosvenor Vale, photo from wealdstone-fc.com.
___
Thanks to all at the links below…
-Football Club History Database, BARROW.
-National League (English football) (en.wikipedia.org).
-2019-20 National League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to Nilfanion…Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org). Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
Attendance figures…
-Non-League Matters.

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

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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.

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