Friday, June 24, 2011

Baseball in the Year of Jack McKeon's Birth

Earlier this week, the Florida Marlins named 80-year-old Jack McKeon as their interim manager, making him the second-oldest manager in MLB history, behind only Connie Mack, who managed until he was 87. Plenty of jokes have been made on this subject already, so I'll refrain from adding to those. What I will do, however, is take a look back at what baseball looked like the year McKeon was born: 1930.

In 1930, there were sixteen teams in the Majors, eight in the American League and eight in the National League. Only ten different cities had Major League clubs, and New York had three. The westernmost city with a team was St. Louis, which had two. The AL teams were:

Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Athletics
St. Louis Browns
Washington Senators

and in the NL:

Boston Braves
Brooklyn Dodgers
Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
New York Giants
Philadelphia Phillies
Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals

The Philadelphia Athletics were the year's World Series Champions. After winning 102 games to finish the regular season with the best record in baseball, they defeated the NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals in six games to win the World Series for the second year in a row. George Earnshaw threw a complete game to win Game 6 and clinch the series, giving up one run on five hits and striking out six. Earnshaw won two games in the series for the Athletics; the other two were won by Lefty Grove, who also won the Major League Triple Crown during the regular season with 28 wins, 209 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA in 291 innings. And the manager of these Philadelphia A's: none other than Connie Mack. He was only 67 at this point, though.

Elsewhere during the regular season, Hack Wilson of the Chicago Cubs led the Majors with 56 home runs and 191 RBI. The 56 home runs set a National League record that stood for 68 years; the 191 RBI are a Major League record that stands to this day, and likely will stand long into the future. His .356 average wasn't enough to win him the batting Triple Crown, though; in fact, it was 8th in the NL. The owner of the best average in baseball was Bill Terry of the New York Giants: along with 23 home runs and 129 RBI, Terry finished the season with a batting average of .401. He is the last National League player to hit .400.

So, 1930 was a fairly eventful year in baseball. A few final facts about the year: Hall of Famers Luke Appling, Dizzy Dean, Lefty Gomez, and Hank Greenberg all made their debuts in 1930, while Pete Alexander, Dave Bancroft, Eddie Collins, and George Sisler played their final Major League games. The Cubs had the highest average attendance during the regular season at 18,527, while the Browns had the lowest, with an amazing average attendance of 1,950. The ground rule double was first implemented by the American League in 1930, but in the National League, a ball bouncing over the outfield wall was still counted as a home run (the NL implemented the rule in 1931). And finally, one other notable 1930 birth: George Steinbrenner was born on July 4.

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