1927 New York Yankees: The Greatest
Baseball Team Ever
A range of individuals made up the 1927
roster of the New York Yankees. The average age was 27.6. All white,
they came from diverse backgrounds, had very different
personalities, professional backgrounds, educations, interests,
There was a former teacher, a railroad fireman, a bartender, a
boilermaker, a seaman, a logger, a cardsharp, one who had studied
for the Roman Catholic priesthood, another who as a kid had climbed
the tenement stairs in New York City delivering laundry, swam in the
Hudson River and knew his way around local pool halls. There was one
who had an almost royal aura who had attended the finest prep
schools and wore thousand dollar diamond rings, there was a meat
cutter and an ex-vaudevillian. There was a former full time
boilermaker, a talented painter, artist, writer and singer, a
skilled piano (jazz and classical) player, several former farm boys
And a few who had never known anything but playing baseball.
Baseball was what bound the 25 of them together. The total payroll
for that 1927 team was an estimated $250,000, while the average
salary was $10,000 as compared to $2,699.292 for the 2006 Yankees.
Salaries ranged from Julie Wera's $2,400 to Babe Ruth's $70,000.
The team had a pronounced German- American flavor from its owner
beer baron Jacob Ruppert to Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mark Koenig, Bob
Meusel, George Pipgras, Dutch Ruether and half Germans Waite Hoyt
and Earle Combs.
There was also a collegiate flavor: Lou Gehrig (Columbia), Miller
Huggins (University of Cincinnati), Joe Dugan (Holy Cross), Benny
Bengough (Niagara University), Earle Combs (Eastern Kentucky State
Teachers College), Mike Gazella (Lafayette), Ray Morehart (Stephen
Austin College, Texas), Myles Thomas (Penn State), Bob Shawkey
(Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania), Ben Paschal (University
of Alabama), Dutch Ruether (St. Ignatius College, now San Francisco
One player received his education at St. Mary's Industrial School
and another had been in an out of one room cotton county
schoolhouses. A few had no true formal education at all.
Born in 1904, the youngest player on the roster was Mark Koenig. He,
along with Joe Grabowski, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Julie Wera
were the only Yankees born in the 20th century.
The shortest players were catcher Benny Bengough and utility man
Mike Gazella. Bob Meusel was the tallest Yankee at 6' 3" and Babe
Ruth was the next tallest at 6' 2". Other six footers included
pitchers Wilcy Moore, Herb Pennock, George Pipgras, Dutch Ruether,
infielders Lou Gehrig and Mark Koenig, and centerfielder Earl
Combs. The only members of the Yankee who weighed more than 200
pounds were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
There was no roster shuttling of players back and forth from the
minor leagues. The 25 players who began the season remained on the
roster all season long, tying a record for fewest players used by a
major league team.
Only Lou Gehrig would start every game (155) at first base. Tony
Lazzeri appeared in 113 games at second base, Mark Koenig 122 at
shortstop and Joe Dugan 111 at third base. Earl Combs would start
all but three games. The final statistics on Ruth and Meusel would
be misleading. The Babe would start 95 times in right field and
"Silent Bob" 83 times in left field. But they flip-flopped starts at
Yankee Stadium and in a few parks on the road. Six men accounted for
almost 90% of the innings pitched.
There was an almost grotesque quality to the
team collectively as well as individually. One player could only
sleep sitting up. He had a heart condition that he kept secret from
his teammates. Another seemingly aloof, sometimes painfully quiet,
was an epileptic whose condition was never mentioned by the press.
One was taciturn, some would say miserable, a drinker, a scowler who
looked at the world about him with annoyance and anger. One worked
off-season as a mortician. Another was a "mama's boy," allegedly a
virgin, who was very uncomfortable in the presence of women, enjoyed
fishing by himself for eels and living with his parents in an
apartment. There was one whose hearty belches sometimes rattled
bats stacked in the dugout, who slugged down great quantities of
beer, ate prodigiously. His prowess with women was the talk
throughout baseball. Another was an uneducated dirt farmer, aged
30, or was it 40. There was also a Kentuckian, a church goer, a
non-smoker, non-drinker, a man who never cursed and read his Bible
on the road in hotel rooms.
There were ten pitchers on the roster, three catchers, seven
infielders and five outfielders.
(This is an excerpt from a book to be published by John Wiley, Fall
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