AUGUST 1927: THE NEW YORK YANKEES
(An excerpt from FIVE O'CLOCK LIGHTNING: BABE RUTH, LOU GEHRIG AND
THE GREATEST TEAM IN BASEBALL HISTORY, THE 1927 NEW YORK YANKEES to be
published fall 2007).
The 1927 Yankees were an
august presence throughout Major League Baseball as they began the
eighth month of the year with a record of 73 wins just 23 losses and a
gaudy .730 winning percentage.
Departing New York City on
August 8th, Murderer’s Row embarked on its most grueling stretch of
the 1927 schedule: Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Cleveland,
Detroit, St. Louis. Back in New York on the 31st – for one game against
the Red Sox. Then they would take leave of the Big Apple again for seven
more games in Philadelphia and Boston. Talk about living out of
Hod Lisenbee, a 28-year-old
rookie Washington pitcher from Clarksville, Tennessee, was having a
season against the vaunted Yanks. On August 11, the submariner pitched
a beauty, defeating the team from the Bronx, 3-2 in 11 innings. It was
his fifth consecutive triumph over New York. That 1927 season 22
different pitchers won games against the Yankees, but no one had the
success Horace Milton Lisenbee had who finished in 1927 with an 18-9
record including four shutouts for the 3rd-place Senators. He never,
however, had another winning season.
Wilcy Moore pushed his
record to 12-5 on August 13 in Washington nipping the home team 6-3. A
wonder of wonders on the Yankee pitching staff – he was almost
untouchable away from Yankee Stadium where he would post a 1.77 ERA
limiting the opposition to a .217 batting average. With the magnificent
Moore on the mound as starter/reliever, the Yankees had a 36-13-1 record
He was called a lot of names
including the “Ambulance Man” for all the emergency work he performed
out of the Yankee bullpen. Dubbed “Doc” by sportswriters, one scribe
said: “He specializes in treating ailing ball games and putting them
back in a healthy condition.”
The best rookie in the
league, the best relief pitcher in baseball, Moore’s strong suit was his
coolness under pressure. And, of course, that deadly sinkerball.
Inducing mostly ground balls, Moore would be touched up for just two
home runs in 212 innings pitched in 1927, lowest in the majors.
Overall, he would wind up 19-7, the third best winning percentage (.731)
in the league. He also would have a 2.28 earned run average, while
holding opponents to a league-low .234 batting average. He won 13 games
in relief, leading the league, and saved another 13, tying for the
On August l5, Gehrig was
ahead of the Babe, 38-36, in the home run derby. There were more and
more claiming that he would out-homer George Herman in 1927.
But the Buster would manage
just nine more home runs the rest of the season. His beloved mother was
ill and in the hospital. Anguish over her health had him fretting during
games, at the hospital after each home game. The reckless abandon he
once had that allowed him to sometimes play baseball until darkness in
the streets of his neighborhood with a bunch of kids was no longer
something he could do. His non-baseball playing moments were totally
reserved for thinking about and being with his mom.
Gehrig faltered. The Babe
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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