Legends On Deck

1922 NY Giants vs. 1941 NY Yankees: “Mugsy” vs “Marse Joe”:

Embed from Getty Images

This matchup in the Pre Integration Era playoffs pitted the 1922 New York Giants led by their fiery manager John “Mugsy” McGraw and the 1941 New York Yankees of “Marse Joe” McCarthy.

McGraw had been the manager of the Giants since 1902 and up through the 1922 season the Giants had won eight National League pennants and three World Series titles (1905,1921 and 1922). The 1922 World Series triumph was the last of his career although the Giants went on to win the National League pennant in 1923 and 1924.

McCarthy was considered by many to be one of the greatest Yankee managers of all-time. Through the 1941 season McCarthy and the Yankees won six World Series and then would go on to win the title again in 1943. More remarkable of this is that McCarthy never played an inning of baseball in the major leagues.

Both teams were stocked with some pretty good baseball players. The starting lineup in this game for the 1922 Giants would be Frank Snyder at the catcher’s position. First base was George “High Pockets” Kelly with Frankie Frisch at second base, Dave Bancroft at shortstop ad Heinie Groh at third base. The Giants outfield had Casey Stengel, Ross Youngs and Irish Meusel to round out the defense. McGraw’s choice of starter was between Art Nehf, Jesse Barnes and Phil Douglas.

The starting lineup for the 1941 Yankees on defense had Bill Dickey catching, Johnny Sturm at first base, Joe Gordon at second base, Phil Rizzuto at shortstop and Red Rolfe at third base. In the Yankees outfield were Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich and Joe DiMaggio. As for the starting pitcher, McCarthy’s would be choosing between Marius Russo, Red Ruffing, Spud Chandler and the veteran Lefty Gomez.

In the matchup of catchers, it was Frank Snyder (109 hits, 21 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 51 RBIs, 34 runs scored and a .343 batting average versus the Yankees catcher Bill Dickey (99 hits, 15 doubles, five triples, seven home runs, 71 runs batted in, 35 runs scored and a .284 batting average. All of Snyder’s numbers are better than Dickey’s for the 1941 season except for runs scored, RBIs and home runs. Snyder played for five more years after the 1922 season with nothing outstanding on his resume. Dickey played just 221 more games for the Yankees winning another World Series title with them in 1943, making a total of seven for his career. Based on the year alone advantage goes to Snyder, but over a career in the big games advantage would go to Dickey. This is a big game, so Dickey just edges out Snyder here.

At first base for the Giants in 1922 was George “High Pockets” Kelly (194 hits, 33 doubles, 8 triples, 17 home runs, 96 runs scored, 107 RBIs, .328 batting average). For the Yankees Johnny Strum gets the nod (125 hits, 17 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs, 58 runs scored, 36 RBIs, .239 batting average). The Yankees were still looking for someone to replace Lou Gehrig at first base and the decision would get harder after the United States entered World War II, as all teams were losing talent to the military. Clearly here the advantage goes to Kelly and the Giants as Kelly’s numbers are just that good.

Now comes second base, for the Giants it is the “Fordham Flash” Frankie Frisch (168 hits, 16 doubles, 13 triples, 5 home runs, 101 runs scored, 51 runs batted in, 31 stolen bases and a .327 batting average). The Yankees second baseman during the 1941 season was Joe Gordon (162 hits, 26 doubles, 7 triples, 24 home runs, 104 runs scored, 87 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and a .276 batting average). Both men went on to Hall of Fame careers with Frisch winning the National League MVP in 1931 with the Cardinals and Gordon winning the American League MVP the next year 1942. Based on the numbers for the respective seasons advantage here goes to Frisch and the Giants.

Embed from Getty Images

Dave Bancroft was the shortstop in 1922 for McGraw and the Giants (209 hits, 41 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, 117 runs scored, 60 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, .321 batting average). Phil “the Scooter” Rizzuto was the Yankee shortstop in 1941 (158 hits, 20 doubles, 9 triples, 3 home runs, 65 runs scored, 46 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, .307 batting average). Bancroft was a veteran of eight major league seasons and ended up playing for eight more years on his way to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rizzuto was in his rookie season in 1941and lost three years to his country during World War II. He played 11 more years and he too also became a member of the Hall of Fame. Had this been later on in his career perhaps Rizzuto could have given Bancroft a run for his money but at this stage, Bancroft gets the advantage.

At third base for the 1922 New York Giants is Heinie Groh (113 hits, 21 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 63 runs scored, 51 RBIs, .265 batting average). For the Yankees their third baseman was Robert “Red” Rolfe (148 hits, 22 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 106 runs scored, .264 batting average).Here is another instance of both men having numbers that pretty match up well. Groh had a fielding percentage of around .965 and Rolfe was around .945 and so in looking and comparing everything the advantage here goes to the Giants and Groh.

The Giants outfield for 1922 consisted of the following three individuals Casey Stengel (92 hits, eight doubles, 10 triples, seven home runs, 48 runs scored, 48 RBIs, .368 batting average (84 games). Then there were Ross Youngs (185 hits, 34 doubles, 10 triples, seven home runs, 105 runs score, .331 batting average) and Irish Meusel (204 hits, 28 doubles, 17 triples, 16 home runs, 100 runs scored, 132 RBIs, .331 batting average). The Yankees outfield was Charlie Keller (151 hits, 24 doubles, 10 triples, 33 home runs, 102 runs scored, 122 RBIs, .298 batting average), Tommy Henrich (149 hits, 27 doubles, five triples, 31 home runs, 106 runs scored, 85 RBIs, .277 batting average) and Joe DiMaggio 193 hits, 43 doubles, 11 triples, 30 home runs, 122 runs scored, 125 RBIs, .357 batting average). The Yankees were just slightly better in offensive numbers than their counterparts from Manhattan and in carrying it further in fielding percentages both Keller and Henrich were pretty good on defense, both with a .980 fielding percentage.

The pitchers from whom McGraw had to choose included Art Nehf (19-13, 3.29 ERA, 35 starts, 20 complete games, two shutouts), Jesse Barnes (13-8, 3.51 ERA, 29 starts, 15 complete games, two shutouts) or Phil Douglas (11-4, 2.63 ERA, 21 starts, nine complete games, one shutout). Joe McCarthy had four pitchers to choose from and they were, Marius Russo (14-10, 3.09 ERA, 27 starts, 17 complete games, three shutouts), Red Ruffing (15-6, 3.54 ERA, 23 starts, 13 complete games, two shutouts), Spud Chandler (10-4, 3.19 ERA, 20 starts, 11 complete games, four shutouts) or Lefty Gomez (15-5, 3.74 ERA, 23 starts, eight complete games, two shutouts).

Art Nehf has just a little better set of numbers than either Barnes or Douglas, although Douglas and Barnes also have better winning percentages. Douglas may be the best of the three however, he had been in and out of the manager’s dog house because of his extra hours activities so because McGraw was so intense about winning he probably would start Art Nehf. Joe McCarthy had four pitchers to choose from and given the track record of Lefty Gomez in the postseason, the start would probably go to Gomez with the other three ready to come in if Gomez ran into trouble. The Yankees bullpen probably would come into lay as Gomez had the least complete games of the other pitchers names.

The depth of the Yankees staff and their experience in big games gives them the advantage in pitching and the Yankees winning ways gives then the win in this game, but only by two or three runs.

Kevin Larkin

Kevin Larkin has been going to all kinds of baseball amateur and professional since 1969. When asked he says he is a baseball fan who likes the Yankees. He was a police officer for 24 years in his home town of Barrington Massachusetts and helped on investigating most major crimes including murder, plane crashes and automobile crashes. He was certified as an expert witness in accident reconstruction and investigated almost 90 fatal automobile accidents. After retiring from the police force he renewed a love for baseball and as of now has authored three books on the subject: Baseball in the Bay State, Gehrig:Game by Game and Baseball in the Berkshires. He has authored articles for SABR and helps out there with research whenever possible. He has a coloection of almost 700 baseball books and enjoys pre 1900 and post 1900 baseball as well as the Black Sox Scandal and learning about the Negro Leagues. He also writes a column for CNY Baseball and loves giving back to the sport which has given him so much.