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Legends On Deck

1925 Pirates v. 1932 NY Yankees

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The 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Washington Senators and Walter Johnson in a 7 game World Series. The manager of the Pirates in 1925 was Bill McKechnie. Catching for the Pirates was Earl Smith and George Grantham played first base. Eddie Moore was the second baseman and Glenn Wright was the shortstop with Harold “Pie” Traynor holding down the hot corner, third base. The Pirates outfielders were Max Carey, Kiki Cuyler and Clyde Barnhardt. McKechnie could choose from Lee Meadows, Ray Kremer, Vic Aldridge, Johnny Morrison or Emil Yde to be the pitcher in this one game playoff.

Joe McCarthy was New York’s manager in 1932 and his lineup consisted of catcher Bill Dickey, first baseman Lou Gehrig and second baseman Tony Lazzeri. The shortstop was Frank Crosetti and Joe Sewell rounded out the infield at third base. The Yankee outfield was Earle Combs, Babe Ruth and Ben Chapman. McCarthy could choose from Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, George Pipgras, Johnny Allen, Herb Pennock or Danny McFayden to oppose the Washington nine.

In the manager’s matchup of McKechnie versus McCarthy it would be a matchup of future Hall of Famers. McKechnie would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962 as a manager after having won 3 National League pennants and two World Series titles (1925 and 1940-with the Reds). He would finish his career with a record of 1896 wins and 1723 losses. McKechnie is 13th on the all time list of managerial wins and also he managed two All Star teams. McCarthy was long regarded as one of baseball’s all time best managers. He would win 9 league pennants and 7 World Series titles after managing the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox. His career managerial record was 2125 wins and 1333 losses. He also managed 7 All Star teams and his career record puts him in 8th place on the all time list. Without much need for discussion McCarthy wins the matchup with McKechnie.

Catcher Earl Smith in 1925 had 103 hits including 22 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home , 64 RBIs and a .313 batting average. In the field he made 13 errors in 407 chances for a .968 fielding percentage. He was also thought to be one of the toughest men playing baseball. The Yankees catcher during the 1932 season was Bill Dickey who had 131 hits including 20 doubles, 4 triples 15 home runs and 84 RBIs to go with a .310 batting average. When he was behind the plate he made 9 errors in 701 chances for a .987 fielding percentage. For his career Dickey made 11 All Star team and would win 7 World Series titles. He is also credited with teaching a rookie by the name of Lawrence “Yogi” Berra the nuances of catching. In a virtual landslide Dickey wins.

The matchup of first baseman had George Grantham of Pittsburgh against New York’s “Iron Horse” Lou Gehrig. Of course career wise this matchup would go to Gehrig no discussion needed. In 1925 for Pittsburgh Grantham would have 117 hits including 24 doubles, 6 triples and 8 home runs as well as 52 RBIs and a .326 batting average. With the glove Grantham made 11 errors in 980 chances for a .989 fielding percentage. Gehrig’s numbers for the 1932 season are as follows. He had 208 hits including 42 doubles, 9 triples and 34 home runs. He also had 151 RBIs and a .349 batting average. When he s at first base for New York in 1932 he made 18 errors in 1,386 chances for a .987 fielding percentage. As with his career Gehrig wins this battle hands down just as Dickey did with the catching position.

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The second baseman for the 1925 Pirates was Eddie Moore who during the 1925 season played in 142 games with 163 hits and 106 runs scored. Of the 163 hits, 29 were doubles, 8 were triples and 6 were home runs He also had a .298 batting average and stole 19 bases. With the glove Moore made 39 errors in 786 chances for a .950 fielding percentage. Second base for the Yankees was Tony Lazzeri. Lazzeri played in 142 games in 1932 with 153 hits and 79 runs scored. He had 28 doubles, 16 triples and 15 home runs as well as 113 RBIs. He stole 11 bases as well for New York during the season. With the glove Lazzeri made 17 errors in 793 chances for a .979 fielding percentage. Lazzeri gets the nod here based on a little better fielding percentage as well as his slugging. After all, Lazzeri was a part of the famed Murderer’s Row Yankees of 1927.

Glenn Wright was the Pirates shortstop in 1925 and in 153 games he had 189 hits including 32 doubles, 10 triples and 18 home runs. He also had 121 RBIs and 97 runs scored as well as a .308 batting average. In the field he had 56 errors in 924 chances for a .939 fielding percentage. The 1932 Yankees shortstop was Frank Crosetti who played in 116 games for New York. He had 97 hits including 20 doubles, 9 triples and 5 home runs. He scored 47 runs, had 57 RBIs and a .241 batting average. When he was at the shortstop position for New York in 1932 he had 29 errors in 476 chances for a .939 fielding percentage. Here the choice is not easy as the fielding numbers are close to being the same. That said advantage goes to Wright and the Pirates based solely on his offensive numbers.

Future Hall of Famer Harold “Pie” Traynor is the third baseman for the Pirates during the 1925 campaign. Traynor was not a big slugger but in 1925 he had 189 hits including 39 doubles, 14 triples and 6 home runs to go with 114 runs scored, 106 RBIs to go with his .320 batting average. In the field at the hot corner, third base Traynor made 24 errors in 557 chances for a .957 fielding percentage. The Yankee third baseman on their 1932 team was Joe Sewell, who also would be voted into the Hall of Fame when his playing career was over. Sewell was not a slugger either and during the 1932 season he had 137 hits including 21 doubles, 3 triples and 11 home runs to go with95 runs scored, 68 RBIs and a .272 batting average. What made Sewell such a weapon at the plate was he just did not strikeout. During the 1932 season Sewell had 576 plate appearance and only struck out a total of three times. In the field he made nine errors in 352 chances for a .974 fielding percentage. Even though Sewell did not strike out a lot and was a better fielder advantage goes to Traynor on his offensive numbers. In playing the Yankees the Pirates were going to need to score a lot of runs and Traynor’s numbers would help. Advantage to Traynor and the Pirates.

The three outfielders for the Pirates on their 1925 team were Max Carey. Kiki Cuyler and Clyde Barhart. Carey in 133 games had 186 hits including 39 doubles, 13 triples, 5 home runs, 109 runs scored, 44 RBIs and .343 batting average to go with 46 stolen bases. With the glove he made 20 errors in 403 chances for a .950 fielding percentage. Cuyler in 153 games had 220 hits including 43 doubles, 26 triples, 18 home runs, 144 runs scored, 102 RBIs and a .357 batting average to go with 41 stolen bases. His fielding numbers showed 13 errors in 396 chances for a .967 mark. The third outfielder for the 1925 Pirates was  Clyde Barnhart and he had some surprisingly good offensive numbers. In 142 games he had 175 hits including 32 doubles, 11 triples, 4 home runs, 85 runs scored, 114 RBIs and a .325 batting average. As an outfielder Barnhart made 12 errors in 318 chances for a .962 fielding percentage. As a side note both Carey and Cuyler would later be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Earle Combs, Babe Ruth and Ben Chapman were the outfielders on the 1932 Yankees team. Combs, in 144 games had 190 hits including 32 doubles, 10 triples and 9 home runs. He also scored 143 runs, 65 runs batted in and a .321 batting average. Combs was the Yankees lead off man and it was his job to get on base for the RBI men. What more needs to be said about Babe Ruth? Even though 1932 was getting into the twilight of his career he was still a potent force on the ball field. In 1932 the “Babe” had 156 hits in 133 games. 13 of the hits were doubles, 5 were triples and 41 were home runs. He scored 120 times and had 137 RBIs and a .341 batting average. He made nine errors in the outfield in 231 chances for a .961 fielding percentage. The third and final starting outfielder on the 1932 Yankees was Be Chapman. Chapman was a highly underrated ballplayer mostly on account of his bad temper. However he was a ballplayer that a person could use on a ball club.

In 1932, Chapman, in 151 games had 174 hits including 41 double, 15 triples, 10 home runs, 101 runs scored, 107 RBIs, a .299 batting average and 38 stolen bases. Again it was Chapman who had the job of getting on base so the Ruth’s and the Gehrig’s could drive him in. As an outfielder Chapman made 17 errors in 333 chances for a .949 fielding percentage. Here based on Ruth and Combs the advantage goes to the Yankees. Both Ruth and Combs like Carey and Cuyler made the Hall of Fame but Ruth was the greatest ballplayer of all-time and his presence alone made a ball club better. So advantage Yankees. Also what any do not know about this team is that they went the full 1932 season without being shutout and in fact went a total of almost 300 games without being shutout, a potent offense if there ever was one.

McKechnie could chose from the following pitcher for this matchup, Lee Meadows (19-10, 3.67 ERA), Ray Kremer (17-8, 3.69 ERA), Vic Aldridge (15-7, 3.63 ERA), Johnny Morrison (17-14, 3.88 ERA and Emil Yde (17-9, 4.13). Joe McCarthy could chose from Lefty Gomez (24-7, 4.21 ERA), Red Ruffing (18-7, 3.09 ERA), George Pipgras (16-9, 4.19ERA), Johnny Allen (17-4, 3.70 ERA) or the veteran of the staff Herb Pennock (9-5, 4.60ERA). While the Yankees pitches had a little higher ERA that can be forgiven as this team could score runs. As for the starters in a one game playoff for the Pirates it would be probably Lee Meadows or Vic Aldridge pitching against either Lefty Gomez or Red Ruffing. Ruffing may even get the nod given his ERA for the 1932 season was over a run better than Gomez’.

So now the winner. Pittsburgh would give the Yankees quite the battle but in the end the offensive juggernaut of the Yankees would prove too much for Pittsburgh to handle and the 1932 Yankees would win in a rout to advance in this series.

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Kevin Larkin

Kevin Larkin has been going to minor league and major league baseball games since 1967. He has been to numerous major league and minor league parks and describes himself as a "baseball fan" who likes the Yankees. He enjoys researching, writing and reading about about baseball and will talk for hours on end about his favorite sport.
He is in love with the history of the game, having written three books about his beloved sport. They are "Baseball in the Bay State" a history of baseball in the state of Massachusetts. Then he wrote Gehrig:Game by Game, a history of all of the major league ballgames including All Star games and World Series games as well as regular season that the "Iron Horse" Lou Gehrig played in. The third book "Baseball in the Berkshires" a history of baseball in Berkshire County co written with three others, Tom Daley, Jim Overmyer and Larry Moore. As a result of this book Larkin and the other three gentlemen have put together a museum exhibit that is now permanently housed at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesboro Massachusetts.
Larkin also does fact checking and writing for the Society for American Baseball Research or SABR and has had numerous articles published there as well.
He lives in Great Barrington Massachusetts, in the heart of Red Sox country and is involved in a number of projects. He also is a security guard at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington after having been a police officer for 24 years in his home town