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Thursday, December 1, 2016

1927 Home Run race: Babe Ruth v. Lou Gehrig, Yankee teammates.

First of three posts:

1927 Home Run race: Babe Ruth v. Lou Gehrig, Yankee teammates.

1961 Home Run race: Roger Maris v. Mickey Mantle, Yankee teammates.

1998 Home Run race: Mark McGwire v. Sammy Sosa, Cardinal v. Cub.

Most baseball fans are not aware that Yankee teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig battled through most of the 1927 season for the Home Run (HR) lead and possibly a new record. Ruth already held the record, having set it three times:
1919 29 in 432 AB, Boston Red Sox, home park: Fenway Park
1920 54 in 458 AB, New York Yankees, home park: Polo Grounds
1921 59 in 540 AB, New York Yankees, home park: Polo Grounds

Most HR following the 1927 season:
Rk Player HR Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Babe Ruth 60 1927 32 NYY AL 151 691 540 158 192 29 8 165 137 89 0 14 7 6 .356 .486 .772 1.258 *97
2 Babe Ruth 59 1921 26 NYY AL 152 693 540 177 204 44 16 168 145 81 4 4 17 13 .378 .512 .846 1.359 *78/13
3 Babe Ruth 54 1920 25 NYY AL 142 616 458 158 172 36 9 135 150 80 3 5 14 14 .376 .532 .847 1.379 *978/3H1
4 Lou Gehrig 47 1927 24 NYY AL 155 717 584 149 218 52 18 173 109 84 3 21 10 8 .373 .474 .765 1.240 *3
5 Babe Ruth 47 1926 31 NYY AL 152 652 495 139 184 30 5 153 144 76 3 10 11 9 .372 .516 .737 1.253 *79/H3
6 Babe Ruth 46 1924 29 NYY AL 153 681 529 143 200 39 7 124 142 81 4 6 9 13 .378 .513 .739 1.252 *97/8H
7 Rogers Hornsby 42 1922 26 STL NL 154 704 623 141 250 46 14 152 65 50 1 15 17 12 .401 .459 .722 1.181 *4
8 Babe Ruth 41 1923 28 NYY AL 152 697 522 151 205 45 13 130 170 93 4 3 17 21 .393 .545 .764 1.309 97/83
9 Cy Williams 41 1923 35 PHI NL 136 604 535 98 157 22 3 114 59 57 7 3 11 10 .293 .371 .576 .947 *8/H
10 Rogers Hornsby 39 1925 29 STL NL 138 606 504 133 203 41 10 143 83 39 2 16 5 3 .403 .489 .756 1.245 *4/H
11 Ken Williams 39 1922 32 SLB AL 153 678 585 128 194 34 11 155 74 31 7 12 37 20 .332 .413 .627 1.040 *78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/1/2016.

For perspective, most HR 1903-1919:
Rk Player HR Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Babe Ruth 29 1919 24 BOS AL 130 543 432 103 139 34 12 113 101 58 6 3 7 .322 .456 .657 1.114 *71/3H8
2 Gavvy Cravath 24 1915 34 PHI NL 150 621 522 89 149 31 7 115 86 77 6 7 11 9 .285 .393 .510 .902 *9/H
3 Frank Schulte 21 1911 28 CHC NL 154 687 577 105 173 30 21 107 76 71 3 31 23 .300 .384 .534 .918 *9
4 Gavvy Cravath 19 1914 33 PHI NL 149 605 499 76 149 27 8 100 83 72 3 19 14 .299 .402 .499 .901 *9/H7
5 Gavvy Cravath 19 1913 32 PHI NL 147 594 525 78 179 34 14 128 55 63 3 11 10 11 .341 .407 .568 .974 *9/87
6 Vic Saier 18 1914 23 CHC NL 153 658 537 87 129 24 8 72 94 61 4 23 19 .240 .357 .415 .773 *3
7 Fred Luderus 18 1913 27 PHI NL 155 635 588 67 154 32 7 86 34 51 2 9 5 8 .262 .304 .432 .736 *3
8 Hal Chase 17 1915 32 BUF FL 145 597 567 85 165 31 10 89 20 50 1 8 23 .291 .316 .471 .787 *3/H9
9 Dutch Zwilling 16 1914 25 CHI FL 154 649 592 91 185 38 8 95 46 68 1 10 21 .313 .363 .485 .848 *8
10 Fred Luderus 16 1911 25 PHI NL 146 609 551 69 166 24 11 99 40 76 4 14 6 .301 .353 .472 .825 *3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/1/2016.

Gehrig: born June 19, 1903, previous high: 20 in 1925.
Ruth: born February 6, 1895, previous high: 59 in 1921.

After 1927 Gehrig had the most other than Ruth. Next after Gehrig were Hornsby, known more for having a cumulative batting average of .400 1921-1925, then Cy and Ken Williams, no relation to each other or to Ted.

Here's how Ruth and Gehrig matched up through the 1927 season in two graphs, first on total homers, then the difference (Ruth-Gehrig):



Many fans know that Ruth hit 17 of his 60 1927 HR in September, which Ruth needed not just to reach 60 but to blow past the much younger Gehrig, who led 39-38 after Yankee game 117. Remember, teams played 154 games through the 1960 season. The Yankees played one tie game, so the 1927 Yankees played 155 games and Gehrig played in all 155. Ruth had his biggest deficits for these Yankee games:
Ruth Gehrig
3437104-3
3437105-3
3537106-2
3537107-2
3537108-2
3538109-3

Game 128:
Friday, September 2, 1927, , Shibe Park
Attendance: 20,000, Time of Game: 1:50
Yankees 12, Athletics 2

HR: B Ruth (44); L Gehrig 2 (43).

Ruth and Gehrig homered back to back in the first off Rube Walberg. Then Gehrig homered again in the second inning off Walberg. Number 43 put Gehrig ahead of Hornsby for the most HR in a season by anyone other than Ruth.

Following Yankee game 131 they were tied at 44. Then in game 132:

Tuesday, September 6, 1927, , Fenway Park
Attendance: 15,000, Time of Game: 1:58
First game of doubleheader
Yankees 14, Red Sox 2
HR: B Ruth 2 (46); L Gehrig (45).


Gehrig homered in the 5th off starter Tony Welzer. Ruth homered in both the 6th and 7th off Welzer. Gehrig had his final lead over Ruth 45-44 but it only lasted one inning.

Inexplicably, Gehrig failed to homer from the second game (133) Sept. 6 through Yankee game 151 Sept. 25. That's 19 games without a homer. Gehrig had at least 4 plate appearances in each game.

Gehrig finally homered again in Yankee game 152 on Sept. 27 in the 4th inning off Jack Quinn of the Philadelphia As. Ruth later homered in the 6th off Lefty Grove. Ruth led 57-46.

Ruth hit two more in game 153, then number 60 Sept. 30 in game 154 off Tom Zachary of the Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota in 1961 and changed their name to Twins.

In game 155 on Oct. 1, the Yankees had that tie game, remember, Ruth was 0 for 3 with a BB and was replaced by Ben Paschal, who did not bat. Gehrig was 1 for 4, HR 47 in the 1st off Bobby Burke. The Yankees won, finishing 110-44.

The Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series.

Playoff Series StatsRegular Season Stats
NameGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPS ▾SBCSEGABRHHRRBISBBAOPS
Pat Collins2503100030.600.750.8001.5500009225138697360.275.825
Babe Ruth41546002722.400.471.8001.271100151540158192601657.3561.258
Lou Gehrig41324220433.308.438.7691.2070001555841492184717310.3731.240
Ruth hit two more homers in the World Series. Gehrig hit two doubles and two triples.

Coming up: Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

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