Murderers’ Row - The 1927 Yankees
In 1927, nearly a decade after the ending of the Great War, America was still recovering. President Calvin Coolidge was giving a quiet yet unremarkable run of the country.
But as the post WWI economy was raging with vigor and businesses across America were being propelled to unforeseen success, President Coolidge didn’t need to do much.
This was also the dawn of Prohibition in America, but not the end of booze. The black market for alcohol began to thrive just as intensely as the other businesses in America, albeit underground.
It was around this time that woman obtained the right to vote; the care-free and devil-could-care “Jazz Age” played its unforgettable tune across the United States while flappers danced, and the birth of the radio began to amplify it all across the nation.
But this was not just a song and dance; this was the Roaring 20’s, raging its way across post-war America.
The Golden Age of Sports
And so, it makes perfect sense that the smoldering and invigorating 20’s were also the Golden Age of Sports. After a long and horrific war, Americans were purged by the talent and heroism of their sports stars.
Jack Dempsey was boxing like an animal, Walter Hagen was a golf superstar, Notre Dame was tearing-up the fields of college football as Red Grange put professional sports on the map.
However, higher and mightier than all of these was the great American pastime—Baseball.
The New York Yankees started as a small and humble team around the turn of the century, but when purchased by managers Tillinghast Huston and Jacob Ruppert in 1915, the Yanks were put on the fast-track to phenomenal success.
As luck and extraordinary talent would have it, an amazing team of athletes and managers were assembled. Famous manager Miller Huggins came onboard in 1918, while the greatest hitter the world has ever known, Babe Ruth, was stolen from the Red Sox.
The great Babe Ruth went on to shatter every conceivable record ever laid for homeruns, leading the way for the Yankees to win the pennant in 21’ and 22’. Because of his stardom, crowds were greater than they’d ever been in history, cheering the Yankees as they won the World Series in 1923. Yankee Stadium became a legendary ball park.
The couple of years that followed took a slight downturn though. The pennant was just slightly missed in 1924, only to be lost painfully in 25’ as Babe Ruth watched on the sidelines with his infamous bellyache.
Huggins decided that youth was the answer to the club’s problems, and suspended Babe Ruth in August of that year, eventually finishing in 7th place for the season. The Yanks sunk even deeper into the mire with their subsequent loss in 1926.
What happened in 1927 had no precedent, but it would later be known as the most historic year in baseball; when history and legend would collide for one amazing moment in time.
1927- Murderers’ Row
The term “Murderers’ Row” was born in 1918 by a sportswriter, and was used to describe the pre-Babe Yankees lineup. At that time it was Frank Baker and Wally Pipp that were making batting history, and little did they know that their efforts were potatoes compared to what lay on the horizon for the Yanks.
In 1918 a New York newspaper article claimed: “New York fans have come to know a section of the Yankees’ batting order as ‘Murderers’ Row.’ It is composed of the first six players in the batting order—Gilhooley, Peckinpaugh, Baker, Pratt, Pipp, and Bodie. This sextet has been hammering the offerings of all comers.”
The term eventually disappeared, only to infamously refer to the 1927 New York Yankees. Graced with the batting phenomenon pair of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, as well as an all-star lineup behind them, no team in baseball had ever deserved the name Murderers’ Row till now.
Owner Jacob Ruppert is the man most often credited for building the team, although general manager Ed Barrow may have had as much to do with it. In a July series against the Washington Senators, the Yankees beat their opponents 21-1 in one game and prompted Senators’ first baseman Joe Judge to say, “Those fellows not only beat you but they tear your heart out. I wish the season was over.”
In the spring of 1927, Babe Ruth signed the biggest contact in the history of baseball, with a salary that at the time was considered an ungodly amount of money. The Babe wasn’t the only one with a pay raise though. Nearly every player of the 1927 Yankees received a substantial raise that year, in hopes of boosting the team’s morale and drive to succeed where they had failed the past 2 years.
The Yankees opened their 1927 season at home against the Athletics with a triumphant win, and went on to make baseball history.
Huggins had managed to successfully bring an eclectic group of athletes together to change baseball forever. Earle Combs would lead off for the ’27 Yankees followed by Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Dugan, John Grabowski, and the pitcher Waite Hoyt would bottom out the lineup.
Murderers Row became famous for their 927 runs on 400 plus hits, and whopping command performances of doubles, triples and homeruns, with a startling 158 homers for the season.
The Row’s batting average was .307, which helped to give them a remarkable place in Major League Baseball history as the first AL team to sweep the World Series of Baseball, beating the Pittsburg Pirates in the final game.
Murderers’ Row was comprised of a team so talented and influential, that each man has gone down into Baseball legend.