1939 in baseball

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The following are the baseball events of the year 1939 throughout the world.  

Headline Event of the Year[edit]

Champions[edit]

Major League Baseball[edit]

Other champions[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]

MLB statistical leaders[edit]

  American League National League
Type Name Stat Name Stat
AVG Joe DiMaggio NYY .381 Johnny Mize STL .349
HR Jimmie Foxx BOS 35 Johnny Mize STL 28
RBI Ted Williams BOS 145 Frank McCormick CIN 128
Wins Bob Feller CLE 24 Bucky Walters CIN 27
ERA Lefty Grove BOS 2.54 Bucky Walters CIN 2.29

Major league baseball final standings[edit]

American League final standings[edit]

American League
Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st New York Yankees 106   45 .702    –
2nd Boston Red Sox 89   62 .589   17.0
3rd Cleveland Indians 87   67 .565   20.5
4th Chicago White Sox 85   69 .555   22.0
5th Detroit Tigers 81   73 .526   26.5
6th Washington Senators 65   87 .428   41.5
7th Philadelphia Athletics 55   97 .362   51.5
8th St. Louis Browns 43   111 .279   64.5

National League final standings[edit]

National League
Rank Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
1st Cincinnati Reds 97   57 .630    –
2nd St. Louis Cardinals 92   61 .601   4.5
3rd Brooklyn Dodgers 84   69 .549   12.5
4th Chicago Cubs 84   70 .545   13.0
5th New York Giants 77   74 .510   18.5
6th Pittsburgh Pirates 68   85 .444   28.5
7th Boston Bees 63   88 .417   32.5
8th Philadelphia Phillies 45   106 .298   50.5

Negro league baseball final standings[edit]

Negro American League final standings[edit]

Negro American League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
Cleveland Bears 22 4 .846
Kansas City Monarchs 25 13 .658
Memphis Red Sox 12 13 .480
Chicago American Giants 16 20 .444
St. Louis Stars 8 11 .421
Toledo Crawfords 8 11 .421
Indianapolis ABCs 2 10 .167
  • Kansas City awarded Pennant.

Negro National League final standings[edit]

Negro National League
Club Wins Losses Win %   GB
Washington Homestead Grays 33 14 .702
Newark Eagles 29 20 .592
Baltimore Elite Giants 25 21 .543
Philadelphia Stars 31 32 .492
New York Black Yankees 15 21 .417
New York Cubans 5 22 .185
  • Washington beat Philadelphia 3 games to 2 games in a play-off.
  • Baltimore beat Newark 3 games to 1 game in a play-off.
  • Baltimore beat Washington 3 games to 1 game (and 1 tie) for the championship cup.

Events[edit]

January – May[edit]

  • April 20 – The Boston Red Sox show off their prize rookie Ted Williams before 30,278 in Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, in a game delayed two days because of rain. After striking out twice, Williams collects a double off New York Yankees pitcher Red Ruffing, who is credited with the win in a 2–0 victory. Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig makes an error, goes hitless, and lines into two double plays in the only game featuring the two great sluggers. Other notables in what will become a historic box score include Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Red Rolfe, and losing pitcher Lefty Grove. The Yankees score their first run on a home run by Dickey and their second on an error by Foxx. Boston has baserunners in each inning, but Ruffing tosses just the second opening day shutout in Yankees history. Four umpires work the game including third base umpire George Pipgras, who was the starting pitcher for the Yankees in the 1929 opener. Curiously, his opponent for the Red Sox that day was Ruffing.[1]
  • April 29 – In the seventh game of the season, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio makes a sharp turn while fielding a liner facing the Washington Senators and tears muscles in his right foot. The Yankees lose the game and DiMaggio will miss the next 35 games.
  • April 30 – Lou Gehrig goes hitless in four at-bats against the Washington Senators and is now hitting just .143 this season. He had just played his 2,130th consecutive major league game. No one knew it would be the very last of his career.
  • May 2 – New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig voluntarily benches himself "for the good of the team" ending his consecutive-game streak at 2,130. Babe Dahlgren replaces him in the line-up, and goes two-for-five with a home run. The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 22–2 behind Red Ruffing.

June – July[edit]

  • June 4 – The St. Louis Browns sweep a double header from the Washington Senators to end an eleven-game losing streak. The Browns then go on to lose their next six in a row. The Browns never won more than two games in a row all season.
  • June 5 – Detroit Tigers pitcher Tommy Bridges holds the New York Yankees to just four hits as the Yankees are shut out for the only time all season, 3–0.
  • June 28 – The New York Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Athletics 23–2 & 10–0 in a double header. In the first game, the Yankees hit eight home runs, and followed that with five more in the second. Both totals set a Major League record for most home runs in a game as well as their total of fifty-three total bases in a doubleheader.
  • July 3 – In the St. Louis Cardinals' 5–3 victory over the Chicago Cubs, Johnny Mize goes four-for-four, equaling a National League record four extra-base hits, including a double, triple and two home runs.
  • July 4 – Lou Gehrig appreciation day is celebrated at Yankee Stadium. Numerous people, including many from other major league teams, came forward to give Gehrig gifts and to shower praise on the dying slugger. The Yankees retired his uniform number (4), becoming the first player in major league history to be afforded that honor. Babe Ruth even showed up and ended their long-standing feud by giving his old teammate a hug. After the presentations, Gehrig approached the microphone, and addressed the crowd:
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that's the finest I know. So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.
  • July 8 – The Washington Senators' Mickey Vernon makes his major league debut as a pinch runner in the first game of a double header with the Philadelphia A's. He does not log an at-bat, however, he goes one-for-five in the second game and scores a run.
  • July 9 – The Philadelphia Phillies defeat the Boston Bees, 3–1, to snap an eleven-game losing streak.
  • July 16 – The Boston Red Sox sweep a double header from the Detroit Tigers that brings their winning streak to twelve games.
  • July 18 – The Brooklyn Dodgers acquire Boston Red Sox farmhand Pee Wee Reese.
  • July 25 – Yankees pitcher Atley Donald sets a league record for consecutive wins by a rookie, bringing his record to 12–0 with a 5–1 victory over the St. Louis Browns.
  • July 26 – The New York Yankees tied a major league record by scoring in every inning against the St. Louis Browns. Bill Dickey hit three home runs in the 14–1 win.

August – September[edit]

  • August 5 – The New York Yankees trade Vince DiMaggio to the Cincinnati Reds.
  • August 6 – Already behind 10–1 to the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin sends Jimmie Foxx to the mound to pitch the ninth inning. He records a perfect 1–2–3 inning.
  • August 9
    • Red Rolfe of the New York Yankees started a streak of 18 consecutive games in which he scored at least one run. During those games, he scored a total of 30 runs.
    • With a 5–3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals complete a ten-game winning streak. They are still, however, eight games back of the first place Cincinnati Reds. The Reds snap the streak on August 12, however, the Cards take two of their three meetings at Sportsman's Park to move within 6.5 of first place.
  • August 20 – The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs split a double header at Forbes Field. The victory in the second game snaps a twelve-game losing streak for the Bucs.
  • August 26 – The double header between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field is telecast on Channel W2XBS in Brooklyn.
  • September 13 – Early Wynn loses his major league debut, 4–2 to the Chicago White Sox.
  • September 18 – The St. Louis Browns lose their 100th game of the season, 6–2 to the New York Yankees.
  • September 19 – The New York Yankees defeat the Chicago White Sox, 6–2, for their 100th victory of the season.
  • September 23 – The Brooklyn Dodgers defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 22–4. The Dodgers go on to sweep the Phillies in the four game set at Shibe Park, handing them losses number 100 & 101 on the 24th.
  • September 29 – The second game of the double header between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers at Briggs Stadium is called after five innings due to rain. Hal Newhouser pitches all five innings for Detroit, and is the losing pitcher in his major league debut.
  • September 30 – In the second game of a double header with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Murry Dickson makes his major league debut. He pitches 3.2 without giving up a run, and strikes out in his only at-bat.

October – December[edit]

  • October 4 – Bill Dickey's single in the bottom of the ninth wins game one of the 1939 World Series for the New York Yankees, 2–1. This is the first World Series appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in 20 years.
  • October 5 – Monte Pearson holds the Cincinnati Reds to just two hits, as the Yankees take game two of the World Series, 4–0.
  • October 7 – The Reds take a 3–2 lead in the second inning only to have Joe DiMaggio hit a two run home run in the top of the third to put the Yankees on top for good on their way to a 7–3 victory.
  • October 8 – An error by Billy Myers allows the Yankees to tie it in the ninth. Then, costly errors in the tenth inning by Myers, Ival Goodman and Bucky Walters lead to three runs as the New York Yankees defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 7–4, in Game Four of the World Series to win a record fourth consecutive World Championship, and eighth overall, four games to none.
  • November 12:
    • Dom DiMaggio, the youngest of the three DiMaggio brothers, is acquired for $40,000 by the Boston Red Sox from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. DiMaggio will spend his entire Major League career with the Red Sox, hitting .298 in 1399 games and making seven All-Star AL teams.
    • Pitcher Victor Starffin wins his 42nd game in a 96-game season of the Japanese Professional Baseball League, leading the Yomiuri Giants to the Championship title, while setting a post-1900 World Record for season victories that will be equaled by Kazuhisa Inao in 1961 but never broken. Starffin will follow his record performance with another 38 wins in 1940. Born in Russia, he moved to Asahikawa, Hokkaidō at a young age, and was selected as part of the national baseball team for an exhibition game against the United States in 1934. From 1936 through 1955 Starffin won 303 games, to become the first pitcher in Japanese baseball history to reach 300 victories.
  • December 6 – In a trade of veteran shortstops, or "worn-out shortstops," as one newspaper described it, the Chicago Cubs acquire Billy Rogell from the Detroit Tigers for Dick Bartell. Rogell, who injured his arm playing handball the previous year, hits just .136 before hanging up his spikes. The Tigers will release "Rowdy Richard" five games into the 1941 season, but he will stick with the New York Giants until 1946.
  • December 9 – The Detroit Tigers trade Benny McCoy and George Coffman to the Philadelphia A's for Wally Moses. The trade is voided by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and the players return to their original teams on January 14, 1940. The commissioner declared McCoy a free agent because he had been “hidden” from other teams. Judge Landis declares 87 more Tigers farmhands free agents due to their concealment in the minor leagues.

Births[edit]

January–March[edit]

April–June[edit]

July–September[edit]

October–December[edit]

Deaths[edit]

  • January 13 – Jacob Ruppert, 71, Yankees owner since 1914
  • January 19 – Cliff Heathcote, 40, NL outfielder who batted .275 over 15 seasons
  • January 25 – Abner Dalrymple, 81, star outfielder of the 1880s, leadoff hitter for five Chicago pennant winners
  • February 12 – George Fair, 83, second baseman for one game, with the 1876 New York Mutuals
  • February 22 – Frank Morrissey, 62, pitcher for the Boston Americans (1901) and Chicago Orphans (1902)
  • March 8 – Scott Stratton, 69, pitcher, primarily with Louisville, who posted a 34-win season in 1890 which included 15 straight victories
  • March 28 – Fred Goldsmith, 82, pitcher who steadfastly maintained that he had first thrown the curveball in 1870, six years earlier than Candy Cummings, who gained credit for the development
  • May 24 – Barney Pelty, 58, pitcher for the St. Louis Browns and one of the first Jewish players in the AL
  • May 29 – Bill McCarthy, 57, pitcher for the 1906 Boston Beaneaters
  • June 11 – John Henry, 75, 19th century outfielder/pitcher for the Cleveland Blues, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and New York Giants
  • June 17 – Allen Sothoron, 46, spitball pitcher who spent most of his career with the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals
  • July 7 – Deacon White, 91, star bare-handed catcher and third baseman for six championship teams in the 1870s and 1880s, and the fourth player to collect 1000 hits
  • July 29 – John Sowders, 72, pitcher for three seasons; 1887, 1889 to 1890
  • September 25 – Frank LaPorte, 59, infielder who batted .300 three times and led the Federal League in RBIs in 1914
  • November 11 – Frank Abercrombie, 88, shortstop for one game with the 1871 Philadelphia Athletics
  • November 19 – Frank Mountain, 79, pitcher for seven seasons, 1880–1886, won 20 games twice and threw a no-hitter
  • December 3 – Frank Killen, 69, winner of 164 games from 1891–1900, including two 30-win seasons
  • December 18 – Heywood Broun, 51, sportswriter and editor in New York City since the early 1910s
  • December 26 – Clyde Engle, 55, utility player who scored the tying run for Boston in the 10th inning of Game 8 of the 1912 World Series, after his earlier pop fly had been dropped

References[edit]