Year In Review : 1929 American League
Off the field...
One February evening in north Chicago, seven well-dressed men were found riddled with bullets inside the S.M.C Cartage Company garage. All had been lined up against a wall, with their backs to their executioners (who were disguised as policemen) and shot to death. The men were mobsters working under the leadership of gangster and bootlegger, "Bugs" Moran and were casualties of what would become the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre". Ordered by rival gang leader, Al "Scarface" Capone, the notorious attack was carried out by Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn who had organized the hit. Thanks to prohibition, Capone had become the crime czar of Chicago, running gambling, prostitution and bootlegging rackets while continuously expanding his territories by getting rid of rival gangs.
Stock market prices plummeted from November to December and U.S. securities lost $26 billion, marking the first financial disaster of the Great Depression. The American depression produced severe effects abroad, especially in Europe, where many countries had not fully recovered from the aftermath of World War I. In Germany, the economic disaster and resulting social dislocation contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Although it shared the basic characteristics of other such crises, the Great Depression was unprecedented in its length and in the wholesale poverty and tragedy it inflicted on society.
In the American League...
The first-place Philadelphia Athletics scored a whopping eight runs off of Boston Red Sox pitcher Milt Gaston on the way to an embarrassing 24-6 massacre at Fenway Park on May 1st. The twenty-four runs matched a franchise record previously set in the "Ty Cobb protest game" in 1912, and the twenty-nine hits set another franchise mark.
The Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers set a major league "marathon" record on May 24th after going twenty-one innings (three hours and thirty-one minutes) for the longest game ever seen to date at Comiskey Park. George Uhle emerged the 6-5 winner, after going twenty innings, with Vic Sorrell finishing in relief. The loser, Ted Lyons, went the distance giving up a respectable twenty-four hits (over twenty-one innings).
In the National League...
On April 29th, Brooklyn Dodgers relief pitcher Clise Dudley became the first player ever to hit a home run against the first pitch he saw. Claude Willoughby of the Philadelphia Phillies gave up the inaugural round-tripper en route to an 8-3 victory. Amazingly Dudley would go on to hit only two more home runs in his four Major League years.
The Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds turned an amazing nine double plays on July 3rd to tie the Major League double-play mark previously set in 1925 by Detroit and Washington.
The St. Louis Cardinals answered back after losing 10-6 in the opener of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies with a magnificent 28-6 victory on July 6th. The "Redbirds" came out swinging in game two and collected ten runs in the first and ten more in the fifth. Their twenty-eight hits and twenty-eight runs set a National League record and both teams combined to tie a Major League title with seventy-three hits in a doubleheader.
Around the league...
The New York Yankees announced that they were adding numbers on the backs of their uniforms. Initially, continuous numbers were distributed based upon a player's position in the batting order (Combs #1, Koenig #2, Ruth #3, Gehrig #4, Meusel #5, Lazzeri #6, Durocher #7, Grabowski #8). Several weeks later, the Cleveland Indians agreed to follow suite and by 1931 all American League teams were utilizing the new identification technique. However, some National League players still remained numberless until 1933.
On August 3rd, the Chicago Cubs voiced their complaint about the ragged sleeve on the pitching arm of Brooklyn Dodger ace Dazzy Vance (an old trick to distract the hitter). Soon after, a Major League rule was passed that required all pitchers to maintain neat attire. The mandate would expand over the years to include caps, gloves, glasses and other visual deterrents.
The New York Giants used the first public address system in a big-league ballpark during a July 5th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On September 25th, New York Yankees manager Miller Huggins died from accidental blood poisoning at New York's St. Vincent Hospital at the age of forty-nine. On the day of his funeral in Cincinnati, the American League canceled all games. Yankees coach Art Fletcher remained, as interim skipper, and Bob Shawkey was brought in as the official manager for the 1930 season.