By Tony Shupenko, Lead Tour Guide
"Those fellows not only beat you but they tear your heart out. I wish the season was over." This is a quote from Washington Senators first baseman Joe Judge after a 21-1 shellacking in a July 1927 game against the New York Yankees. Although Judge is the one quoted, it is hard to believe other players from the other 6 American League teams didn’t share the same sentiments. The 1927 New York Yankees may have been the greatest team in the history of baseball. A record of 110 wins with only 44 losses they won the American League Pennant by an astonishing 19 games. The World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates came as more of a formality as the Yankees swept them rather easily in four straight games. "Let’s go out on the ballfield and hope we don't all get killed." – Donnie Bush, Pirates Manager, on facing the 1927 Yankees in the World Series.
Statistically, the 1927 season might have been the best year for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (pictured below), two of the greatest players that the game has ever known. Gehrig batted .373, with 47 home runs, and batted in an astounding 175 runs. While Ruth batted .356 (with an On Base Percentage of .486), 164 RBI, and his record setting 60 home runs (he broke his own record of 59 home runs which he set in 1921). This record would go on to stand until 1961 when another Yankee by the name of Roger Maris muscled up to hit 61.
Other Yankees to have an astonishing ‘27 season included Tony Lazzeri who hit 18 home runs and 102 RBI, Bob Meusel who batted .337 with 103 RBI, and Earle Combs who collected 231 hits on the season which resulted in a .356 average. In addition to the Yankees’ impressive offensive performance, their pitches also had remarkable success. Waite Hoyt won 22 games while sporting a 2.63 ERA, Herb Pennock and Wilcy Moore recorded 19 victories a piece, and Urban Shocker posted 18 wins.
90 years have passed since this historical team played and even today with all the advance scouting, sabermetrics, and statcast analytics, it is hard to compare any team to the 1927 Yankees.
One of to the most prized items in our collection here at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is one of the bats that Babe Ruth used during this record setting season. Babe Ruth was the ultimate showman and kept his own scorecard that year right on his bat Every time Babe went deep that season, he would engrave a “notch” around that famous Louisville Slugger logo. The 40 ounce hickory bat that sits in our museum sports 21 “notches.” These markings mean this single bat represents 21 of Babe’s 60 home runs from that historic 1927 season. It is arguably one of the most important bats used in the career of Babe Ruth. Make sure you check it out during your visit!