Bill James called Connie Mack’s move in the 1929 World Series, “the most brilliant managerial stratagem in the history of baseball”


howard ehmke connie mack

Connie Mack’s 1929 Philadelphia Athletics were one of the greatest teams in baseball history. With a lineup that included Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, and Al Simmons, they finished 18 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Yankee team that won 6 of the previous 8 American League pennants. The Athletics pitching staff boasted a pair of aces with the left-right combination of 20-game winner Lefty Grove and 24-game winner George Earnshaw. For good measure, Mack’s #3 starter Rube Walberg had 18 wins of his own. On May 12th Philadelphia moved into a first-place tie with the Yankees and never relinquished the top spot. By the end of the month the A’s were five games up. Their lead swelled to 10 1/2 games on August 1st behind Earnshaw’s 17th win of the season. The margin remained at double digits the rest of the way. As Philadelphia cruised toward the AL pennant, the Cubs did the same in the National League. When Charlie Root shut down the Giants at the Polo Grounds on August 21st, the Cubs’ lead stretched to 10 1/2 games and never diminished. The two teams were on a collision course for the World Series. An aging […]

Read More >

George Earnshaw was a World Series champ and WWII hero


George Earnshaw

The college standout takes an unconventional path to pro ball George Earnshaw took the road less traveled. Throughout his life he made unexpected decisions that always had a way of working out. Living on his own terms he became the right-handed ace of a baseball dynasty and a World War II hero. Earnshaw was a star in football, basketball, and baseball at Swarthmore College and later a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. On the pitcher’s mound the 6’4″, 210-pounder was an especially imposing presence. When he left the school in 1922, baseball scouts tabbed him as the top local prospect. The International League’s Double-A Baltimore Orioles were Earnshaw’s most persistent suitor. When they wouldn’t agree to his demand of $600 per month, Earnshaw took a job with his uncle’s transportation business in Newark, New Jersey. He later joked he was the only holdout in baseball history who had yet to play a professional game. Over the next couple of years, the Orioles reminded Earnshaw of their interest each time they traveled to Newark to play the Bears. When his uncle’s business closed in 1924, Earnshaw finally took the Orioles up on their baseball offer. More than two […]

Read More >

Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein made Philadelphia the center of the baseball universe


Philadelphia sluggers Chuck Klein and Jimmie Foxx

From 1929 through 1933, Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein put on a show and treated Philadelphia to the greatest era its baseball fans ever knew. During the five-year run, Klein led the league in homers four times and finished second once. He wasn’t just a slugger. Starting in 1929, Klein reeled off at least 200 hits each year through 1933 to become the only player to reach the mark in each of each of his first five full big league seasons. Incredibly, he averaged 224 hits per year and hit .359. In 1932 the Phillies right fielder captured the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He followed up that season with by winning the Triple Crown in ’33. Klein’s team struggles; Foxx’s shines While Klein put up outstanding individual numbers his Phillies struggled. Under manager Burt Shotton, the Phillies finished last twice and went a combined 113 games below .500. Their only first-division finish came in 1932 when they finished in fourth place, two games above the break-even mark. Predictably, fans didn’t embrace the woeful team. From 1929-1933 the Phillies ranked last in the league in attendance four times, averaging just over a half-million fans per season. Foxx’s Athletics provided […]

Read More >

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954