Monday, December 21, 2009

PTWSW #26: The 1929 Philadelphia Athletics

Manager: Connie Mack
Record: 104-46
Ballpark: Shibe Park
Owner: Connie Mack and The Shibe Family
Coaches: Eddie Collins, Kid Gleason, Earle Mack

Future Hall of Famers: Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons

Team Leaders, Batting

Al Simmons, .365
OBP: Jimmie Foxx, .463 (AL leader)
SLG: Al Simmons, .642
OPS: Jimmie Foxx, 1.088
2B: Mule Haas, Al Simmons, 41
3B: Bing Miller, 16
HR: Al Simmons, 34
RBI: Al Simmons, 157 (AL leader)
BB: Max Bishop, 128 (AL leader)
SB: Bing Miller, 24

Team Leaders, Pitching

George Earnshaw, 24 (AL leader)
SO: Lefty Grove, 170 (AL leader)
ERA: Lefty Grove, 2.81 (AL leader)
IP: Lefty Grove, 275.1
CG: Rube Walberg, 20
SHO: George Earnshaw, Rube Walberg, 3
K/BB: Lefty Grove, 2.10 (AL leader)
SV: Bill Shores, 7


Oldest Player: Jack Quinn (b. July 1, 1883)

Youngest Player: Eric McNair (b. April 12, 1909)

First to Leave Us: Jack Quinn (d. April 17, 1946)

Last Survivor: Rudy Miller (d. January 22, 1994)

First in Majors: Eddie Collins debuted on September 17, 1906, but he was a player-coach who saw a much heavier emphasis on the second half of that title. Among regulars it was Jack Quinn, whose debut came on April 15, 1909.

Last in Majors: Doc Cramer (final game May 12, 1948)

First to Play For the Franchise: Once again it's Collins, who began his career under Connie Mack in 1906, but if you want to count only regulars it was Cy Perkins, who debuted with the A's on September 25, 1915.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Al Simmons (final game July 1, 1944). Simmons came on as a player-coach during World War II hoping he could help the team with his bat and reach 3,000 hits. He only got into four games that year.

Pre-union Team: The 1923 Red Sox had George Burns, Howard Ehmke and Jack Quinn.

Reunion Team: Red Sox again! The 1936 team had six of these guys: Doc Cramer, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Eric McNair, Bing Miller and Rube Walberg.

Season Summary

On offense it was all about a league-leading .365 on-base percentage and the powerful 1-2 punch of Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons. Mack's boys scored the second-most runs in the league and hit the second-most homers. Their biggest strength, however, was the pitching staff. Led by Lefty Grove, Rube Walberg and George Earnshaw, the Athletics put up an ERA+ of 123 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.18, both of which led the AL handily. Their DER of .703 was also tops in the Junior Circuit.

The A's had come up just short in the 1928 pennant race; this time they wouldn't be denied. After a month they'd worked their way into first place, then they began a 39-9 run that catapulted them far ahead of the pack. It wasn't even close the rest of the way, and by season's end they would have an 18-game lead over the second-place Yankees.

Instead of one of his aces, Mack started little-used veteran Howard Ehmke in Game 1 of the World Series against the Cubs. Ehmke had gotten time off to scout the Cubs at the end of the season, and he made the most of his opportunity by striking out 13 batters (then a World Series record) and delivering a Philadelphia victory. They'd split the next two games. In Game 4 the A's entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 8-0 and exited leading 10-8, the same score by which they'd win. It remains the largest deficit overcome in a postseason game. The Cubs didn't seem demoralized in Game 5, as they took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The Athletics never gave up though, scoring three runs that frame (capped by Bing Miller's two-out RBI double) to win the game and the Series.


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