The New York Yankees of 1937 were one of baseball's greatest teams. They were part of a stretch of four straight World Series winners (1936-39). They had players like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, Lefty Gomez, and Red Ruffing, all of whom would end up in the Hall of Fame. Despite all of these future Hall of Famers appearing in the game, the Yankees slipped up this day at League Park in Cleveland, 6-2, before a crowd of about 7,000.
Yankees manager Joe McCarthy had Gomez as his starting pitcher while Cleveland manager Steve O'Neill tabbed Mel Harder as his starter. 18-year old phenom Bob Feller was off in Milwaukee getting a possibile arm injury checked out.
Harder helped himself in the third with a single. Shortstop Lyn Lary and first baseman Hal Trosky would later double to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. Cleveland scored again in the sixth on a double by third baseman Roy Hughes.
The Yankees finally scored in the seventh when Gehrig tripled to center and Dickey drove him in with a ground out. The Yankees got another run in the eighth when Ruffing, batting for Gomez, led off with a single. (Ruffing was a good hitter for a pitcher, batting .269 in his career.) Shortstop Frankie Crosetti and third baseman Red Rolfe followed with force plays. DiMaggio and Gehrig followed with singles to drive home Rolfe to make the score 3-2 Cleveland.
Pat Malone came in to relieve in the eighth and the Indians knocked him around to widen the score. Malone walked two and gave up a single to load the bases for pinch hitter Billy Sullivan, who singled home runs. Harder followed with a squeeze play for the final run of the game for Cleveland.
Harder would pitch a complete game despite giving up 11 hits. However, all but one of them, Gehrig's triple, were singles. The Yankees also lost right fielder George Selkirk to an injury early in the game and used Myril Hoag in his place. Selkirk would be in and out of the lineup all season and would play in just 78 games, but he did hit 18 home runs.
The Yankees would win the AL pennant in 1937 with a 102-52 record, 13 games better than Detroit. They scored the most runs (979) and gave up the fewest (671). Gehrig would led the AL in OBP (.473) and OPS (1.116), but it was DiMaggio who led in slugging (.673), runs scored (151), total bases (418), and home runs (46). DiMaggio drove in 167 runs, but still finished 16 behind league leader Hank Greenberg, who missed Gehrig's AL record in that category by one. Gomez would win the Triple Crown of pitching, leading the AL in wins (21), strikeouts (194), and ERA (2.33).
Cleveland finished 19 games behind the Yankees in fourth place at 83-71. Trosky led the team with 32 home runs. He had the potential to join Gehrig and Greenberg and Jimmie Foxx as one of the preeminent slugging first basemen in the AL, but his career would be sidetracked by severe migraine headachces and he played sparingly from 1940 on. Cleveland's pitching staff was an odd collection of names and statistics. Harder was the workhorse, pitching 233 2/3 innings and going 15-12, but he had an ERA of 4.28. Feller pitched in 26 games and was 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA and struck out 150 batters in 148 2/3 innings, although he also walked 106. Johnny Allen went 15-1 in just 24 games with a 2.55 ERA. Allen's only loss came on the last day of the season, when the Indians lost 1-0 to Detroit. The short-tempered Allen started his career with the Yankees and would also end up with the Browns, Dodgers, and Giants.
The Yankees would win the World Series for the second straight year and would again beat their neighbors, the Giants. The series took just five games and they outscored the Giants 28-12.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, baseballlibrary.com, New York Times