Random Game Callback, August 27, 1930 - the end of randomness
by Bob Timmermann
In one of the biggest years of offense in the 20th Century, the Brooklyn Dodgers used a Johnny Frederick home run and fourteen other hits to pound the crosstown rival New York Giants, 7-2, before a crowd of about 30,000 at the Polo Grounds.
Brooklyn and New York did not like each other much and tempers were high. In the second inning, Clark was ejected by home plate umpire Lou Jorda after tossing his glove to the ground in protest of a walk call to Giants first baseman Bill Terry. Jumbo Elliott relieved and pitched the rest of the game for Brooklyn.
The Giants scored the game's first run in the fourth when Terry doubled and scored on a single by catcher Bob O'Farrell. They would never lead again.
In the top of the fifth, second baseman Neal Finn singled, but catcher Al Lopez hit into a double play for Brooklyn. Elliott walked and then center fielder Frederick homered to give Brooklyn a 2-1 lead. The Giants tied the game in the bottom of the half of the inning on a sacrifice fly from center fielder Ethan Allen (the inventor of All-Star Baseball and a great American inventor on a par with Thomas Edison) to score left fielder Wally Roettger.
Brooklyn drove Walker from the hill in the sixth with four consecutive hits from shortstop Glenn Wright, first baseman Del Bissonette, left fielder Rube Bressler, and Finn to score two runs and put Brooklyn ahead 4-2. Hub Pruett relieved and got Lopez to hit into his second double play to get out of further trouble.
In the ninth, Brooklyn broke the game open against the Giants third pitcher, Joe Heving. Lopez singled and stole second. After Elliott struck out, Frederick, third baseman Wally Gilbert, right fielder Babe Herman, and Wright singled to score three runs.
With the win, Brooklyn moved just 1/2 game behind New York for second place in the NL. The defending champion Cubs were on top by 5 1/2 games. When the season ended, St. Louis would end up on top as the Cardinals went 21-4 in the last month of the season. The Cubs were just 13-13 in the final month and finished two games out. Chicago manager Joe McCarthy got fed up and quit the team with four games left and gave the job to Rogers Hornsby. The Giants would finish in third place and the Dodgers in fourth.
The National League would have its biggest offensive year of the 20th century in terms of batting average and on base percentage. The league batted .303 and had an on-base percentage of .360. The NL also slugged .448, the highest mark ever. Other highs set for an 8-team NL were set for runs, hits, doubles, total bases, extra base hits, and RBI.
Terry would lead the NL in batting average at .401, the last NL player to top .400. Herman finished second at .393. Hack Wilson of the Cubs set an NL record with 56 home runs and drove in a still-standing record 191 runs.
Perhaps the most amazing performance of 1930 was by a pitcher. Brooklyn's Dazzy Vance, at age 39, managed to post a 2.61 ERA (the league ERA was 4.92). The second best ERA among qualifiers was 3.87 by the Giants Carl Hubbell.
The Cardinals scored 1,004 runs, the most by any NL team in the 20th Century. No NL team has gone over 1,000 runs since then, although several AL teams have. The Phillies pitching staff gave up 1,199 runs and had an ERA of 6.72, the highest in major league history in both categories.
In 1931, offense in the NL dropped to more normal levels. Just what caused this one year offensive spike is still unclear, but many historians point to a livelier baseball used by the National League. Or maybe everybody was on Depression-era steroids.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com