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Random Game Callback, June 15, 1940
2006-06-15 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

The Detroit Tigers came up to bat in 16 half innings in a home doubleheader against the Washington Senators and scored in 12 of them as they moved to within two games of first place Boston with a doubleheader sweep, 11-1 and 8-0 before 26,402 spectators at Briggs Stadium.

Detroit pitchers Bobo Newsom and Johnny Gorsica held the Senators to three hits and four hits in each end of the twinbill. Washington's four pitchers, Sid Hudson, Rene Monteagudo, Joe Haynes, and Charlie Gelbert gave up 28 hits in the two games.

Washington scored its only run of the day in the second inning of the first game on a home run by catcher Jake Early. No other Senator would get an extra base hit.

Detroit hit two home runs in the first game, one by third baseman Pinky Higgins, who was called Mike when he was a manager and was called Frank in the game story by the Washington Post's Shirley Povich, and another by left fielder Hank Greenberg. Greenberg had shifted from first base to left so manager Del Baker could find a position for Rudy York, who had a good bat, but was never good anywhere in the field. York would go 5 for 9 in the doubleheader.

In the second game, Higgins hit another home run and right fielder Bruce Campbell had a double and a triple. The Tigers had six extra base hits in the game and 14 in the doubleheader.

The 1940 Tigers would end up in a tight pennant race with Cleveland and the Yankees as Boston slid down to fourth place at 82-72.

With three games left in the season, the Tigers led Cleveland by two games and the Yankees by two and a half. Detroit had a three-game series with Cleveland to finish the season, while the Yankees were playing one game in Phiadelphia and then three at Washington.

In the first game of the series, Baker started 30-year old rookie Floyd Giebell against Cleveland's Bob Feller. In one of the bigger surprises in baseball history, Giebell threw a 6-hit shutout and the Tigers won 2-0. Meanwhile the Yankees lost to Philadelphia, 6-2 and the Tigers clinched the pennant. They would lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games, the first loss by an AL team in the World Series since the Tigers lost to St. Louis in 1934.

Moving Greenberg to the outfield worked out well for the Tigers. Greenberg hit 41 home runs and drove in 150 and batted .340 and won the MVP award. York hit 33 home runs and drove in 134 and batted .316. The Tigers scored a league high 888 runs. Newsom was the team's best pitcher, going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. Newsom, who was well-traveled during his career, changing teams 16 times, playing for the Dodgers (2 stints), Cubs, Browns (3 times), Senators (5 times), Red Sox, Tigers, Athletics (2 times), Yankees, and Giants.

The Senators avoided the cellar in 1940 with a 64-90 record, 10 games better than Philadelphia. There wasn't much to shout about on offense. Outfielder George Case did lead the AL in stolen bases with 35. The Senators filled out their rosters with players from other countries. They had Cuban pitchers like Monteagudo and Gil Torres and a Venezuelan in Alex Carrasquel. They also had a Canadian pitcher named Joe Krakauskas.

The Tigers would not be able to keep pace with the Yankees after 1940. Greenberg was drafted into the Army in 1941 and Detroit fell to fifth place. When Greenberg, along with other servicemen, the Tigers would win the pennant again in 1945.

Sources: Retrosheet,, Washington Post

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