Best Baseball Team Ever: 1927 New York Yankees
The talk of the town usually at year’s end and new year’s beginnings
usually gets down in many sports quarters to rankings of the best of the
best. Agreement is sometimes a hard fought but not often achieved goal.
I, however, have a no-brainer for all - -hands down or up as the case
may be - -the best of the best baseball teams is the ’27 Yanks.
The club was so consistent in every way that its roster was not ever
changed that glorious season. The team began with ten pitchers, three
catchers, seven infielders, five outfielders, and ended that way.
There was no shuttling of players up and down from the minors. The 25
guys who began the season remained on the big league roster all season
long, tying a record for fewest players used by a major league team.
On that legendary squad was an ex- teacher, a railroad fireman, a
bartender, a former full-time boilermaker, a seaman, a logger, a
cardsharp, a guy who had studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood, one
whose youth was spent climbing tenement stairs in New York City
delivering laundry, another who swam in the Hudson River and made the
rounds of local pool halls. Possessed of an almost royal aura, another
player had attended the finest prep schools and sported thousand dollar
diamond rings. The ’27 Yankee ranks also included a meat cutter and an
ex-vaudevillian, a talented painter, artist, writer and singer, a
skilled piano (jazz and classical) player. There were some former farm
boys and farmers. And there were a few who had never known anything but
Average age of the all-white team was 27.6.They came from diverse
backgrounds, had very different personalities, backgrounds, educations,
interests, skills, avocations. Baseball boned them together.
The total payroll for that 1927 team was an estimated $250,000. Average
salary was $10,000 as compared to $2,699.292 for the 2006 Yankees.
Salaries ranged from Julie Wera's $2,400 to Babe Ruth's $70,000.
That 1927 Yankee team had a pronounced German- American flavor from its
owner beer baron Jacob Ruppert to Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mark Koenig,
Bob Meusel, George Pipgras, Dutch Ruether and half Germans Waite Hoyt
and Earle Combs.
Although Some of tha 1927 bunch lacked a true formal education, a
collegiate flavor permeated the roster: Lou Gehrig (Columbia), Miller
Huggins (University of Cincinnati), Joe Dugan (Holy Cross), Benny
Bengough (Niagara University), Earle Combs (Eastern Kentucky State
Teachers College), Mike Gazella (Lafayette), Ray Morehart (Stephen
Austin College, Texas), Myles Thomas (Penn State), Bob Shawkey (Slippery
Rock University of Pennsylvania), Ben Paschal (University of Alabama),
Dutch Ruether (St. Ignatius College, now San Francisco University)
One player (Babe Ruth) was educated at St. Mary's Industrial School.
Another had been in an out of one room schoolhouses in cotton county
Mark Koenig, Joe Grabowski, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Julie Wera were
the only 1927 Yankees born in the 20th
The shortest players were catcher Benny Bengough and utility man Mike
Gazella. Bob Meusel was the tallest Yankee at 6' 3" and Babe Ruth was
the next tallest at 6' 2". Other six footers included pitchers Wilcy
Moore, Herb Pennock, George Pipgras, Dutch Ruether, infielders Lou
Gehrig and Mark Koenig, and centerfielder Earl Combs. Only Babe Ruth
and Lou Gehrig weighed more than 200 pounds.
Only Lou Gehrig would start every game (155) at first base.Second
baseman Tony Lazzeri appeared in 113 games. Mark Koenig got into 122
games at shortstop, Joe Dugan 111 at third base. Earl Combs started all
but three games.
The final statistics on Ruth and Meusel would be misleading. The Babe
would start 95 times in right field and "Silent Bob" 83 times in left
field. But they flip-flopped starts at Yankee Stadium and in a few parks
on the road. Six men accounted for almost 90% of the innings pitched.
There was an almost grotesque quality to the team collectively as well
as individually. One player was only able to sleep sitting up. He had a
heart condition that he kept secret from his teammates. Another
seemingly unfriendly, at times very quiet, was an epileptic. Tony
Lazzeri’s health condition was never mentioned by the press. One was
taciturn, some would say miserable, a drinker, a scowler who looked at
the world about him with annoyance and anger. One worked off-season as a
mortician. Another (Lou Gehrig) was a "mama's boy," reportedly a
virgin,very uncomfortable in the presence of women. He enjoyed fishing
by himself for eels and living in an apartment with his parents.
There was one (Babe Ruth) whose hearty belches sometimes rattled bats
stacked in the dugout, who slugged down great quantities of beer, ate
prodigiously. His prowess with women was the talk throughout baseball.
Another was an uneducated dirt farmer, aged 30, or was it 40. There was
also a Kentuckian, a church goer, a non-smoker, non-drinker, a man who
never cursed and read his Bible on the road in hotel rooms.
This terrific, talented team had it all including a four game sweep of
the Pirates to roll to the world championship. It was a group of men who
totally dominated baseball. It was a group led by Babe Ruth
a free swinger in a free swinging time.
Babe Ruth was the king. The 1927 New York Yankees were the royalty of
And if you loved the Yankees, it was the best of times.
# # #
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Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
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