1921 Classic Past Season with transaction and lineups available now!
1921: What a Babe!
by Steve Ehresman
The Yanks had gone “over there” and come home victorious. Warren G. Harding was sworn in as the 29th President of the United States. Former President William Howard Taft became Chief Justice of the United States. Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio while on vacation. In football’s “upset of the century,” Centre College defeated Harvard University 6-0, snapping the Crimson’s five-year winning streak. Popular literature included Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan the Terrible and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s collection of short stories Flappers and Philosophers. A White Castle hamburger restaurant opened in Wichita, Kansas, forming the nation’s first fast-food chain. Charlie Chaplin wrote, produced, and directed the full-length silent comedy-drama film The Kid, featuring his Little Tramp character. The first radio baseball game was broadcast with Harold Arlin calling the Phillies-Pirates game from Forbes Field.
As Prohibition dried-out America, Al Capone grew his criminal empire in Chicago, and the Twenties began to roar, Babe Ruth enjoyed a season for the ages, leading the Pinstripes to their first American League pennant. Only the St. Louis Browns and the Washington Senators had never hoisted a championship flag. The Babe slammed 59 home runs to break his own year-old record of 54 long balls. In addition, Ruth scored 177 runs, collected 171 RBI, and produced 457 total bases—all of which were new MLB records. Along the way, Ruth swatted his 137th career home run (eclipsing Roger Connor’s record mark of 136), legged out 16 triples, walked 144 times, stole 17 bases, batted .378, and slugged .846. Despite the fact that the 1920s are considered a Golden Age in American sports, no one measured up to The Colossus of Clout, known to his teammates simply as “Jedge.”
Ruth’s other-worldly numbers overshadowed superb contributions by his teammate Bob Meusel, who was tied for runner-up in home runs with 24 and third in RBI with 135. Further, Meusel smashed 40 doubles and--like Ruth--recorded 16 triples and 17 stolen bases. First-sacker Wally Pipp was a superb hitter in the clutch, driving in 97 runs and swiping 17 bases, while hitting .296. Amid this explosion of offense, the unheralded Yankee pitching staff performed remarkably. Leading the way were Carl Mays (49 G, 38 GS, 30 CG, 337 IP, 27-9, 3.04), along with newly-acquired stars Waite Hoyt (44 G, 32 GS, 21 CG, 282 IP, 19-13, 3.10), and Bob Shawkey (38 G, 31 GS, 21 CG, 245 IP, 18-12, 4.08).
Despite their prowess, the Yankees had difficulty shaking the defending World Champion Cleveland Indians, who finally ran out of gas in September, succumbing by only 4.5 games. Tris Speaker (52 2B, 14 3B, .362), Larry Gardner (115 RBI, .319), and Stan Coveleski (43 G, 40 GS, 29 CG, 316 IP, 23-13, 3.36) kept Cleveland competitive in their season-long duel with New York.
Although St. Louis finished a distant 3rd, the Browns were putting together a team that was primed to make noise in the near future. Leading the way at the plate were George Sisler (38 2B, 16 3B, 104 RBI, 35 SB, .371), William “Baby Doll” Jacobson (34 2B, 14 3B, .352), Ken Williams (31 2B, 24 HR, 117 RBI, 20 SB, .347) and Jack Tobin (31 2B, 18 3B, .352). Sisler (216), Jacobson (211), and Tobin (236) all collected more than 200 hits. Urban Shocker starred on the mound (47 G, 39 GS, 31 CG, 327 IP, 27-12, 3.55).
Buried deep in the standings was the stellar outfield of the Detroit Tigers, featuring batting champion Harry Heilmann (43 2B, 14 3B, 19 HR, 139 RBI, .394), Bobby Veach (43 2B, 13 3B, 16 HR, 128 RBI, 14 SB, .338), and “The Georgia Peach” Ty Cobb (37 2B, 16 3B, 101 RBI, 22 SB, .389). As a team, the Tigers batted .316. Relegated to second-tier teams, Walter “Big Train” Johnson of the Washington Senators (35 G, 32 GS, 25 CG, 264 IP, 143 K, 17-14, 3.51), “Sad Sam” Jones of the Boston Red Sox (40 G, 38 GS, 25 CG, 299 IP, 23-16, 3.22) and earned run leader Urban “Red” Faber of the Chicago White Sox (43 G, 39 GS, 32 CG, 331 IP, 25-15, 2.48) supplied pitching heroics.
As a whole, the American League batted .292 with Red Faber’s 2.48 the only earned run average below 3.00 and Walter Johnson’s 143 K leading all of Major League Baseball. Whereas the livelier ball was a boon to hitters in the Junior Circuit, pitchers sang a different song. Perhaps their own version of the blues. It should be noted, however, that both Urban Shocker and Red Faber were among the 17 legal spit-ball pitchers that Major League Ball allowed to practice their craft in 1921. Perhaps most amazing of all, All Sothoron (29 G, 22 GS, 11 CG, 178.1 IP, 13-8, 3.89), pitching for the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox, did not yield a home run for the entire season.
Over in the National League, the New York Giants topped the Senior Circuit for the 7th time in John McGraw’s 19-year tenure at the helm. Whereas the Yankees captured the American League pennant by smashing 134 home runs, the Giants stole the National League pennant by swiping 137 bases.
Pre-eminent among the thieves, Frankie “The Fordham Flash” Frisch stole 49 bases to lead both Major Leagues. In addition, Frisch socked 31 doubles, 17 triples, and collected 100 RBI, en route to a .341 batting average. George “High Pockets” Kelly (42 2B, 23 HR, 123 RBI, .308) and Ross Youngs (24 2B, 16 3B, 102 RBI, 21 SB, .327) supplied additional firepower for the Giants. Art Nehf (41 G, 34 GS, 18 CG, 261 IP, 20-10, 3.62) led the pitching staff.
Just as the Yankees had difficulty shaking the Indians in the American League, the Giants dueled the dogged Pittsburgh Pirates, overtaking the slumping Steel City crew in September to claim the National League crown by 4 games. Relying on extra-base power, the Pirates legged-out 104 triples, with Charlie “Jolly Cholly” Grimm (21 2B, 17 3B) and Carson Bigbee (23 2B, 17 3B, 21 SB, .323) leading the way. In addition, the Pirates, true to their name, stole 134 bases, second only to the 137 recorded by the Giants. Perennial stolen base threat Max Carey (34 2B, 37 SB, .309) and Walter “Rabbit” Maranville (25 2B, 12 3B, 25 SB, .294) were the ring-leaders for Pittsburgh. On the mound, Wilbur Cooper (38 G, 38 GS, 29 CG, 327 IP, 22-14, 3.25) gave the Pirates a reliable ace.
The big story for the St. Louis Cardinals was Rogers Hornsby, making an emphatic case that he was baseball’s best right-handed hitter. Playing primarily second base, Hornsby hit 22 doubles, 18 triples, and 21 home runs, while driving in 126 runs, stealing 13 bases, and batting .397. Further, “The Rajah” led the National League in runs (131), hits (235), total bases (378), OBP (.458), and slugging (.639). Despite this excellence, Hornsby was not a one-man wrecking crew, as Jack Fournier (27 2B, 16 HR, >20 SB, .343) and Austin McHenry (37 2B, 17 HR, 102 RBI, .350) also inflicted damage on pitching staffs. One of the legal spit-ballers in 1921, “Spittin’ Bill” Doak (32 G, 29 GS, 13 CG, 209 IP, 18-12, 2.58) won the National League ERA title for the Cardinals, while issuing only 37 bases on balls.
Around the National League, another of legal spit-ballers, Burleigh Grimes of the Brooklyn Dodgers (37 G, 35 GS, 30 CG, 302 IP, 2.84), tied Pittsburgh’s Wilbur Cooper for wins at 22-13 and struck out a league-leading 136 batters. Joe Oeschger enjoyed a championship season for the mediocre Boston Braves (46 G, 36 GS, 19 CG, 299 IP, 20-14, 3.52), and Eppa Rixey of the Cincinnati Reds (40 G, 36 GS, 21 CG, 301 IP, 19-18, 2.78) yielded only one home, while the Red’s staff registered a record-low 308 strikeouts.
The 1921 season witnessed a best of nine World Series between Miller Higgins’ New York Yankees and John McGraw’s New York Giants. The “Subway Series” began with back-to-back shutouts by Carl Mays and Waite Hoyt, giving the Yankees a 2-0 advantage. Nevertheless, the Yanks dropped two of the next three games, Ruth went to the bench with an injury, and McGraw’s boys won the next three contests to capture the World Series. Although Ruth managed only one home run for the Series, he was the only Yankee to hit .300. In contrast, five Giants reached that mark.
In 1921, Major League Baseball overcame any lingering effects from the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, as Babe Ruth became the biggest drawing card in sports history. Meanwhile, the White Sox sank to seventh place in the American League with a dismal 62-92 record. Years before the ivy and left field bleachers, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley bought the Chicago Cubs. Our National Pastime was moving beyond its origins and entering an era of long balls, celebrities, and change. Ball players could even wear glasses, as evidence by rookie infielder George “Specs” Torporcer’s taking the field for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Diamond Mind Baseball recreates this memorable season in our nation’s sports annals. Dead ball stars like Ty Cobb were still schooling opponents on our nation’s diamonds; however, lively ball stars like Babe Ruth were pushing their way to the head of the class. Fans flocked to sporting contests as never before, and the brand of baseball they witnessed helped to set the stage for our modern game.
We are still living in The House That Ruth Built.
The 1921 Classic Past Season database contains everything you need to play games using teams and players from the 1921 season -- a full set of ratings and statistics for every player who appeared in the big leagues that year, plus team rosters, manager profiles, ballpark ratings and league schedules. Statistics include official batting, pitching and fielding totals for all batters and pitchers.
Also included is a complete set of real-life player transactions -- trades, disabled list moves, promotions, demotions, suspensions, and more -- plus the actual starting lineups for every regular season game played.
Note: This season database is a companion product for the Diamond Mind Baseball version 11 game. To use this database, you must also have Diamond Mind Baseball version 11. The game software provides you with all of the tools you need to play simulated games, make roster moves, produce dozens of statistical reports, generate league schedules, and more.