Random Box Score: July 16, 1939

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he inspiration for today’s Random Box Score actually comes from the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3 of this year’s World Series. As you might have heard, that game not only set the record for longest game in postseason history, it was 15 minutes longer than the entirety of the 1939 World Series played between the Yankees and the Reds. Times were different, to be sure, back in 1939: evidenced by this game between the White Sox and the Washington Senators which clocked in at a tidy 89 minutes. So, how did it go down? Read on for more…

Cultural Trivia and Baseball Miscellany

The White Sox were at home for this game, the first of a doubleheader with 16,000 strong on-hand as witnesses. While there is no record of the weather for this day, it’s likely that, whatever it was, was a sight better than the scheduled game it was to make up: the April 28th contest was suspended on account of the cold. Topping the charts on the radio dial was a song familiar to all of us: Judy Garland singing Over the Rainbow. Interestingly, the song was released before the film, which wouldn’t hit the cinema until the following month. Over the Rainbow would go on to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

Speaking of the movies, one could pay less than a quarter to see the top movie, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, starring Robert Donat. I’m not a movie buff by any stretch of the imagination, but I was surprised to learn that Donat beat out Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind) for Best Actor that year.

In the baseball world, the first Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place this year on June 12. Notable White Sox among the inductees were Charles Comiskey and Eddie Collins. Lou Gehrig was added to this class by way of special induction in December, and had just given his famous “Luckiest Man Alive” speech a couple of weeks before this game:

And perhaps most significantly for the future of baseball media, the first televised MLB game took place in August of this year, a game between the Reds and Dodgers and called by Red Barber.

Umpires for this game

  • HP: Bill Summers

Summers is a legend in umpiring, and worked in the American League for 26 years from 1933 to 1959. During that span he officiated in 8 World Series and 7 All-Star games. One of his more notable appearances came in the 1955 World Series, where he called Jackie Robinson safe on a steal attempt of home:

  • 1B: Lou Kolls

Kolls was an umpire from 1933-1940, working the 1938 World Series and the 1936 All-Star game. Unfortunately, a fatal car accident in 1941 cut his life tragically short.

The Lineups

Washington Senators Chicago White Sox
  1. George Case, CF
  2. Sam West, LF
  3. Buddy Lewis, 3B
  4. Taffy Wright, RF
  5. Cecil Travis, SS
  6. Buddy Myer, 2B
  7. Mickey Vernon, 1B
  8. Tony Giuliani, C
  9. Dutch Leonard, SP
  1. Jackie Hayes, 2B
  2. Joe Kuhel, 1B
  3. Mike Kreevich, CF
  4. Rip Radcliff, RF
  5. Gee Walker, LF
  6. Luke Appling, SS
  7. Eric McNair, 3B
  8. Mike Tresh, C
  9. Ted Lyons, SP

Play by Play

The first game of this Sunday doubleheader featured two pitchers who each were having terrific seasons: Ted Lyons for the White Sox (who had represented the team in the All-Star game the week prior) and Dutch Leonard for the Senators. Lyons, 8-2 entering the contest,  and Leonard, 9-2, each made relatively quick work of their opponents’ respective lineups over the first two innings.

The Senators would draw first blood in the third and score again in the sixth. Senator catcher Tony Giuliani doubled to start the inning, then moved to third after Dutch Leonard bunted himself on. Center fielder George Case was up next, and a 6-4-3 double play knocked in the game’s first run. The bats for both teams went quiet once again until the top half of the sixth inning. With one out and nobody on, left fielder Sam West blasted a home run to make it 2-0 in favor of the Senators.

For his part, Dutch Leonard continued to silence White Sox bats. The home team hadn’t managed anything but singles, though this changed in the seventh. Gee Walker tripled to lead off the inning, and the White Sox were in business. After Luke Appling struck out, third baseman Eric McNair picked up Appling with a sac fly to left to halve the Senators’ lead, 2-1.

A quiet 8th from the Senators brought the White Sox back up to bat. A single from speedy second baseman Jackie Hayes (who was on a dollar/year contract to prove he could play after ankle surgery the prior season) got things going. After a popup to first, center fielder Mike Kreevich got the second extra-base hit of the game for the White Sox, tripling off Leonard and knotting the score at 2-2. After Rip Radcliff reached on an error by Senators second baseman Buddy Myer, Gee Walker groundout 6-3 for a Fielder’s Choice that put the Sox up, 3-2. After a Luke Appling walk, McNair ended the inning with a popup to second.

The Senators weren’t going to let Ted Lyons finish the game without a fight, though. Buddy Lewis singled to start the ninth, and Taffy Wright reached on an E4 to make it runners at first and second with nobody out. Luckily, Lyons was able to pick off Lewis for the first out of the inning; after Cecil Travis groundout 6-3, Buddy Myer singled to put runners at first and third. With the tying run just 90 feet away, Mickey Vernon smashed a ball hard to left…which was caught, and the White Sox escaped with the 3-2 victory.

Box Score

***

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he White Sox would go on to sweep the doubleheader, winning 6-3 in another quick contest of just 1 hour, 46 minutes. Ultimately, this team would finish 85-69 under manager Jimmy Dykes, good for fourth in the American League, but still 22.5 games back from the Yankees. For the White Sox, the late-’30s represented an era of successful baseball: after the brutal 1920s and early-1930s (where the Sox consistently finished in the bottom half of the league, if not the very bottom), this was progress. Unfortunately, the Sox wouldn’t again record a season as successful as this until the early ’50s.

For the Senators, they would go on to finish 67-85 in sixth place. Six seasons removed from a World Series appearance, the Senators were entering a terrible period which saw them play a brand of ball that ultimately forced their move to Minneapolis. Outside of a couple successful years during World War II, Washington never finished higher than fourth.

Random Box Score White Sox Record: 6-4

Sources Consulted

Baseball Hall of Fame
Baseball Reference
Billboard Hot 100
IMDB
Playback.fm
SABR.org

Author

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roke1960

Oh, I miss the days of sub-2 hour games. With the emphasis on relievers, games just keep getting longer and longer, especially in the playoffs. Viewership is going to keep going down in the playoffs because the games are just too long. People don’t want to spend 4+ hours watching a game that lasts past midnight. I watched one of the World Series games- I just get turned off by seeing each team use 7 pitchers in a 2-1 game.

ParisSox

“The Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig was one of my favorite baseball movies when I was growing up.  WGN would show it late at night or on weekends if I remember correctly.  And Babe Ruth played himself very well.  

As Cirensica

Magnificent. Thank you for the article.

VAChisox

Boy, did Dutch Leonard play for some awful teams. He had an impressive career considering he never pitched for a team that finished in the first division, outside of those two war-era Senators teams.

roke1960

And poor Ted Lyons. He pitched 20 years for the Sox and they never finished as high as 2nd in those 20 years.

Jim Margalus

The other Dutch Leonard was pretty good, too. Especially in 1914.