Year In Review : 1938 American League

O ff the field...

On October 30 th , actor Orson Wells broadcasted his own adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic "War of the Worlds". His original "news-style" format proved more than a little convincing and created a nationwide panic as many listeners actually believed that alien invaders had landed in New Jersey. After the controversial program established him as a creative genius, Wells was signed by RKO pictures where he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his first film, "Citizen Kane" (1941) which is still considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was passed to establish minimum living standards for workers engaged directly or indirectly in interstate commerce. A major provision of the act was the establishment of a Minimum Wage, initially $0.25 an hour, along with a maximum workweek of forty-four hours. These went on to become $0.40 an hour and forty hours after seven years.

I n the American League...

New York Yankee icon Lou Gehrig hit his twenty-third (and final) grand slam during an 11-3 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics on August 20 th for a Major League record that still stands today.

Indian catchers Frank Pytlak and Hank Helf broke the "all-time altitude mark" by catching baseballs dropped from the 706-foot Cleveland Terminal Tower on August 20 th . Over the next few years, several players were seriously injured attempting to break this unusual record.

Cleveland ace Bob Feller set a Major League strikeout record after fanning eighteen Detroit Tigers on October 2 nd (including six straight), yet still lost 4-1 on rival Harry Eisenstat's four-hitter.

I n the National League...

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Texas Christian University All-American football star and Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh as an infielder. Although he started off with the team in spring training, he was eventually assigned to the "Redbirds" farm system in both Columbus and Rochester.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hal Kelleher set two unwanted Major League records on May 5 th after surrendering twelve runs off of sixteen Chicago Cub batters in the eighth inning of a 21-2 massacre. Joe Marty led the attack with four hits for four runs and four runs batted in.

In December, the National League granted the Cincinnati Reds their season opener one-day before the rest of the league in recognition of the 100 th anniversary of baseball and the 1869 Red Stockings who were baseball's first professional team.

A round the league...

A special committee from the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Alexander Cartwright for originating baseball's original concepts and sports writer Henry Chadwick for the invention of the box score.

On June 18 th , Babe Ruth signed on as a Brooklyn Dodgers coach for the remainder of the season. Desperately seeking a management position, "The Sultan of Swat" agreed to participate in many exploitive "non-coaching related" publicity stunts including appearing before games in uniform for batting demonstrations.

The founder of the Elias Sports Bureau and official statistician of the National League, Al Munro Elias, died in New York City on August 1 st at the age of sixty-seven.

The New York Yankees became the first team to win three successive World Championships after defeating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 8-3. On a somber note, the ailing Lou Gehrig, went four for fourteen (all singles) for his last Series appearance.

"I'm sorry I have no picture, but you are absolutely right. I was out by a mile (September 27, 1938) and had no business being called safe so you can tell your boys that their dad stopped Hank Greenberg from getting home run number 57." - Hank Greenberg
1938 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

119

Detroit

Batting Average

Boston

.349

Doubles

Boston

51

Hits

Boston

201

Home Runs

Detroit

58

On Base Percentage

Boston

.462

RBI

Boston

175

Runs

Detroit

144

Slugging Average

Boston

.704

Stolen Bases

New York

27

Total Bases

Boston

398

Triples

Cleveland

18

1938 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

St. Louis

31

ERA

Boston

3.08

Games

Cleveland

45

Saves

New York

11

Shutouts

New York

4

Strikeouts

Cleveland

240

Winning Percentage

New York

.750

Wins

New York

21

1938 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees

99 53 .651 0

Boston Red Sox

88 61 .591

Cleveland Indians

86 66 .566 13

Detroit Tigers

84 70 .545 16

Washington Senators

75 76 .497 23½

Chicago White Sox

65 83 .439 32

St. Louis Browns

55 97 .362 44

Philadelphia Athletics

53 99 .349 46

1938 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

New York

749

Batting Average

Boston

.299

Doubles

Cleveland

300

Hits

Washington

1,602

Home Runs

New York

174

On Base Percentage

Boston

.378

Runs

New York

966

Slugging Average

New York

.446

Stolen Bases

New York

91

Triples

Cleveland

89

1938 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

New York

91

ERA

New York

3.92

Fewest Hits Allowed

Cleveland

1,416

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

New York

85

Fewest Walks Allowed

Boston

528

Saves

Cleveland

17

Shutouts

New York

11

Strikeouts

Cleveland

717



In 1932 Jimmie Foxx hit fifty-eight home runs with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1938 Foxx home runs with the Red Sox making him the first player to hit more than fifty home runs during a single season with two different teams.

Respect? Jimmie Foxx had that and more on June 16, 1938 when the St. Louis Browns walked him six times in six at-bats tieing the Major League record for bases on balls during a game.

Hank Greenberg held his own in 1938 also as he led the American League in home runs, set a single season record for long balls in Briggs Stadium (39), and received the following comments by National Baseball Hall of Fame member Harry Heilmann , " Hank Greenberg hits the ball harder than Babe Ruth , Jimmie Foxx , or Lou Gehrig ."

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@krbach @mcall I did typo that entry, and was off by a little, but not by much! 😉
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