Year In Review : 1947 American League

O ff the field...

Captain Chuck Yaeger, an American test pilot, became the first to break the sound barrier after he accelerated his X-1 test plane to six-hundred seventy miles per hour, at an altitude of 42,000 feet. The specially designed aircraft was dropped from a modified B-29 bomber leftover from World War II.

Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the goals of his Economic Recovery Plan, otherwise known as "The Marshall Plan" which stated that "the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world". The idea of providing aid in the reconstruction of war torn nations provided markets for American goods, created reliable trading partners, and supported the development of stable democratic governments in Western Europe. Congress's approval of the Marshall Plan signaled an extension of the bipartisanship of World War II into the postwar years.

I n the American League...

Philadelphia Athletics catcher Buddy Rosar finally dropped a pop-up on May 20 th for his first recorded error in one-hundred forty-seven games and seven-hundred fifty-six chances. New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra went on to extend the Major League record to one-hundred forty-eight and nine-hundred fifty from 1957 to 1959, but Rosar's single-season record of one-hundred fifteen games and six-hundred five errorless chances stood unchallenged for fifty years until Charles Johnson of the Florida Marlins topped it in 1997.

Larry Doby became the first African-American to play in the American League after appearing as a pinch-hitter for the Cleveland Indians on July 5 th during a 6-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The following day he started at first base and went one-for-five at the plate.

On August 13 th , Willard Brown of the St. Louis Browns became the first African-American player to homer in the American League after hitting a pinch inside-the-park home run for a 6-5 victory over pitcher Hal Newhouser and the Detroit Tigers.

I n the National League...

On April 17 th , the Brooklyn Dodgers topped the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field 12-6, as baseball's first African-American player; Jackie Robinson tallied his first Major League hit (a bunt single). Robinson would go on to perfect the "squeeze play" while bunting forty-two times throughout the season.

Johnny Mize of the New York Giants set a Major League record after hitting three successive home runs (for the fifth time in his career) during a 14-5 loss to the Boston Braves. Mize would later go on to add a sixth, three-homer performance while playing with the New York Yankees in 1950.

After several St. Louis Cardinal players were rumored to initiate a strike as a sign of protest against playing with Jackie Robinson, National League President Ford Frick and team owner Sam Breadon both announced that any player directly involved in any acts of racial prejudice or disobedience would be suspended indefinitely. Cardinal manager Eddie Dyer wholeheartedly denied the allegations and his "Redbirds" went on to play (and beat) the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-1.

A round the league...

Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler announced the development of the first official pension plan for major leaguers. The plan stated that any player with five years experience would receive a check for $50 a month at age fifty, and $10 a month over the next five years. The pension fund was initially set up for $650,000, with teams providing 80% and the players investing the remaining 20%.

April 27 th was declared as "Babe Ruth Day" at all Major League ballparks. During a special pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium, a frail looking Ruth, who was battling the effects of throat cancer, struggled through a short speech thanking the fans for their continued support. The emotional program was broadcast nationwide on television, radio and over the loudspeakers at every stadium as "The Bambino" was presented with a bronze plaque with his likeness from the American League and a leather-bound book with signatures of every player from the National League.

Tragedy struck the Minor League system as standout Jimmy Davis (Longhorn League) died after being hit in the head with a pitched ball. The promising twenty-year old outfielder was hitting .333 at the time and had tallied nineteen home runs in forty-eight games.

New York Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio was named the American League's MVP by a single point over the Boston Red Sox' Ted Williams. Williams, the Triple Crown winner, received two-hundred one points, but was completely left off one writer's ballot igniting a major controversy. It was later determined that a single, tenth-place vote (or better) would have granted him the two points that were necessary to top DiMaggio.

"A manager who cannot get along with a .400 hitter ought to have his head examined." - Joe McCarthy on September 29, 1947
1947 American League Player Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Boston

162

Batting Average

Boston

.343

Doubles

Cleveland

45

Hits

Boston

207

Home Runs

Boston

32

On Base Percentage

Boston

.499

RBI

Boston

114

Runs

Boston

125

Slugging Average

Boston

.634

Stolen Bases

St. Louis

34

Total Bases

Boston

335

Triples

New York

13

1947 American League Pitcher Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Detroit

24

ERA

Chicago

2.42

Games

Cleveland

58

Saves

Cleveland

17

New York

Shutouts

Cleveland

5

Strikeouts

Cleveland

196

Winning Percentage

New York

.704

Wins

Cleveland

20

1947 American League

Team Standings

New York Yankees

97 57 .630 0

Detroit Tigers

85 69 .552 12

Boston Red Sox

83 71 .539 14

Cleveland Indians

80 74 .519 17

Philadelphia Athletics

78 76 .506 19

Chicago White Sox

70 84 .455 27

Washington Senators

64 90 .416 33

St. Louis Browns

59 95 .383 38

1947 American League Team Review

Hitting Statistics League Leaderboard

Base on Balls

Detroit

762

Batting Average

New York

.271

Doubles

Cleveland

234

Detroit

Hits

New York

1,439

Home Runs

New York

115

On Base Percentage

Detroit

.353

Runs

New York

794

Slugging Average

New York

.407

Stolen Bases

Chicago

91

Triples

New York

72

1947 American League Team Review

Pitching Statistics League Leaderboard

Complete Games

Detroit

77

ERA

New York

3.40

Fewest Hits Allowed

New York

1,221

Fewest Home Runs Allowed

Washington

63

Fewest Walks Allowed

Detroit

531

Saves

Cleveland

29

Shutouts

Detroit

15

Washington

Strikeouts

New York

691



On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians became the first black player to appear in an American League game. Doby debuted against the Chicago White Sox during the seventh inning as a pinch hitter for pitcher Bryan Stephens . With two on, and two out, Doby struck out against Earl Harrist .

Despite breaking the color barrier two months after the senior circuit, the American League would be involved in several other racially significant games: July 20, 1947, St. Louis Browns ( Hank Thompson and Willard Brown ) versus the Red Sox in the first game where two black players appeared in the same lineup; August 9, 1947, Cleveland Indians ( Larry Doby ) versus the St. Louis Browns ( Hank Thompson ) in the first game where two black players opposed each other; and August 11, 1947, St. Louis Browns' Willard Brown became the first black player to hit an inside the park home run.

On September 28, 1947, the St. Louis Browns were playing the Chicago White Sox. In the broadcast booth preparing to call the game was the legendary Dizzy Dean who quipped he could still beat "nine out of ten who call themselves pitchers today." Challenged to prove it, Dean left the booth, started the game for the Browns, and tossed four shutout innings. Upon resuming his broadcast duties he commented, "I think I could pitch well enough to win up here (in the booth), but I don't intend to try!"

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