September 19, 2012
The mighty A’s weren’t done. In 1930, they again dominated the American League, winning 102 games (The celebrated Yankees finished 16 games behind.) Al Simmons led the AL with a .381 batting average. He also cracked 36 homers and knocked in 165. Foxx was dominant as well, hitting .335 with 37 homers and 156 RBIs. Lefty Grove was incredible, going 28-5 with a 2.54 ERA. As if that wasn’t enough, he also recorded 9 saves.
In the World Series, they met the St. Louis Cardinals. The Series was tied at two games apiece when George Earnshaw and old Burleigh Grimes, the last legal spitball pitcher, went toe to toe in game 5. The game went into the 9th tied at 0, until Jimmie Foxx hit a bomb to deep left field, lifting the A’s to a 3-2 series lead. Two days later they would win Game 6 at home to take their 2nd straight title.
In 1931, the A’s and Cards met again. This time, it was a true Battle of the Titans, as the A’s had won 107 games and the Cards won 101. It proved to be a thrilling World Series, with the 38-year old Burleigh Grimes flustering the mighty A’s, giving up only 9 hits in 17.2 innings, and winning Game 7 for the Birds.
It would mark the end of the A’s dynasty. The next year they won 94 games but finished 13 back of a revitalized Yankees team. After that season, thanks in large part to the Great Depression, Mack began selling off the team. Al SImmons was dealt after the ’32 season, George Earnshaw stopped being an effective pitcher, and the downfall began. The team would not contend for another title until they were in Oakland almost 40 years later.
It looked like the 1930 Series was going to be a rematch, as the Cubs held a 5 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals. But the team collapsed in September, and the manager McCarthy was to blame. With 4 games left in the season, team owner William Wrigley told McCarthy he would not be invited back in 1931. McCarthy opted to not coach the final four games of the 1930 season. A few months later, he was hired by the Yankees, and enjoyed a large measure of revenge a year later, as the Yanks crushed the Cubs in the 1932 World Series. They would again sweep them in 1930. Those accounted for two of seven World Series McCarthy would lead the Yankees to in his 16 years at the helm, and he is considered to be one of the greatest managers in the history of the sport. Needless to say, the Cubs have not won a World Series since firing him.
The Cubs hired one of the players on that 1929 team, Roger Hornsby, to be the manager. He was despised by his players, and was fired during the 1932 season. When the team made the 1932 Series after the firing, they voted not to give him any of the World Series money. He was a degenerate horse gambler, and lost all the money he made in a 20-year career at the race track.
1929 World Series goat Hack Wilson responded in 1930 with one of the greatest single seasons in the history of the sport. He hit 56 home runs, knocked in 191 (still an MLB record), and hit .356, with an absurd 1.177 OPS.
Sadly, his descent was precipitous. He had a great relationship with McCarthy, and a bad one with Hornsby, and when the latter was hired his numbers went into the tank. He got into a fight with reporters that August and was indefinitely suspended. After the season, he was traded to the Cardinals, who almost immediately turned around and traded him to the Dodgers. After three forgettable seasons there, he was released. He had 20 ABs for the Phillies, and then he was done. His numerous business ventures after baseball all failed, and he died, penniless in 1948 at age 48.
Wrigley Field, of course, still stands and still hosts the Cubs. The name Shibe Park was changed to Connie Mack Stadium in 1953. A year later, the A’s left town and headed for Kansas City. The Phillies would play there starting in 1938, and the Series would host two more World Series games, in 1950 as the Whiz Kids took on the Yankees, getting swept in 4 games. The Phils would move to the Vet in 1970, and Shibe Park was torn down in 1976.
Connie Mack, the Grand Old Man of Baseball, held on as manager far too long, finally letting go of the reigns in 1950 at age 87. He stood idly by as his incompetent sons made a bigger mess of team finances and finally sold off the team, letting them head to Kansas City.
In their 54 years in Philadelphia, the A’s won five championships, more than any other major pro sports team in Philadelphia history.
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