1939 May

1st  The White Sox and Cubs play a benefit game for Monty Stratton at Comiskey Park and raise a purse of almost $30,000.

2nd  After carrying out the scorecard to the umpires, Lou Gehrig voluntarily benches himself “for the good of the team.” He is batting .143 with one RBI. His consecutive-game string stops at 2,130. Babe Dahlgren, his replacement, has a homer and double, as the Yankees rout Detroit 22–2. New York bats around in three innings to make it easy for Red Ruffing. Ballyhooed Tiger teenager Fred Hutchinson makes his major league debut and the Yankees light him up for eight runs in 2/3 of an inning. Hutch gives up 4 hits and walks five.

In New York, Mel Ott’s three-run homer with two out in the 9th gives New York a dramatic 8–7 win over Cincy. Ott’s blow is hit off Cincy righty Gene Thompson.

It’s showtime in Hollywood as Gilmore Field premieres with the Stars (PCL) losing to the Seattle Rainiers, 8–5. The stars are in the stands as well including a number who own stock in the team: Gracie Allen, Gene Autry, George Burns, Gary Cooper, Cecil B. DeMille, George Raft, Gary Cooper, William Powell, Robert Taylor, and the owner’s wife Gail Patrick (Mrs. Bob Cobb).

3rd  In an 11–10 win over the host Browns, Washington 1B Jimmy Wasdell makes 4 errors to equal the ML mark. But the Senators shrug it off, scoring 2 runs in the 7th and again in the 8th, and 3 in the 9th to win. Wasdell has 2 hits in the 18-hit attack.

While the Dodgers are calling off their game in Brooklyn because of frigid weather, the Giants forge ahead, playing a 3-hour match at the Polo Grounds with the Reds, winning 6-4. There are 19 walks in the game—4 by Ival Goodman and 3 by Mel Ott—a balk, and 3 wild pitches.

4th  In Detroit, Ted Williams belts two homers for the first time in his career to lead the Red Sox to a 7–6 win over the Tigers. Off Bob Harris, Williams thumps one homer over the right-field roof, the first ever hit out over the double deck at Briggs Stadium. Mickey Mantle will hit the next three homers to leave the park.

Executive vice president Larry MacPhail is elected president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

5th  In a 10–5 A’s win, the A’s Sam Chapman hits for the cycle against the Browns Harry Kimberlin. Tomorrow he’ll homer in his first two at bats against Johnny Marcum.

7th Joe Gordon smacks two homers and Red Rolfe one to pace the Yankees to a 15–4 hosing of the White Sox. Red Ruffing is again the easy winner; in his last outing the Yanks scored 22 against Detroit.

After seven straight road wins, the Red Sox lose to the Browns, 6–3, and drop to 2nd place. Bobo Newsom’s 7-hitter stops Boston. The Yankees take over first place, and remain there the rest of the season.

At Shibe Park, the Reds take a 9-0 lead after two innings and coast to a 13-4 win over the Phils. Frank McCormick hits a 2nd inning grand slam off Hugh Mulcahy.

In Detroit, the A’s George Caster tames the Tigers, 10-3. The Quakers spot the Bengals two runs before coming back. Catcher Earle Brucker has a grand slam for the A’s.

Before 36,005 at the Polo Grounds, the Giants crush the Cubs, 10–3. Mel Ott has a triple double, and two singles, while ex-Cubbies Jurges and Demaree have two hits apiece. Cliff Melton is the winner for the Giants, now 8-8.

8th  In a 4–2 Cubs win at the Polo Grounds, Cubs first sacker Phil Cavarretta breaks his leg sliding into a base. He’ll be out of action until July 25, and will appear in just 7 more games this year, all as a PH.

Chuck Klein hits a pinch triple with the bases loaded off the Reds Johnny Vander Meer, and the Phils win 8–7.

At Ebbets Field, Cards veteran Pepper Martin breaks up a pitching duel between Brooklyn’s Red Evans and Bob Weiland by swiping home in the 6th inning. Martin’s two-out steal is the only run of the game as the Cards win, 1–0.

10th  Bill Klem, behind the plate at the Reds game in Cincinnati, celebrates his 35th anniversary as a NL umpire. He then calls the 10–5 Reds loss to Brooklyn.

Phillies rookie C Dave Coble catches a ball dropped from the 521-foot-high Philadelphia City Hall.

11th  The Yankees set down the Browns, 10–8, jumping on rookie Ewald Pyle for three hits before he exits. Pyle is subbing for Newsom, out with a skinned finger. Russ Van Atta, the Fresno Flinger follows, and the Yanks score nine runs in four innings to put the game out of reach. Bill Dickey has three hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Gehrig does not play, but takes infield practice and warms up Monte Pearson using a righty glove. New York now leads by 1 ½ games.

Ted Lyons hurls the White Sox to a 3–2 win over Boston, handing rookie Woodrow Rich his first loss. Chicago makes just 4 hits. Jimmie Foxx hits his 5th homer, a solo in the 9th, for Boston.

Cleveland native Al Milnar stops the visiting A’s, 7–0. Ken Keltner has a triple and three RBIs, and Roy Weatherly is 5-for-5, all singles, for Cleveland.

The Boston Bees collect 13 hits off the Cubs 33-year-old rookie Vance Page, but manage just 2 hits in losing 6–2. Billy Herman’s bases-loaded triple in the 9th seals it. Pour base running contributes to the loss, the worst example coming in the 4th when Eddie Miller singles and stops at 3B on a drive down the 1B line by Elbie Fletcher. Fletcher is caught trying to stretch the hit to a triple.

13th  In a 10-player deal, Bobo Newsom goes from the St. Louis Browns, along with Beau Bell, Red Kress, and Jim Walkup, to Detroit for Vern Kennedy, Bob Harris, George Gill, Roxie Lawson, Chet Laabs, and Mark Christman. It is one of the biggest trades of the 1930s. Newsom will rack up 17 wins this year as a Tiger to finish at 20–11. Stephens will be the reverse, finishing at 9–20, while Gill, 0-1 after two fine seasons with the Tigers, will be 1–12 with the Browns.

14th Making his first appearance since elbow surgery in August 1938, Carl Hubbell pitches New York to a 2–1 win over the Phillies. Catcher Ken O’Dea hits a 10th inning HR to win it for King Carl.

Next time, say it with flowers. Bob Feller’s mother travels from Iowa to watch her son pitch against the White Sox. It is the first time she’s seen him play in the majors, and she is given a box along the 1B line at Comiskey Park. Sox 3B Marv Owen then lines a Feller fast ball that knocks Mrs. Feller unconscious. She revives and, with a few stitches, is none the worse. The Indians win, 9–4.

In St. Louis, the Tigers sweep a pair, winning 14-4 and 7-4. Rudy York has a grand slam for Detroit.

16th  A crowd of 15,109 watch the first AL night game played at Shibe Park, with Cleveland beating the A’s 8–3 in 10 innings. Johnny Humphries is the winner over Roy Parmalee.

17th  The first baseball game ever televised, Princeton against Columbia at Baker Field, Columbia’s home field, is seen by a handful of viewers via W2XBS in New York City. Bill Stern announces, as Princeton wins 2–1 in 10 innings. The 2nd game of the doubleheader is not televised. Reviewing the game the next day, The New York Times sniffs, “it is difficult to see how this sort of thing can catch the public fancy.”

Brooklyn and Chicago play a 19-inning 9–9 tie game at Wrigley Field.

Boston Bees P Fred Frankhouse beans Harry Craft of the Reds and is accused of throwing spitballs. Boston wins 6–1.

In a Northern League game at Crookston, Joe Hatten of Crookston strikes out 21 Superior Blues batters to win, 5–0. Hatten’s ML call up won’t come until 1946.

18th The Athletics waive P Bud Thomas, acquired from the Senators on waivers on May 1, to Detroit. Thomas will go 7–0 for the Tigers.

21st  In Philadelphia, Frankie Hayes hits a grand slam in a six-run 7th as the A’s down the Browns, 12-4.

22nd At Pittsburgh, the Giants whip the Pirates, 9-2. With the Giants up 6-0, New York’s Ken O’Dea is at bat against Mace Brown with a runner on 3B and 2 out in the 7th. In the middle of his wind-up to C Ray Berres, Brown sees that Berres’ mask isn’t right (the buckle on the mask came loose) and stops his delivery. Umpire Pinelli calls a balk scoring the seventh run. O’Dea then pops out to end the inning (as noted by Clem Conly).

23rd  P Boots Poffenberger is suspended by the Dodgers and fined $400 for breaking training rules. Brooklyn acquired Boots over the winter.

25th In his last three at bats against the Red Sox Emerson Dickson, Cleveland’s Ken Keltner belts 3 homers in an 11–0 romp at Fenway. It’s the 11th time that an AL batter has hit 3 successive homers. Feller makes it easy, pitching a one-hitter for the win. Bobby Doerr’s 2nd inning single for Boston is the only hit against Rapid Robert: it’ll be one of two one-hitters of Feller’s in which Doerr has the only hit.

26th  With their 11th straight win, a 7–5 victory over St. Louis, Cincinnati takes over first place and holds the lead for the rest of the season.

27th  The Reds set a club record by winning their 12th straight, a 3–2 decision over the Cards. Lee Grissom is the winning pitcher.

For the first time in his career, Detroit’s Charlie Gehringer hits for the cycle, in a 12–5 win against the Browns. Charlie does it in order, the first player to cycle that way.

28th  Robert Joyce, who gave up two HRs to New York’s George Selkirk yesterday, relieves for the A’s. Selkirk hits two more HRs off Joyce, giving him 4 HRs in 4 at bats against the same pitcher in two successive games. Yankees win, 9–5. The Yanks release vet Wes Ferrell, who never came back after arm surgery over the winter. Ferrell will appear with the Dodgers in ‘40 and the Braves in 1941.

In a barnburner at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers outslug the Boston Bees to win, 16-12. Cookie Lavagetto has a grand slam for Brooklyn, connecting off Fred Frankhouse in the 7th.

29th  The Cubs get Claude Passeau from the Phillies for Kirby Higbe, Joe Marty, and Ray Harrell and $50,000.

30th  In an attempt to spruce up their appearance, NL umpires wear white gabardine trousers with blue jackets.

Pittsburgh’s Johnny Rizzo drives in 9 runs, a Pirate record, to give the visiting Pirates a 14–8 victory over St. Louis in game 2. Rizzo includes homers in the 5th, off Clyde Shoun, and the 9th, off Bob Bowman, and a single and a pair of doubles in the barrage. The Cardinals win the opener, 7–2.

At Cincinnati, the Cubs Larry French and Vance Page fire shutouts as the Cubs win, 6–0 and 2–0. Whitey Moore loses the opener, while Bucky Walters drops the nitecap.

At Boston, the Red Sox and Yankees split a Memorial Day doubleheader. The Sox double the Yanks, 8–4 in the opener, before the New Yorkers roar back to win the nitecap, 17–9. Ted Williams hits a long HR off Red Ruffing in game 1, that after retirement he says it is hardest hit ball he ever had. He also homers in game 2. Joe DiMaggio draws a pinch walk in the 6-run 8th inning of game 2, then is replaced by backup catcher Arndt Jorgens, who scores in his only appearance this year. Next year he’ll be on the active roster all season and not make one appearance.