Baseball in 1940

Bucky Walters & Paul Derringer of the 1940 Cincinnati Reds

1940 was a great year to be a Reds fan. Why? Because the Reds were the only team to win 100 games that year.

Hopefully they enjoyed it, because the 1940 championship was their last World Series championship for the next 35 years.

The Reds beat the Detroit Tigers in the 1940 World Series in a closely contested matchup. Some strange news from that series: Tigers’ pitcher Bobo Newsom’s father passed away after Newsom won Game One. Newsom came back later to pitch in the Series in his father’s memory.

Another haunting story from the Reds 1940 season: backup catcher Willard Hershberger committed suicide after a defensive gaffe cost the team the game.

The team rallied together to win the championship.

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American League

The stats boards were ruled by three familiar names: Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Hank Greenberg (who is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball). It is seasons like 1940 that made three two Hall of Famers. DiMaggio led AL batters with a .352 average, Greenberg led the AL in home runs (41), RBI (150) and Slugging Percentage (.670). Williams led the AL in runs scored (134) and was 3rd in both BA (.344) and Slugging (.594).

However, of the three, it was Hank Greenberg who emerged victorious, leading his team to an AL pennant. With the help of Bobo Newsom, Schoolboy Rowe and Al Benton (who pitched 42 games that year), the barely squeaked by the storming Bob Feller-led Cleveland Indians.

Ironically, in 1940, we were 1 game away from an all-Ohio World Series.

National League

While the Reds did not have superstars, like most champions, they were very well-rounded with a solid catcher.

Ernie Lombardi blocked every wild pitch and batted a solid .319. Frank McCormick led the NL in hits (191) and doubles (44) and was 2nd in the NL in RBI (127).

Bill Werber was 3rd in the NL in runs scored with (105) and even Lonny Frey led the NL in steals with 22.

Johnny Mize had a monster year. He led the NL in HRs (43), RBI (137) and Slugging Average (.636). He also had 182 hits and scored 111 runs that year — by far the best season of any player in the National League in 1940.

The Reds also had the two best pitchers in the NL in Bucky Walters and Paul Derringer, with the two winning 22 and 20 wins respectively. They also both had 29 and 26 complete games.

Amazingly but not surprisingly, both Walters and Derringer led the NL in innings pitched with 305 and 297. You can say the championship season literally rode on the arms of these two men that you’ve probably never heard of.

1940 MLB Standings

1940
NATIONAL LEAGUE
TEAM
W
L
PCT.
GB
Cincinnati Reds
100
53
.654
Brooklyn Dodgers
88
65
.575
12
St. Louis Cardinals
84
69
.549
16
Pittsburgh Pirates
78
76
.506
22.5
Chicago Cubs
75
79
.487
25.5
New York Giants
72
80
.474
27.5
Boston Bees
65
87
.428
34.5
Philadelphia Phillies
50
103
.327
50
1940
AMERICAN LEAGUE
TEAM
W
L
PCT.
GB
Detroit Tigers
90
64
.584
Cleveland Indians
89
65
.578
1
New York Yankees
88
66
.571
2
Boston Red Sox
82
72
.532
8
Chicago White Sox
82
72
.532
8
St. Louis Browns
67
87
.435
23
Washington Senators
64
90
.416
26
Philadelphia Athletics
54
100
.351
36

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Last modified: Apr 07, 2013 | Written by Paul Phipps