MLB Opening Day: Looking back at 100 years of baseball history
To get a sense of the historic arc Major League Baseball has taken over just the past 100 years, hop on our time machine and review some of its key news and developments at 10-year intervals, beginning in 1912.
Top hitter: Lefty O’Doul (Brooklyn Dodgers), 368 avg.
Top pitcher: Alvin Crowder (Washington Senators), 26 wins
NL MVP: Chuck Klein (Philadelphia Phillies), OF
AL MVP: Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia A’s), 1B
Dale Alexander won the American League batting championship with a .367 average. Oddly, he was traded by the Red Sox after getting off to a slow start, and finished the season with Detroit. Nicknamed “Moose,” Alexander was one of the larger players of his era, standing 6 ft. 3 in. and weighing 210 pounds. Although he turned in a couple of 20-home run seasons earlier in his career, in 1932 his home run total (eight) and RBI production (56) was well below his career highs. His budding career was cut short by a leg injury after just one more season.
The Yankees’ Lou Gehrig became the first player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in a single game, a feat accomplished a dozen times since then, including by such greats as Willie Mays and Mike Schmidt. Gehrig’s slugging outburst occurred on June 3 during a 20-13 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. He nearly hit a fifth homer, but the drive was caught at the wall in deepest center field in his sixth and final trip to the plate. Only 7,300 witnessed the game in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.
Jimmie Foxx of the Philadelphia Athletics nearly tied Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs set five years earlier, but finished with 58 because two of his homers were erased by rain-outs. Foxx also nearly won the Triple Crown. He led the American League in homers and runs batted in (169), and his .364 batting average was just three points behind that of Dale Alexander, the AL champion.
Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major-league game and the only one to do so after his 49th birthday (by 70 days). Jamie Moyer, who is has ?? big-league wins, could surpass that feat this season if the veteran, signed to a minor-league contract by the Colorado Rockies, were to pitch and win for the Rockies.