Povich Rewind: Yankees’ Power Wins in 1937

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Povich Rewind: Yankees’ Power Wins in 1937
Jun 25, 2018

Not only was the late Shirley Povich witness to the four previous Major League Baseball All-Star games played in Washington D.C. – 1937, 1956, 1962 and 1969 – he covered all of them for The Washington Post, the newspaper for which he worked for 75 years. Over the next month – until the 2018 game is played at Nationals Park on July 17 – the Povich Center will rewind Povich’s coverage of those games, courtesy of The Washington Post. Check back every Monday for updates.

By Shirley Povich

GRIFFITH STADIUM — A successful packing job by Manager Joe McCarthy with President Franklin D. Roosevelt looking on – perhaps wistfully – upheld the validity of the American League’s claim to big league supremacy today in fan-filled Griffith Stadium.

Downtown on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate was still wrangling over the President’s bill to pack the Supreme Court with performers of his own choosing, while from the White House box at the park Mr. Roosevelt watched a wily baseball manager steal his techniques.

McCarthy packed the American League All-Star lineup with five of his New York Yankees, thus assuring himself a 5-4 majority, and with their bats they pounded out a thoroughly constitutional decision over the National League All-Stars.

By the score of 8-3 the American League won its fourth straight All-Star victory, but it was a New York Yankee team thinly disguised as American League All–Stars that brought it off.

These sluggers met in the 1937 MLB All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C. From left to right: Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg.

It was McCarthy’s five Yankees in the AL lineup who commanded most of the cheers of the 32,000 fans who filled every seat and crammed the aisles as Washington staged its greatest baseball show in history – All-Stars on parade.

Scarcely had President Roosevelt tossed out the ceremonial first pitch when the Yankees began to pump the ball for extra base hits. The National League’s pitching prides – Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell and Van Mungo were as chaff before the Yankee onslaught.

Seven of those eight runs by the American Leaguers scored were produced by the Yankee bats of Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Red Rolfe and Bill Dickey. The fifth Yankee, Lefty Gomez, deserves a paragraph all for himself.

Lean, lanky Gomez, whose frail physique belies the power in his pitching arm, did not partake of the Yankee slugging but he was out there pitching the great Dizzy Dean into the ground for the first three innings while his Yankee colleagues were assembling a 2-0 lead against the self-styled Great One.

Gehrig, the laddie known as Lou, jarred the smiling Dean out of his satisfaction in the third inning. He gave first evidence of the dynamite slumbering in the Yankee bats when he lifted a booming shot far, far over the right-field wall behind a single by DiMaggio.

That set the Yankees, beg pardon, the American League, up in a 2-0 lead which they improved as the game progressed. For the National Leaguers it was a forlorn chase. Bill Terry’s team were simply plodders in comparison, picking up a run per inning off Detroit’s Tommy Bridges in his three-inning turn. After that, Cleveland’s Mel Harder shut the NL stars out for the last three innings.

Hubbell, the vaunted screwballer, and the fast-balling Mungo couldn’t escape the damage of those Yankee bats. Hubbell failed to last out one inning, the fourth, and Mungo was savagely attacked for four AL runs in two innings.

Shirley Povich’s coverage of the 1937 MLB All-Star Game in Washington, as printed in The Washington Post. Click for an enlarged version.

The National League produced one hero, however. He was Ducky Medwick, justifying his .403 batting average by belting out four straight hits, two of them two-baggers. It was the fans’ kind of ball game – straightaway slugging with a dash of pitching brilliance and one well-spanked homer, by Gehrig. Griffith Stadium was in carnival spirit for the clash of the hand-picked stars. The day was hot and summerish, and white shirts and 30-day blues flecked the stands as coats came off and brows were wiped.

Before the game, baseball’s high officialdom was summoned to the President’s box to be introduced to Mr. Roosevelt by Clark Griffith. They came, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, President Will Harridge of the AL; President Ford Frick of the NL, and the two managers – Joe McCarthy and Billy Terry – and the President posed with them happily.

Arky Vaughan singled off Gomez with two out in the first inning, and that was the first and last hit off the Yankee fastballer. The 2-0 lead Gehrig’s homer gave the AL in the third was halved when, in the fourth, Ducky Medwick doubled past Rolfe to score Billy Herman who previously had singled.

The American Leaguers upped their lead to 5-1 against Hubbell in the fourth. Hub walked Dickey and was reached for a single by Sammy West. Rolfe tripled them both home with a long smash into right center. Terry started to take Hubbell out, changed his mind, and left him in. Gehringer singled Rolfe home and Hubbell was removed in favor of Cy Blanton of the Pirates, who called a temporary halt.

Mel Ott’s two-bagger got the NL a run off Bridges in the fifth, but the American Leaguers had a reply for that in their own half. Joe Cronin banged a two-bagger to deep right, and so did Bill Dickey, and the AL lead was 6-2.

In the sixth, Medwick and Demaree opened with singles against Bridges. Mize’s long fly scored Medwick. A defensive gem by Joe DiMaggio halted the scoring. On Rip Collins’ single to right, DiMaggio whipped a throw to Dickey at the plate without a bounce to catch Pinch Runner Burgess Whitehead trying to score from second.

That was the National League’s last gasp, but the AL was still run-hungry and Gehrig got ‘em two more with a two-bagger off Van Mungo, Terry’s fifth pitcher, after Rolfe and Gehringer reached base in the sixth. Aside from his three pitchers, McCarthy used only one extra player, Pinch-Hitter Jimmy Foxx, in fashioning his victory.

Courtesy of The Washington Post. Originally printed in 1937. Reprinted on July 8, 1956.

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