Washington was heading to the World Series for the first time since 1925.
On September 21st, the Washington Senators clinched the 1933 American League pennant with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Browns. They would meet the New York Giants in the World Series, which would begin in less than two weeks.
The Senators’ first place finish was considered a big surprise. Very few baseball experts had given them more than an outside chance of dethroning the World Champion New York Yankees. One season before Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and company won 107 games and swept the Cubs in the World Series. Joe Cronin, the twenty-six year-old rookie manager and shortstop of the Senators, and team owner Clark Griffith, believed otherwise. They were right. Washington won 14 of the 22 games from New York in 1933, and finished 6 ½ games ahead of them.
After defeating the Browns to clinch the pennant, the Senators were idle the next day followed by back-to-back meaningless games in Philadelphia. For what it was worth, the Nats dropped both games. Three consecutive off days were next on the schedule, however, Cronin filled the three days by scheduling three practices at Griffith Stadium.
The boy manager was carious to know if there was a difference in hitting a National League and American League baseball. The stitches were higher on the National League ball, and the word was it did not have the “rabbit” the American League ball had. Cronin was the first to step into the batting cage during the first day of practice. The first pitch was delivered and “whack!” He sent a drive deep into the left field seats. “Gee, I must be in the wrong league,” he said.
Whack! The All-Star shortstop hit the second pitch into the same bleachers. “That ball is not going to make a difference,” he declared.
Dave Harris and Fred Schulte each hit one over the wall, and Buddy Myer and Goose Goslin smacked one off the top of the thirty-foot wall in right field. After the team’s first batting session with the other league’s baseball, the players were convinced that the ball was not going to make a difference. And as for the raised stitches, “If that helped the Giants pitchers, it’s going to help our pitchers, too,” said Cronin.
Bill Terry, the outspoken manager of the New York Giants, said his team would shell the two Washington twenty-game winners (General Crowder and Earl Whitehill) in the first two games of the series. “It would surprise me if they do,” replied Cronin, who would not reply further.
To be continued….