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This Date in Washington Senators History – Mickey Vernon secures the AL Batting Title
1905 Tom Hughes shutouts Cleveland for the 5th time this season, a ML record, 5-0, in Washington. Hughes record will be tied by Grover Alexander of the Phillies in 1916 and Larry Jaster with the Cardinals in 1966.
1912 Eddie Collins would comment that he had never known the Big Train to throw harder than he did on this day. Walter Johnson, in relief of starter Bob Groom, fires 10 shutout innings in a 19 inning, 5-4 Nationals win over the A’s. It is an errant throw from Collins that allows the Nats to plate the winner in the top of the 19th. Johnson pockets his 32nd victory. Philadelphia’s Eddie Plank, pitching all 19 frames, is charged with the loss.
1919 In Washington, Boston finds themselves on the losing end of a Nat’s twinbill sweep, 7-3 and 4-1. Boston hurler Reb Russell drops both games. Babe Ruth blasts his first home run of the year in Washington, becoming the first player to homer in every park in a season. Ruth’s game one home run is his 29th of the year and his last in a Boston uniform. Ruth’s titanic shot off Rip Jordan clears the 45 foot RF wall, the longest home run witnessed to date in Washington’s League Park.
1924 Disaster looms as the Red Sox score 4 in the 1st to take a 4-0 lead. However, the relief trio of Firpo Marberry, Allan Russell and Tom Zachary hold the fort, allowing the Senator offense to get into gear. Washington, with the Fenway faithful cheering them on, come back to score a 7-5 victory. Pinch hitter Wade Lefler delivers the key blow for the Sens, a 3-run, bases loaded double. In Philadelphia, the Yankees lose to the A’s, 4-3, courtesy of a “Bullet” Joe Bush wild pitch. Washington’s lead is now 2 games with 2 to play.
1938 Dutch Leonard heads into the record books as the pitcher who surrendered Lou Gehrig‘s final home run. The Iron Horse, on the 15th anniversary of his first home run, clouts his 493rd in a 5-2 Yanks win in the Bronx.
1940 Judging from the final score, it is understandable to believe the Red Sox were hitting off a batting tee. But, the record show that Washington did actually use pitchers in this, 24-4 humiliation in Fenway. Dom DiMaggio may have been worn out from running the bases in scoring 5 runs. Ted Williams must have disappointed himself by bringing home only 4 RBI.
1953 The late Mickey Vernon secures the AL batting title with a .337 clip. Near the conclusion of Washington’s 9-2 Griffith Stadium loss to Philadelphia, the news arrives that Rosen’s game has ended with Mick ahead by .0011 points. Shamefully, Vernon’s teammates intentionally make the last 6 outs of the game to prevent Vernon from batting again and, possibly, losing the batting title. The Senators conclude their season at an even 76-76, good for 5th place.
1954 Urged by his nephew Calvin, Clark Griffith reluctantly fires manager Bucky Harris after a 66-88 season. Harris managed the Nats for 3 separate stints spanning 18 years, guiding Washington to its only World Series championship in 1924. Harris will land in Detroit as the Tigers pilot for 2 season before retiring after 1956.
1968 Opening their final series of the year at Detroit, the Senators double up the Bengals, 3-1. Frank Howard breaks a 1-all deadlock with his 44th home run in the 7th. Joe Coleman scatters 6 hits over 9 innings to net his 12th win.
Harold Dennis (Chick) Gagnon B Sep. 27, 1897 D Apr. 30, 1970
Chick Gagnon made his major league debut in late June of 1922 with the Detroit Tigers. Playing shortstop and 3rd base, Gagnon would only make 5 plate appearances, going 1 for 4 with a walk.
Returning to the major leagues in 1924 with the Washington Senators, Gagnon would make it in to 4 games, hitting an even .200 and would leave the Senators, and the majors, in mid-May.
Richard Anthony Lanahan B Sep. 27, 1911 D Mar. 12, 1975
Washington, DC native Dick Lanahan made his major league debut with the 1935 version of the Senators, going 0-3 in 3 games with a 5.66 ERA. Returning with the Senators in 1937, Lanahan would pitch in 6 games, post an 0-1 record and see his ERA swell to 12.71.
Lanahan would make it back to the majors with the 1940 Pittsburgh Pirates where he’d go 6-8 in 40 games. His career ended in mid-May of 1941 after going 0-1 in 7 games for the Pirates.
John Michael Pesky (born John Michael Paveskovich) B Sep. 27, 1919 D August 13, 2012.
Johnny Pesky is best known for the many years he spent in Boston as a shortstop and 3rd baseman. Making his debut in 1942, Pesky would hit .331 in 147 games. His career interrupted by World War II, Pesky would pick up where he left off, hitting .335 in 153 games and being named to the 1946 All Star squad. Playing in Boston through early June of 1952, Pesky would lead the American League in hits in 1942, 1946 & 1947. He’d play in all 7 games of the 1946 World Series, hitting .233 as the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 7 games.
Traded to the Detroit Tigers in June of 1952, Pesky would remain in a Tigers uniform through mid-June of 1954 when he’d be traded to the Washington Senators for Mel Hoderlein. He’d finish his career in Washington, playing in 49 games, going 40 for 158, good for a .253 BA.
Pesky would return to the Red Sox organization managing the team in 1963 & 1964 and again briefly in 1980. He remains a coach and consultant and finally got that coveted World Series ring in 2004.