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An Alternative History of the Yankees: the 1930s

After a mostly down decade, the virtual Yankees get back on the map thanks to a young star pitcher.

Cleveland Indians Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images

Using the game Out of the Park Baseball 21, we’ve been going back through history and rewriting Yankees and baseball history. The computer is controlling all teams, and all real life transactions have been turned off. Therefore, it’s possible the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and Derek Jeter will never end up in pinstripes, while other notable names end up as Yankee stars. Here’s where you can read parts one and two, and three. Let’s see what happens next as we begin the 1930s.

In real life, the 1930s were either the best or second best decade in franchise history. They won five of the World Series played from 1930-39, and only once finished lower than second in the AL. They had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig leading the way at the start, and by the end they had Joe DiMaggio.

However in our alternate history, neither Ruth or Gehrig are Yankees and, in fact, each of their teams beat the Yankees in a World Series in the 20s. As a franchise, the Yankees have just one World Series to this point, compared to three in real life. Will the 1930s, much as they did in real life, make the Yankees the marquee franchise in baseball?

1930: 73-81, 5th in AL, 31 GB, Team WAR Leader: LF Chick Hafey (6.8)

The Yankees started the decade with a new manager, hiring Nick Hadaway, who had been managing the minor league Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. His first season is a mostly uninteresting one as the Yankees being to rebuild a bit. The Cubs beat the Red Sox in the World Series.

1931: 72-82, 6th in AL, 28 GB, Team WAR Leader: 3B Ossie Bluege (5.3)

The ‘31 season ended up being a lot like the previous one, as they finished middle of the pack way behind the AL champion Red Sox, who go on to lose in the World Series.

Elsewhere, a young player named Joe DiMaggio is acquired by the Giants, but a little more than a month later is sold to the Washington Senators, he will go on to make his debut as a 17-year old the next year. Playing your first game that young means he might be someone we need to keep an eye on.

1932: 76-78, 5th in AL, 16 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Schoolboy Rowe (5.1)

The Yankees take a step towards .500 thanks to the emergence of their 1931 first round draft pick and AL Rookie of the Year, pitcher Schoolboy Rowe. Meanwhile, The Red Sox won the AL but lost in the World Series for the third straight year.

1933: 73-81, 6th in AL, 17 GB, Team WAR Leader: RF Babe Herman (6.1)

About the same for the Yankees, but we need to talk about the Red Sox again. They went full Buffalo Bills by losing in the World Series for the fourth straight time. It’s almost like there’s some kind of curse.

1934: 70-84, 6th in AL, 21 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Schoolboy Rowe (6.2)

A middling ‘33 is followed by a middling ‘34 for the Yankees. It does lead to a managerial change, as they can Hadaway, who didn’t do much of anything, and hire Jamie Stott. Over the offseason, they also acquire intriguing second base prospect Eddie Stanky, who becomes the top-ranked prospect in baseball. Yankee legend Shoeless Joe Jackson is also elected to the Hall of Fame after a incredible, scandal-free career.

Back on the field, there is also some change as the Red Sox finally don’t lose in the World Series. Instead, they finish 3rd in the AL. Cleveland wins the AL, but fall to the Giants in the World Series.

1935: 71-83, 5th in AL, 22 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Schoolboy Rowe (5.7)

New manager, but similar results. A down offensive year from some of the Yankees star hitters sees the team put up one of the worst run totals in all MLB. That’s mainly what costs the team as Rowe is turning into a multi-time All-Star and holding down the rotation. Said pitching staff has the potential to get even better, as they selected a 17-year old named Bob Feller with their first round draft pick.

The Red Sox return and finally end their World Series hoodoo, but nearly blew a 3-1 series lead to Bill Dickey’s Cubs in the process.

After the season, the legendary Babe Ruth retires. He finished with 453 home runs, which is not bad considering that he was a two-way player from 1914 to 1928.

The Yankees also gain another Hall of Fame inductee when Reb Russell, the Yankees ace for their mid/late ‘10s World Series winners/contenders, is voted in.

1936: 81-73, 5th in AL, 9 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Schoolboy Rowe (6.9)

The Yankees took a massive step forward, hanging around in a crowded AL race for most of the season before a bad last month dropped them to fifth. Feller gets called up at just 17-years old, and finishes second in Rookie of the Year while forming an impressive duo with Rowe.

The Dodgers took home the World Series, beating the A’s.

1937: 97-57, 1st in AL, Team WAR Leader: SP Bob Feller (7.2)

A still just 18-year old Feller becomes a sensation and leads the Yankees back to their first World Series in nearly a decade. He puts up a 1.83 ERA in 290 innings, and as a team, the Yankees allow just 546 runs, the best in MLB.

Their World Series opponent in the Cubs and their dynamic offense led by Dick Bartell, Tony Cuccinello, and Bill Dickey. Feller throws a complete game win to start the series, but after that, the Yankees offense goes completely cold. They score just two runs over the next four games lose the series 4-1. Feller is rewarded with the Cy Young Award, but it’s not the only trophy everyone wanted.

1938: 75-79, 6th in AL, 23 GB, Team WAR Leader: SP Bob Feller (7.7)

The Yankees are unable to follow up their World Series and fell way back to the pack. Feller and three hitters had good seasons, but the rest of the team put in substandard seasons, causing the drop. However, their foes the Cubs don’t suffer the same fate and bring home another title.

One high note during the season was the retirement of Chick Hafey’s number 19 jersey. Hafey played for the Yankees from 1923 to ‘34 and was one of their only good players in a mostly down era for the franchise.

1939: 71-83, 6th in AL, 22 GB, Team WAR Leader: Bob Feller (8.5)

Outside Feller and shortstop Billy Myers, the Yankees were a fairly mediocre team, and their record shows it. The Giants take home the championship, while the Yankees select an intruiging second baseman named Snuffy Stirnweiss in the draft.