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Yankees History: The 1927 Bronx Bomber who missed out on history

The 1927 season is one that goes down in Yankees’ lore, and there’s one particular player who just barely missed out on a piece of it.

New York Yankees... Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images

In today’s baseball, teams generally make use of their entire roster, even in the postseason. For example, between both participants of the 2022 World Series — the Astros and Phillies — just four players on the rosters for the series didn’t appear in any of the games.

That wasn’t always the case. For comparison, in the 1927 World Series, the Yankees alone had nine players that didn’t make an appearance in any games. Sure, the series ended in a sweep, but that’s still a decent chunk of the roster.

Now, you might think that the majority of those players were pitchers. Bullpens were more sparsely used back then, and starting pitchers would regularly throw complete games even if they didn’t have their A+ stuff. It would make sense that large parts of the Yankees’ pitching staff went unused. So, technically most of the unused Yankees were pitchers, but it was only five to four. That leaves four position players who didn’t get any shot as a pinch-hitter/runner, a late-inning defense replacement, or anything.

One of those four came agonizingly close to getting into a game and going down in history as someone who contributed on the field for the 1927 Yankees’ World Series championship. Instead, they missed out and never played in the major leagues again.

Ray Morehart was born in 1899 in Abner, Texas, and started to make his mark in baseball by while playing at Austin College. At Austin, he caught the attention of the Pirates, and even reportedly agreed to sign with them, but instead opted to stay in school and finish his degree.

After graduating, he began his career with the wonderfully-named Flint Vehicles of the minor league Michigan-Ontario League in 1922. Two years later, after a couple successful seasons, he again attracted attention from a big league team, this time the White Sox. Chicago was looking for an up-and-coming young second baseman, with their future Hall of Fame incumbent, Eddie Collins, in his late 30s.

The White Sox would sign Morehart in 1924, and he would play 31 games for the team that season. Morehart also ended up playing a decent amount of shortstop, but mostly struggled at that plate. That led to Chicago sending him back to the minors for 1925. After a good season, he was brought back for 1926, but by then, Collins had been named White Sox manager and Morehart was stuck in a bench role. He did have a historic day on August 31st, recording a combined nine hits across two games of a doubleheader, but in total, he only appeared in 71 games, making just over 200 plate appearances.

Things seemed to be opening up for Morehart when the White Sox got rid of Collins after 1926. However, instead, they traded him to the Yankees for Aaron Ward, who was then slotted in at second base.

Considering this is a Yankees’ site, you probably know lots about the 1927 Yankees and know that they were pretty set up and down the lineup. Therefore, once again, Morehart was used in a bench role. However, he occasionally chipped in with some big moments, including a walk-off single on June 8th versus Chicago to get some matter of revenge on the White Sox.

Morehart did spent a good chunk of time from late May through early July as the Yankees’ regular starting second baseman as the team dealt with injuries. He only put up a 79 OPS+, and would be relegated to a reserve role once people recovered. Still, his contributions were enough that he was included on the World Series roster after the Yankees romped to the AL Pennant.

While the Yankees beat the Pirates 5-4 in Game 1, it came with some consequences. In the eighth inning, shortstop Mark Koenig was knocked out on a play at second. Meanwhile, second baseman Tony Lazzeri also hurt his wrist, which affected his bat grip. Today, either of those injuries — but especially Koenig — would have seen them exit the game, and possibly miss the next one or two games. However, it was 1927, and both remained in the game. While Morehart declared himself ready if needed, Koenig and Lazzeri would also get the start in Game 2. Even if they were affected by the injuries, it didn’t matter as the Yankees wrapped up the series in a four-game sweep. Morehart forever goes down as a champion of the 1927 Yankees, but he wouldn’t get to appear in the series.

That would be the end of his Yankee career as after the season, they released him. The move came as some surprise, but it ended up that no other major league team would pick up Morehart ever again. He played another six seasons in the minors and had some good years, but he never again graced the major leagues.

Not every major league player gets to play a World Series game. There can’t be many more people who got closer only to not appear in one than Ray Morehart.


New York Times, October 6, 1927