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1923 Yankees Diary: August

The Yankees didn’t light things on fire in August 1923, but they did keep chugging along.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Throughout this year here at Pinstripe Alley, we’ve been commemorating 25 years since the 1998 New York Yankees by doing daily entries looking back at what that historic team had done on a given day.

However, 2023 also marks the anniversary of another notable Yankees’ team. One-hundred years ago, the 1923 Yankees made their mark by becoming the first team in franchise history to win a World Series title. In their honor, we’re going to do a monthly look back at what was happening for that year’s team, and today, it’s time for August.

Through August 31st: 78-42, .650 (12.5 GA)

August was not the strongest of month for the 1923 Yankees. They went 13-12, which was tied with June for the worst winning percentage of any month they played in. (With the exception of October, which they only played four regular season games in.) Their +8 run differential is slightly better than their +6 in June, but Yankees’ pitching gave up more than five runs per game over the course of August. While their struggles didn’t come back to haunt them too badly, they did lose one game off the 13.5-game lead they had after July.

On August 5th, the Yankees needed 13 innings to dispatch the St. Louis Browns, rallying from an 8-4 deficit. Starting pitcher Sad Sam Jones was removed by Miller Huggins after just 4.2 innings. In his place he sent in Waite Hoyt, who proceeded to throw 8.2 frames out of the bullpen. There have technically been 23 Yankee relief outings that have been longer, but it was still an impressive outing, as he didn’t allow any runs in the seventh through thirteenth innings.

From August 7-9, the Yankees lost three games in a row. However, they were given an unexpected chance to regroup when their scheduled game on August 10th was postponed. Your initial assumption is probably rain or weather of some sort, but that is not the case. Instead, that game was postponed due to the funeral of President Warren G. Harding. A week earlier, the August 3rd game was also postponed the day after Harding’s death from a heart attack. Only two other presidents have died in office since then — Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy — but neither came during the regular season (FDR’s came a few days before), so it’s unclear what would happened should a presidential death happen again. With their day off, the Yankees bounced back by sweeping a doubleheader against the Tigers on August 11th.

The second game of that doubleheader saw the Yankees trail 7-3 going into the ninth. After the first two hitters of the order went down in order, Babe Ruth and Elmer Smith kept the game alive with back-to-back inside-the-park home runs, both hit towards Tigers’ center fielder Ty Cobb. Then after a single and an error, Ernie Johnson hit a triple to tie the game and sent it into extra innings. In the 10th, the Tigers took a lead in the top half of the inning, only for the Yankees to rally and win it on a Wally Pipp walk-off single.

August was just about tied with July for Babe Ruth’s best month of 1923. He OPSed 1.435 over the 25 games, with a .586 OBP, which was his best of any month that year. On the pitching side of things, Herb Pennock appeared in 10 different games, starting six of them. As mentioned, it wasn’t the most impressive month on that side of things, but he did put up a 3.65 ERA.

While the 1923 Yankees weren’t at their sharpest in August, it got them one step closer to their ultimate destination.