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1923 Yankees Diary: September

The Yankees wrapped up another AL pennant in September of 1923.

Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig 1923

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 September. We’ll also include the handful of regular season games they played in October and give the World Series it’s own spotlight next month.

Through October 7th: 98-54 (16 GA)

Coming into September, the Yankees had pretty much all but clinched the American League pennant. They had a 12.5-game lead going into the month, so it would’ve taken a pretty big collapse to lose it, and that did not happen. The Yankees went 20-12 over September and early October, which was good enough to finish 16 games up on the second place Tigers, and 17 over third place Cleveland.

The Yankees officially clinched the AL on September 20th, with a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Browns. They nearly had to wait a day or two longer, as despite leading 4-0 after six innings, the Browns scored a run each in the seventh, eighth, and ninth to add some drama. In the ninth, St. Louis then had runners on second and third, representing the tying and go-ahead runs. However, pitcher Sad Sam Jones got Ken Williams to pop up for the final out, sealing the AL crown.

Beyond just clinching a third-straight pennant, another fairly notable event in franchise history happened during this month. On September 27th, Lou Gehrig got his first ever start at first base. He had played in a handful of games and got some plate appearances — recording his first hit back on July 7th — prior to that, but all came off the bench. On the 27th, Miller Huggins gave the 20-year old a chance to show what he had, and Gehrig rewarded him. He went for 1-for-2 with two walks and two RBI, the first two of his career. Said hit was also his first career major league home run when he drove home Babe Ruth with a two-run shot in the first inning. Including that game, Gehrig went 9-for-19 in four starts to wrap up his short rookie season. He finished 1923 with a 1.234 OPS, showing a sign of what was still to come in his career.

As you might expect in arguably the best season of his ridiculous career, Ruth was also very good in September 1923. He hit .369/.507/.784 with nine home runs. On the other hand, that 1.291 OPS was actually only the third best he had of any month that season. Gross.

On the pitching front, Waite Hoyt had quite the month. From September 1st to the 24th, he made five starts, all of which ended up being nine-inning, complete game outings. He followed that by going eight innings in a road game that the Yankees lost in regulation, meaning he likely would’ve gone nine again, had he had the chance. After that, Hoyt came out of the bullpen once, and went three innings in a start on the final day of the regular season. In total over September and early October, Hoyt threw 61 innings in eight games. He put up a 2.25 ERA and was the winning pitcher of record in five games.

Meanwhile over in the NL, the Giants came out on top, setting up a third-straight World Series meeting between the teams. The Giants’ pennant race was much closer as they finished 4.5 games ahead of the Reds, requiring a late six-game win streak to fully put the pennant away. In the next edition of the 1923 diary, we’ll take a look at what happened when the teams met in the Fall Classic.