Baseball Reflections

Baseball Legacies: Murderers Row

Hearing the term ‘Murderer’s Row’ probably does not lead most people to think of baseball, however, Murderer’s Row could surely use chaos in the FanDuel MLB odds. They were the baseball teams of the Yankees back in the late 1920s. 

They were considered to be some of the best teams that had ever been seen in MLB history. However, the ‘Murderers Row’ nickname is primarily used to describe the first 6 hitters in the team of 1927 lineup. 

This team was composed of Earle Combs, Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Keonig, Lou Gehrig, and Tony Lazzeri. 

Many of these players’ names are infamous for their skill, even if you are not a massive MLB fan, you surely know these names. But, who are Murderer’s Row, what did they do, and what legacy did they leave behind?

Murderer’s Row Etymology

The term ‘Murderer’s Row’ mimicking the name which was applied to a part of Tombs prison in NYC, was eventually applied to a range of different baseball teams before it ended up applied to the Babe Ruth Yankees. 

A paper released in 1905, was written about the Yale baseball team, noted that one of the team’s coaches, Billy Lush, who only the year before had been an outfielder for the Cleveland Naps, was a ‘Murderer’s Row’ member, as pitchers called the first 6 batters on the list.

The term was used for other teams as well, such as the Philadelphia Athletics and the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as for some college teams and minor league teams too. It was used for the Yankees first in 1918, just 2 years before Babe Ruth joined the team.

The Yankees 1927

In terms of the Yankees team, the term was associated with the start of the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig teams in the 2920s, and it typically refers specifically to the very core of the Yankee hitting line-up in 1927. 

The owner, Jacob Ruppert, is most often credited with making this team, although it is also believed that Ed Barrow, the general manager, may also have had just as much to do with it. 

In a July game against the Senators, the Yankees beat the opposition 21-1, and prompted the first baseman Joe Judge to say that the Yankees do not only beat you but tear your heart out. 

Which sounds about right for a team titled ‘Murderer’s Row’.

The 1927 Season 

The season of 1927 was absolutely jaw-dropping thanks to the Yankees. They had previously lost the World Series to the Cardinals back in 1926. Yet, they went 110-44 in 1927 and won the A.L pennant by only 9 games, they also swept the Pirates in the World series too. 

There have only been 5 teams to have won more regular season games than this, including the 1906 Cubs, and 2001 Mariners, who both have 116, and the 1998 Yankees who had 114, and the 1954 Indians and 2022 Dodgers, both with 111. 

Yet, the 98 Yankees, ‘01 Mariners, and ‘22 Dodgers played 8 more games, so we cannot say for sure if this really counts. 

(One might wonder if the Yankees could take the World Series 2023 home as well!)

Nonetheless, the Yankees in 1927 batted at .307, slugged at .489, and scored an awesome 975 runs, outsourcing their opposition by an absolutely insane 276 runs. Their center fielder, Combs, had the best year of his career, as he batted .356 with an awesome 231 hits.

Meanwhile, second baseman Lazzeri drove 102 runs, and Mausel batted at .227 with 103 RBI’s. Gehrig managed to bat .373 and made 218 hits, 18 triples, 52 doubles, and 27 home runs, and then made an incredible record 175 RBI’s’ on top, slugging at .765. He was also voted MVP as well! 

Ruth had a batting average of 164 RBI’s, walked 137 times, made 158 runs, and slugged at .772. His 60 runs in that year broke his own record, and actually marked the MLB for 34 years until Maris broke it. 

The Yankees of this year had a pitching staff that led the league in ERA as well, at 3.20, and their league included Hoyt at 22-7, who managed to tie for the lead in wins in the league. 

After they swept the Pirates in the World Series, they continued their epic journey and in 1928 they did the same again when they swept the Cardinals. They are still the only MLB team who sweep 2 World Series consecutively. 

The Yankees of 1938-1939 and 1998-1999 did the same.

Murderer’s Row Legacy 

The term coined ‘Murderers Row’ is often used as a way to describe the teams in the MLB with the most deadly talent, although it has often been used outside of the MLB and sport in general. 

In ‘06 in the American League Division Series, the Tigers manager Leyland called the Yankees of ‘06 “Murderers Row and Cano” thanks to the line-up and additional second baseman Cano, who have all had many All-Star appearances. 

Overall

Murderers Row, is typically a reference to the 1927 MLB Yankees, however, it is generally used as a term to describe a team who is incredibly talented with fearsome force.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Baseball Legacies: Murderers Row – Baseball Reflections - Sports News Center 247

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