by Harold Friend
Carl Hubbell was one of the greatest of all pitchers in baseball history. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947, King Carl won 253 games, but just as Babe Ruth had his Hub Pruett, Carl Hubbell had the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Brooklyn Dodgers Break Their Losing Streak
Brooklyn was in the midst of an eight game losing streak on June 30, 1934. Casey Stengel's boys trailed the league-leading Giants by 14 games. At the Polo Grounds for a three-game series, Brooklyn dropped the first game to Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons, 7-2. The next day, Stengel gave the ball to Ray Benge, who would face Giants' ace, Carl Hubbell.
Brooklyn Beat Hubbell 20 Times in 29 Decisions
It was Hubbell's first start of the season against Brooklyn. Giants' skipper Bill Terry usually made sure that Hubbell would not face the Dodgers, and for good reason. Most teams dreaded facing Hubbell, but Brooklyn wasn't one of them. The Flatbush sluggers were the only team to hold an edge, beating him 20 times out of 29 decisions.
Hubbell's Great 1933 Season
In 1933, Hubbell helped lead New York to World Championship. He led the league with 23 wins, 10 shutouts, and a 1.66 ERA. Against Washington in the Series, he won two games and didn't allow the American Leaguers an earned run. But he rarely beat Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Beats Hubbell
Before a crowd of about 12,000 fans, Hubbell went to the hill to face Brooklyn lead off batter Len Koenecke. The former Giant doubled to right field, bringing up Joe Stripp, who put down a bunt between the mound and first base. First baseman Bill Terry fielded the bunt but made a poor throw to Hubbell, who was covering first. Koenecke raced home with the first Brooklyn run as Stripp wound up on second.
New York tied the game in the second, and it remained deadlocked until the sixth, when Brooklyn scored twice. They knocked Hubbell out of the box in the seventh with a three-run outburst, and scored twice in the ninth off Roy Parmelee, who was making his first appearance since suffering from appendicitis. Benge went the distance as Brooklyn won, 8-4. It was only the second time in nine tries that the Dodgers had beaten the Giants.
Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin
Less than two weeks later, Carl Hubbell again took the mound at the Polo Grounds, but on this day, he was facing a lineup that was a little more formidable than Brooklyn's. Hubbell, the National League starting pitcher, waited patiently as Charlie Gehringer stepped into the left handed batters box.
Hubbell peered in to get the signal from catcher Gabby Hartnett, nodded assent when Hartnett called for the screwball, went into the windup, and delivered. Gehringer swung and hit a line drive to center field for a base hit. When Wally Berger fumbled the ball, Gehringer took off for second and made it easily.
Heinie Manush was the next batter. He walked, to put runners on first and second with no outs. Hubbell looked around at his infield as gathered his courage to face Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx. Ruth took ball one. He never swung the bat as Hubbell threw three consecutive screwballs for strike one, strike two, and strike three. Gehrig went down swinging on four pitches as Gehringer and Manush executed a double steal, and Foxx flailed helplessly at the third screwball he saw to retire the side.
Frankie Frisch Was Impressed
As the National Leaguers left the field, Frankie Frisch said to Bill Terry, "I could play second base fifteen more years behind that guy. He doesn't need any help. He does it all by himself." In the dugout, Terry, who was Hubbell's manager, slapped him on the arm. "That's pitching, boy"
In the second inning, staked to a 1-0 lead by a Frankie Frisch home run, Hubbell struck out Al Simmons and Joe Cronin before Bill Dickey broke the spell with a single. Lefty Gomez whiffed to retire the side. In his last inning of work, Hubbell retired Gehringer on the fly to right, got Manush on an infield grounder, walked Ruth, and retired Gehrig.
Twenty-four Wins in 27 Decisions
Carl Hubbell was masterful against some of the greatest players in baseball history. He was 4-2 with a 1.79 ERA in the World Series. From 1933-1937, he won at least 20 games. From July 17, 1936 to May 27, 1937, Carl Hubbell started 27 games, winning 24 and getting three no-decisions. That's right. Brooklyn ended the streak.
By JOHN DREBINGER. (1934, July 1). DODGERS TRIUMPH T OVER GIANTS, 8-4 :Brooklyn Ends 8-Game Losing Streak by Routing Hubbell at Polo Grounds. New York Times (1857-Current file),S1. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 95049108).
By JOHN DREBINGER.. (1934, July 11). AMERICAN LEAGUE VICTOR AGAIN, 9-7 :Launches Six-Run Barrage in Fifth to Beat Nationals in All-Star Classic. HUBBELL DRAWS ACCLAIM Fans Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, Cronin and Gomez in First Two Innings.. New York Times (1857-Current file),21. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 93633223).