1920 New York Yankees season

The 1920 New York Yankees season was the 18th season for the Yankees. The team finished with a record of 95–59, just 3 games behind the American League champion Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. Home games were played at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees of 1920 were the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have an attendance of more than one million fans.[1]

1920 New York Yankees
Babe Ruth's First Season in New York
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s)Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston
Manager(s)Miller Huggins
Local televisionnone
Local radionone
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The year started with a bang on January 5, when the Boston Red Sox sold their star pitcher-turned-outfielder Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000 (equivalent to $2,000,000 in 2021). The sub-headline in The New York Times the next day read, "Highest Purchase Price in Baseball History Paid for Game's Greatest Slugger."[2] This deal would live in infamy for generations of Boston fans, and would vault the Yankees from respectability (80 wins in 1919) to pennant contention.

Regular season

Babe Ruth, his wife, and three teammates were in a car accident on July 7, 1920 from which they were lucky to walk away. Ruth was driving the group back to New York from Washington where the Yankees had beaten the Senators the previous day. Nearing Wawa, Pennsylvania at 2:00 AM, Ruth missed a sharp curve, drove into a ditch, and totaled the car where it flipped on top of them. Ruth was able to move the vehicle, and all five made it to a local farmhouse where they were attended to. They were driven that same day to Philadelphia where they boarded a train for New York.[3] Ruth was in the lineup for the next game on July 8, 1920 where he went one for four with a triple against the Detroit Tigers.[4]

The Indians won the pennant despite a horrific incident at the Polo Grounds on August 16. Yankees pitcher Carl Mays, another of several ex-Red Sox players who had come the Yankees' way, used a "submarine" (underhand) pitching style. He threw one up and in on Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman, who tended to crowd the plate and apparently never saw the ball coming. Chapman suffered a severe skull fracture, and died the following morning.[5] Mays was absolved of any wrongdoing, but the incident would haunt him for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the Indians rallied around the memory of their shortstop, and won the season.

However, with Ruth leading the Yankees, and with his stunning total of 54 home runs, nearly doubling his own major league record from just the previous year, New York finished just a game behind the second-place Chicago White Sox and three behind the Indians. Ruth's 54 home runs marked an end to the dead-ball era, and ushered in a new style of play with an emphasis on power hitting. The Yankees had once been the "poor relations of the Polo Grounds", as Lamont Buchanan characterized them in The World Series and Highlights of Baseball. But the Giants had faded a bit in the late 1910s while the Yankees had grown stronger. The Yankees were now poised to take the next step to beginning the greatest dynasty in professional sports.

Season standings

American League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Cleveland Indians 9856 0.636 51–27 47–29
Chicago White Sox 9658 0.623 2 52–25 44–33
New York Yankees 9559 0.617 3 49–28 46–31
St. Louis Browns 7677 0.497 21½ 40–38 36–39
Boston Red Sox 7281 0.471 25½ 41–35 31–46
Washington Senators 6884 0.447 29 37–38 31–46
Detroit Tigers 6193 0.396 37 32–46 29–47
Philadelphia Athletics 48106 0.312 50 25–50 23–56

Record vs. opponents

Boston 12–106–1613–99–1313–9–19–1310–11
Chicago 10–1210–1219–310–1216–614–817–5
Cleveland 16–612–1015–79–1316–615–715–7
Detroit 9–133–197–157–1512–10–110–1213–9
New York 13–912–1013–915–719–312–1011–11
Philadelphia 9–13–16–166–1610–12–13–198–146–16
St. Louis 13–98–147–1512–1010–1214–812–9–1
Washington 11–105–177–159–1311–1116–69–12–1


1920 New York Yankees
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters

  • Tom Connelly

Player stats

Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CTruck Hannah7925964.247225
1BWally Pipp153610171.2801176
2BDel Pratt154574180.3144108
SSRoger Peckinpaugh139534144.270854
3BAaron Ward127496127.2561156
OFPing Bodie129471139.295777
OFDuffy Lewis10736599.271459
OFBabe Ruth142457172.37654137

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Bob Meusel119460151.3281183
Muddy Ruel8226170.268114
Sammy Vick5111826.220011
Frank Gleich24415.12204
Fred Hofmann15247.29201
Chick Fewster21216.28601
Joe Lucey330.00000
Ray French220.00001
Tom Connelly110.00000

Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Carl Mays45312.026113.0692
Bob Shawkey38267.220132.45126
Jack Quinn41253.118103.20101
Hank Thormahlen29143.1964.1435
George Mogridge26125.1594.3135
Babe Ruth14.0104.500

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Rip Collins36187.11483.2266

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Ernie Shore142214.8712
Bob McGraw150004.6711
Lefty O'Doul20004.912



  • Babe Ruth, 20th century record, Highest slugging average in one season (.847) [1]


  1. Baseball's Top 100: The Game's Greatest Records, p.22, Kerry Banks, 2010, Greystone Books, Vancouver, BC, ISBN 978-1-55365-507-7
  2. "Ruth Bought By New York Americans For $125,000, Highest Price in Baseball Annals". New York Times. January 6, 1920.
  3. "Babe Ruth Injured In Auto Accident". Sacramento Union. July 8, 1920. p. 8. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  4. "Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees Box Score, July 8, 1920". baseball-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  5. My Pitch That Killed Chapman Was A Strike! by Phyllis Propert, Baseball Digest, July 1957, Vol. 16, No. 6, ISSN 0005-609X


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