1939 New York Yankees season

The 1939 New York Yankees season was the team's 37th season. The team finished with a record of 106–45, winning their 11th pennant, finishing 17 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they beat the Cincinnati Reds in four games. As the Yankees had won each World Series dating back to 1936, this marked the first time any team had won four consecutive World Series. This was the first season for the Yankee's radio gameday broadcasts.

1939 New York Yankees
Lou Gehrig's number is retired
1939 American League Champions
1939 World Series Champions
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s)Estate of Jacob Ruppert
General manager(s)Ed Barrow
Manager(s)Joe McCarthy
Local radioWABC (AM)
(Arch McDonald, Garnett Marks, Mel Allen)
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Regular season

The 1939 New York Yankees are one of only three Yankees teams (the 1927 and 1998 Yankees being the others) to ever finish the regular season with over a .700 winning percentage, lead the league in runs scored and fewest runs allowed, and go on to sweep the World Series. The 1939 Yankees are the only team to ever outscore their regular season opponents by over 400 runs (967–556).

"The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth"

The Yankee duo reunited – Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth (r) on Lou Gehrig Day (July 4, 1939).
Lou Gehrig's number 4 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1939.

The 1939 season would be the final time Yankees fans saw the team's starting veteran first baseman Lou Gehrig in action and in the uniform of the team he played for many years, given his declining health. On June 21, the New York Yankees announced his official retirement and proclaimed July 4, 1939, "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium. Between games of the Independence Day doubleheader against the Washington Senators, the poignant ceremonies were held on the diamond. In its coverage the following day, The New York Times said it was "Perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell".[1] Dignitaries extolled the dying slugger and the members of the 1927 Yankees World Championship team, known as "Murderer's Row", attended the ceremonies. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called Gehrig "the greatest prototype of good sportsmanship and citizenship" and Postmaster General James Farley concluded his speech by predicting, "For generations to come, boys who play baseball will point with pride to your record."[1]

Yankees manager Joe McCarthy, struggling to control his emotions, then spoke of Lou Gehrig, with whom there was a close, almost father and son-like bond. After describing Gehrig as "the finest example of a ballplayer, sportsman, and citizen that baseball has ever known", McCarthy could stand it no longer. Turning tearfully to Gehrig, the manager said, "Lou, what else can I say except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came into my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ballplayer because you felt yourself a hindrance to the team. My God, man, you were never that."

The Yankees retired Gehrig's uniform number "4", making him the first player in history to be afforded that honor. Gehrig was given many gifts, commemorative plaques, and trophies. Some came from VIPs; others came from the stadium's groundskeepers and janitorial staff. Footage of the ceremonies shows Gehrig being handed various gifts, and immediately setting them down on the ground, because he no longer had the arm strength to hold them.

Season standings

American League W L Pct. GB Home Road
New York Yankees 10645 0.702 52–25 54–20
Boston Red Sox 8962 0.589 17 42–32 47–30
Cleveland Indians 8767 0.565 20½ 44–33 43–34
Chicago White Sox 8669 0.555 22 50–27 36–42
Detroit Tigers 8173 0.526 26½ 42–35 39–38
Washington Senators 6587 0.428 41½ 37–39 28–48
Philadelphia Athletics 5597 0.362 51½ 28–48 27–49
St. Louis Browns 43111 0.279 64½ 18–59 25–52

Record vs. opponents

Boston 8–1411–1110–1211–8–118–416–615–7
Chicago 14–812–1012–104–1811–1118–414–8–1
Cleveland 11–1110–1211–117–1518–416–614–8
Detroit 12–1010–1211–119–1311–1114–8–114–8
New York 8–11–118–415–713–918–419–315–7
Philadelphia 4–1811–114–1811–114–1813–9–18–12
St. Louis 6–164–186–168–14–13–199–13–17–15
Washington 7–158–14–18–148–147–1512–815–7

Notable transactions


1939 New York Yankees
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


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
CBill Dickey128480145.30224105
1BBabe Dahlgren144531125.2351589
2BJoe Gordon151567161.28428111
3BRed Rolfe152648213.3291480
SSFrankie Crosetti152656154.2331056
OFJoe DiMaggio120462176.38130126
OFGeorge Selkirk128418128.30621101
OFCharlie Keller111398133.3341183

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
Tommy Henrich9934796.277957
Buddy Rosar4310529.276012
Jake Powell318621.24419
Joe Gallagher144110.24429
Lou Gehrig8284.14301
Bill Knickerbocker6132.15401
Art Jorgens300----00

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
Red Ruffing28233.12172.9395
Lefty Gomez26198.01283.41102
Bump Hadley26154.01262.9865
Atley Donald24153.01333.7155
Monte Pearson22146.11254.4976
Oral Hildebrand21126.21043.0650
Wes Ferrell319.1124.666

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
Steve Sundra24121.21112.7627
Marius Russo21116.0832.4155

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
Johnny Murphy3836194.4030
Spud Chandler113002.844
Marv Breuer11009.000

1939 World Series

AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL Cincinnati Reds (0)

1Reds – 1, Yankees – 2October 4Yankee Stadium58,541
2Reds – 0, Yankees – 4October 5Yankee Stadium59,791
3Yankees – 7, Reds – 3October 7Crosley Field32,723
4Yankees – 7, Reds – 4 (10 innings)October 8Crosley Field32,794

Awards and honors


The book Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time ranked the 1939 Yankees the greatest MLB team of all time. In 2017, website FiveThirtyEight ranked the 1939 Yankees as the greatest team of all time (across major North American sports leagues), based on Elo rating.[3]

In the MLB modern era (since 1900), the 1939 Yankees have recorded the best run differential, +411, having scored 967 runs while allowing 556.[4]


The Yankees, in hosting the 1939 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, were represented by Red Ruffing, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Frankie Crosetti, George Selkirk and Johnny Murphy.[5] Lou Gehrig attended the game as part of the AL reserves and did not play.

Joe DiMaggio won his first of three Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, though he only played 120 games due to injury. He batted .381 and averaged over one RBI per game.

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AA Kansas City Blues American Association Billy Meyer
AA Newark Bears International League Johnny Neun
A Binghamton Triplets Eastern League Bruno Betzel
B Norfolk Tars Piedmont League Ray White
B Augusta Tigers Sally League Lefty Jenkins
B Wenatchee Chiefs Western International League Glenn Wright
C Amsterdam Rugmakers Canadian–American League Eddie Sawyer
C Akron Yankees Middle Atlantic League Pip Koehler
C Joplin Miners Western Association Claude Jonnard
D Newport Canners Appalachian League Pete Doyle, Clarence Harris, Bob O'Brien,
Ken Mackes and Art Ruble
D El Paso Texans Arizona–Texas League Ted Mayer
D Neosho Yankees Arkansas–Missouri League Dennis Burns
D Easton Yankees Eastern Shore League Ray Powell
D Butler Yankees Pennsylvania State Association Tom Kain
D Big Spring Barons West Texas–New Mexico League Tony Rego
D Norfolk Elks Western League Doc Bennett



  1. John Drebinger, "61,808 Fans Roar Tribute to Gehrig", The New York Times, July 5, 1939.
  2. Len Gabrielson page at Baseball Reference
  3. Paine, Neil (June 14, 2017). "The Warriors Are Great, But Are They Better Than The 1939 Yankees?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  4. "which mlb team had the best run differential season". statmuse.com. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  5. "1939 MLB All-Star Game Roster - Major League Baseball - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  6. Johnson, Lloyd, and Wolff, Miles, ed., The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball, 2nd and 3rd editions. Durham, North Carolina: Baseball America, 1997 and 2007


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