Manager: Joe McCarthy
The 1939 version of the New York Yankees didn't have the high-profile status of the 1927 Yankees or the 1936 Yankees, but they still made their own headlines. This team, managed by Joe McCarthy, put together a season record of 106-45, a winning percentage of .702.
Accomplishments of the 1939 Yankees:
The Yankees win the division by 17 games over the Boston Red Sox
The Yankees sweep the World Series, giving them a 28-3 record over their last 31 series games.
Manager Joe McCarthy becomes the first manager of four straight world champions. Over a four year span, the Yankees are 16-3 in the series and four-time winners.
Four different Yankees pitchers won a game in the World Series, the first time that had ever happened.
Joe DiMaggio leads the majors with a .381 batting average. This makes him the last right-handed batter to hit more than .380 in a season.
Red Rolfe leads the American League in runs (129), hits (213) and doubles (46).
To this day, that team stands as the benchmark for first-half starts. It was a team built around Joe DiMaggio and Red Ruffing. The one sad note to the Yankees' success came on May 2 when Lou Gehrig announced his retirement after playing in just 8 games of the season.
On June 21, the Mayo Clinic revealed that Gehrig was suffering from a neuromuscular disease. Two years later, the Yankees' legend was dead.
On July 4, Gehrig returned to Yankee Stadium where he was honored by his teammates and his fans. It is where Gehrig delivered his famous words: "Today, I consider myself the luckiet man on the face of the earth."
The Hall of Fame officially opened in 1939 and Gehrig was elected to join the Hall that year on a special ballot. Gehrig also becomes the first baseball player to have his number retired.
With Gehrig no longer part of the Yankees, DiMaggio stepped into the limelight. DiMaggio drove in 126 runs and hit 30 home runs. His efforts earned him the American League MVP honor.
In addition to DiMaggio, the Yankees' offense featured 2B Joe Gordon (28 HR, 111 RBI), C Bill Dickey (24 HR, 105 RBI), George Shelkirk (21 HR, 101 RBI) and 3B Red Rolfe (14 HR, 80 RBI). The team lead the American League with 166 home runs, 903 runs batted in, 967 runs scored and a .451 slugging percentage.
The 1939 Yankees excelled in pitching. Seven pitchers accumulated double-digit wins: Ruffing (21-7, 2.94 ERA), Atley Donald (13-3, 3.71), Monte Pearson (12-5, 4.50), Bump Hadley (12-6, 2.98), Lefty Gomez (12-8, 3.41), Steve Sundra (11-1, 2.75), and Oral Hildebrand (10-4, 3.05). Johnny Murphy led the American League with 19 saves.
In addition to his skills as a pitcher, Ruffing was a very capable hitter, batting .307 with a home run and 20 RBI in 114 at bats.