It is said the baseball is juiced up this year the major leagues, and some teams are hitting better. It's doubtful, that they will attain the same results the National League did in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in putting some zing into the ball in order to draw crowds and counteract the popurity of the American League's Babe Ruth.
The 1930 ball was so lively that National League clubs averaged .303. The New York Giants with Bill Terry batting .401 and Freedy [WORD ILLEGIBLE] .379, led the league with .319. They didn't win the pennant.
If hitting failed to carry the Giants that far look what it failed to do for the Philadephia Phillies: The Phillies batted .315 as a team and finished dead last - 40 games out first place.
Chuck Klein led the Philadelphians with a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] average, 40 home runs, 158 runs scored and 179 RBI. Despite those impressive statistics, he topped the league only in runs scored.
Hack Wilson hit his record (National League) 56 home runs and batted in his record (major league) 190 runs.
Klein also had two 26-game hitting streaks and collected a total of 250 hits. (Bill Terry made 254 hits.) Backing up Klein for the chillies was Lefty O'Doul who hit .383 with 72 homers and 97 RBI.
On the debit side, those 1930 Phillies had the worst fielding average in the league, a dismal .962. They averaged in error every 19 outs.
And their pitching was a poorly concealed Lake. The staff had a combined earned run average of 6.71 per game, a figure that you ran still find in the record book as the high for any major league pitching staff since 1900.
Another record set by that club still stands was the 1,199 runs given up, nearly eight per game.
Things started well for the Phillies that year. They beat the world champion Philadelphia Athletics in the annual city series before the season and they won the opener, 1-0, from Brooklyn. It was to be one of only two shutouts by the Phillies that year.
Lester L. (Sugar) Sweetland, a lefty, was the victor in that 1-0 opening-day game. He gave up only three singles to a Dodger team that was to bat .304 for the year and finish fourth only six games out - thanks in part to Babe Herman's .393 average and Dazzy Vance's league-leading 2.61 ERA.
But the season quickly soured for Sweetland and his teammates. On April 24 the Phils used their mighty bats to edge the same Dodgers, 16-15, but two days later their 12 runs was one short against the Giants. The double-digit scoring pattern had been set early.
The miserable earned-run averages weren't simply because pitchers were left in too long by manager Burt Shotton, who was to know better days as manager of two pennant winners at Brooklyn. On June 14, Shotton sent seven pitchers to the mound to earn their pay and try to stop the Pirates. It was to no avail; Pittsburgh won, 19-12. (Despite the 31 runs and the parade of pitchers, that game took only two hours and 26 minutes, relatively swift by today's standards.)
One thing about those 1930 Phils, you could never count them out. In that Pittsburgh game, they were losing 9-0 after 2 1/2 innings. But Klein hit home runs in the third and fourth innings (extending his hitting streak to 23 games), and suddenly the Phils were on top, 10-9.
One of the reasons for the Phils' hitting ability was cozy Baker Bowl, a bandbox. So short were the fences, that a hit off he walls was only a sure single, and outfielders were known to complain about getting splinters in their backsides.
Klein hit his best at home, although he was not a pansy in any park. He led the league in 1934 with a less lively ball but a mighty .368 average. Traded to the Cubs, both his average and his home run output dropped dramatically, although the same Wrigley Field in Chicago is considered small among today's parks.
The 1930 hit parade continued through the season for the Phils and the rest of the league.No fewer than 45 regulars hit more than .300, in other words more than half the league, including pitchers. The Cub outfield with Hack Wilson had a median average of .359. The Cardinals, who won the pennant, had three reserves who went to bat a total of 582 times and had averages of .396, 374 and .366.
Some of the juice was taken out of the ball the next year, and the league settled back to a .277 average. Klein dropped to .337. The Phils as a team batted .279 but they prospered all the way up to sixth place.
It's not likely that today's supposedly juiced-up ball will match 1930 averages. The players today are more interested in home runs, so they are satified with lower averages and more strikeouts. The 1930 major leaguers didn't have to contend with night games or jet lag; nor did they face the slider (the spitball was on the way out). And relief specialists were rather unheard of, so the batters didn't have to face a guy who came in to throw smoke or hard sliders for only an inning or two.
What happened to Sugar Sweetland? He ended the 1930 season 7-15 and an earned-run average of 7.71 in 16 innings. One of the better games he pitched that year came in midseason; he gave up only five hits but lost, 3-2. The loss was to the Cumberland (Md.) Cubs in an exhibition game.
Sweetland went to the Cubs for the 1931 season and won eight games, lost seven. His ERA that year was 5.05. Although he was only 29 years old, the end of Sweetland's major-league career came that year; hardly a resounding finish.