Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Best Pitching Duos in History (Part IV--1930-1939)

Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw/ Philadelphia Athletics (1929-1932)

The hard-throwing, ultra-competitive Grove was paired with Rube Walberg in a previous post.When the 1930's arrived, Walberg was losing his effectiveness and Grove teamed with right-hander George Earnshaw to form a potent one-two punch. At 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Earnshaw was nicknamed "Moose." He used his blazing fastball to lead the league in victories during the '29 slate. From '29-'32, he was the A's top starter behind Grove and a key contributor to a run of 3 straight pennants. A late arrival in the majors at 28 years of age, Earnshaw lasted just 9 seasons. 

                                                             1929            1930            1931            1932
Lefty Grove                                             20-6             28-5             31-4            25-10
George Earnshaw                                    24-8            22-13            21-7            19-13

Guy Bush and Lon Warneke/ Chicago Cubs (1931-1934)

A right-hander, Warneke had one of the great nicknames of the era. He was known as "The Arkansas Hummingbird" in reference to his state of origin and his "darting form of delivery." In the lower ranks, Warneke had a habit of looking at his feet instead of batters. Once he corrected the problem, he became a major star. His peak seasons came between 1932 and 1937, when he won no fewer than 16 games.

One good nickname deserves another. Guy Bush was known as "The Mississippi Mudcat." He once claimed that his most valuable trait was the ability to warm up quickly. Bush was a gullible fellow. After complaining to Cubs' trainer Andy Lotshaw about a sore arm one day, he began asking for Lotshaw's "secret liniment" before every start. When Lotshaw ran out of the mixture, he resorted to using Coca-Cola. Bush didn't know the difference.

                                                                1931            1932            1933            1934
Guy Bush                                                 16-8             19-11          20-12           18-10
Lon Warneke                                            22-8             18-13          18-13           22-10        

Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez/ New York Yankees (1931-1938)

A left-hander, Gomez was nicknamed "Goofy" for his wit and good humor. After his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees was over, he became a sought after public speaker, providing some of the most memorable quotes in baseball history. He once proposed the invention of a revolving bowl for goldfish to "save them the trouble of swimming around." The quirky southpaw had good seasons mixed with mediocre ones. He won a pair of triple crowns in 1934/ '37.

The right-handed Ruffing wasted several years with the lowly Red Sox during the 1920's before enjoying his peak seasons in the 1930's with the Yanks. He won 20 games in four straight campaigns and retired with 273 victories. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.

                                                                1931            1932          1934            1937            1938
Lefty Gomez                                              21-9             24-7          26-5             21-11           21-7
Red Ruffing                                               19-14            18-7         19-11             20-7            18-12

Carl Hubbell and Hal Schumacher/ New York Giants (1933-1935)

Hubbell was so valuable to the Giants during the 1930's, he received the regal nickname of "King Carl." He was also known as "the Meal Ticket." The left-handed screwball specialist won 20 games every year from '33-'37, leading the league three times. He was named to nine All-Star teams and won two MVP awards. The violent action of his screwball left him with bone chips in his arm that eventually ended his career.

Every king must have an heir and Schumacher was dubbed "Prince Hal." From '33-'35, he was the #2 man in the rotation behind Hubbell, winning 61 games. After that, he developed arm problems that rendered him less effective. Still, he finished in double digits for wins in seven straight seasons (though he never collected as many as 15).

                                                                                1933            1934            1935
Carl Hubbell                                                              23-12           21-12          23-12
Hal Schumacher                                                        19-12           23-10           19-9

Tommy Bridges and Schoolboy Rowe/ Detroit Tigers (1934-1936)

A waif of a player at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, the right-handed Bridges was deceptively overpowering. He finished among the top ten in strikeouts twelve times during his career. During the 1930's, he was one of the American League's most dominant hurlers, gathering 14 or more wins on seven occasions. In 1932, he came within one out of a perfect game.

Rowe had three great seasons with the Tigers from 1934 through 1936. After that, he was beset by injuries and struggled to regain his form. He did have a handful of good seasons outside of Detroit, but never demonstrated the stamina of earlier years. Rowe was a superstitious man known for carrying "lucky" trinkets such as a rabbit's foot.
The Tigers won two pennants and one World Series when Bridges and Rowe were at their peak together.

                                                                               1934            1935            1936
Schoolboy Rowe                                                      24-8             19-13          19-10
Tommy Bridges                                                        22-11           21-10          23-11

Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters/ Cincinnati Reds (1938-1940)

Walters began his career with the lowly Phillies, leading the league in losses during the '36 campaign. In '38, he made his "escape" in a midseason trade to the Reds. He won 11 games for Cincinnati that year then averaged 20 wins per season over the next six campaigns. He led the league three times. Walters was originally a third baseman so he knew how to swing a bat as well.

Nicknamed "Duke" or "Oom Paul," Derringer had a promising debut with the Cardinals in 1931, winning 18 games. Two years later, he led the league with 27 losses despite a serviceable 3.30 ERA. His best seasons came between '34-'40, when he reached the 20-win threshold four times. Derringer had a notorious temper. He once threw an inkwell at GM Larry MacPhail during an argument, missing MacPhail's head by inches.
Derringer and Walters helped the Reds to consecutive pennants in '39/'40. The Reds defeated the Tigers in the 1940 Fall Classic, earning their first championship since the controversial 1919 affair. 

                                                                                  1938            1939          1940
Paul Derringer                                                             21-14           27-11          22-10  
Bucky Walters                                                            11-6*            25-7            20-12
* - Walters arrived in a June trade. He collected a total of 15 victories that year.

Dizzy and Daffy Dean/ St. Louis Cardinals (1934-1935)

Though the Dean brothers enjoyed just two good seasons together, they deserve honorable mention. Dizzy was one of the most colorful characters in baseball history--a swaggering, trash-talking, loveable bumpkin who took the baseball world by storm for five phenomenal seasons. Dean often boasted of the feats he would accomplish on the hill beforehand. He was famous for the statement: "It ain't bragging if you can back it up." When Paul joined the Cardinals in 1934, Dean predicted that "Me and Paul are gonna win 45 games." He was right. In fact, they won 49 and added 4 more victories in the '34 World Series. While pitching in the '37 All-Star Game, Dizzy was hit by a line drive off the bat of Earl Averill. Told that his toe was fractured, he retorted: "Fractured, hell, the damn thing's broken!" He returned to action too soon and ended up throwing his arm out. Paul was not fond of the nickname "Daffy" but played along just to humor the masses. Dizzy convinced Paul to hold out for more money in the spring of '36. He joined the club with little or no training and ended up sustaining an arm injury that robbed him of his effectiveness. He bounced around the majors until 1943, but was never successful again.

                                                                                    1934            1935
Dizzy Dean                                                                   30-7             28-12
Paul "Daffy" Dean                                                          19-11           19-12

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