1939 New York Yankees season

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 radio WABC (AM)
(Arch McDonald, Garnett Marks, Mel Allen)
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The 1939 New York Yankees season was the team's 37th season in New York, and its 39th overall. 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 4 games. This marked the first time any team had won four consecutive World Series.

Regular season

The 1939 New York Yankees are one of only three 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"

Lou Gehrig's number 4 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1939.

On June 21, the New York Yankees announced first baseman Lou Gehrig's 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
New York Yankees10645.702--
Boston Red Sox8962.58917
Cleveland Indians8767.56520.5
Chicago White Sox8569.55222.5
Detroit Tigers8173.52626.5
Washington Senators6587.42841.5
Philadelphia Athletics5597.36251.5
St. Louis Browns43111.27964.5

Record vs. opponents

1939 American League Records

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 Gomez261981283.41102
Bump Hadley261541262.9865
Atley Donald241531333.7155
Monte Pearson22146.11254.4976
Oral Hildebrand21126.21043.0650
Wes Ferrell319.3124.666

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 Russo21116832.4155

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

Greatest teams of all time rank

The book Baseball Dynasties: The Greatest Teams of All Time ranked the 1939 New York Yankees the greatest MLB team of all time. 538 also ranked the 1939 New York Yankees greatest MLB team of all time, according to ELO. 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. 1 2 John Drebinger, "61,808 Fans Roar Tribute to Gehrig", The New York Times, July 5, 1939.
  2. Len Gabrielson page at Baseball Reference
  3. 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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