First Month of 1920 Replay in the Books

The standings of the 1920 replay at the end of April may shed little or a lot of light on the remainder of the season. Rain has abbreviated what already is a short playing month so there is plenty of baseball to be played. The Boston Braves, enjoying a three game win streak that began as the games began on their home reservation, hold a game and a half lead over McGraw’s Giants. The Cardinals left their nest for an eastern road trip and plummeted from their perch atop the senior circuit. In the American League, the Washington Senators hold a one game lead over a trio of pursuers: Cleveland, Chicago and New York. And perhaps this race may prove this tightly contested all season long. Babe Ruth is creating quite the stir in the Polo Grounds but has yet to powder the ball over the fence. The current home run leader is a surprise and a future Yankee great in his own right: Casey Stengel of the Phillies.

post-script: One of the seminal events of the 1920 baseball season was the death of Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman. However, Chapman was not the only major leaguer to pass away during the season. On May 1, 1920, Senators infielder Joe Leonard died as a result of complications from an operation for appendicitis. Leonard made only one pinch-running appearance in 1920. An article in the Washington Post, May 2nd, states that he deferred the operation until the team arrived in Washington. He joined the Washington club in 1916, coming from Cleveland. He missed the 1918 season while serving in the Navy in World War I. The article notes that Leonard was one of the more popular players in the game, and his loss would be felt by the Nationals. He left behind a widow.

The 1920 Retirement of Home Run Baker

After the passing of his wife in February, Home Run Baker swore he would never wear a Yankee uniform again. His retirement in 1920 marked the transition of the game as his teammate Ruth redefined the home run.
My 1920 baseball replay has been updated to end of play on April 20, 1920. Before the season moves further, I would like to note one of the big stories from the spring of 1920. Much ado has been made over the acquisition of Babe Ruth by the New York Yankees, the fleecing of Jacob Ruppert, the subsequent curse – we all know the story. But eleven days after Prohibition went into effect, the baseball world was stunned with the news of the retirement of Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker. New York fans spent most of January dreaming of a ‘Murderer’s Row’ lineup consisting of Baker and Ruth. J.V. Fitz Gerald in the February 2, 1920 edition of The Washington Post opined that “Ruth and Baker between them should be good for something in the neighborhood of 50 home runs if the Baltimorean lives up to expectations. Baker is worth ten or a dozen himself.” Manager Miller Huggins visited Baker at his farm home in Trappe, Md. and returned on January 27th with the news that Baker, at the age of 35, would not play in 1920. The New York Times reported the following day that “there seemed to be little hope that the former home run king could be coaxed back into the game. Baker has large business interests in Maryland. He is an official in the bank at Trappe and operates two or three farm establishments. Mrs. Baker seems to have played an important part in the decision that Baker has made not to play ball any more.”
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A Toast to Nucky, Arnold, Jimmy and Al: 1920 Replay

1920 is the newest season to be enjoyed a second time through the order. I feel like Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” standing at the edge of the pool looking down at a skinny dipping Christie Brinkley: “This is crazy, this is crazy…”

The replays and web sites take a lot of time, enjoyable time. But I’ve made the plunge into the beginning of Prohibition, Babe Ruth as a Yankee, and the beginning of the Jazz Age. When I first purchased DMB, I think it was version 7, I downloaded the 1920 season from the Page for All Seasons web site. I began replaying the season back in 2002. But the replay became too cumbersome for my taste as I was manually loading the actual lineups and transactions each replay day. I discontinued the replay, and did not return to DMB until version 9 some five years later.

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