1930 Cardinals: Incredible Hitters; Lively Year

Cardinals outfielder Watty Watkins slides under the impending tag of Philadelphia A’s catcher Mickey Cochrane to score a big run in the 1931 World Series. In the photo, the ball has yet to reach the glove and the slide is still well more than a foot away from making contact with the plate. (Makes you wonder what an umpire review of the “instant replay” would have decided on this one.)

 

The following column was written as an e-mail to The Pecan Park Eagle by John Watkins, the great-nephew of George “Watty” Watkins. Watty Watkins was an early hero for the Houston Buffs over four seasons of work (1925-26, 1928, 1937) that encompassed the beginning and end of his professional baseball career. He also was an important member of the 1928 Buffs club that became the first to play in the new Buffalo Stadium on its baptismal way to becoming the victory grounds home of the 1928 Texas League and Dixie Series championship Houston Buffs. Watty also enjoyed a seven season big league career (1930-36) with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies. and Brooklyn Dodgers.

The 1931 St. Cardinals took the World Series in seven games over the two-times defending Champion Philadelphia Athletics. And, as John Watkins’s material here quickly summarizes, but does not state it as such, the 1930 A’s victory for good hitting and great pitching over incredible hitting and good pitching stands as a monument to the ancient advisory that great pitching can stop great, even incredible hitting in a short series. Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw led the A’s to a six-game triumph in the 1930 World Series over the same hitters that John Watkins boxes by season batting average in the piece that follows.

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The  1930 St. Louis Cardinals: Incredible Hitters; Lively Year.

Hello, Bill. It has been a while since I have been in touch, although I have been regularly reading the Pecan Park Eagle. Thanks to you, I have been able to keep up with the Astros and their remarkable season.

Your running tally of the top AL batting averages, dotted with Houston hitters, brings to mind the 1930 season, when the pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals boasted a starting lineup of batters who topped the .300 mark. Of course, that was the year that National League as a whole averaged .303. The ball was lively then – as it may be once again this season. Batting averages fell sharply in 1931, when the ball was deadened and the sacrifice fly was eliminated from the scoring rules.

Here are the 1930 Redbird regulars and their averages:

POSITION NAME B.A,
CATCHER JIMMIE WILSON .318
1ST BASE JIM BOTTOMLEY .304
2ND BASE FRANKIE FRISCH .346
3RD BASE SPARKY ADAMS .314
SHORTSTOP CHARLEY GELBERT .304
LEFT FIELD CHICK HAFEY .336
CENTER FIELD TAYLOR DOUTHIT .303
RIGHT FIELD WATTY WATKINS .373

Only Watkins cracked the NL top 10, finishing sixth. (Bill Terry of the Giants hit .403 to lead the league.) Frisch ranked fourteenth, Hafey nineteenth. Back then, the qualifying standard was 100 games played; Hafey appeared in 120 games, Watkins in 119, Wilson in 107. Backup catcher Gus Mancuso – who like Watkins got his start in Houston’s city leagues – hit .366 in 76 games. As a team, the Cardinals averaged .314 to rank third behind the Giants (.319) and Phillies (.315).

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Thanks for an e-mail that deserved column status and writer credit in the hallowed, but humble halls of The Pecan Park Eagle, John Watkins. Glad to hear too that you and the Missus are moving back to your hometown of Fort Worth from the “Greater Fayetteville, Arkansas” area. Have a safe trip home. Last we heard, there were no new walls in Texarkana baring immigration into the Kingdom of Texas from the State of Arkansas.

– Bill McCurdy, TPPE Publisher

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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3 Responses to “1930 Cardinals: Incredible Hitters; Lively Year”

  1. Cliff Blau Says:

    Even more amazing than their starting lineup was their bench. Mr. Watkins mentioned Gus Mancuso, but there was also Showboat Fisher with a batting average of .37, Ray Blades @ .40, and George Puccinelli, who was 9 for 16.

    • John Watkins Says:

      Ray Blades spent his entire playing career with the Cardinals and went on to manage the team. In 1930, he was a player-coach. In his role as a reserve outfielder, he hit .396 in 45 games. George “Showboat” Fisher was an interesting character; 1930 was his only full season in the majors. Although he could hit (.374 in 92 games), he was a defensive liability as an outfielder. The great sportswriter Red Smith, who as a young reporter covered the 1930 Cardinals for the St. Louis Star, once wrote that Fisher played the outfield “in a manner of speaking.” George Puccinelli was also an outfielder. Like Fisher, he could hit but was deficient on defensive. A career minor leaguer, his only full season in the majors was 1936 with the Philadelphia Athletics.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    Not to take anything away from the Cardinals, but in 1930 EVERYONE in the NL hit! Look up the Phillies record. They had the 2nd best team average, but were a horrible team. (Needless to say they didn’t pitch and their defense was almost as bad!)

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