June 25, 1934: Lou Gehrig ‘accidentally’ hits for the cycle

This article was written by Mike Huber


The second-place New York Yankees hosted the last-place Chicago White Sox in the second game of a four-game series on Monday, June 25, 1934, at Yankee Stadium. Before a sparse crowd of about 4,000,1 New York put together an 18-hit attack, won 13-2, and moved into first place by .004 over the Detroit Tigers. Led by Lou Gehrig and Myril Hoag, the Yankees scored in seven of the eight innings in which they batted. Gehrig “accidentally” hit for the cycle; he was credited with a triple trying for an inside-the-park home run.

Babe Ruth took a day to rest and did not play, missing an opportunity “to fatten his batting average at the expense of this futile hurling”2 by White Sox pitching. The 1934 season was the last in which Ruth and Gehrig played together. Yankees rookie and Yale grad Johnny Broaca took the mound for the home team, making his fifth career start, against Chicago’s George Earnshaw.

The White Sox wasted no time. With one out in the top of the first inning, Mule Haas tripled and scampered home on a groundout by Al Simmons. The Yankees responded in the bottom of the inning. Jack Saltzgaver drew a one-out walk and two batters later Gehrig hammered a home run, giving New York a 2-1 lead. Earle Combs knocked in Frankie Crosetti with a two-out single in the second, making it 3-1.

Chicago put together three singles in the top of the third for their second and final run. Zeke Bonura drove in Frenchy Uhalt with his 61st RBI of the season. But the Yankees were far from finished. Gehrig led off the bottom of the third with a single and “rode home”3 on Hoag’s second home run of the season, a blast into the right-field stands. Muddy Ruel pinch-hit for the pitcher in the top of the fourth inning, so White Sox hurler Earnshaw did not return to the mound, giving way to Phil Gallivan in the bottom of the fourth, who got Gehrig on strikes to end the inning. This was Gehrig’s only unsuccessful plate appearance of the day.

In the fifth inning New York struck again. Hoag led off with a triple and scored when shortstop Joe Chamberlain made on error on the relay. Eight Yankees batted in the sixth, and the New Yorkers got four more runs for a 10-2 lead. Gehrig added to the fun with a double and a run scored.

Earle Combs greeted Harry Kinzy, the third Chicago pitcher, with a home run to start the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out, Saltzgaver singled and Gehrig drove him home with New York’s 12th run of the game. This gave Gehrig the cycle, but by happenstance. It was almost not meant to be, as Gehrig tried for an inside-the-park homer and was out at the plate, center fielder to shortstop to catcher. Had he scored, the New York star would not have had the triple necessary for a cycle. The Yankees got their final run in the bottom of the eighth, on Bill Dickey’s double, a groundout, and a fly ball. Broaca breezed through the White Sox order in the bottom of the ninth, three up and three down.

Gehrig “ran the scale in hitting from single to homer,”4 hitting for the cycle for the first of two times in his career.5 Hoag “ran a close second to Gehrig with three blows,”6 hitting a home run, a triple, and a single. Between them, Gehrig and Hoag drove in seven runs and scored five.

Gehrig raised his batting average nine points to .366 in extending his hitting streak to 15 games. The home run was his 19th of the season. In addition to 4-for-5 batting, the Yankees first baseman flashed his glove in the field, turning an unassisted twin killing on a lineout by pitcher Ted Lyons, pinch-hitting in the seventh.

Broaca gave up 10 hits but walked only one and earned his second victory of the season against one loss. Pitching the third complete game of his rookie season, the right-hander struck out five Chicago batters. Every Yankee position player got at least one hit, but as the New York Times reported, “Broaca took no part in the day’s batting festivities. He struck out five times, equaling an American League record set by Lefty Grove. If Broaca ties some of Grove’s hurling records the Yankees and McCarthy should be satisfied.”7

Earnshaw took the loss for the White Sox, his fifth defeat of the season. The loss was Chicago’s “14th licking of the current road trip.”8 White Sox outfielder Frenchy Uhalt had a 2-for-4 afternoon with one run scored, while Haas was 3-for-4 with a triple and two singles and a run scored.

Gehrig became the fourth Yankee to hit for the cycle. (Ironically, when Tony Lazzeri hit for the cycle on June 3, 1932, Gehrig upstaged his teammate by slugging four home runs.9 Bob Meusel is the only New York player to hit for the cycle three times (May 7, 1921, July 3, 1922, and July 26, 1928). Bert Daniels was the first Yankees batter to hit for the cycle, on July 25, 1912, when the franchise was known as the Highlanders.

Gehrig finished the 1934 campaign a Triple Crown winner with 49 homers, 166 runs batted in, 409 total bases, a .363 average, and an OPS of 1.172, all tops in the major leagues. He was the first Yankee to capture the Triple Crown. His achievements got him no better than a fifth-place finish in the vote for the Most Valuable Player Award.    Mickey Cochrane of the Tigers won the 1934 MVP in the American League, but Gehrig already had one of his own in 1927 and was the AL MVP again in 1936.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted baseball-reference.com, mlb.com, and retrosheet.org.

 

Notes

1 James P. Dawson, “Yankees Win, 13-2: Regain First Place,” New York Times, June 26, 1934.

2 Ibid.

3 Edward Burns, “Sox Go Collegiate, But They Lose to Yanks, 13-2, Anyway,” Chicago Tribune, June 26, 1934.

4 Dawson.

5 Gehrig accomplished his second career cycle on August 1, 1937. See sabr.org/gamesproj/game/august-1-1937-gehrig-hits-cycle-dimaggio-s-home-run-grabs-headlines for the SABR Games Project game summary.

6 Dawson.

7 Ibid. The record of five strikeouts in a game was broken on May 31, 1966, when California Angels left fielder Rick Reichardt accomplished the dubious feat. Including Reichardt, six batters have struck out six times in a game. For more info, go to baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/281.

8 Burns.

Additional Stats

New York Yankees 13
Detroit Tigers 2


Yankee Stadium
New York, NY

 

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