Wyatt: Remembering the Gashouse Gang

From Daniel Wyatt at The National Pastime Museum on February 16, 2015:

The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals were “America’s Team.” Nothing fancy, they consisted of players with a wide range of colorful nicknames: James “Ripper” Collins, Leo “The Lip” Durocher, Johnny “Pepper” Martin, Joe “Ducky” Medwick, Virgil “Spud” Davis, player-manager Frankie “The Fordham Flash” Frisch, and pitchers William “Wild Bill” Hallahan, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, and Dizzy’s brother, Paul “Daffy” Dean.

They were the Gashouse Gang, a zany bunch of brash, arrogant individuals who clawed their way to the National League pennant with 95 wins by taking 20 of their last 25 games, inching out Bill Terry’s New York Giants by two games. They did it with strong pitching, clutch hitting, and wreck neck speed on the base paths, predominantly by players who had worked their way through GM Branch Rickey’s coveted farm system. Many were Southern country boys from working-class families. They were a scruffy group, who often wore dirty, unwashed uniforms. They were loud, obnoxious, and knew how to get under the skin of opponents, as well as their own teammates. “We fought among ourselves,” Leo Durocher once informed sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, “but we stuck together if anyone picked on us. There was a fight every day . . . with each other or the other ball club.”

The name Gashouse may have originated when a few Cardinals players were bragging one day in mid-1934 that they could beat any American League team in the World Series. Shortstop Durocher, who had played a few years earlier with the New York Yankees, then added, “They wouldn’t even let us in that league over there. They think we’re just a bunch of gas housers.” The term gas house referred to factories in towns and cities that used to turn coal into gas for electricity and cooking. The plants were known for a foul smell and were usually situated in the “bad end” of town.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/gashouse-gang

Originally published: February 17, 2015. Last Updated: February 17, 2015.