The 1932 World Series was a four-game sweep by the American League champions New York Yankees over the National League champions Chicago Cubs. By far its most noteworthy moment was Babe Ruth's called shot home run, in his 10th and last World Series. It was punctuated by fiery arguments between the two teams, heating up the atmosphere before the World Series even began.
A record 13 future Hall of Famers played in this Series, which was also the first in which both teams wore uniforms with numbers on the backs of the shirts.
AL New York Yankees (4) vs. NL Chicago Cubs (0)
The Cubs opened the scoring with two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Yankees jumped ahead 3–2 on a home run by Lou Gehrig. New York scored nine runs in the last three innings to win 12–6 on only eight hits. Yankee starter Red Ruffing pitched a complete game, striking out 10 Cubs but walking six and giving up six runs, only three of which were earned.
Chicago got nine hits but only two runs off Lefty Gomez, and went back to Wrigley behind two games to none.
This was the last World Series game Babe Ruth ever played in Yankee Stadium, with a single in his last Fall Classic home at-bat.
Roughly 50,000 Cubs fans showed up for Game 3, a very large crowd for the time made possible by the construction of temporary bleachers fronting Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. In a prelude of things to come, Ruth and Gehrig put on an impressive batting display in batting practice. Ruth launched nine balls into the outfield stands, while Gehrig hit seven. As reported in the first edition of A Day at the Park, by William Hartel, p. 82, Ruth said while batting: "I'd play for half my salary if I could bat in this dump all the time!"
Cub starter Charlie Root struggled in the opening frame. The first two Yankees reached base, and Ruth followed with a homer into the right-center-field bleachers to put the Yanks up 3–0. The existing newsreel footage showed Gehrig giving Ruth a friendly swat on the buttocks as Ruth crossed the plate. Gehrig hit a solo home run of his own in the top of the third, bringing back memories of one he had hit in a prep game at Wrigley in high school. This put the Yankees up 4–1. The Cubs battled back with two in the third and one in the fourth, tying the score at four. Joe Judge, who scored the tying run in the fourth, had doubled to right after Ruth's futile dive for the ball.
What happened in the top of the fifth is legendary, immortalizing this Series sweep in many history books for that and nothing else. Ruth and Gehrig hit back-to-back home runs, but Ruth’s is perhaps the best-known in Series history. Ruth supposedly predicted his home run by pointing to the stands as Root was preparing to pitch. While newsreel footage shows the Babe pointing somewhere during this momentous at-bat, much debate has swirled around whether this meant he was actually "calling" the home run, given the lack of solid evidence as to just what he was pointing at.
Chicago tried to delay the inevitable by rocking young Yank starter Johnny Allen for four runs in the first inning in the two-thirds of an inning he lasted before Wilcy Moore relieved him and put the fire out, giving up only one additional run in 5 1⁄3 innings. The Yankees took the lead in the sixth on a two-run single by Gehrig and extended it in the seventh on three straight hits by Earle Combs, Joe Sewell and the Babe, the last-ever World Series hits for Sewell and Ruth. Herb Pennock retired Riggs Stephenson on a fly ball to right for the last out of the Series.
The Yankees had won their fourth World Series, and their 12th consecutive Series game. It was the last Series for Yankee mainstays Ruth, Combs and Pennock.
The Cubs extended their World Series victory drought to 24 years with their humiliating loss, their fourth consecutive in the Fall Classic after 1910, 1918 & 1929 (to the A's, Red Sox and A's again respectively). The Cubs' drought would end up lasting 108 years, having been finally ended when the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games to win the 2016 World Series.
1932 World Series (4–0): New York Yankees (A.L.) over Chicago Cubs (N.L.)
Bench jockeying, called "trash talk" nowadays, was standard procedure in baseball then as now. No verbal punches were ever pulled, but the jockeying was supposedly taken to new heights (or depths) in this Series stemming from Yankee disrespect for the way the Cubs treated their former teammate, shortstop Mark Koenig, after his acquisition from the Detroit Tigers' Triple-A Mission Reds of the Pacific Coast League on April 25, 1932. Despite Koenig's regular-season contributions (hitting .353 and fielding well), his stingy Cub teammates voted him only half a player's postseason share before the start of the Series because he had only played in 33 games and was unable to play in the Series due to injury. When some of Koenig's Yankee friends got wind of this, they dissed the Cubs as "cheapskates" in the press, "tight" with their Series money.
Ruth infuriated the Cubs the most when he called them cheapskates. Adding spice to the verbal stew was that Yankee manager Joe McCarthy had been fired by the Cubs a year or two after leading them to the 1929 NL pennant. When the Series started in New York, the Cubs retaliated by calling the Babe "fat" and "washed up" along with every obscenity they could think of. Guy Bush, Cub starter in Game 1, led the verbal attack on Ruth, calling him "nigger" (a common bench-jockey slam against the Babe for his broad nose and thick lips despite his German origin), and banter like this went on for most of the Series.
Babe Ruth's Called Shot refers to the home run he hit in the fifth inning of Game 3. Existing film shows Ruth made a pointing gesture during this at-bat, but what this signified is ambiguous. Though neither fully confirmed nor refuted, the story goes that Ruth pointed to the center field bleachers, supposedly predicting he would hit a home run there. On the next pitch, he hit what was estimated as a nearly 500' "Ruthian" homer to deep center past the flagpole and into the temporary seating in the streets. A few reporters later wrote that Ruth had "called his shot" (like a pool shark), and thus the legend was born. Ruth, ever aware of his larger-than-life public image, was quick to confirm the story once he got wind of it. Conflicting testimony and inconclusive film footage have placed that moment high up in the realm of baseball legend.