The two biggest names in baseball in 1927 could have taken it easy after leading the New York Yankees to a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series, but they instead took to the road for an exhibition tour that brought them to the Bay Area just two weeks after the final out was recorded on Oct. 8.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the heart of the legendary lineup known as Murderers Row, set out by rail from New York and arrived in the Bay Area for appearances with teammates and Pacific Coast League ballplayers at exhibition games at Recreation Park in San Francisco on Oct. 22 and 23, and a morning game at Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville on Oct. 23.
They then toured Central Valley towns before appearing before some 3,000 fans in San Jose on Oct. 26. Schools in San Jose closed for the day in honor of the visit, according to news accounts.
Ruth, 32, had just set an unheard of season record with 60 home runs in 1927, along with 165 RBIs and a .356 batting average. Gehrig, 24, had 47 home runs, 173 RBIs and a .373 average. In an era before television, when the major leagues had no teams west of St. Louis, the tour was a rare chance for fans elsewhere to see the two stars.
Ruth and Gehrig were presented with wreaths and bouquets of flowers in their appearances, and were quite cordial to the local fans.
“We certainly will have something to tell the New York people about the big morning turnout in Oakland when we get back there,” Gehrig told reporters. “It certainly was a wonderful turnout and I will never forget.”
Image: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at Oakland Oaks Ball Park in Emeryville in 1927. (Oakland Museum of California)