July 5 – Happy Birthday Bump Hadley
The Washington Senators would become perennial last place finishers in the American League by the 1950s, but in the roaring twenties, they seemed at the early stages of developing a dynasty. Under kid manager, Bucky Harris, they had won the 1924 World Series and just got nipped from winning their second straight Fall Classic, by the Pirates in 1925. That Senator team had a solid pitching staff led by two aging right-handers, Walter Johnson and Stan Coveleski, who would both end up in Cooperstown. But after falling to fourth place in ’26, the Senators knew they needed to get younger arms into their rotation and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant became one of them.
His real name was Irving Darius Hadley, but everyone called him “Bump,” after a popular storybook character from that era named Bumpus. Hadley was born in Lynn, MA on July 5, 1904 and attended Brown University. He would go 14-6 during his rookie season with the Senators but Washington’s 89 victories that year would leave them in third place behind both the Yankees and the Philadelphia A’s. Those two teams would pretty much dominate the junior circuit for the next 15 seasons while the Senators would not make it back to a World Series until 1965, when they were known as the Minnesota Twins. Hadley would pitch for Washington until 1932, when he was traded to the White Sox, who quickly traded him to the Browns. He would then lose 20 games in both the 1932 and ’33 seasons for St Louis and find himself back with the Senators, by 1935. That’s when fortune shined upon him.
The Yankees were on the prowl for more starting pitching and they made a deal with the Senators that put Hadley in pinstripes. He went 14-4 during his first season in New York for Manager Joe McCarthy’s 1936 Pennant-winners and then pitched the game of his career, winning a classic 2-1 pitcher’s duel against Freddie Fitzsimmons of the New York Giants in Game 3 of the ’36 Series. Hadley would go 13-7 for New York in 1937, but during that season, he would also throw a “brushback” pitch that ended the playing career of and almost killed Tiger player-manager, Mickey Cochrane.
Hadley remained in pinstripes until 1940 and won four rings during his stay. Though he was overshadowed by Hall-of-Famers, Red Ruffing, and Lefty Gomez on that great Yankee pitching staff, Hadley played a significant role in that team’s success, going 46-26 in the four World champion seasons and 2-1 in those postseasons. After falling to 3-5 in 1940, the Yankees sold Hadley to the New York Giants. The 1941 season would be his last in the majors. He later became a pioneer and very popular television broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1963, at the age of 58. His overall big league record was 161-165.