In the history of baseball, there has probably never been a more legendary collection of players than the '27 Yankees. Also known as "Murderer's Row", they are regarded by most experts as the greatest team of all time.
     Not untill the 1998 Yankees did a team approach their perfection on the field. 110 wins and a four game sweep of the Pirates in the world series. They were an amazing team.

     But if you delve further into the story of the the '27 Yankees, you'll find another story entirely. As the years rolled by, an inordinate number of players from the famed club died tragically. I've researched all the championship clubs throughout baseball history and have not found any that even come remotely close to the "bad luck" that fell upon the '27 Yankees. Or was it a "chilling mockery of the actuarial tables" to quote the book, "The Iron Horse". One thing is for sure. No one lives forever!

      Urban Shocker was a talented pitcher who originally pitched for the Yanks from 1916-1917.  He was traded along with several other players to the Browns for Del Pratt and Eddie Plank (Plank retired instead of reporting).  He was a four time 20 game winner for St. Louis.  The Yanks got him back in 1925 where he became one of the mainstays of the pitching staff for three seasons.  He was diagnosed with a heart condition at the beginning of the '28 season and retired to Colorado.  He died from pneumonia as a complication of heart disease on September 9th, 1928 at the age of 38.  The first member of the '27 Yankees to die .

      Miller Huggins played his entire 13 year career in the National League with the Reds and Cardinals.  He was a steady, nuts and bolts second baseman with great speed.  He stole 318 bases in his career and compiled a .265 average.  He was also a player-manager for the Cardinals the last four years of his career.  He took over the reigns of the Yanks in 1918 and piloted them through the 1929 season, winning 6 AL titles and 3 world series.  A respected leader of men, he even won over the Babe.  On September 20th 1929, "Hug" arrived late for a game at the Stadium with Boston.  He was weak and pasty looking with a very nasty red boil on the side of his face.  He left the dugout after the third Inning,  and after an examination by a doctor,  entered St. Vincent's Hospital.  Despite four blood transfusions, he died five days later as a result of blood poisoning, on September 25th, 1929, at the age of 50.

      Lou Gehrig's life and subsequent demise from a fatal illness has been well documented.  To this day, his legendary consecutive game streak along with his simply awesome career stats, put him with the cream of the crop of baseball's immortals.  A .340 lifetime average, 493 HR's, 1990 RBI's.  A career .632 slugging average. Unbelievable!! 
      What is ironic is, that his name lives on in the disease that struck him at the beginning of the 1939 season.  Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis will be forever more know as "Lou Gehrig's Disease".
      Lou died one third of the way through Joe Dimaggio's 56 game hitting streak, passing away on the evening of June 2nd, 1941, seventeen days before his 38th birthday.

      Johnny Grabowski was part of the catching corps along with Pat Collins.  The Ware, MA native joined the Yankees in 1927 from the Chicago White Sox and was part of World Championship teams in both '27 and '28. Known to his teammates as "Nig", he was a reliable catcher with a decent arm who was very well liked by his other Murderers Row teammates.  He finished his career with the Tigers in 1931.
      Johnny Grabowski died in Albany, NY on May 23rd, 1946 as a result of burns suffered from a fire which destroyed his home.  He was only 46.

      What is amazing about Tony Lazzeri is that he played his entire 14 year career with epilepsy. As a rookie in 1926, he batted .275 with 18 HR's and 114 RBI's.  His confrontation with Grover Cleveland Alexander in the seventh inning of the seventh game of the '26 World Series, in which he struck out with the bases loaded is legendary.  He went on to have a Hall Of Fame Career, compiling 1191 RBI's on 178 HR's.  A remarkable feat for a right handed hitter in Yankee Stadium considering that left-center at the time was 460 ft and centerfield was 490 ft !
      "Poosh Em' Up" Tony Lazerri died from a massive heart attack on Aug 6th, 1946 at the age of 42.

      Herb Pennock was probably the best left handed pitcher in the AL during the 1920's.  Hailing from historic Kennet Square, PA (The Mushroom Capital Of The World) he had a silky smooth delivery with a variety of pitches and speeds.  The term "crafty left-hander" best described his style of pitching.    His knowledge of each hitter was legendary.  He started his career with the Philadelphia Athletics,  moved on to the Red Sox, then joined the Yanks in '23.  He was on 5 pennant winners and appeared in 4 World Series for New York,  compiling a 5-0 series record.
      After his Career he worked in various capacities around baseball, culminating with a GM position with the Phillies in the 1940's where he helped build the foundation for the 1950 "Wiz Kids".
      Herb Pennock was in New York City for League Meetings when he passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage, on January 30th, 1948 at the age of 53.

      George Herman Ruth needs no introduction!  The Babe was and is the greatest baseball player and the Number 1 sports star of all-time !! (Sorry Michael Jordan) The records and legends speak for themselves. "The Sultan Of Swat" died after a two year bout with cancer on August 16th, 1948 at the age of 53.


      Mike Gazella was a back-up infielder with the Yanks in the 20's.  He was fiery and scrappy.  He once told off the entire team at a meeting when he felt they were playing poorly.  He spent his entire career with the Yankees, being part of three pennant winners, 26-28 and two world championship teams, 27 and 28.  The native of Olyphant, PA actually lived to the ripe old age of 81, but was killed in an auto accident in Odessa, TX on September 11th, 1978.

Note: The last surviving member of the '27 Yankees was shortstop Mark Koenig. Koenig passed away from cancer on April 22nd, 1993 at the age of 88.

Honorable Mention:    
     The 1885 Chicago White Stockings, winners of the National League Pennant do come close in the bad luck department. Five players met with untimely endings. Pitcher Larry Corcoran passed away in 1891 from Brights Disease, Catcher Frank "Silver" Flint died from Consumption in 1892, 3rd Baseman Ned Williamson died of Dropsy in 1894 at the age of 36, the same year that former teammate and future Hall Of Famer Mike "King" Kelly  died from Pneumonia, also at the age of 36. And to put icing on the cake,  future Hall Of Famer John Clarkson died in 1909 at the age of 47 from complications stemming from Pneumonia!     


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