Dominant second half helps Hubbell to 1936 NL MVP
For his final 20 games of the 1936 season, New York Giants ace Carl Hubbell was practically untouchable.
Hubbell took a 10-5 record into the All-Star break and lost his first decision after returning. From there, he was unbeatable: Hubbell went 16-0, threw 14 complete games in 15 starts, picked up two saves and was named the first-ever unanimous National League MVP on Oct. 19, 1936.
“As was expected, King Carlos Hubbell, the great screwball hurler of the New York Giants, was once again voted the most valuable player in the National League,” Lee Scott of The Brooklyn Citizen wrote. “Hubbell rightfully deserved the honor.”
His final stats for the season included a 26-6 record, a 2.31 ERA, 304 innings pitched and 25 complete games.
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Hubbell, who grew up on a pecan farm in Meeker, Okla., was welcomed back to his hometown with a “Hubbell Day” celebration and banquet in his honor in Oklahoma City.
“I haven’t fully recuperated from the shock,” Hubbell told the Okmulgee Daily Times about winning MVP. “And it came right on top of the two swell homecoming parties.”
Behind his arm, the Giants finished 92-62 and won the pennant.
New York was 42-41 the morning of July 17, 10.5 games back of the league-leading Chicago Cubs. Hubbell took the ball that day and spun a complete-game gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates, only allowing five hits in his team’s 6-0 victory.
It spurred a change of fortunes and a series of winning streaks for both New York and Hubbell. The Giants would win five straight, then four, then seven, then 15. At that point they were 75-46, three games up on the Cubs, and cruising toward the pennant. Hubbell was 19-6 when the last winning streak was snapped.
He finished the season with seven more wins. Six were in complete game efforts, while the seventh, a 7-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 14, was a relief appearance. Hubbell entered the game in the fourth on only two days’ rest and allowed only one run over five innings, giving his Giants the victory because starter Frank Gabler didn’t last long enough.
In each of Hubbell’s final 12 starts of the season, he pitched a complete game.
In the World Series, Hubbell continued his winning streak in a 6-1 victory during a rainy Game 1 against the New York Yankees, giving up seven hits in a complete game effort, his only blemish a leadoff home run allowed to Yankees right fielder George Selkirk in the third inning.
“It was the worst weather I ever pitched in and I couldn’t use all my stuff,” Hubbell said to The Gazette and Daily, though it didn’t make a difference for the Yankees’ lineup.
Hubbell wasn’t as efficient in Game 4. He allowed four runs on eight hits, including a home run to eventual American League MVP Lou Gehrig, and the Giants fell 5-2. They would lose the series two games later.
All six voters named Hubbell first place on their MVP ballots, while St. Louis pitcher Dizzy Dean finished runner up for the award for the second straight season.
It was the second MVP award of Hubbell’s career after taking home the honor in 1933. That season, Hubbell was 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA and 10 shutouts. The Giants won the pennant and the 1933 World Series thanks to 20 scoreless innings from Hubbell.
Hubbell was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.
Evan Gerike was the 2022 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development