Past Great Races
Note: this was written during our 1932 season.
This year’s race has gotten good. it’s got some stiff competition if it wants to be called the best.
1924—Salt Lake City had already clinched the top spot, but with a week remaining, four teams remained alive for the second postseason berth. Portland, who began the week in fifth place, needed a miracle: they needed to win their last six against Seattle and they needed second-place Los Angeles to lose their last six, plus they needed everything else to break right, as Oakland and Vernon were also still in the mix.
The Beavers did sweep their final series, but they came up just short, as the Angels, only needing to win two games to eliminate Vernon and Oakland, did exactly that. The Beavers finished a game behind the Angels, the Tigers finished a game behind the Beavers, and the Oaks finished a game behind the Tigers. Sixth-place Sacramento was only six games out of a playoff slot.
1925—This was a five-team race for a good part of the summer. Seattle, who wound up fifth, was not eliminated from the postseason picture until September 27 (the season ended October 4). The Angels and Tigers were still kicking prior to their final series (which was against each other), and the Seals were within striking distance of first-place Portland.
The Tigers eliminated the Angels early in the season’s final week, and the Angels returned the favor a few days later; San Francisco surged past Portland to capture the flag by a game. Vernon finished four games back, three out of a playoff spot.
1926—Oakland cruised for much of the season, but Mission had pulled within two games of them by the end of August. Portland, Los Angeles, and Seattle were all within seven games of the second-place Bells with a month to play. Sacramento got hot and inched into contention in early September. With two weeks to play Oakland led Mission by a game; Mission led Portland by four, Seattle by five, Los Angeles by six, and Sacramento by seven.
Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Seattle had all been eliminated by the season’s final week, but Portland was still alive, four games back. Seattle beat them four out of five to tie them for third place, four games behind Mission and six behind Oakland.
1928—On Sept. 3 the Angels had a 9 1/2 game lead over the second-place Bells, but the race for second was tight as a drum, with the Bells leading Hollywood by a game and San Francisco by a game and a half. Hollywood was fading by mid-September, but the Bells and Seals were going at it hot and heavy; they were tied going into the final week.
The Seals clinched second on the second to last day of the season, finishing five behind Los Angeles and two ahead of Mission and Hollywood (the Stars had a too-little-too-late surge at the end of the year).
1929—This was a four-team race on September 2, with Oakland leading Hollywood and Sacramento by three games and Los Angeles by seven; the four were all still mathematically alive on September 30, with a week to play. At that point Oakland led Sacramento by a game, and Sacramento led Hollywood by three and Los Angeles by four.
Intriguingly, those four teams finished the season playing each other. Sacramento took four out of six from Oakland to win the title by a game, while Los Angeles took four of six from Hollywood. The Stars finished five games out, the Angels six.
1930—Three-team race; Sacramento had a two-game edge over Portland and a six-game edge over Hollywood on Sept. 1. The Beavers and Solons traded the lead over the final few weeks, with Hollywood staying close until hitting the skids mid-month. Portland took the flag by a game over the Solons, who finished four games better than the Stars.
1931—Another three-team race, with Sacramento, Hollywood, and Oakland all in each other’s business throughout the summer. On August 31 the Stars were in first place, with Sacramento and Oakland tied for second, one game back. The Solons were in first place a week later, and they never gave it up, nor could they put much distance between themselves and the other two. On Sept. 21, with one week to play, they led the Oaks by a game and the Stars by two.
After 158 games, the Solons were in, but the Stars and Oaks were tied for second, which resulted in the league’s first tie-breaking playoff game. Hollywood won it, punching their ticket to the Nyquist Trophy Series.