By Tom Ruane
This article is a continuation of the Retro-Review articles. As with the other pieces, this is not intended to be a proper history of the decade. Instead, each review is a collection of things that interested me while I was helping to proof the box scores for that year and generate the html files for our web-site.
In addition, from time to time I will be focusing on a few of the statistical discrepancies from these years. These are cases where the data being displayed on Retrosheet's web-site differs from either the current official statistics or what was considered official at the time. In many cases, it is unclear which version is correct, but in many others the official view is pretty obviously wrong and at some point ought to be corrected.
Of course, like the earlier article, this one would not have been possible without the work of dozens of Retrosheet volunteers who are working on digitizing the major league boxscores for the 1910s.
Similar articles on the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (at least 1960 to 1967) are also available on our web-site.
Peace returned to major league baseball in 1916 with the demise of the Federal League, and the remaining leagues celebrated by putting on two close pennant races. In a head-to-head double-header at the end of September, the Phillies beat the Brooklyn Robins in the opener to take over first-place for two hours, dropping the afternoon contest when Pete Alexander, pitching with one day's rest, lost 6-1. Philadelphia forged a momentary tie for the lead on October 2nd, beating the Braves 2-0, behind Alexander (again pitching with a single day of rest) in the opener of another double-header. Unfortuntely for the Phillies, they again dropped the second game, while the Robins were beating the Giants. There was bad blood between New York and Philadelphia and the season came to a close with a hint of scandal as many, including Giants' manager John McGraw,1 thought that his team gave less than their best effort in dropping three of four in the season-ending series. Brooklyn, who only the year before had posted their first winning season in more than a decade, had their first pennant since 1900.
On offense, the Robins were led by Zach Wheat and Jake Daubert, while their top pitchers included Jeff Pfeffer (who won twenty-five games), Larry Cheney and Rube Marquard, who didn't join the starting rotation until late June, but finished with thirteen wins in a comeback season that earned him the starting assignment in the World Series opener.
A highlight for Zach Wheat in 1916 was hitting in a career-high 29 consecutive games. Wheat struck out seventeen times during his hot spell, and the next player with as many strikeouts during a consecutive game streak would be Duke Snider, who fanned seventeen times in 27 games in 1953. The current record holder is Eric Davis who struck out thirty times in as many games in 1998. Wheat dramatically cut down on his strikeouts following 1916. Here are his rates both before (not including 1909, for which we are missing this data) and after the end of that season:
AB BB SO HBP SH PA SO% Before 3757 282 364 35 85 4159 8.75 After 5247 362 195 42 73 5724 3.41 Where SO% is his percentage of strikeouts per plate appearance.
It probably isn't particularly significant or historic, but Pfeffer and Cheney sure enjoyed pitching against the three worst teams in the league that year. Here is their record against the Cards, Reds and Pirates as well as their mark against everyone else:
G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA Bottom Three 37 33 26 8 301.1 215 50 34 62 152 27 4 1.02 Others 45 35 19 3 276.2 234 136 93 106 143 16 19 3.03
The results for the rest of the staff were quite a bit different. They went only 17-18 against the three worst teams, while posting a 34-19 mark against the others.
The Red Sox, hurt by the loss of star center-fielder Tris Speaker, stumbled through the first two months of the season, and were playing only .500 ball as late as June 20th. Speaker had been sent to the Indians for financial reasons a few days before the start of the season (he was holding out to lessen a huge cut in pay and Boston figured they could turn their unhappy star into a pile of money). The team was also hurt by the season-long holdout of Smoky Joe Wood (also eventually sent to the Indians for a big check), as well as by the premature decline of star infielder Jack Barry, who suffered through an injury-plagued season and at 29 was already through as a productive major leaguer.
Despite the absence of Wood, they still had the best pitching staff in the league and by the time they wrapped up a lengthy home stand at end of August, had a three-game lead over the Tigers. They spent almost the entire last month on the road, however, and by the time they left St. Louis on September 15th, their lead was a slim three percentage points over the Tigers and a half-game over the White Sox. After dropping the opener of a three-game series in Chicago, they found themselves in third place. Fortunately, they picked the right time to get hot, winning the last two games of the series before heading into Detroit to sweep their other main competition in three straight games. In five days, they had gone from third place to a two and a half game lead. They were led by Babe Ruth, who won four games in the last two weeks of September, including two shutouts. His nine shutouts that season would set an AL record for left-handers that wouldn't be tied until Ron Guidry matched it in 1978.
The Red Sox were favored to win the World Series and things went pretty much according to form. Just how predictable was the series? Well, on the eve of the first game, sportswriter Hugh Fullerton didn't simply pick them to win, he predicted the outcome of each game.2 He got the Robins' starting pitchers wrong (he thought Pfeffer would start ahead of Marquard in the opener), but he got pretty much everything else right, with Boston taking the first two contests, the second a one-run victory for Ruth, dropping the third to Coombs, before winning the next behind Leonard. He thought the series would end with Shore taking a 3-1 decision over Pfeffer in game five. Instead, Shore beat Jeff Pfeffer and the Robins 4-1.
The most memorable contest was the second, a extra-inning affair that didn't end until Del Gainer hit a run-scoring pinch-single with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth. It was the longest game (by innings) in World Series history and it still is, although it was tied by the White Sox and Astros in 2005. Those two games are a study in contrasts, although they perhaps exaggerate the changes in the game over the 89 intervening years. The Red Sox and Robins scored a total of three runs, used only two pitchers, and wrapped things up in a little more than two and a half hours. Seventeen different pitchers saw action in the 2005 battle, gave up a combined twelve runs, and took over five and a half hours to finish the job.
The Giants may have finished in fourth place, driving their manager to finish the season at the racetrack instead of the ballpark,3 but they did produce two historic streaks in 1916. The first occurred in May, when the Giants departed for a long road trip with a 2-13 record and proceeded to win seventeen straight games. It was the longest road winning streak in major league history, eclipsing the previous mark of 16 set by the Union Association's St. Louis Maroons in 1884 and tied by the 1912 Washington Senators. The last game in the streak, a 3-0 win over the Braves featured the last shutout of Christy Mathewson's career.
The next streak started in September. This time, they won twenty-six consecutive decisions (there was one tie game in the middle) and all of the games were played at home. This was reported as breaking the record of twenty set by the 1884 Providence Grays, a streak that featured eighteen wins by Old Hoss Radbourn. (Once Providence's streak was broken, Radbourn went on to win the next eight games.) A member of that team, shortstop Arthur Irwin, was in the stands at the Polo Grounds when his old team's mark was eclipsed.4
Except it wasn't the previous mark. There had been two longer earlier streaks. Ignoring the first one made sense: the National Association was often not considered a major league and so not including the 1875 Boston Red Stockings, who took their first twenty-six decisions of the year (like the Giants, they also had a tie mixed in with all the wins) was not surprising. But in 1880, the Chicago White Stockings had won twenty-one straight decisions (once again, with a tie) and I'm not sure why people at the time didn't know about that one.
By the way, the Giants did not set the record for the most consecutive winning decisions at home. That mark is owned by the 1885 St. Louis Browns, who won twenty-seven straight games at Sportman's Park from April 26th to July 18th. The Giants did set the record for the most wins in a month that September, their twenty-nine victories three more than the previous record-holders (the 1906 Cubs, who won twenty-six in August, and the 1914 Braves, who did the same that September). The closest a team has come since was the Yankees, who went 28-8 during August, 1938.
The Giants owed their September winning streak primarily to pitching and defense. The average score during their loss-less streak was 4.52-1.22; the rest of the year, it was 3.71-3.68. Here are the pitchers who took the mound for New York during that stretch:
Name G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA Hank Ritter 2 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 Ferdie Schupp 6 6 6 4 54 17 3 2 10 24 6 0 0.33 Slim Sallee 2 2 2 1 18 15 1 1 1 3 2 0 0.50 Pol Perritt 6 5 5 2 47.2 29 4 3 5 28 4 0 0.57 Rube Benton 6 4 4 2 44.1 22 4 3 3 26 5 0 0.61 Jeff Tesreau 7 6 6 1 54.1 43 10 9 9 28 7 0 1.49 George Smith 3 1 0 0 12.1 11 5 5 2 4 1 0 3.65 Fred Anderson 3 3 0 0 6.2 13 6 6 7 8 0 0 8.10
Ferdie Schupp's ERA dropped from 1.25 to 0.88 during this period. There were only four incomplete starts, three of them by Fred Anderson, who seemed to be the only Giants pitcher not invited to the party.
During sixteen straight games from September 18th to the end of their streak, the Giants allowed only twelve runs, the lowest total over a span that long in major league history. They never allowed more than two runs in any one contest and held their opponents scoreless eight times. Included in this were back-to-back one-hitters against the Braves. The second lowest total of runs allowed over sixteen games was thirteen, by the 1908 White Sox from September 17th to October 5th. All that winning did little to improve their place in the standings. The Giants were in fourth place when they started and they were still in fourth place when their streak came to an end.
In the American League, the Philadelphia Athletics almost cornered the market on losing. They lost so many games that the league came within one rain-out of having no other losing team. The Senators finished 76-77 and their one unplayed decision was with the Athletics. Since Washington went 15-6 against them, the smart money would have been on the Senators evening their record had the game been played. As late as October 3rd, the Athletics were the only losing team in the league. The latest this had happened previously was on June 16, 1882, when Baltimore of the American Association stood alone with more losses than wins, and the latest since then was on May 20, 1954 when the Pittsburgh Pirates did the honors for the rest of the NL.
They didn't start out historically bad. On May 22nd, they were 13-17, in fifth place and only two games out of the first division. They owed their not-so-horrible start to the top of their rotation. Here are the records of Joe Bush and Elmer Myers after their team's first thirty games compared to the rest of the staff:
G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA Bush/Myers 19 14 13 1 136 102 45 35 71 67 12 4 2.32 The Rest 32 16 1 0 132.1 147 94 71 99 48 1 13 4.83
But then things got ugly in a hurry. From June 3rd to August 8th, they went 4-56, losing eleven, four, twelve, nine and twenty games between each of their wins. Those twenty straight losses tied the AL mark originally set by Boston in 1906, a record that would be tied by the 1943 Athletics before being broken by the 1988 Orioles. The average score of their games during this period was 5.7 to 2.2.
The closest any team has come to going 4-56 since (and it wasn't really all that close) were the 10-50 marks posted by the 1949 Senators, who had five overlapping streaks, the first from June 19th to August 20th (they had a winning record when that streak began) and the last from July 17th to September 14th, and the 1969 Padres, who had two overlapping streaks, the first from June 12th to August 17th and the other starting a game later.
How bad were the Athletics? Their 6-15 mark against the Senators was their second best against any team in the league. They went 2-28 in July and 13-64 on the road. And it could have been even worse. They closed out their season with a double-header sweep of the champion Red Sox, who had clinched the pennant and were resting up for the World Series. Those two victories gave the Athletics their first series win since taking two of three from the White Sox in May. Chicago got some measure of revenge for those losses when they swept Philadelphia in an eight-game series that started on July 29th. Going into their final double-header, the Athletics had only one more win than Pete Alexander, the cross-town ace of the Phillies, had all by himself.
Of course, Alexander had a phenomenal season in 1916 and was likely the most valuable player in either league. He had a four-game winning streak in May accompanied by a 0.50 ERA, a five-game winning streak in June with a 0.96 ERA, a six-game winning streak in July with a 0.50 ERA; and he pitched four shutouts in his first five starts in August, good for a 0.38 ERA. When he was finished, he had won a career-high 33 games, a total no pitcher has reached since, and was in the middle of a three-year run that would see him win 94 games. He also threw sixteen shutouts, including five against the Reds, tying the mark set by Tom Hughes against the Indians in 1905, a record that would be equalled in 1966 by Larry Jaster (against the Dodgers).
When he threw his fourteenth shutout on September 1st, he was reported to have broken the major league record set in 1910 by Jack Coombs, then with the Athletics.5 The losing pitcher in the record-setting game? The same Jack Coombs, now pitching for the Robins. But as it so often turns out, that wasn't the previous record, just the highest total anyone still remembered. In 1876, George Bradley had thrown sixteen shutouts for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, a mark Alexander tied in his last start of the year.
When Tris Speaker was added to his roster on the eve of the 1916 season, Cleveland manager Lee Fohl said that he thought the move "would strengthen his club 40 per cent."6 The fact this his team's victory total increased by only 35 per cent that year was probably due more to Fohl's unreasonable expectations than any deficiencies in Speaker's performance. All the new arrival did was lead the league in hits, doubles and all three of the so-called (although certainly not in 1916) "slash stats": batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. It would be his only batting title, one that officially broke Ty Cobb's string of nine straight. Of course, those nine included one in 1910, when he had only the second highest average in the league, and in 1914, when he played only 98 games.
Babe Ruth made more noise with his pitching arm than his bat in 1916, but he did go on a mini-homer splurge in June, hitting three in the space of five at-bats from June 9th to 13th. This was part of a stretch that saw him go 12-18, raising his batting average to .304 after a season-opening 2-28 slump. He would not hit another home run for nearly fourteen months, connecting next on August 10, 1917.
Don't blame Wally: from June 16th to July 7th, Wally Schang hit in twenty straight games for the woeful Athletics, one of four players with hitting streaks that long in 1916. His team went 2-18 in those games. Since then, the worst record by a team while one of its players was hitting in twenty consecutive games was the 4-16 mark posted by the Reds during Al Libke's hot streak in 1945 (not counting his game, which they lost, without a plate appearance in the middle) and by the Phillies, who went 6-20 during Chuck Klein hitting streak in 1930, including four different overlapping stretches of 4-16 baseball.
The Cubs had an interesting situation at the start of 1916. Having inherited the bulk of the former Chicago Whales, they had an opportunity to create one good team out of the rosters of two not-so-good ones. At shortstop, they went with 21-year-old Eddie Mulligan, who had gone 8-22 in a late September trial the previous year. That performance turned out to be deceptive, however. In the first game of 1916, he committed two errors and struck out three times in five hitless plate appearances. It never got much better. By the time they pulled the plug on the experiment in mid-July, he was hitting .153 (with a .412 OPS) and had fewer hits (29) than either errors (40) or strikeouts (30). He was the last player with at least 100 at-bats to join this club, the previous two members being Doc Lavan in 1913, and Frank O'Rourke in 1912. Like Mulligan, they were also rookie shortstops.
On September 22nd, Sam Crawford hit the last triple of his record-setting major league career. Earlier in the season. he had become the first (and only) player to hit 300 triples. He ended the year with more triples than doubles for the fifth time in his career.
Rogers Hornsby turned twenty on April 27th, but the infielder emerged as one of the league's best players in 1916, He had perhaps the biggest game at the plate that year, with five hits, including two triples and a home run, on June 28th. Surprisingly, he would have only one other five-hit game in his career, on July 13, 1923.
On June 26th, Christy Mathewson won his last game as a New York Giant. He entered in the fifth inning with two on, two out and his team clinging to a 6-5 lead. George Cutshaw, the first batter he faced, hit a three-run homer, capping Brooklyn's eight-run inning. But Mathewson gave up only one more hit the rest of the way as New York rallied for a 11-8 win. Less than a month later, John McGraw traded three future Hall of Famers (including Mathewson) to the Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer. Mathewson would make only one more start in his career, beating Mordecai Brown in a scripted finale for both of the former stars on September 4th. They had very little left, but both pitched until the bitter end, which came after a combined thirty-four hits and eighteen runs, when Fritz Mollwitz flied out with the tying runs on base to give Christy a 10-8 win.7 At the plate, the two pitchers combined for five hits off each other.
One old pitcher still throwing effectively was 41-year-old Eddie Plank, who on August 8th lost a no-hitter with one out in the top of the ninth. He had pitched a two-hitter in his previous start and would do the same in his next. In a four-start stretch from July 30th to August 12th, he allowed only nine hits.
Tom Hughes pitched a no-hitter against the Pirates on June 16th. For Hughes, normally a reliever, it was his only start of the month, a month that saw him allow only seven hits in twenty-six consecutive scoreless innings. He would finish the year with a 16-3 record, including a 9-1 mark out of the bullpen.
It's a sad story, but one that needs to be told: on September 2nd, Harry Harper entered the eighth-inning with a three-run lead, only six outs away from his fifteenth win and a promised $500 bonus.8 But the Athletics rallied, helped by a two-out dropped fly, and tied the game, temporarily denying Harper the milestone win and paycheck. Unfortunately, a sore arm shortly turned the temporary delay into a permanent one, as Harper made only one more start in the season and finished with what would turn out to be a career-high fourteen wins.9
On September 12th, one out away from beating Walter Johnson for the fifth time that year, Babe Ruth gave up a game-tying two-run double to Senators' catcher John Henry, sending the game into extra-innings. Johnson ended up with his twenty-fifth victory, giving him an outside chance at winning thirty for the third time. That chance disappeared as he lost his next three starts, and then was given permission to head home a week and a half early.10 He finished the season with twenty losses, the last time a pitcher would enter both the twenty-win and twenty-loss club until Wilbur Wood in 1973 and Phil Niekro in 1979.
George Sisler pitched a shutout on September 17th, beating Walter Johnson 1-0. He completed all three of his starts that year, losing the other two by a 2-0 score. Sisler batted third in the game. Here are the last shutouts by pitchers hitting in the first through eighth positions in the batting order from 1916 to 2011:
Pos Player Date 1 - none *1 2 - none *2 3 - George Sisler 9-17-1916 4 - Babe Ruth 7-17-1918(2) (five innings) 5 - none *5 6 - none *6 7 - Bob Friend 8-26-1956(1) 8 - Livan Hernandez 6-15-2011 *1 - No shutouts or complete games. Last two starts were by Cesar Tovar in 1968 and Al Dark in 1953. It was the only major league pitching appearance of both players' careers. *2 - No starting pitchers hit second during these years. *5 - No shutouts. Closest was a one-run complete game loss by Walter Johnson in 1916. *6 - No shutouts. Closest was a one-run complete game loss by Walter Johnson in 1919.
The Athletics' Jack Nabors, after six previous losses in 1915 and 1916, finally won his first major league game on April 22nd, beating the Red Sox 6-2. He would not win again, dropping his final nineteen decisions to end his career with a 1-25 mark. The next most losses for a pitcher with a single major league victory is fifteen, by Jim Clinton and Mike Thompson, although Terry Felton lost sixteen games in his career without a major league win.
Nabors should have have picked up a 2-1 win on June 24th, but Connie Mack was trying out a new catcher and Mike Murphy, the recruit, booted away the game in the last inning. He could have also been in line for a 4-2 win on September 19th when reliever Tom Sheehan gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth. For Sheehan, that defeat was his last decision in a 1-16 campaign, his single win coming on June 26th. It's a win he might not have been granted under the scoring practices of the day, since he entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with his team already in front (the rule that a starter had to pitch at least five innings was more than three decades away). When he lost his fourteenth decision in Boston on September 6th, the Boston Globe reported that he was still winless.11
The best pitcher for the Athletics that year was clearly Bullet Joe Bush, who pitched eight shutouts, accounting for the majority of his fifteen wins. One of these shutouts was a no-hitter on August 26th. That game also marked the last one of Nap Lajoie's career, as strained leg ligaments cut short his final major league season.12 Another rare highlight in Philadelphia's season occurred on September 8th, when Wally Schang became the first major leaguer to hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a game. This would not happen again until Augie Galan turned the trick in 1937.
The Senators' Claude Thomas made his first major league start on September 18th, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning before settling for a two-hit shutout. Through the first six innings of his next start, he held the Tigers to two harmless hits before the wheels came off. Here is Thomas' career record both before and after the seventh-inning stretch on September 22nd:
IP H R ER ERA Before 17 5 0 0 0.00 After 11.1 22 14 13 10.32
It was a long time coming, but on September 21st, Pop-boy Smith finally got his first (and what would turn out to his only) major league win when the Indians defeated Walter Johnson and the Senators 3-2 in thirteen innings. It came more than three years and five months after his debut in 1913. The circumstances of his victory might surprise modern readers, however. Smith left the game after nine innings with the scored tied, but he, rather than reliever Al Gould (who pitched four scoreless extra-innings), was awarded the win. I discuss the strange circumstances surrounding Smith's first three appearances of 1916 in greater detail in another article.
The marathons of the year took place a month and a day apart. On June 13th, the Braves and Reds played a sixteen-inning scoreless contest, the longest scoreless game in National League history. The major league mark of eighteen innings was set on July 16, 1909, in a game between Detroit and Washington. The Reds' Fred Toney allowed only two hits in his eleven innings on the mound and Pete Schneider, his successor, gave up only one the rest of the way. The Browns and Red Sox went one better on July 14th, when Ernie Koob and a combination of Carl Mays and Dutch Leonard threw seventeen scoreless innings.
While discussing the inepititude of the Athletics above, I mentioned that the White Sox swept them in an eight-game series that summer. If you define a series as a number of consecutive games played between two teams in the same park, this was the longest series sweep in major league history.13 There was one other eight-game sweep since, when the 1928 Giants turned the trick against the Braves from September 10th to 14th.
In case you're wondering, there have only been eleven series this long (and none longer) in major league history. Here they are (with the number of wins by each team in parenthesis):
Start Team Team 1903- 9-19 PHI N (5) CIN N (3) 1910- 9- 6 CHI A (4) STL A (4) 1911- 5-29 STL N (5) CIN N (2) - 1 tie 1912- 9-24 STL A (4) CHI A (3) - 1 tie 1916- 7-29 CHI A (8) PHI A (0) 1922- 8-30 BOS N (6) PHI N (2) 1928- 9-10 NY N (8) BOS N (0) 1935- 8-25 NY A (5) CHI A (3) 1943- 8-22 CLE A (5) BOS A (3) 1943- 8-22 WAS A (4) STL A (4) 1945- 8-19 DET A (6) PHI A (2)
It probably got a bit tedious sitting in the stands after a while, but the Tigers and Athletics combined to draw thirty walks in the opening game of their four-game series on May 9th. George Cunningham, Detroit's starting (and winning) pitcher, was pitching a no-hitter when he was removed in the middle of the third after issuing his sixth walk. Carl Ray walked twelve while mopping up the Philadelphia loss and would never pitch in the majors again. The Tigers continued to exercise patience at the plate, walking eleven and ten times in the next two games before the two teams wrapped up their series on May 12th by combining for another twenty-five.
Sometimes teams carried "small ball" to extremes. On September 1st the Athletics were losing 3-0 in the top of the ninth inning of the first game of their double-header with the Senators when the first two hitters singled, putting runners on first and third and bring the tying run to the plate in the person of Amos Strunk, their third-place hitter. So what did Strunk do? He sacrificed the runner on first to second.
The discrepancy of the year occurred on September 14th in the Tigers 4-2 loss to the Yankees. Officially, Ossie Vitt went 0-0 with four runs scored and a strikeout. There are at least three things very wrong with this. First, you can't score more runs in a game than your team. Next, you can't strikeout without having at least one official at-bat. And finally, a team's lead-off hitter can't go through an entire game without a plate appearance unless there is a whole lot of batting out of turn that goes undetected. Of course, the error was simple: his at-bat total was incorrectly entered in the runs column.
After their record-setting performance the previous September, the New York Giants were heavily favored to take the 1917 National League pennant and the experts were right. The Giants did it with the same lineup and pitching staff that had finished the previous year so strongly. Heinie Zimmerman and George Burns led the best offense and Ferdie Schupp and Pol Perritt anchored the top pitching staff in the league.
Their win over the Phillies on June 27th put them into first place to stay, kicking off a 31-10 run that left them with a fourteen-game lead by August 10th. That loss started the second-place Phillies on a month-long 7-18 stretch that killed their pennant chances. Pete Alexander did his best, winning five games during the free-fall, but got little help from the rest of the staff, including six straight losses by Eppa Rixey. Their offense was also to blame, as they averaged less than three runs a game during the swoon.
For the Giants, their pennant completed a first-to-worst-to-first journey that took only five years. The next two shortest journeys before the advent of divisional play were nine by the Boston Americans/Red Sox from 1904 to 1906 to 1912, and twelve by the Cubs from 1918 to 1925 to 1929. If you count divisional play, the San Diego Padres did it in the shortest possible time, from 1996 to 1997 to 1998, but that was in a division with only four teams. Some mention should be made of the Pirates, who had the best record in the National League in 1979, the worst in 1985 and then the best again in 1990, a twelve year journey in a twelve team league.
The Giants were helped by the collapse of the defending champions, as the Robins fell all the way to seventh-place. Their decline was across the board. All of the pitchers they had counted on the year before performed at least a little bit worse, and Jake Daubert, one of the big guns in 1916, produced only ten extra-base hits, hardly the production Wilbert Robinson was hoping from his first-baseman.
It was the fewest extra-base hits for a player appearing in at least a hundred games at first base in major league history, breaking the previous low of eleven, set two years earlier by Hap Myers of the Federal League's Brooklyn Tip-Tops. If you don't count the FL as a major league, the next lowest total was twelve, by Jay Faatz of the American Association's Cleveland Blues in 1888. Daubert's mark was finally broken in 1965 by Vic Power, with nine. That record was tied by Tony Muser in 1976 and then broken for the last time by Mike Squires, with six in 1983. Both Squires and Power deserve an asterisk since they were late-inning defensive replacements for much of the year. Even Muser had only 326 at-bats, much less than Daubert's 468.
In the American League, the White Sox and Red Sox were locked in a close race most of the summer. On August 17th, the two teams were separated by a single percentage point. Three days later, they met in Chicago for a four-game series. After splitting those games, both teams got hot, but unfortunately for Boston, won six of their next seven decisions, the White Sox got hotter, fashioning two nine-game winning streaks separated by a single loss. By the time Red Faber beat Bullet Joe Bush and the Athletics 6-1 on September 18th, his team had gone 21-2 and their lead had balooned to eight games.
The second-place Red Sox did pretty much what they had the year before. Once again, Babe Ruth led the league's best pitching staff. The team's offense scored about the same number of runs, the pitching was a little better, and the team finished with one fewer victory than in 1916. But while they were treading water, the White Sox somehow got eleven games better. At first glance, it's hard to see why. Yes, Eddie Cicotte had a break-through season, winning a league-leading 28 games. But their biggest improvement came at the plate, where they managed to score 54 more runs than in 1916 despite hitting 60 fewer extra-base hits. They did get on base 66 more times, which offset their lower slugging percentage, but it sure looks like they owed some of the improvement to getting their hits at more opportune times. Which is another way of saying that they hit better in the clutch, which is usually a euphemism for saying they were luckier.
Chicago's trip to the World Series was the first by a team from the western half of a league since the Cubs' appearance in 1910. Of course, Pittsburgh was considered part of the west before the 1950s. From 1911 to 1916, the World Series had been monopolized by three cities, with four participants apiece coming from New York, Boston and Philadelphia, each of those cities being represented by two different teams. And this division between the eastern and western parts of the league seemed to matter. One reporter wrote: "For the first time in the history of Base Ball, it produced a series between the two largest cities in the United States, one the Eastern capital and the other the Middle West capital. It gave everyone a chance to shout because all the East and all the West were mixed up in it." 14
Both teams held serve through the first four games. White Sox manager Pants Rowland, helped by a rain-out, had been able to go with a two-man pitching staff of Eddie Cicotte and Red Faber through those four, but he would start a well-rested Reb Russell in game five. It was a decision he would regret almost immediately, removing his starter after only three batters in favor of a not-so-well-rested Cicotte, who pitched six innings of relief. Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the visiting Giants held on to a 5-2 lead behind the pitching of Slim Sallee when the White Sox rallied for three runs, two coming in on Chick Gandil's double and the last counting on an error by Buck Herzog.
With the game now tied, Rowland put Faber into the game, and the right-hander earned his second win of the series when Chicago scored three more times the next inning. Giants' manager John McGraw was criticized for his decision to send Sallee out for the eighth, having already walked four and been touched for ten hits and five runs. By the time McGraw finally replaced him, he had given up three more hits and, hurt by another error, two (and soon to be three) runs.
The format of the series was somewhat different than it is today. The two teams flipped a coin before the series to determine where it would start. They played two games in each park before alternating the site of games five and six (giving the teams an extra travel day). Another coin toss, won by New York, decided the site of a possible game seven. And so after the fifth game, they headed back to the Polo Grounds for the rest of the series, a park where the White Sox had been shut out in games three and four.15 With the benefit of the travel day, Rowland was able to bring back Faber to start game six, where he faced Rube Benton, who had authored one of the previous shutouts.
Benton would be undone by his fielders in the fourth inning. It started when Heinie Zimmerman muffed a grounder and Dave Robertson dropped a fly ball, putting runners on the corners with no one out. With the infield drawn in to cut off the run at the plate, Happy Felsch hit a grounder to Benton who tossed to third in an attempt to retire Eddie Collins heading back to third. Unfortunately, no one was covering home (the consensus was that first baseman Walter Holke should have been there)16 and so Zimmerman unsuccessfully chased Collins across the plate for the first run of the game. A single by Gandil plated two more, giving Faber more than enough runs to pick up his third win of the series.
Over the course of six games, Faber and Cicotte pitched all but two innings for Chicago. And Faber joined a short list of pitchers with four or more decisions in a single series, a list that also includes Deacon Phillippe (3-2) and Bill Dinneen (3-1) in 1903, Smoky Joe Wood (3-1) in 1912 and Hank Borowy (2-2) in 1945. Left-handed pitchers started all six games for the Giants while righty Pol Perritt, who pitched extremely well the over the last six weeks of the season, winning eight straight games with an ERA of 1.13, was relegated to bullpen duty. Another star for the White Sox was Eddie Collins, who led or tied for the team lead in hits, runs scored and stolen bases, while winning his race with Zimmerman in the final game. Ironically, one of the goats for the Giants was Dave Robertson, whose defensive failings in the last two games (he also misplayed two fly balls in game five) overshadowed his series-leading eleven hits and .500 batting average.
For White Sox manager Pants Rowland, the victory in the World Series was especially sweet in light of the reaction when he was selected by Charlie Comiskey to manage the team following the 1914 season. A typical response to the hiring of Rowland, who had no major league experience as either a player or a coach: "the surprise... is not so much that a 'busher' should be elevated to the position as that a 'busher' should have been picked to direct Eddie Collins as to how the game shall be played."17 His victory was short-lived, however. Following a disappointing finish in 1918, Rowland was replaced at the helm of the team by Kid Gleason. And while he would not manage at the major league level again, he would return as an American League umpire from 1923 to 1927.
The Detroit Tigers were out of contention the last two months of the season, but Ty Cobb wasn't the reason why. He had a great year, leading the league in hits (by 35), doubles, triples, stolen bases, and the triple crown of rate categories (batting average as well as on-base and slugging percentage). He had a relatively slow start that year, but hit safely in every game during June, a streak that reached thirty-five games before ending on July 6th. He had an even longer streak in 1911, one that also lasted the entire month of June (before ending on July 4th).
Despite Cobb, there weren't a lot of offensive highlights in 1917. Only one player in each league hit more than one homer in a game during the regular season (Benny Kauff also did it in the third game of the World Series), and no one managed to hit for the cycle. As a matter of fact, only one team managed to hit as many as three home runs in a game. Still, there were some offensive outbursts.
The Tigers beat the Washington Senators 16-4 on July 30th. It wasn't the most runs a team plated that season (that was the twenty scored by the Indians eight days earlier), but it was unusual because Ossie Vitt, Ty Cobb and Bobby Veach, their second, third and fourth-place hitters, had five hits apiece and scored twelve runs.
Washington lost their third game of the season by the same score when the Philadelphia Athletics exploded for ten runs in the seventh inning. Charlie Jamieson, who would later become a star outfielder for the Indians, made his only mound appearance of the year in that game, giving up all ten runs. The Athletics, by the way, were the most improved team in the league, winning nineteen more games than they had the previous year, but few took much notice, since they still finished in the cellar.
For the first time since George Goetz in 1889, a player struck out four times in his major league debut. It was the Athletics' Rollie Naylor, who fanned in all four of his plate appearances, but pitched well, defeating the Senators 2-1 on September 14th. Like Naylor, Goetz was a pitcher, and also like Naylor, he won the game. Unlike Naylor, however, Goetz would not appear in another major league game. No player would start his career with four strikeouts again until Lee Bales in 1966.
There was one single-season hitting record set in 1917. The Indians' Ray Chapman set a mark that still stands when he rapped out 67 sacrifice hits. Well, perhaps "rapped" isn't the correct word. And the strange thing is that he probably wouldn't have even led his own league if the Red Sox' player-manager Jack Barry, who had the third highest single-season total in major league history with 54, had played a full season.
But it seemed as if most of the action in 1917 was on the mound. It started with a riot of no-hitters during the first four weeks of the season. Ed Cicotte began the festivities when he set down the Browns without a hit in his first start of the season. Ten days later, Yankees' pitcher George Mogridge, blanked the Red Sox in his second start.
The next no-hitters came in stereo on May 2nd, the first double no-hitter in major league history. Of course, the buzz-kills at MLB no longer count both of them, since Hippo Vaughn eventually gave up two hits, the last (by Jim Thorpe) driving in the game's only run in the tenth. He was defeated by Fred Toney, who gave up only two walks (both to Cy Williams) in the game. Vaughn allowed eleven hits in his starts both before and after his almost-gem, winning both of them.
A few days later, St. Louis Browns's pitchers Ernie Koob and Bob Groom no-hit the White Sox batters on successive days. Koob's no-hitter was reported in most newspapers as a one-hitter18, but the official scorer had a change of heart after the game and changed Buck Weaver's first-inning single to an error. Because of this, American League president Ban Johnson announced that official scorers would no longer be permitted to change their mind on these calls.19 Groom actually pitched eleven hitless innings on May 6th, shutting down Chicago over the last two innings of the first game and all nine innings of the second. Including Cicotte's earlier gem, that game marked the third no-hitter of the season between the White Sox and Browns. There would not be another nine-inning no-hitter pitched by a member of the Browns until Bobo Holloman turned the trick exactly thirty-six years later.
Groom's gem was the fifth no-hitter of the year, and the season wasn't even four weeks old. (It was the sixth if you count Vaughn's.) There would not be another thrown by a starter the rest of the season. But there was one more gem, this one credited to a reliever. On June 23rd, Babe Ruth got ejected from his start after walking Ray Morgan, the first batter of the game. Ernie Shore entered the game at that point; Morgan was thrown out trying to steal, and Shore set down the next twenty-six batters for what is often (but not always) considered to be a perfect game. By the way, Ruth responded to his ejection by attacking umpire Brick Owens and ended up with a ten-day suspension for his trouble.20
Those five no-hitters in a 23-game span was the shortest in major league history, but not by a lot. In 1990, there were five no-hitters in a 30-game span. The first was thrown by Randy Johnson on June 2nd and the last by Andy Hawkins on July 1st. The next shortest span? Also in 1990 - the 32 days between Nolan Ryan's no-hitter on June 11th and Melido Perez' no-no on July 12th. 1990 also takes third place, with 48 days between the two no-hitters by Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela on June 29th and the one thrown by Terry Mulholland on August 15th. The fourth spot on the list occurred in 1991, when there were 59 days between four Orioles pitchers holding the Athletics hitless on July 13th and three Atlanta Braves pitchers combining to no-hit the Padres on September 11th.21
For a good hitting team (they led their league in runs scored), the White Sox were not only victims of two no-hitters in the space of two days, but also suffered back-to-back one-hit games on August 10th and 11th. Walter Johnson pitched the first of those, chipping in three hits on offense and scoring two of the Senators' four runs. Johnson slumped through much of the early going and his one-hitter was part of a second-half surge that quieted those skeptics who thought he might be nearing the end of the line. His stats before and after the morning of July 24th:
G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA Before 28 20 17 3 186.2 158 70 54 44 110 7 13 2.60 After 19 14 13 5 140.2 92 35 26 27 78 16 3 1.66
Actually, he wasn't all that bad before his hot streak.
Johnson also liked home cooking. Here are his combined home and road splits for 1916 and 1917:
G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA Home 47 35 34 9 357.2 221 73 53 74 230 31 10 1.33 Away 48 37 32 2 339.1 319 137 105 79 187 17 26 2.78
From 1916 to the end of his career, Johnson went 125-65 at home while going 86-86 on the road.
On September 29th, Babe Ruth won the 67th game of his career. He was twenty-two years old (and 237 days). Since then, only Bob Feller won his 67th game at a younger age (he was almost exactly a year younger than Ruth when he turned the trick on June 29, 1940). Of course, we selected 67 to make Ruth look as good (or as young) as possible, but he is high on the list even if you round it up somewhat. Ruth collected his 75th victory on August 1, 1918. In addition to Feller, two other pitchers since have accomplished this at a younger age. They are Bert Blyleven on August 25, 1974 and Dwight Gooden on April 10, 1988, and none of those pitchers were leading their leagues in home runs at the time.
By the way, the three oldest pitchers to win their 75th game are Joe Heving, who won it on his 44th birthday, Mike Timlin, who was 144 days past his 42nd birthday, and Mariano Rivera, who was 41 years and 136 days old on April 14, 2011.
In addition to throwing the only officially recognized no-hitter in the famous double no-hit game that year, Fred Toney also had the distinction of allowing only six hits in his double-header victory on July 1st. It was the fewest allowed in a twin-bill since Tim Keefe held the Columbus Buckeyes to a total of three singles (one in the first and two in second) on July 4, 1883.
Toney's teammate Pete Schneider was on the other side of a twin-decision that year, dropping both ends of a double-header on September 26th. He faced a different Boston Braves' pitcher in each game, Jesse Barnes in the first and Art Nehf in the second, and both of them held his team scoreless. It was the third straight year that Schneider would finish the season with exactly nineteen losses. Barnes and Nehf would later both star for the New York Giants, combining for 41 wins in 1920 as well as three wins in the 1921 World Series.
Ed Walsh made a comeback in August and held his opponents scoreless in his first two starts. Unfortunately, he only pitched a total of seven innings in the games, and was forced to leave the last after being beaned by Milt Watson. A few weeks later, he returned to the mound and was allowed to go the distance in his last major league start, giving up sixteen hits and eight runs.
Chief Bender had a more successful comeback. On August 21st, he pitched a one-hitter for his third consecutive shutout. Over the last two months of the season, Bender won eight of nine decisions to go with a 1.30 ERA. Despite his hot finish, he would not pitch in the majors again until making a single appearance in 1925.
It might not have been quite as good as what the Giants had done the year before, but on May 12th, the White Sox started a sixteen-game stretch in which they allowed only seventeen runs. Eddie Cicotte led the way. From early May to his first start of June, he allowed only three runs (two of them earned) in 66 2/3 innings.
On August 22nd, the Pirates and Robins played the longest game to that point in National League history, one that didn't end until Jim Hickman scored all the way from second on a force out in the bottom of the twenty-second inning. Relief pitcher Elmer Jacobs took the loss despite throwing sixteen consecutive scoreless innings, dropping his record to 4-16. Pittsburgh's Carson Bigbee became the first major league player with as many as eleven at-bats in a game and took advantage of those opportunities to collect six hits. On the Robins, both Hickman and Hi Myers had five hits apiece, the second-straight five-hit performance for Myers.
The game was the fourth straight extra-inning affair for the Pirates, who played a total of 59 innings. The string ended on a strange note. The record-setting game was scheduled to be the first of a double-header, but by the time Hickman ended the game with his daring base-running, it was nearly six o'clock. Despite that, umpire Bill Klem insisted that the two teams take the field and start the second game. I'm not sure what he thought would happen, but after two innings he finally saw (or perhaps could no longer see) the handwriting on the wall, and called it off.22
The Tigers ended 1917 with a double-header in Philadelphia. It had been a long season and the games weren't going to have any affect on either team's place in the standings, so when their starting pitcher, George Cunningham, ran into trouble trying to hold onto a five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, no one on Detroit's bench felt like making a move. There was still only one man out by the time the Athletics scored the winning run (their twelfth of the game), giving rookie pitcher Dave Keefe his first major league victory.
On May 9th, the White Sox defeated the Browns, 4-2 salvaging a split of their six game series. It was the thirteenth time the two teams had played in the first month of the season. Over the next sixteen weeks, they would play each other just once, another 4-2 Chicago victory on May 29th, and the 92 days between that game and their next meeting on August 29th is tied for the fifth longest such gap in the history of an eight-team league. Here is the list:
Gap First Last Teams 115 1900- 5- 1 1900- 8-24 CHI N STL N 108 1903- 4-22 1903- 8- 8 BOS N PHI N 95 1903- 5- 2 1903- 8- 5 BOS A PHI A 95 1903- 5- 2 1903- 8- 5 NY A WAS A 92 1917- 5-29 1917- 8-29 STL A CHI A 92 1930- 5-27 1930- 8-27 CHI A CLE A 91 1917- 5-30 1917- 8-29 DET A CLE A 90 1927- 7- 3 1927-10- 1 STL A CHI A
In 1903, the Braves opened the season with a six-game series with the Phillies and then played them only once until wrapping up their season series with twelve games in seven days from September 2nd to 8th.
On Sunday, July 21, 1918 major league baseball teams played what many believed would be their final game of the year. "Season Ends in Cleveland," read one headline in the New York Times the next day23. This turned out to be premature, however, and baseball was permitted to continue into the beginning of September. As it turned out, the extra six weeks of baseball didn't affect the pennant winners, as both the Cubs and Red Sox were able to maintain their leads in each league, but it did affect the leaders in many statistical categories. Both leagues' home run leaders on July 21st, for example, the Cards' Walton Cruise and the Red Sox's Babe Ruth, failed to homer for the remainder of the season, Cruise being overtaken by 37 year-old Gavvy Cravath and Ruth falling into a tie for the league lead with ex-teammate Tillie Walker of the Philadelphia Athletics.
After winning 24 games for the second-place Red Sox the year before, left-handed pitcher Babe Ruth was perhaps the biggest story in baseball in 1918, but more for what he did with his bat than his arm. Boston had already lost outfielder Duffy Lewis to the war effort, and after Ruth's home run and double in a 5-4 loss to the Yankees on May 4th had raised his batting average to .438, manager Ed Barrow decided to have his young pitcher replace slumping first-baseman Dick Hoblitzell in the lineup on May 6th. It was Ruth's first experience playing a position other than pitcher, and he enjoyed himself, homering in his first two games. In early June, he hit home runs in four consecutive games, and by the end of the month was leading the league with eleven circuit clouts (in only 144 at-bats), and for the first (but certainly not the last) time in his career, had people talking about a possible home run record.24
Speaking of records, when Ruth homered in four consecutive games it was reported as a record, breaking the previous mark credited to the Yankees' Ray Caldwell, also a pitcher, who had homered in three consecutive games in June, 1915.25 But Ruth had only tied the mark originally set by Bill Bradley in 1902, who had hit for the distance in four straight games from May 21st to May 24th.
While Ruth was becoming the talk of the league with his batting exploits, he was largely absent from the mound. After winning his fourth game of the season on May 15th, Ruth made only three starts over the next ten weeks. He complained to his manager about being expected to both pitch and play regularly in the field, but starting on July 29th, he did both for the rest of the season. He pitched extremely well down the stretch, winning seven of nine starts and throwing 82 innings in little more than a month, but his hitting suffered. Here are his hitting stats both before and after July 19th:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO HBP SH SB AVG OBP SLG To July 19 60 199 41 66 20 10 11 34 37 0 3 2 .332 .429 .698 Afterwards 35 118 9 29 6 1 0 25 21 2 1 4 .246 .386 .314
As late as July 25th, Ruth was leading or tied for the league lead in doubles, triples and home runs.
Ruth's problem with his manager came to a head in early July and he was fined and briefly left the team.26 He returned on July 4th, but by the end of the day, the Red Sox were in third place, a game behind the Yankees. Ruth went on an offensive tear after that, with thirteen extra-base hits (but no home runs) in two weeks, and the team got great starting pitching from Carl Mays, Sad Sam Jones and Bullet Joe Bush in winning fifteen of their next eighteen games, nine of them by shutout, to build a commanding lead.
The Cubs made the biggest off-season acquisition, sending $50,000 and two second-line players to the Phillies for star right-hander Pete Alexander and catcher Bill Killefer, only to see Alexander depart for the military after only three starts. Despite that, their staff, led by Hippo Vaughn, Lefty Tyler (another off-season pickup) and Claude Hendrix, was the best in the senior circuit. They also got a significant upgrade at shortstop, replacing Chuck Wortman (who had hit .174 with a .450 OPS in 1917) with rookie Charlie Hollocher, who led the league in hits and was second in on-base percentage, and they overcame a fast start by the Giants, winners of eighteen of their first nineteen games, to take their first pennant since capturing four of five under Frank Chance from 1906 to 1910.
In the World Series, the Cubs decided to go with a two-man rotation. Both Hippo Vaughn and Lefty Tyler made three starts and pitched brilliantly, giving up an average of only a single earned run per game. Despite that, Chicago lost the series in six games. The heroes for the Red Sox were Carl Mays and Babe Ruth, who each won two games. Ruth, after a season noted for his accomplishments at the plate, made only two token appearances as an outfielder, but didn't permit a run until he had shut out the Cubs for sixteen frames. Over his career, Ruth pitched 31 World Series innings and only allowed a run in the first and last of them. This mark of 29 consecutive scoreless innings in the Fall Classic eclipsed the mark of 28 set by Christy Mathewson in 1905 and 1911 and wouldn't be broken until Whitey Ford held the Pirates, Reds and Giants scoreless for 33 straight innings from 1960 to 1962.
Ruth did hit a two-run triple in game four, making him the only member of the winning team with more than a single RBI in the series. There weren't any hitting stars on the Cubs either, and both of the teams' combined number of hits (69) and runs scored (19) are record lows for a six-game series.
Probably the year's top single-game offensive performance was turned in by (who else?) Babe Ruth, who hit a single, three doubles and a triple in the Red Sox's 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Senators on May 9th. It was the first of three games in his career with four extra-base hits. It was also the last time a pitcher had four extra-base hits in a game. The last pitcher with three was Micah Owings in 2007.
Rookie Cliff Heathcote was playing in only his sixth major league game when he hit for the cycle in the Cardinals' 19-inning 8-8 tie with the Phillies. He entered the game without a career extra-base hit, so the cycle represented his first major league double, triple and home run. The fewest career extra-base hits for a players hitting for the cycle since then is one, by Fred Lewis in 2007 and two, by Gary Ward in 1980.
No player in the NL hit more than one home run in a game in 1918. It was part of the second longest stretch for a league without a multi-homer game. The five longest:
Start End League Date Player Date Player NL 6-17-1876 George Hall 6-28-1879 John O'Rourke NL 5-16-1917 William Fischer 7- 1-1919 Rabbit Maranville AL 8-22-1907 Heinie Wagner 7-15-1909 Ty Cobb NL 9-19-1906 Cy Seymour 7-27-1908 Tim Jordan NL 9-21-1880 Harry Stovey 7-24-1882 Silver Flint
Actually, the Giants' Benny Kauff did have a two-homer game during that drought. It came during the 1917 World Series.
On April 22nd, Eddie Collins played in his 472nd consecutive game, reportedly tying the mark set by Sam Crawford from 1913 to 1916.27 He broke the mark four days later, but the streak ended at 478 when he missed the game on May 3rd. On that date, however, the player who would supposedly set the new mark was already more than halfway on his way. The Phillies Fred Luderus, whose streak started on June 2, 1916, broke Collins' record on August 3, 191928 and by the time he missed the opening game of the 1920 season, the new standard was 533 games. Except it wasn't. The record holder in 1918 and 1919 was not Crawford, Collins or Luderus, but George Pinkney, the Brooklyn third-baseman, who played in 577 consecutive games from 1886 to 1890. I'm not sure when his record became officially recognized, but by the time Everett Scott, tied Luderus in 1920, Pinkney was credited with having the longest streak.29 One of the things that may have contributed to Pinkney's record being overlooked was the fact that in 1889, he played in only 138 of Brooklyn's 140 games. But the two games he apparently missed were unplayed forfeits on June 24th and September 8th.
Which would be the end of the story, except that in 1920 Pinkney didn't hold the record either. It turns out that there was another overlooked streak, this one by Steve Brodie from October 2, 1891 to July 27, 1897 that reached 731 games before it ended. This streak wasn't recognized for two reasons. First of all, Brodie had been mistakenly credited with playing 130 instead of 131 games in 1895. And secondly, Baltimore also had an unplayed forfeit that year.30 I'm not sure when Brodie's streak was eventually discovered, but when Gus Suhr broke his streak in 1936, it was said that he surpassed Eddie Brown's National League mark of 618 consecutive games played from 1924 to 1928. By the way, one interesting thing about Eddie Brown is that his entire career only lasted 790 games, or little more than a season longer than his streak did.
The Cubs swept the Cards in a double-header on July 4th, winning both games 1-0. Charlie Deal knocked in the run in each game. There have only been two occasions since when a player has knocked in all of his team's runs during a double-header sweep. Joe Pepitone knocked in all the runs during the Yankees' 3-1 and 1-0 victories over the Angels on May, 18, 1969, and Tony Perez accounted for all six runs in the Reds' 4-3 and 2-0 sweep of the Cards on May 14, 1972.
Ty Cobb had a slow start in 1918 and well into June was hitting under .300. But on June 22nd, he started a 36-game stretch during which he hit over .500 and ended the season with a .383 batting average. It was the middle of a remarkably consistent three-year period that saw Cobb lead the major leagues with averages of .383, .382 and .384. Ed Roush came very close to leading the National League each of those years as well, only missing the 1918 title to Zach Wheat in a very tight race. Roush was only a few points behind the leader when his father was seriously injured and he missed the last six games of the season to return home.31
An unusual fielding play by Roush in April may have ended up costing him the batting title. In the top of the eighth inning of the April 29th game between the Reds and the Cards, Roush momentarily juggled a fly ball hit to center field in the top of the eighth inning. Bert Niehoff, the runner on third, apparently scored after the catch but was ruled out by umpire Hank O'Day because, while he had waited to leave the bag until after Rouse had initially touched the ball, Niehoff had not waited until the ball was secure before heading for home. The Cards protested the call and league president John Tener ruled in their favor, causing the game (and its statistics) to be thrown out and replayed at a later date.32 Roush had two hits in three at-bats in the disallowed game.33 When it was replayed as the second game of the August 11th double-header, Roush got only one hit in four at-bats.
And that doesn't even take into account the Robins' successful protest34 of their June 3rd game with the Cardinals that wiped out their 15-12 loss along with an 0-5 performance by Zach Wheat (along with a five-hit game by Marty Kavanagh, which would have raised his average during his short time with the Cards from .182 to .255).35 Now obviously we can't take this analysis too seriously, since many things were affected by the successful protest and there is no reason to think that the rest of the season would have played out exactly the same way, but the addition of the April 29th game and the deletion of the second game of the August 11th double-header would have left Roush with a .336 batting average, one point higher than Wheat's.
Billy Southworth had failed to hit in a 1915 trail with the Indians, but he returned to the majors at the beginning of July and made an immediate impression, with seven hits in his first two games and a .492 batting average during his first two weeks. After a brief slump, he bounced back strong to finish with a .341 average in 64 games. I've always wondered about the difference in the quality of play between the first and second halves of the 1918 season. It is well-known that for most of World War Two, the two leagues fielded much less talent than they had both before and after the war. But with a steady stream of veteran players leaving the major leagues in the second half of the season (Southworth, for example, was replacing the departed Casey Stengel), I wonder just how much World War One affected the game during the summer of 1918.
Rookie Hank Thormahlen relieved Bob McGraw with no one out in the top of the first inning and finished the 9-4 loss to the Senators on April 26th. For McGraw, it was his first and only appearance of the year, one that left him with an ERA that is usually shown as infinity in the encyclopedias but is actually undefined, as he walked all four batters to face him and they all came around to score.
Thormahlen didn't appear in his next game again until May 9th, relieving Allen Russell, again with no out in the first inning, and again completing the game. This time, however, he pitched nine shutout innings for his first major league win. He was moved to the starting rotation after that and pitched two shutouts before finishing his month's work with a three-hitter on May 27th, a fifth-inning run in that game breaking his 37-inning scoreless streak going all the way back to the last inning of his relief appearance in April.
Thormahlen, however, had only the second longest scoreless-inning streak of the month. Walter Johnson's string of zeroes reached forty before it ended in his last start of May, and included three shutouts, one of them an eighteen-inning 1-0 decision over Lefty Williams and the White Sox. It was only the beginning of an incredible year for Johnson, one that is often overlooked because of the shortened season. Apart from a much lower ERA, his 1918 season appeared much like his previous year, with the same 23 wins and the same 326 innings. But this time around, he accomplished all that without making more than one token appearance in September. August was a pretty average month for him, with five victories and 75 innings pitched. If the season had not ended prematurely and he had been able to put up those numbers over the last month, he would have finished the year with 28 wins and 400 innings pitched.36
Johnson started 29 games and finished them all, including nine that went into extra innings. In addition to the eighteen-inning game mentioned above, he also pitched another eighteen-inning game, as well as ones going fifteen, fourteen and thirteen innings. Including his relief appearances, Johnson went 8-7 in 54 1/3 extra innings pitched that year. Here are the leaders since 1918 in extra-innings pitched:
Name Year IP W L Walter Johnson 1918 54.1 8 7 Dick Radatz 1963 37 8 4 Satchel Paige 1952 36 6 3 Dick Selma 1970 31.1 6 4 Ron Perranoski 1969 29 4 2 Tug McGraw 1972 29 3 3 Rich Gossage 1977 28.2 6 4 George Mogridge 1918 28.1 5 4 John Hiller 1974 28.1 7 5
It was a year for marathons. On July 17th, the Cubs beat the Phillies 2-1 in twenty-one innings, coming within one of the NL record set the year before. Turner Barber, pinch-hitting for Rollie Zeider, who had been hitless in eight at-bats, singled to open the bottom of the twenty-first and then came around to score on Max Flack's fifth hit of the game. On August 1st, the Pirates and the Braves also went twenty-one innings. This game was scoreless until the Pirates broke through for two runs in the top of the last inning and made a hard-luck loser out of Art Nehf, who went the distance for Boston.
Two days later, Gene Packard pitched a game that I'm sure he felt would never end. Pitching a one-hit shutout and staked to an eleven-run lead through six innings, the Cards' pitcher allowed fourteen hits and twelve runs before Lee Meadows came on to get the last two outs of the game and preserve a 16-12 win.
Braves holdout Dick Rudolph didn't make his first start until June 10th, but it was worth waiting for: a one-hit shutout victory over the Reds. Others didn't fare as well in their debuts. Bill Bailey hadn't pitched in the majors since 1915 (1912 if you don't count the Federal League), when he came out of the bullpen with his Tigers trailing the Indians by a run in the bottom of the eighth inning of their game on July 29th. It was a rude welcome back, as Cleveland turned seven hits and three walks into ten runs, leaving Bailey with a 90.00 ERA at the end of the day.
Veteran right-hander Roy Mitchell returned to the big leagues for the first time in four years, but pitched poorly in two early August starts for the White Sox and was dispatched to the Reds. He turned into a late season sensation in his new home, however, pitching 27 1/3 innings before giving up his first run, winning all four of his decisions, and finishing with a 0.74 ERA.
Mike Regan was another Reds' pitcher who finished strongly that summer. After failing to retire a batter in his second straight game on July 7th, his ERA stood at 6.19. But three days later, he pitched a two-hit shutout, starting a season-ending streak that would see him allow only four earned runs in 43 2/3 innings, including back-to-back shutouts to close out his year. Despite their great finishes, neither Mitchell nor Regan would have much of a future in the major leagues. Regan pitched only once more in relief the following May, while Mitchell made a handful of appearances including one more start before leaving the Reds and the majors for good the following July.
It was not unusual during this era for pitchers to start both ends of a double-header. It was, however, not common for a pitcher to do it twice in one season. Rookie Mule Watson was a mid-season acqusition for the Athletics and didn't make his first start until July 4th. Despite pitching only two months for Connie Mack's team, Watson started nineteen games and pitched 141 2/3 innings. He was first called on to pitch a double-header on July 21st. He didn't pitch particularly well in the first game, giving up twelve hits in a 3-2 eleven-inning loss to the Indians, and did even worse in the second contest, when his team's three-run rally in the top of the last inning allowed him to escape with a 5-5 tie. At the end of August, he was once again called on for double-duty. This time around he pitched even worse in the opener, a 6-1 loss to Babe Ruth and the Red Sox, but he was brilliant in the finale, throwing the greatest game of his career, a one-hit shutout over the eventual World Champions. Watson became the first player to pitch more than one twin-bill in a season since Joe McGinnity did it three times for the 1903 Giants. The first double-header was part of a scheduled one-day road trip and it wouldn't surprise me if Watson was called upon to start both games so the team could save money by taking only one pitcher along.37
John Peters was not making his major league debut (he had played a single game for the Tigers more than three years earlier), but he sure seemed to have the jitters in this first and only appearance of 1918. Starting behind the plate of the May 16th game between the Indians and Athletics, Peters committed three first-inning errors before he was injured following his fourth error and had to be removed from the game.38 He was hardly the only sloppy fielder that day, as the two teams combined for fourteen errors in the game. Only two of the eleven runs scored that day were earned.
Jake Pitler probably wondered what he had to do to get another chance when, in his final major league appearance, he entered the game as a pinch-runner, stole second, stole third and then scored. Actually, his day looked a lot more impressive than it really was. When he entered the game, the Pirates were losing 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning and it was the fashion of the times to let runners go wild in these situations as long as they didn't represent the tying or winning run. I'll have more to say on this aspect of the game later.
In one of the greatest almost-comebacks in history, the Phillies, trailing 10-0 heading into the top of the ninth, rallied for nine runs on July 6th. Reds' starter Pete Schneider took a one-hit shutout into the last frame, only to walk the first (and only) six batters to face him in that inning. He ended the game allowing a season-high thirteen walks.
Meaningless season-ending games were often played as comedies during this era, and the Senators and Athletics completed their season with just such a farce on September 2nd. Here is a description of Nick Altrock's eighth-inning "home run":
"Nick made the freakiest home run in the history of baseball when he got his turn at bat with but two out in the eighth. McAvoy took Watson's place in the box, and did everything but hit the ball for the comedian. Nick fouled off two and then hit one that didn't have enough speed to break a pane of glass over first base. Watson made no effort to field it, and Jamieson turned a couple of somersaults before he retrieved the ball. He threw to second and Nick neglected the formality of touching the middle sack or the far corner either. Catcher Perkins made no effort to take the throw at the plate, and when Billy Evans called Nick safe it went for a home run to send the crowd into near hysterics."39
At thirteen days shy of his forty-second birthday, Altrock became the second-oldest American League player to homer, trailing only Deacon McGuire, who was more than forty-three years old when he hit a legitimate home run on July 25, 1907. The current holder of this record is Jack Quinn, who was nearly forty-seven when he hit one out on June 27, 1930. The NL (and major league) record is held by Julio Franco, who hit his final homer on May 4, 2007 at the age of forty-eight (and 254 days).
There are two discrepancies I wanted to mention. Officially, Merlin Kopp played the entire game on April 26th in left field with only a single plate-appearance (a single), despite the fact that the players hitting around him in the batting order got up five times. He actually walked four times in addition to his hit, and those walks, although not credited officially, represent his career high. And on May 24th, the Red Sox's Sam Agnew is officially credited with a double without either an at-bat or a hit. Wally Schang, who replaced Agnew in the fifth inning, should have been given credit for the double instead.
As the 1918 season came to a close, professional baseball at all levels prepared to shut down for the duration of the war. There was some talk about organizing sectional semi-pro teams that would play only on the weekends, but there was a general consensus that there should be no major or minor league baseball until hostilities ceased in Europe. 40 With the end of the war that fall, however, all that changed. By December, the War Department had given the major leagues permission to return to business as usual in 1919.41 Well, not quite as usual, since both leagues decided on a shortened schedule of 140 games.42 Rather than a response to the challenges of getting their players back from the military and geared back up for a full slate of games, the shortened season was intended to be a permanent solution to the problems of poor April weather, too many summer double-headers, and a late World Series. Instead, it proved unpopular with owners, who discovered that having fewer games actually meant making less money. During July, National League officials met and discussed the possibility of extending the current season into October in order to restore the season to 154 games, but decided against it.43
You have to wonder how the history of baseball would have been altered had a different team taken the 1919 AL pennant. What if the Yankees had been able to maintain the early pace that had them in first place as late as July 8th? Or what if Cleveland or Detroit had been able to mount an effective late-season charge? I do not mean to suggest that the gambling problems that afflicted baseball would have disappeared if gamblers had not been able to fix the 1919 World Series. I think it simply would have come to a head later. But it is likely that a later crisis would have produced a different Judge Landis and a different (but no less prominent) set of Eight (or Nine or Ten) Men Out.
As it turned out, however, White Sox pitchers Ed Cicotte and Lefty Williams, combined with best offense in baseball, led by Shoeless Joe Jackson and Eddie Collins, proved too much for the rest of the league to handle. By the time they swept the Yankees in a double-header on September 17th, they had a seven and a half game lead over Cleveland with only nine games to play. They won only two of those remaining games, but all that did was make the pennant race appear closer than it really was. On September 24th, their dramatic come-from-behind win over the Browns, coupled with the Indians' loss in Detroit, gave them their second pennant in three years and punched their ticket to the World Series.
Few World Champions in history have gotten less respect than the 1919 Reds. After finding themselves five games behind the Giants on June 5th, Cincinnati dominated the league the rest of the year, winning 76 of their last 104 games, a .731 pace (which, over a 154-game season, would have produced 112 wins). Despite their superior record (they won eight more games than the White Sox), a pitching staff that allowed a major league low 2.86 runs a game, and the second-best offense in their league, the Reds entered the Series as decided underdogs. The Junior Circuit had won eight of the previous nine championships, after all, and Chicago was expected to continue this trend. In addition to the NL's recent history of failure in the Fall Classic, the Reds didn't exactly have a tradition of success. Not only had they never won an NL pennant before, they had never finished higher than third.44
So a Cincinnati victory should have been a vindication of their team and league. Instead, they were denied that opportunity and their triumph in 1919 turned into a story of treachery and greed, with the Reds often pictured as bystanders in the drama. Apart from the Eight Men Out, the most famous performance in the World Series was the one turned in by Chicago's Dickey Kerr, who was praised as the hero of the contest because of his victories in games three and six. Well, the Reds had heroes as well. They included Jimmy Ring, and Hod Eller who pitched back to back shutouts (supposedly when all of the White Sox were trying), and Pat Duncan and Edd Roush, who combined to knock in fifteen runs in the eight games. Of course, it's impossible to know what would have happened that October had both teams been trying to win, but I think we should be willing to give the Reds the benefit of the doubt.
Apart from the pennant races and World Series, the biggest story in baseball once again centered around the slugging exploits of the Red Sox's Babe Ruth. It was a story that was a little slow developing. Ruth hit well during the first few months of the season, but with less power than he had shown during the early going a year before. By July 4th, he had hit only seven home runs. This was enough to lead the league, but it was not close to a record-setting pace. Gavvy Cravath was leading the majors with nine, and Ruth at the time was only one round-tripper ahead of Roger Peckinpaugh, the Yankee shortstop who hadn't homered in either 1917 or 1918. (Peckinpaugh would hit only one more that year, on August 2nd.)
During Ruth's power surge the previous June, sportswriter Ernest J. Lanigan wrote an article downplaying the slugger's chances for a record, arguing that Ruth had always hit most of his circuit clouts in the early months of the season. At the time Lanigan was writing, Ruth was 23 years old and, while it is always risky generalizing about the habits of a player that young, Lanigan looked like a genius in 1918. 1919, however, was a very different story.45
On July 5th, Ruth had the first multi-homer game of his career and less than two weeks later, he did it again. By the time July was over, he had sixteen circuit clouts, tying the American League record set in 1902 by Socks Seybold. Two weeks later, Ruth went deep again and the record was his alone. Next up: the major league mark of 27 held by the White Stockings' Ned Williamson in 1884. All but two of Williamson's homers that year had been hit at the friendly confines of Lake Front Park, which featured a right field fence less than 200 feet away. The team only played in the park for two years. In 1883, balls hit over that fence were ground rule doubles, but the next year, the rule had been changed to give the batter a home run. As a result, Williamson was able to set a major league for the most doubles one year and homers the next.
That mark appeared out of reach until the Babe hit four in three games in late August, leaving him with twenty-three. With a week to go in the season, he hit a dramatic game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth off of Lefty Williams to tie Williamson, and four days later, Ruth set the record with a game-tying ninth-inning shot. He wrapped up his campaign with his twenty-ninth four-bagger on the last day of the season. A month later, one sportswriter offered his opinion on what the future held for the Babe:
"It is figured that now that he has established a record of twenty-nine home runs for a single season - a record which may never be endangered - Ruth will cease swinging for the circuit clouts, with a resulting increase in his general batting figures."46
Here's how Ruth did both before and after July 4th:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO HBP SH SB AVG OBP SLG To July 4 55 177 40 56 12 7 7 37 19 2 1 0 .316 .440 .582 Afterwards 75 255 63 83 22 5 22 64 39 4 3 7 .325 .467 .710
Unlike Williamson, Ruth was not helped by his home park in 1918 or 1919, hitting only nine of his forty home runs those two years at Fenway Park. At the time of his sale to the Yankees prior to the 1920 season, here was Ruth's career record in both his old and new home parks:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO HBP SH SB AVG OBP SLG Fenway Park 193 518 102 162 47 17 11 104 62 3 8 7 .313 .430 .533 Polo Grounds 28 95 21 31 6 0 10 15 12 1 1 1 .326 .423 .705
His teammates weren't partial to the long ball at home or on the road in either season, hitting only four each year.
Although overshadowed by Ruth, Gavvy Cravath made his own noise with the long ball in 1919. He led the NL with twelve home runs, despite having only 214 at-bats. It was the fewest at-bats for a league-leader since Fred Treacey tied for the National Association lead with four round trippers in only 124 at-bats in 1871. It was the sixth time that Cravath had led (or tied for the league lead) in homers, breaking the mark he had shared with Harry Stovey, who had done it five times from 1880 to 1891. Cravath's record was primarily a product of Baker Bowl, his home park. Here are his home and road splits in 1919:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO HBP SH SB AVG OBP SLG Home 42 98 21 39 9 1 10 15 11 1 2 3 .398 .482 .816 Away 41 117 13 34 9 4 2 20 10 1 2 5 .291 .399 .487
And the year before, he had hit all of his league-leading eight home runs at home. Of the 117 homers he hit while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, 92 of them were hit at Baker Bowl.
Other hitting highlights included ten consecutive hits by Ed Konetchy on June 28th, June 29th and July 1st (tying the mark set by Ed Delahanty and Jake Gettman in 1897), and an AL record of 46 hits in two consecutive games by the Red Sox on September 5th and 6th.
The Red Sox probably thought they were on their way to a record when they opened the top of the first inning with five straight hits on August 21st. The first four knocked out Indians' starter Hi Jasper. But after giving up a hit to the first batter he faced, Cleveland reliever Elmer Myers (and then Tony Faeth) held Boston hitless over the remainder of the game. In the bottom of the first, Boston starter Herb Pennock also failed to retire a batter. This has happened nine times since, most recently on September 21, 1989 when Dennis Rasmussen and Jack Armstrong each allowed his first five batters to reach base and score in the Padres' win over the Reds.
At the beginning of June, Cubs owner Charlie Weeghman might have been wondering about the wisdom of his $50,000 investment in Pete Alexander. His star pitcher had made only three starts with his new team before being drafted in 1918, and after more than five weeks of the next season, was still looking for his first victory or complete game. On June 2nd, he seemed to find his old magic, pitching a shutout against the Pirates, and once again was the best pitcher in the league. Here is his record both before and after the beginning of June:
G GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO W L ERA April and May 7 5 0 0 34 39 19 16 15 20 0 4 4.24 June Onward 23 22 20 9 201 141 32 29 23 101 16 7 1.16
In the White Sox's pennant-clinching win on September 24th, Ed Cicotte left the game on the short end of a 5-2 score, failing to win his thirtieth game of the season. He had one more chance, pitching the first two innings of the final regular season game, a tuneup for the upcoming World Series. He left the game at the end of the second inning with a 2-1 lead. Under the scoring practices of the time, Cicotte would have no doubt been credited with the win had Chicago held the lead. Roy Wilkinson replaced him on the mound and things looked up for Chicago. After all, Wilkinson came into the game having made four major league appearances, covering sixteen innings, and had yet to allow a run. His first career start a little more than two weeks earlier had resulted in a five-hit shutout for his first win. But he had little on this day, giving up six runs and Cicotte's lead in his first two innings. So his teammate had to settle for a league-leading 29 wins. But it wasn't for lack of trying (or opportunity).
On May 4th, the Washington Senators were beating the Athletics 11-3 at the end of the seventh when manager Clark Griffith decided to give starting pitcher Walter Johnson the rest of the day off. When Johnson left the game early, it marked the first time he had been relieved in a game since September 3, 1917, a period covering 37 starts and 12 relief appearances (a total of 409 innings). Johnson, was removed from his next start as well, this time trailing the Red Sox 3-0 at the end of the sixth inning, before completing his last 25 starts and 9 relief appearances of the year
In the first game of their July 7th double-header with the Giants, the Phillies stole seven bases in the bottom of the ninth inning, an inning that began with the home team trailing 10-2.47 This was not an isolated example. The Athletics were losing 14-1 going into the last inning of their July 26th game with the Senators when Merlin Kopp singled with one out, stole second and third, and scored on Fred Thomas' double. Thomas then proceeded to steal third. On August 20th, the Braves stole four bases at the end of the game while losing 10-1. And with his team down ten on September 6th, Buck Weaver stole second, third and home in the bottom of the ninth to make the final score a more respectable 11-2. While much of the way baseball was played in 1919 would be familiar to modern fans, this aspect of the game seems crazy today. It sure seems as if there was a gentleman's agreement to let losing teams pad their stats and score a few runs at the tail end of a blowout. Defensive indifference, the rule denying a player a stolen base in these situations, was instituted in 1920, perhaps in response to these displays.
And it wasn't only losing teams that ran up their stolen base totals when the game was out of reach. On May 15th, the Reds and Robins battled to a scoreless tie through the first twelve innings. In the top of the thirteenth, however, things got out of hand. The visiting Reds finally broke through against a tiring Al Mamaux, and by the time Heinie Groh singled in Greasy Neale with two outs, nine runs had scored and victory seemed assured. But just to make sure, Groh stole second, where he scored that all important ninth insurance run on Edd Roush's single. No one acted as if this was out of the ordinary. Mamaux didn't attempt to retaliate against the Reds (he was probably too exhausted anyway). It seems as if they were simply playing with a different unwritten rulebook in 1919.
Speaking of unwritten rules, when the Senators visited Chicago from August 20th to August 22nd, Walter Johnson was ill and couldn't pitch. Helped by the star pitcher's absence, the White Sox swept the series, giving them a lead of five games over the second-place Tigers. In order to equalize matters, the Senators' Clark Griffith announced that he would hold Johnson out of the series with Detroit in September, just to make things fair.48
The Athletics, who looked to be on the verge of respectability at the end of the previous year, took a major step backward in 1919 and lost 104 games in the shortened season. They were hurt by the ineffectiveness of Scott Perry, one of the surprise stars of the league in 1918, who struggled into August, winning only four games against seventeen losses before leaving the team with seven weeks to go in the season.49 Philadelphia lost 23 games in their best month (not counting their 2-3 record in April), and finished with a 6-20 September mark, despite playing all but two of their games at home.
That month was pretty much of an audition for the next season. Fifteen different A's players made their major league debuts in September. For the sake of comparison, no other team in the league that month had more than six debuts. On September 9th, four of their starting players were appearing in their first major league game, and two others were playing in the second and third games. The fifteen debuts tied the major league mark set originally by the 1915 Athletics, and the closest any team has come since was the 1963 Colt .45s with twelve (and half of those debuts came in Houston's season-ending three-game series with the Mets).
One tipoff that Athletics' manager Connie Mack wasn't focused on his teams' won-loss record that year occurred on August 17th. They were in Chicago and losing 3-1 when rain threatened to end the game before the visitors could bat in the fifth inning. Normally a team in this situation would stall, hoping for a cancellation instead of a loss. But it was a good-sized Sunday crowd and, needing their share of the gate receipts more than the decision, Mack had his players hustling so the game could become official.50
Toward the end of the season, there were two other quick games of note. On September 21st, the Robins beat the Reds in only 55 minutes. In the game, Slim Sallee threw only 65 pitches, which was thought to be a contender for the major league record, eclipsing Christy Mathewson's low of 69 pitches.51 And one week later, the Giants and Phillies played the first game of their double-header in only 51 minutes, believed to be the fastest nine-inning game on record.
The marathon of the year took place on April 30th, when the Robins and Phillies battled to a twenty-inning 9-9 tie. The game looked to be on its way to a decision when the Robins scored three runs in the top of the nineteenth inning off of Joe Oeschger, but his teammates took him off the hook by rallying for three of their own in the bottom half against Burleigh Grimes. Oeschger would pitch twenty-six innings in a game exactly one year and one day later and is the only pitcher during the Retrosheet Era to pitch twenty or more innings in a game twice.
On May 26th, the Red Sox-Indians game ended with both teams' pitchers hitting cleanup. Boston's starting pitcher Babe Ruth, however, was not one of them. He hit in the ninth spot in the order, moving to left field in the third inning. He would only start only one more game hitting last in his career, on June 5th, a game he left in the third inning with a knee injury.52
Three days later, the Red Sox's Carl Mays would get the best of the Athletics, winning 7-1. Opposing Mays for Philadelphia that day was Tom Rogers, who in 1916, while pitching for Nashville of the Southern Association, threw a pitch that killed former major-leaguer John Dodge. Mays, of course, would throw the pitch that would kill Ray Chapman in 1920.
And finally, one of the year's most shocking stories occurred on August 24th, when the Indians' Ray Caldwell was "felled" by a thunderbolt in the final inning of their game against the Athletics. According to the article, he "recovered quickly and resumed pitching."53 It was his first start for Cleveland after being released by the Red Sox and the jolt seemed to do him good. He pitched well for his new team for the rest of the year, including a no-hitter against the Yankees on September 10th.
A host of people worked on making these boxscores available to baseball researchers. The team doing the digitization work included Dave Lamoureaux, Greg Antolick, Tom Bradley, Clem Comly, Mike Grahek, Howard Johnson, Ryan Jones, Walter LeConte, Dan Lee, Jack Myers, Ron Weaver and Ron Wargo,
Pete Palmer and Trent McCotter helped in a variety of ways, and David Vincent provided the home runs allowed data for the pitchers.
1"McGraw, 'Disgusted,' Says Team Disobeyed His Orders - Leaves Field in Fifth Inning," The New York Times. October 4, 1916. Page 12.
2"Red Sox Will Win Series - Fullerton," Hugh S. Fulleron. The New York Times. October 7, 1916. Page 12.
3John McGraw, Charles Alexander. 1988. Page 194.
4"Giants Shatter World Mark for Victories in Row," The New York Times. September 26, 1916. Page 12.
By the way, Arthur Irwin was an interesting figure and baseball history. For more on him, please see the following article.
5"Superbas Blanked Twice by Phillies," The New York Times. September 2, 1916. Page 8.
6"Speaker is Sold to the Indians," The Washington Post. April 9, 1916. Page S1.
7"Matty Beats Miner Brown; First to Cubs," I. E. Sanborn. Chicago Daily Tribune. September 5, 1916. Page 15.
8"Harper Error's Victim; Credit Goes to Gallia," Stanley T. Milliken. The Washington Post. September 3, 1916. Page A1.
9"Noted of Nationals," Stanley T. Milliken. The Washington Post. September 15, 1916. Page 6.
10"Meet Athletics in Five Battles," Stanley T. Milliken. The Washington Post. September 27, 1916. Page 8.
11"Red Sox Show Plenty of 'Pep'," Edward F. Martin. Boston Daily Globe. September 7, 1916. Page 7.
12"Napoleon Lajoie Considers Offers," Los Angeles Times. September 22, 1916. Page III.
13If you define a series as a number of consecutive games played between the same two teams regardless of where the games were played, there have been a lot longer than eight games. The longest was the thirteen games played between the Baltimore Terrapins and the Buffalo Blues of the Federal League that started on July 10, 1914.
14"Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide 1918" (New York City, American Sports Publishing Co., 1918), Page 47.
15"Chicago Mad With Joy Over Victory of Rowland's Team," George A. Robbins. The Sporting News. October 18, 1918. Page 1.
16"Sox Failed to Hold Up League's Class," Henry P. Edwards. The Sporting News. October 25, 1918. Page 1.
17"Collins and the Busher," The Sporting News. December 24, 1914. Page 4.
18"Koob Tames Sox in One Hit Game, 1-0," I. E. Sanborn. The Chicago Daily Tribune. May 6, 1917. Page 1.
19"Scorers Can't Pull in Hits," The Washington Post. July 1, 1917. Page 17.
20"Ruth Let Down With $100 Fine," Boston Daily Globe. July 1, 1917. Page 15.
21If you count no-hitters less than nine innings, the list of shortest spans includes a few from 1884, the shortest being one of forty days from Dick Burns no-hitter on August 26th and Charlie Sweeney's and Henry Boyle's combined five-inning no-hitter on October 5th. This also requires that you count the Union Association as a major league.
22"Robins Make New Long-Game Record," The New York Times. August 23, 1917. Page 15.
23"Season Ends in Cleveland," The New York Times. July 22, 1918. Page 8.
24"Ruth Hasn't Far To Go To Break Record For Home Runs in the American League," The Washington Post. July 2, 1918. Page 8.
25"Ruth Sets Mark With Four Homers in Row," The Washington Post. June 7, 1918. Page 8.
26"Harper Pitches Griffs To 3-0 Victory; Ruth is Fined and Benched By Barrow," The Washington Post. July 3, 1918. Page 8.
27"Collins Equals Record," The New York Times. April 23, 1918. Page 14.
28"Luderus Sets New Record," The New York Times. August 3, 1919. Page 17.
29"Revenge For Johnson Who Blanks Sox, 2-0," The Boston Globe. April 26, 1920. Page 4.
30"History of Consecutive Game Streaks," Lee Allen. "The Sporting News Baseball Guide and Record Book 1960" (St. Louis, Charles C. Spink & Son, 1961), Pages 179-180.
31"Ex-Pitcher of A.L. Blanks Cub Champs, Reds Copping, 5 To 0," Chicago Daily Tribune. August 31, 1918. Page 9.
32"Tener Allows Cardinals' Protest," The Sporting News. May 16, 1918. Page 1.
33"Reds Rally In Ninth," The New York Times. April 30, 1918. Page 14.
34"Brooklyn Protest Upheld," The New York Times. June 16, 1918. Page 28.
35"Dodgers Lose Weird Game," The New York Times. June 4, 1918. Page 10.
36Even with that heavy workload, Johnson did not lead his league in innings pitched. The Athletics Scott Perry did, with 332 1/3, including 87 1/3 innings in August alone.
37The team's game log makes it appear as if the July 21st double-header was the start of long road trip, but they were scheduled to play a two-game series with the Indians on July 22nd and 23rd that was postponed.
38"Macks Get Hectic Game," The New York Times. May 17, 1918. Page 10.
39"Griffs Men Break Even To Finish Third In League Race As Baseball Season Suspends," The Washington Post. September 3, 1918. Page 8.
40"Semipro League Plan Finds Favor In East," J. V. Fitz Gerald. The Washington Post. September 29, 1918. Page 19.
41"Government OK For Major League Baseball," Boston Daily Globe. December 5, 1918. Page 1.
42"War Challenge Is Called By Majors," J. V. Fitz Gerald. The Washington Post. January 17, 1919. Page 10.
43"No Change In League Dates," The Christian Science Monitor. July 18, 1919. Page 16.
44When the were in the American Association, Cincinnati won one pennant (in 1882) and finished second twice (in 1885 and 1887).
45"Ruth's Chances For Record Are Slight," Ernest J. Lanigan. The Hartford Courant. June 16, 1918. Page Z5.
46"With the Four Hundred," Harry A. Williams. Los Angeles Times. November 2, 1919. Page VII.
47Record books and newspaper box scores credit the Phillies with eight stolen bases in that inning, but Hick Cady was officially given one stolen base, not the two reported in the papers. The steal was his first since 1915.
48"Johnson Won't Face Tigers," The New York Times. September 3, 1919. Page 24.
49"Scott Perry Quits Macks," The New York Times. August 19, 1919. Page 14.
50"Hustling Sox Grab Game Before Weather Man Spoils It," James Crusinberry. Chicago Daily Tribune. August 18, 1919. Page 15.
51"Speedy Game Is Won By Dodgers," The New York Times. September 22, 1919. Page 21.
52"Babe Ruth Injured As Sox Win, 2-1," James C. O'Leary. Boston Daily Globe. June 6, 1919. Page 10
53"Three Hits Off Caldwell," The New York Times. August 25, 1919. Page 12