A Retro-Review of the 1900s (the 1901-1909 edition)

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 contain a summary of the year's pennant races and postseason as well as 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.

Many of the footnotes in the text below simply list a source for a quote or fact, but the cases where they contain additional information (and might be worth clicking on even if the sources don't interest you) are marked with a "+" following the superscript.

Of course, like the earlier articles, this one would not have been possible without the work of dozens of Retrosheet volunteers who worked on digitizing the major league box scores for the 1910s.

Similar articles on the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are also available on our web-site.

Yearly links:


A note on the scope of the data presented in these articles:

As of this writing, the data used in these articles does not include any of the Negro Leagues that are now considered by MLB to be part of the "Major Leagues" as of December 2020. These leagues are the Negro National League from 1920 to 1931 and 1933 to 1948, the Eastern Colored League from 1923 to 1928, the 1929 American Negro League, the 1932 East-West League, the 1932 Negro Southern League, and the Negro American League from 1937 to 1948.

This omission is not in any way a reflection upon the major league status of those leagues (or for that matter any additional leagues that may come under the Major League umbrella in future years), only that I did not have access to data associated with these leagues while I was researching and writing these articles. In light of this, any data presented in this article, as well as my use of the term "major leagues," should be viewed in light of this omission.


For major league baseball, the 20th century began with a war.1+ When the National League dropped four teams after the 1899 season, Ban Johnson, the president of the Western League, shifted teams into Cleveland and Chicago, renaming his circuit the American League. Despite the changes, it was still a minor league and didn't directly challenge the NL players or markets (the move into Chicago had been approved by the Cubs).

All that changed before the 1901 season, with Johnson withdrawing from the National Agreement (a move which allowed his owners to go after players under contract to NL teams) and invading Boston and Philadelphia, as well as putting teams into the ex-NL cities of Baltimore and Washington. By the time they started the season, the only two cities left in the circuit from the 1899 Western League were the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers, and the Brewers would move into St. Louis, to compete with another NL club, prior to 1902.

The Chicago White Sox repeated as American League champions with a record nearly identical to their 1900 mark (82-53 in 1900 and 83-53 in 1901), but needed several upgrades to accomplish that. The largest of these was Clark Griffith, who moved to the White Sox from the cross-town Orphans to take over the managerial duties from owner Charlie Comiskey while going 24-7 on the mound. Second-baseman Sam Mertes and 15-game winner Nixey Callahan also came over from the Orphans, while Fielder Jones (who along with Callahan would also manage the White Sox before the end of the decade) joined the team from Brooklyn and was one of the team's best hitters.

Their principal competition that year came from the Boston Americans who had poached the second biggest prize that off-season from the senior circuit, Cy Young, and by the time he'd improved his record to 24-8 on August 23rd, his team was only a half-game behind the White Sox. But they would go only 5-12 over the next two weeks, culminating in a disastrous four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox. The collapse wasn't Cy Young's fault. Of the five wins in that two-week stretch, all but one were won by Young, and that was not atypical of their season as a whole, as Boston went 33-10 in the games Young pitched, but had a losing record (46-47) in the rest.

Over in the National League, the Pirates were able to hold on to more of their talent than any other team in their league, and even their biggest loss, third-baseman Jimmy Williams, turned into an up-grade when Tommy Leach had a fine season in his place. Pittsburgh took over first place to stay on June 11th, and although their lead had shrunk to a single game as late as August 18th, their eleven-game winning streak, starting on August 31st and including a sweep of the last-place Giants in back-to-back-to-back double-headers by a combined 80-21 score, was only the start of a hot streak that would see them lose only four more games before clinching the pennant with ten days to spare on September 26th.

Milwaukee had a rough introduction to the American League, blowing a nine-run lead in the bottom of the ninth of the opening game of their season, falling to Detroit 14-13. The next day, they lost another game in the bottom of the ninth, this time squandering a one-run lead, and in the finale of their four-game series with the Tigers, they couldn't hold a three-run ninth-inning lead. In the only game that wasn't decided in the bottom of the ninth, Milwaukee lost a one-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Of course, one team's pain was another team's pleasure, and the hometown fans were delighted, having been treated to four straight dramatic come-from-behind victories.2+

Pop Dillon's game-winning double in Detroit's opening day win was his second of the inning and fourth of the day. An AL player would not hit four doubles in a regular-season game again until Boston's Billy Werber did it in 1935, although Frank Isbell managed to hit four in the fifth game of the 1906 World Series. Dillon was helped by the overflow crowd which spilled into the outfield, causing any ball hit into the fans to be a ground rule double.3 Without the aid of a shortened outfield, Dillon seldom hit doubles, and at one point later that season, hit only one in a stretch of 36 games.

Less than a month after Detroit's opening day win, there was another, even more unlikely comeback when Cleveland, trailing by eight runs to Washington with two out and none on in the bottom of the 9th, rallied to win. These two comebacks still rank as two of the most unlikely in American League history. The rally made a winner of Bill Hoffer, who went the distance for Cleveland, allowing 13 runs. He would win only once more in his major league career, a career that had begun in 1895 with much promise (he went 31-6, 25-7 and 22-11 in his first three seasons). In addition to winning one of the league's most unlikely games, he also has the distinction of losing the AL's first, the season opener on April 24th.

On April 28th, another ground rule due to an overflow crowd allowed Cleveland and Chicago to set an obscure American League record for the most hits in a game with no extra-base hits, when the White Sox battered Bock Baker for 13 runs and 23 singles while Clark Griffith was holding Cleveland to 7 singles and one run. Unlike the earlier game that saw Pop Dillon hit four cheap doubles, this time around any ball hit into the crowd was a ground-rule single. Bock Baker had pitched for both Buffalo and Cleveland the year before, but this game would technically be his major league debut. It was also his last for Cleveland. Two weeks later he would make his second and last major league start, this time for Philadelphia, where he would depart after allowing 11 runs in the first six innings.

Apart from perhaps Cy Young, the best player in the American League was Nap Lajoie, who had a tremendous season, leading the league in every major offensive category except triples, and finished with the highest batting average in the history of the AL. He also did something that had only been done twice before when he had back-to-back multi-homer games on August 9th and 10th. It had been done previously by Cap Anson at Lake Front Park on August 5-6, 1884, and before that by Mike Muldoon on August 18-19, 1882.

The Boston Americans started quickly in their May 2nd game against the Athletics, scoring 21 runs in the first three innings. The starting pitcher for Philadelphia was Pete Loos, who was making his first and last major league appearance. To be fair, he was out of the game when most of the damage was done, getting charged with only five of the runs. It was the last time a team has scored nine or more runs in back-to-back innings. We don't have complete line scores of the 19th century games, but it was done at least once before, when the Pittsburgh Pirates scored twelve runs in the third inning and nine in the fourth on their way to a 27-11 win over Boston on June 6, 1894. The last time a team scored as many as eight runs in consecutive innings was on May 30, 2012 when the Seattle Mariners scored eight runs each in the second and third innings on their way to thrashing the Texas Rangers 21-8.

On May 5th, the White Sox had two statistical lines you won't see today when the team scored seven runs on three hits and nine errors (7 3 9 to those scoring at home), and their pitcher Roy Patterson threw a complete game in the 21-7 loss:

 9 25 21 14  2  2

It was Patterson's fourth major league game. In his debut, he had the distinction of throwing the first pitch in an American League game. Yes, he was the pitcher who defeated Bill Hoffer in the game mentioned above. Patterson would go on to win twenty games, and he would never come close to allowing 25 hits or 21 runs again. Cincinnati's Doc Parker set the mark for most hits allowed in a game in 1901 with 26 on June 21st, matching Patterson's 21 runs allowed. No one has allowed more than 26 hits in a nine-inning game since, although it has been tied twice. It would be the only game of the good doctor's season and the last of his career.

Christy Mathewson was the early season pitching sensation of the National League with eight straight complete game wins, four of them shutouts. In one stretch, he allowed only a single run in 50 innings. Even after his first loss on May 28th, a 1-0 defeat to Jack Powell, he had still allowed less than a run a game for the Giants. His pitching was a large part of the reason New York was in first place as late as June 10th and within a half-game of first as late as July 4th. But after losing the second game of their double-header that day to the Pirates 12-0, the team would collapse, going 22-64 the rest of the year to finish in seventh place.

At the other end of the spectrum, the biggest disappointment had to be the play of future Hall of Fame pitcher Amos Rusie, the man the Reds had picked up from the Giants for Mathewson in an off-season trade. Or so the story goes. While it is true that Mathewson had been drafted by the Reds late in 1900, it is far from clear how he ended up back in New York prior to the season, and whether that had much to do with Rusie, who hadn't pitched since 1898 due to a contract dispute, ending up in Cincinnati. However he got there, the Reds had high hopes that Rusie would return to the form that had made him one of the best pitchers in baseball during the 1890s. After all, despite sitting out two years, he was only 29 at the start of the season. These days, people wouldn't be so much looking at the 234 games he had won in his eight seasons with the Giants, but rather the 441 innings he'd averaged each year, all starting when he was only 18 years old.

The story of his season is quickly told. He made his first start on May 8th, and was clobbered by the Cardinals, giving up 19 hits, good for 14 runs in a complete game loss. Four weeks later, he made his second start, this one much more successful, allowing a single run in an eight-inning 1-1 tie called in the bottom of the eighth due to rain. He took the mound against his former team four days later, entering in the top of the fourth with his team already down 10-4. Rusie made a bad situation even worse, allowing 15 hits and 10 runs before leaving with his team now down 20-12. It would be his last appearance in the major leagues.

In all, the Giants collected 31 hits that day, including six by Kip Selbach and five each by George Van Haltren (the second time in a week he would have a five-hit game) and Charlie Hickman. No other team has had that many hits in a nine-inning game since, and only the Milwaukee Brewers, on August 28, 1992, have matched it.

Before moving on, I thought that the reaction of the sportswriter for the Cincinnati Enquirer to Rusie's second start was interesting. Here is part of wrote he wrote after that game:

"Amos Rusie, the great Hoosier Thunderbolt, convinced more than 2,000 people yesterday afternoon that he is still 'some pumpkins' as a pitcher. In fact, almost every person who witnessed his work left the local park thoroughly convinced that Rusie is as good as he was when he pitched for New York. His appearance shows that he has taken excellent care of himself, and his twirling against the Brooklyn champions could hardly have been better.... The showing of the big pitcher was a revelation to his host of local friends and admirers. Judging from what Amos showed yesterday Mr. Mathewson and the other stars will have to look to their laurels or the Hoosier will again be recognized as the premier twirler of the National League."4+

Jack Taylor pitched poorly through the first four innings of Chicago's loss to the Giants on June 13th and was replaced by Mal Eason in the top of the fifth. For Taylor, in his third full season and appearing in his 84th game, it was only the second time in his career that he'd been removed from a game. It wouldn't happen again until August 13, 1906--a span of 186 starts and 15 relief appearances. The article in the Chicago Daily Tribune the day after the streak was broken only mentioned that: "It is the first time Jack Taylor has failed to finish a game since he returned to Chicago."5 Since he returned to Chicago only a month and a half earlier, the sportswriter either didn't know or thought it unimportant to mention that when he joined the club in early July his streak was already more than five years old.

This is not to say that there weren't many games in which his work merited removal, even by the standards of the day. He allowed ten or more runs seven times during the streak, reaching a peak of fifteen once. Thirteen of those games went into extra-innings and two of those lasted 18 or more innings. His record in those 186 starts was 97-87-2.6+

As you might imagine, the average number of relief pitchers used by each team in a game was low at the start of the Deadball Era, about one appearance every six or seven games. And while the rate was steady for the first few years, it doubled from 1904 to 1906, and then doubled again between 1906 and 1911. After that it leveled off, and although it hit a peak in 1916, by the end of the Deadball Era, it was back to roughly its 1911 level. Here is the chart showing the growth in relief games from 1901 to 1919:

Leag  1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919
ML    0.15 0.13 0.15 0.13 0.22 0.25 0.30 0.40 0.43 0.49 0.55 0.56 0.64 0.61 0.61 0.70 0.64 0.50 0.58
NL    0.14 0.12 0.16 0.13 0.21 0.25 0.28 0.40 0.45 0.58 0.60 0.63 0.66 0.61 0.61 0.64 0.60 0.45 0.56
AL    0.16 0.14 0.15 0.13 0.23 0.26 0.33 0.40 0.40 0.40 0.51 0.49 0.63 0.69 0.67 0.75 0.67 0.54 0.60
FL                                                                     0.54 0.55                    

And in case you're wondering, here's a similar chart covering 2002 to 2020:

      2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
ML    2.63 2.67 2.77 2.71 2.85 2.97 2.92 2.93 2.87 2.86 2.99 2.95 2.98 3.11 3.16 3.22 3.36 3.41 3.44

And before we move on, here are the first games a team used four to nine pitchers in a game:

 # Team  Date
 4 STL N 1901-06-27
 5 STL A 1902-09-28(2)
 6 NY  N 1907-05-23
 7 STL A 1924-09-11(2)
 8 WAS A 1913-10-04
 9 STL A 1949-10-02(1)

On June 30th, Cleveland's Pete Dowling shut out the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0. The headline in The Boston Globe read: "One Scratch Hit. Dowling Shuts Out His Old Teammates."7 And the other out of town newspapers as well as The Sporting Life and The Sporting News all agreed that Wid Conroy had a hit that day for the Brewers, a single in the seventh, the only thing preventing Dowling from pitching the first no-hitter in AL history. But The Milwaukee Journal that day disagreed and its description of the play and box score clearly indicated that Conroy reached on an error by third-baseman Bill Bradley.

So who do we believe? There is little we can say with certainty about scoring decisions from this era. There are no surviving official dailies from either league in 1901, so all we have are unofficial newspaper accounts. But there are two good rules of thumb to guide us through these situations. First, don't be fooled into thinking that a consistent account from out of town newspapers represents a consensus. They are almost always simply repeating what the wire service reported. And second, local reporting is usually more reliable, especially when it comes to determining a scoring decision, than out of town accounts. That is no doubt why Information Concepts Incorporated (ICI), when generating the 1901 AL player and team dailies to be used to create the first edition of the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, decided that Conroy went hitless that day, Bradley had an error, and Dowling pitched a no-hitter. And that is why Retrosheet decided to follow their lead.

In the second game of the double-header between Boston and Baltimore on August 5th, Orioles first-baseman Jimmy Hart punched umpire John Haskell in the face over a disputed call at third-base. According to a description in The Boston Globe, both men tried to continue the fight when John McGraw "threw himself between the contestants and prevented further hostilities until a crowd of players and spectators came on the scene and made warfare impossible."8 I'm not sure what surprised me most about this quote, the fact that McGraw played peace-maker or that spectators came onto the field to help calm things down.

After the game, both Hart and Haskell were arrested for disturbing the peace, and Hart was suspended for ten days. Once his suspension was up, he returned to the lineup and, after going 4-4 on August 24th (and a combined 7-8 over his last two games), quit the team when the Orioles refused to pay the $25 fine the league imposed along with his suspension. I guess some principals are worth more than a career because the 25-year-old rookie never played in the major leagues again.

The season's best pitching duel took place on September 21st when Tom Hughes shut out Boston for seventeen innings before the Orphans Sox could push across a run against Bill Dinneen and end the longest game of the year. The two pitchers entered the game with one career shutout between them (by Dineen in 1900) and had the game been called by darkness before the last inning, they could have tripled that total. The contest could have gone on even longer had the Boston pitcher had been able to handle the bottom of the Orphans order. He held the first six batters in the lineup to a combined 0-40, but the bottom third reached him for eight hits, including Pete Childs' game-winning single, his fourth of the day.

Sportswriters loved long low-scoring games during the Deadball Era. While many fans today view marathon games as an inconvenience to be avoided, the feeling 120 or so years ago was: the more baseball the better. Here's what The Boston Globe had to say about the game:

"17 INNINGS--1 TO 0. Boston Loses One Of Greatest Games Ever Played. Tom Loftus managed a team of real champions today, when the much-maligned Orphans showed a reversal of form, remarkable even for them, and figured as a winning combination in a game with Boston that was easily the most remarkable contest seen on either of the local parks this season."9

And from the Chicago Daily Tribune:

"Remnants In Great Game. Chicago defeated Boston yesterday by a score of 1 to 0, in one of the most sensational games in the history of the National league, a game won in the seventeenth inning."10

And it wasn't that this was a particularly sensational long game. Pretty much every one of them inspired these kinds of reports. The longest game of 1902, also played in Chicago, was described by a sportswriter covering the visiting Pirates as "the most brilliant ever seen here."11 While a Chicago reporter, perhaps forgetting the game in his city played only nine months earlier, wrote that it was "the most exciting and in many respects the most brilliant game of ball played in Chicago in the last three years."12

The defending champion Brooklyn Superbas, stung by the loss of their star center fielder and best pitcher in Fielder Jones and Joe McGinnity, were on the verge of elimination when they headed into Cincinnati for a three-game series starting on September 23rd. It may not have changed the outcome of the NL race, but the Superbas hardly looked like former champions when they routed the Reds by scores of 25-2, 16-2 and 9-2. Brooklyn's pitchers in the first two games, Jay Hughes and Frank Kitson collected four hits apiece, and left fielder Jimmy Sheckard hit a grand-slam in each game.

Irv Waldron led the American League in both games and at-bats in 1901, playing for Milwaukee and Washington. When he was released by Milwaukee on July 7th, they had played nine more games than Washington, the team that signed him. As a result, he was able to play in more games (141) than any team in the league (139).

That got me to wondering what would have been the maximum number of games a player could have played in a season had he a) not had any idle days between teams (so he played for his first team one day and his new team the next) and b) played all of the games for both his old and new teams. To give you an example of how this works, the most number of games a player could have played in 1901 is 155. In order to do that, our player would've had to have started the season with the Chicago Orphans, left after playing all 96 games up through August 7th, been traded that night to the Giants, and showed up the next day in time to play the remaining 59 games on their schedule. Or in tabular form:

Trade Date From  To    TOT  T1  T2
1901- 8- 7 CHI N-NY  N 155  96  59

Not bad for a player in a league with a 140 game schedule, but nowhere near the record. Here they are:

Trade Date From  To    TOT  T1  T2
1916- 8-24 STL A-BOS N 176 125  51
1974- 5-27 SD  N-MON N 176  52 124
1975- 6- 7 HOU N-MON N 176  58 118

The 1916 trade would have also worked had it occurred on August 25th or 26th. And I suspect that the Expos would have continued to make this list in other years had they not moved from Parc Jarry to Stade Olympique in time for the 1977 season and no longer had to contend with so many early season postponements.

1901 would turn out to be Irv Waldron's only season in the major leagues, but that's a little deceptive since he'd been a regular for Milwaukee the previous three years as well.

Finally, I would like to talk about discrepancies. As I mentioned above, there are no official league dailies that survive for the early years of the Deadball Era. The earliest set of official dailies we have are 1903 for the NL and 1905 for the AL.13+ For years earlier than that, we will be working from the player and team dailies generated by ICI. And for reasons perhaps best left in a footnote,14+ the majority of all our batting discrepancies deal with batter walks.

Some of what we include from the ICI dailies (in particular RBIs and earned runs) should be considered approximations and while Retrosheet does include this data, unchanged for the most part, people should not be surprised if it changes, sometimes significantly, as more research is done in this area. And while batter walks are also approximations, we made quite a few changes to their data and believe that what we present, while certainly not perfect, represent better approximations than what ICI had before.

As an example, here are the 1901 AL leaders in batter walks according to ICI along with the totals derived from our box scores:

Player         ICI  RET   #
Dummy Hoy       86   82   6
Fielder Jones   84   86   5
Jimmy Barrett   76   78   2
Herm McFarland  75   77   8

Where in addition to the ICI and Retrosheet data, I have listed the number of games where we disagreed. Now, these are not great differences, but sometimes, as in the case of the league leader that year, even small differences matter.


The war between the two leagues heated up after the 1901 season. That October, the second-place Phillies apparently saw their hopes for the next season crushed when eight players, including five starters and two of their three best pitchers, jumped to the rival league. Three of these players, Elmer Flick, Bill Duggleby, and Monte Cross went to the cross-town Athletics. In April, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that players reserved by the Phillies after the 1900 season could not play for any other team. This ruling, which only applied within the state of Pennsylvania, also affected the three players who had joined the A's in 1901: Nap Lajoie, Bill Bernhard, and Chick Fraser. Of the six, only Duggleby and Fraser returned to the Phillies, while Nap Lajoie, Elmer Flick, and Bill Bernhard were released by A's and signed by the Cleveland Broncos, with the court-imposed restriction (at least until the injunction was dropped in June, 1903) that they not play any games in Philadelphia.

Apart from the turmoil in the Quaker State, most of the war news in 1902 centered around the National League's attack on the Baltimore Orioles. John McGraw had played his entire major league career in Baltimore before the team was contracted following the 1899 season, despite finishing fourth in a twelve-team league. In 1901, he returned to the city as manager and part-owner of the new American League team. While McGraw was famous for battling umps and anyone else close at hand, league president Ban Johnson was determined to support his umpires and crack down on the rowdiness that had characterized play during the 1890s, especially in Baltimore. In short, it was a match made in Hell.

After more than a season of ejections, brawls, forfeits and suspensions, McGraw met with Andrew Freedman, the owner of the New York Giants, to plan his exit strategy from the American League. It began with him getting suspended again, something easily accomplished after his strenuous objections to a call on June 28th resulted in his ejection and a forfeit. Next, he got out of his contract with the cash-strapped team by agreeing to forgive $7000 owed to him by the Orioles in return for his release. That allowed him to sign a contract to manage and play for the Giants. Finally, an agent for Freedman, with help from John T. Brush, the owner of the Reds, was able to purchase a controlling interest in the Orioles on July 16th. His agent only owned the team for one day, but it was a busy one, as he released Joe McGinnity, Dan McGann, Jack Cronin, Roger Bresnahan, Cy Seymour, and Joe Kelley. The first four players were immediately signed by the Giants, while the last two went to the Reds, in payment for their help in the scheme. More players were targeted, in particular Kip Selbach and Jimmy Williams, but they refused to jump back to the NL and remained in Baltimore.

The next day, the Orioles were forced to forfeit their game with the Browns when only five of their players showed up. Ban Johnson quickly announced that the league would assume ownership of the team and began the process of restocking their roster. The Tigers and Senators playing nearby in Washington, loaned the Orioles three of their players, allowing them to field a team on July 18th. The White Sox sold them Jack Katoll, who joined the starting rotation, and Herm McFarland, who replaced Joe Kelley in center field and hit a team-high .322 the rest of the way, while the Athletics' Connie Mack sold them Snake Wiltse, who had recently been dropped from his starting rotation.

The Orioles were not a good team after that, going only 19-47 after the July 17th forfeit, but they were not a good team to begin with, and the fact that the team didn't fold was a victory for the league, and no doubt part of the reason that subsequent threats by the National League to go after other teams in a similar matter never materialized.

Back on the field, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the NL pennant in a walk, posting a franchise best .741 winning percentage (103-36) and clinching the title on September 2nd, with over a month left in the season. They scored 142 more runs than the second-best hitting team, and allowed 65 fewer runs than the second stingiest. They started the season going 30-5 and had a ten-game lead by June 12th.

They were led by Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and Ginger Beaumont on offense, and Jack Chesbro on the mound. In stark contrast to the Phillies, the Pirates were almost untouched by the baseball wars. I did a quick and dirty look at how much talent each NL team lost from 1900 to 1901, and from 1901 to 1902. To do this, I calculated the percentage of each team's talent that would still be around the next season. I used plate appearances and innings pitched as an proxy for talent and, using the old adage that pitching is 30 percent of baseball, weighted the two percentages accordingly.15+ Here what I found:

1900 -> 1901                     1901 -> 1902
Team   Total   PAs    IPs        Team   Total   PAs    IPs
NL     58.87  60.74  54.51       NL     54.87  53.26  58.63
PIT N  79.71  72.73  96.01       PIT N  92.88  91.62  95.82
PHI N  72.53  82.95  48.21       BRO N  70.96  65.30  84.15
CIN N  66.68  69.46  60.20       CIN N  70.82  72.40  67.13
BOS N  58.08  51.81  72.72       BOS N  52.72  55.40  46.45
STL N  56.32  55.46  58.35       PHI N  47.85  50.43  41.82
BRO N  55.89  59.69  47.02       CHI N  38.60  31.72  54.66
NY  N  44.46  55.25  19.27       NY  N  34.84  23.48  61.36
CHI N  36.84  38.02  34.09       STL N  30.11  34.81  19.14

I mentioned how well the Pirates had done at holding onto the players after 1900 in the previous article, but they were even better in the offseason following 1901, picking up shortstop Wid Conroy from Milwaukee and catcher Harry Smith from the Athletics without losing anyone to the NL.

Over in the AL, the Philadelphia Athletics, despite having the best record in the American League over the last half of 1901, were hurt by the loss of Lajoie, Bernhard, and Frasier, and struggled in the early months of 1902, ending June in fourth place with a 27-26 mark. They had what amounted to a three-man pitching rotation, and only Bert Hustings, who Mack had purchased from the Red Sox in April, had a winning record. But help had already arrived a week earlier when Rube Waddell joined the team from the west coast, where he'd had a 11-8 record pitching for the California League's Los Angeles Looloos. After losing a road game against the Orioles, Waddell made his home debut a memorable one, facing only the minimum 27 batters while striking out 13 and walking no one in a two-hit shutout. He would win eight more times before the July was over, including a 17-inning 16-strikeout marathon in Boston, and finish with a 24-7 mark, a huge upgrade from Snake Wiltse, the pitcher he replaced.

Another new addition made an equally fine first impression, this time with the bat, when Danny Murphy, purchased on July 7th from the Norwich Reds of the Connecticut State League for $600, showed up after the start of the game the following day, was immediately sent in to replace Lou Castro, and proceeded to knock out six hits, including a three-run homer, in the Athletics 22-9 win over the Red Sox.16+ In addition to these new arrivals, Philadelphia was also helped by Eddie Plank's second-half resurgence (6-13 through his loss on July 16th and 14-2 after).

They were a streaky team in those last three months. Beginning on July 12th, they went: 10-1 to go from fourth to second place, a game behind the White Sox; 2-8, to drop back to fourth place; 16-1, to surge into first place by three games; 3-7, to see that lead narrow to a half-game over the Brown; and 20-3, a streak that ended when they swept the Orioles in a double-header on September 24th to clinch the pennant.

I mentioned above that the players who jumped from the Phillies to the Athletics were prohibited from playing in the state of Pennsylvania for any team but the Phillies. That same restriction applied to the players on other AL teams, like Ed Delahanty. Red Donahue, Al Orth, Happy Townsend, and Ed McFarland.17+ The fact that teams traveling to Philadelphia to play the Athletics were often missing some of their best players contributed to their large home/road disparity in 1902, as they had a .767 winning percentage at home compared to .429 on the road. Put another way, a home-only version of the A's would have gone 104-32 compared to the 58-78 mark of the road-only crew. Here are the greatest disparities between home and away winning percentages since 1901:

Year Team     G   W   L   Pct    G   W   L   Pct    Diff
2020 HOU A   30  20  10  .667   30   9  21  .300    .367
1945 PHI A   74  39  35  .527   76  13  63  .171    .356
1902 PHI A   73  56  17  .767   63  27  36  .429    .339
1949 BOS A   77  61  16  .792   77  35  42  .455    .338
1987 MIN A   81  56  25  .691   81  29  52  .358    .333
1996 COL N   81  55  26  .679   81  28  53  .346    .333
2020 MIN A   30  23   7  .767   30  13  17  .433    .333
2020 TEX A   30  16  14  .533   30   6  24  .200    .333
1978 HOU N   81  50  31  .617   81  24  57  .296    .321
1908 PHI A   76  46  30  .605   77  22  55  .286    .320

If we include the 19th century as well, and there's really no good reason to exclude it apart from that fact that shorter schedules (like the one in 2020) make extreme splits more likely, there are seven teams ahead of the first entry above:

Year Team     G   W   L   Pct    G   W   L   Pct    Diff
1897 CLE N   65  49  16  .754   66  20  46  .303    .451
1891 MIL a   21  16   5  .762   15   5  10  .333    .429
1893 NY  N   69  49  20  .710   63  19  44  .302    .409
1883 BUF N   49  36  13  .735   48  16  32  .333    .401
1877 STL N   30  20  10  .667   30   8  22  .267    .400
1883 BOS N   49  41   8  .837   49  22  27  .449    .388
1885 LOU a   56  37  19  .661   56  16  40  .286    .37518+

Even before all the on-field and back-room drama, Baltimore's year got off to a horrible start when left fielder Mike Donlin, one of their best hitters, was arrested in March and charged with assaulting a chorus girl and her companion. He was released by the Orioles, pled guilty to the crime and was sentenced to six months in jail.19 He would be signed by the Reds and join them upon his release. A talented hitter, between hold outs, arrests, injuries, and vaudeville tours, he would manage to play 100 or more games in only five seasons, but hit a combined .343 when he did.

On April 25th, former pitcher Zaza Harvey hit six singles in the Cleveland Bronco's 10-0 win over the St. Louis Browns. Despite his big day, his major league career would last only nine more games. No American League player would hit six singles in a game again until the Athletics' Doc Cramer on June 20, 1932.

The Reds had 28 hits and 24 runs against three Philly pitchers on May 13th, setting season highs in both categories. Doc White, Philadelphia's best pitcher, was driven from the mound with one out in the first inning. He would pitch at least eight innings in all 34 of his other starts that year. All nine players for Cincinnati had at least two hits. This happened the previous September when the Pirates turned the trick, but would not be done again until 1921. The last was in 1980, but if you ignore games with a DH, it hasn't happened since 1949.

On May 29th, Bill Bradley hit his 6th home run in eight games, including homers in four straight from May 21st to 24th. It was part of a hitting streak that reached a season-high 29 games before being stopped on June 18th. While he was the first AL player to homer in four straight games, he would have company a little more than a month later when Bill Keister duplicated his feat from June 24th to 27th. No batter would do it again until the Federal League's Steve Evans and Ed Lennox in 1914, and the next AL player to do it was Babe Ruth in 1918.

Despite their home run streaks, neither Bradley or Keister led the AL, that honor going to Socks Seybold who hit 16 for Philadelphia. It was a very different story in the National League. On June 25th, Jake Beckley took over the NL lead when he hit his fourth homer of the season. He was still the only player in the league with as many as four nearly a month and a half later when he hit his fifth and last home run of the season on August 8th. That would have been enough to lead the league had it not been for Tommy Leach who entered the August 13th double-header against Boston with a single homer to his credit. He hit one that day and two the next to leap into sole possession of second place. Two more later in the month allowed him to pass Beckley and post the lowest league-leading home run total since 1880, when teams played less than 100 games.

A highlight for the depleted Baltimore Orioles that summer was their back-to-back wins over the second-place White Sox on August 23rd and 25th by scores of 14-8 and 21-6. In the first game, Snake Wiltse, a pitcher starting at first base that day, hit a triple and a grand-slam, before chipping in four hits while pitching a complete-game two days later. He was overshadowed at bat in the second win by Jimmy Williams, who had six hits in as many at-bats. It was all downhill for the Orioles after that, as they finished the season on a 5-29 slide, including ten and eleven-game losing streaks.

Bob Ewing had a rough introduction to the major leagues on April 19th, walking 11 batters, including a record-tying 7 in one inning. It had been done twice before, by George Keefe in 1889 and Tony Mullane in 1894. Despite his inauspicious debut, Ewing would go on to have a fine career, winning 124 games over 9 seasons, most of them with the Reds. His SABR biography mentioned that he was the Reds' winningest pitcher of the Deadball Era,20+ and of course that got me to wondering who the others were. So... here are the winningest and losingest pitchers for each franchise from 1901 to 1919:

Team      W Pitcher               L Pitcher
NY  N   372 Christy Mathewson   185 Christy Mathewson
PHI N   190 Pete Alexander       96 Bill Duggleby
CHI N   188 Mordecai Brown       86 Mordecai Brown
PIT N   157 Sam Leever           94 Babe Adams
BRO N   134 Nap Rucker          134 Nap Rucker
BOS N   116 Dick Rudolph        109 Vic Willis
CIN N   108 Bob Ewing           103 Bob Ewing
STL N   106 Slim Sallee         107 Slim Sallee

Team      W Pitcher               L Pitcher
WAS A   297 Walter Johnson      191 Walter Johnson
PHI A   284 Eddie Plank         162 Eddie Plank
DET A   209 George Mullin       179 George Mullin
CHI A   195 Ed Walsh            125 Ed Walsh
BOS A   192 Cy Young            112 Cy Young
CLE A   160 Addie Joss           97 Addie Joss
NY  A   128 Jack Chesbro         99 Ray Caldwell
STL A   117 Jack Powell         143 Jack Powell

A week after Ewing's debut, Cleveland's Addie Joss had a very different introduction to the majors, pitching a 1-hit shutout against the St. Louis Browns. That September, he would also pitch back-to-back two-hitters, his third and fourth of the season, and as you can see from the chart above, he was his team's winningest pitcher (at least until he was passed by Stan Coveleski on June 16, 1924).

The new-look Giants made their home debut on July 19th with a 4-3 loss to the Phillies. The influx of talent from the Orioles was not enough to help them escape the cellar, as they were 8 games out of seventh-place before that day, and finished the year 7 1/2 games out. Their top pitcher also didn't see an improvement as Christy Mathewson was 7-8 before McGraw took the helm, and 7-9 after.

One pitcher who did finish on a high note was Boston American's Bill Dinneen. After his loss on August 9th had dropped his mark on the season to 10-19, he went 11-2 the rest of the way to even his record at 21-21. Despite Dinneen's strong finish, Boston once again had a losing record when Cy Young wasn't pitching, as Young finished 32-11 compared to the rest of the staff's 45-49 mark.

By the way, no one has posted a .500 record with more than 21 wins (and losses) since, but George Mullin probably wins the tie-breaker by matching Dinneen's mark in 1905, before going 20-20 two years later, the last time a pitcher has had matching pair of wins and losses of 20 or more. For the all-time record, you'd need to go back to Bill Hutchinson's 1892 season with the Chicago Colts, when he finished 36-36, tying Cy Young for the most wins in the league, and finishing one behind George Cobb's 37 losses. For Cobb, who won only ten games for the last-place Orioles, it was his only season in the major leagues.

Baltimore pitcher Jack Katoll set a major league season high with 23 hits allowed on September 2nd and then matched it ten days later, allowing a combined 38 runs in the two games. I wondered where he ranked among Deadball Era pitchers in most hits allowed per nine innings (100 innings minimum) and found this:

Year Team(s)     Pitcher           IP      H   H/9IP
1902 BAL A       Ike Butler       116.1  168  12.997
1902 CHI A-BAL A Jack Katoll      124    176  12.774
1902 BAL A-STL A Charlie Shields  172.1  238  12.429
1912 NY  A       Jack Quinn       102.2  139  12.185
1902 WAS A       Bill Carrick     257.2  344  12.016
1911 WAS A       Dolly Gray       121    160  11.901
1902 PHI A-BAL A Snake Wiltse     302    397  11.831
1911 BOS N       Hub Purdue       137.1  180  11.796
1914 STL A       Roy Mitchell     103.1  134  11.671
1901 CIN N       Bill Phillips    281.1  36 4 11.645

Four of the top seven on that list appeared for the 1902 Orioles. And all three of the pitchers who split time with another team did the bulk of their pitching with Baltimore. So that got me to wondering about which Deadball Era team allowed the most hits per 9 innings and the team at the top was not a surprise:

Year Team    IP      H  H/9IP
1902 BAL A 1210.1 1531 11.384
1901 WAS A 1183   1396 10.620
1902 WAS A 1207.2 1403 10.456
1901 CIN N 1265.2 1469 10.446
1901 CLE A 1182.1 1365 10.390

There is more distance between Baltimore and the second-most team as there is between that team and the one in 18th place. The two seasons with the most hits allowed per nine innings during the Deadball Era are probably not too surprising given the chart above: 1901 and 1902 (with 1903 in third place). So while we refer to 1901-1919 collectively as the Deadball Era, the first three years were among the least dead.

As part of Rube Waddell's 24 wins in the last three months of 1902 were wins in both ends of a double-header on September 10th. That by itself, is not too surprising. It wasn't that rare for a pitcher to start both ends of a double-header (Joe McGinnity did it three times in 1903 alone), but Waddell won both of his games that day in relief, something that wouldn't happen again until Bill Harris turned the trick for the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League on June 13, 1914, and in the AL until Chicago's Dickey Kerr did it on July 21, 1919.

The longest game of the year ended with two outs in the bottom of the 19th when Chicago's Bobby Lowe singled off of Pittsburgh's Deacon Phillippe, sending Johnny Kling home with the winning run. There would be many longer games since then, but it's the longest played without any substitutions since the 20-inning 7-7 tie between the Chicago Colts and Cincinnati Reds on June 30, 1892. The Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves came the closest to tying that 20th century mark when their game on May 3, 1920 ended with one out in the bottom of the 19th with both starting nines still in the game.

Fans who liked low-scoring games were in store for a treat when the Boston Beaneaters and Pittsburgh Pirates combined to score one run in their double-header on September 4th. Despite not getting a victory, Boston's John Malarkey got credit for his first career shutout in the second game. A one-run twin-bill would only happen once more, in the double-header between the Boston Braves and Philadelphia Phillies on September 5, 1913.

The discrepancy of the year involves a game played on July 25th between the Reds and Cubs. In it, Cy Seymour, recently released by the Orioles, wrapped up his first full week with his new team by tying the major league record with four sacrifice hits.

At least, that's what my most recent record book says.21+ But did he? According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Seymour had two at-bats that day with only two sacrifices, while hitting fourth. It also mentions him sacrificing in the fifth and doubling in the sixth. The (Chicago) Inter-Ocean doesn't provide at-bats, but it also credits him with two sacrifices as well as describing the team's ninth inning, which included a strike out by Seymour as well as a two-run rally that ended when John Dobbs made the Red's final out of the game. That will be important later. The Chicago Daily Tribune had the most detailed box score, crediting Seymour with two at-bats, two sacrifice hits, and a walk.

So where did the record-setting account come from? Well, the Philadelphia Inquirer didn't show at-bats for the game, but they credited Seymour with four sacrifices. They were the only out-of-town account I found that did, but The Sporting Life agreed with them, showing Seymour with two at-bats to go with his record-setting bunts. When ICI got around to creating their dailies, they did not list sacrifice hits, but agreed with the consensus that Seymour had two at-bats in the game, as well as with the Chicago Daily Tribune that he walked once.

So I think a few things are clear: Seymour had two at-bats in the game. He batted fourth in the lineup. The Reds made 27 outs, scored 6 runs and left men 13 on base, and that translates to 46 plate appearances by the team, consistent with the account that John Dobbs, the leadoff hitter, made the last out in the ninth inning. It's also clear that Dobbs had six plate appearances, and that the rest of his teammates in the game had five. So while it's possible, but extremely unlikely, that Seymour had one more sacrifice instead of a walk that day, he couldn't possibly have had four.


Peace came to major league baseball in 1903, but not before another round of player raids shook up both leagues. Even the champion Pirates were not spared this time around. No sooner had the previous season ended than the American League announced that five Pittsburgh players, including star pitchers Jack Chesbro and Jack Tannehill, who had gone a combined 48-12 in the just-completed season, had signed contracts with the American League team in New York. The second-place Brooklyn Superbas lost three of their regulars, including Willie Keeler, their best hitter, as well as almost their entire pitching staff. The league's other key losses to the AL included Sam Crawford, the Reds best hitter, who went to the Tigers, and Doc White, the ace of the Phillies' staff, who jumped to the White Sox.

But the raids went both ways, with one NL team in particular benefitting from the free-for-all. The New York Giants signed four regulars from the junior circuit, including outfielder Sam Mertes and future Hall of Fame shortstop George Davis from the White Sox. The signing of Davis threatened to upend the peace negotiations between the leagues, and his status was the subject of lawsuits and court rulings all summer.22 The end result was a lost season for the infielder (Davis would appear in only four games for the Giants) and his return to the White Sox for 1904.

While most of the talent that off-season moved between major league teams, three of the players that Brooklyn lost, third-basemen Charlie Irwin, as well as pitchers Doc Newton and Jay Hughes. went to the fledgling Pacific Coast League. Newton and Hughes thrived in the slower company of the new league, going a combined 69-27 for their two teams.

For Hughes, it would be the end of a four-year major league career, one that saw him go 80-43. It wasn't uncommon for a ball player, even a star, to opt out of the major leagues in order to play on the west coast, something Hughes had already done once before, leaving Brooklyn after posting a 28-6 mark in 1899 to play for Sacramento in the California League. And nothing shows how attractive these teams could be than the case of Henry Schmidt, one of the pitchers Brooklyn added in 1903 to help replace the exodus of their starting rotation. Henry had gone 35-20 with the Oakland Dudes of the California League the year before joining the Superbas, and had the best record on the team in his rookie season (22-13), although he was only slightly better than the rest of the staff in runs allowed per nine innings (4.99 compared to 5.07). Still, Brooklyn couldn't have been pleased when Schmidt told them he was heading back to Oakland, now in the PCL, after the season, and he wouldn't pitch in the majors again.

In an earlier article, I showed how much of each NL teams' talent was still around from 1900 to 1901 as well as from 1901 to 1902. Here's a similar chart for the final year before the peace settlement:

1902 -> 1903
Team   Total   PAs    IPs
NL     62.08  62.93  60.10
STL N  74.18  69.55  84.99
CHI N  70.37  67.74  76.49
BOS N  69.40  65.98  77.37
CIN N  68.44  67.97  69.55
PIT N  65.90  70.84  54.38
NY  N  56.64  51.53  68.55
PHI N  55.54  62.26  39.86
BRO N  35.54  46.84   9.18

The Giants were the surprise team of the first two months of the season. After Christy Mathewson pitched a one-hit shutout against the Reds on June 13th, New York was in first place with a 34-13 record. They were doing it behind the pitching of Mathewson and McGinnity, who had already combined to go 25-6, as well as with an offense led by Roger Bresnahan and Mertes, who finished the day almost tied with each other for the league lead in slugging percentage (.564 for Bresnahan to Mertes' .561).

Despite their off-season losses, however, the Pirates were still the class of the league, and two long winning streaks, one in June lasting fifteen games and the other stretching into early September and reaching fourteen games, cemented their hold on the pennant.23+ They still had the best offense in the league. led by Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, and Ginger Beaumont, and while their pitching suffered due to the loss of Chesbro and Tannehill, excellent seasons by both Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe gave them the third-best staff in the league. They won twelve fewer games than they had the year before, but a 91-49 mark was still easily the best in the NL.

By the end of 1903, the top three teams in the league were the Pirates, Giants and Cubs, and those three teams would continue to dominate the NL for the next nine years as well. Here are the order of finishes for each of the eight teams from 1903 to 1912:

       --------------------- Years----------------------     ------ Finishes ------
       1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
CHI N     3    2    3    1    1    1    2    1    2    3     4  3  3  0  0  0  0  0
NY  N     2    1    1    2    4    2    3    2    1    1     4  4  1  1  0  0  0  0
PIT N     1    4    2    3    2    2    1    3    3    2     2  4  3  1  0  0  0  0
PHI N     7    8    4    4    3    4    5    4    4    5     0  0  1  5  2  0  1  1
CIN N     4    3    5    6    6    5    4    5    6    4     0  0  1  3  3  3  0  0
BRO N     5    6    8    5    5    7    6    6    7    7     0  0  0  0  3  3  3  1
STL N     8    5    6    7    8    8    7    7    5    6     0  0  0  0  2  2  3  3
BOS N     6    7    7    8    7    6    8    8    8    8     0  0  0  0  0  2  3  5

Over in the American League, the Athletics, behind Rube Waddell's strong pitching, led through the first two months of the season. After the games of June 17th, they held a slim lead over Boston, in large part due to Rube's fourteen wins. But he went into his first slump since joining the team after that, losing five straight games, and by the time Boston came into town for a six-game home and away series in early August, the Athletics had dropped into second place, two and a half games behind the Americans. Waddell lost the opening and closing games of the extended series, part of his second five-game losing streak of the summer and by the time he was released by Connie Mack for misconduct on August 25th,24 the team had dropped into third place and the pennant race was essentially over.

It's telling that in Waddell's two losses against Boston in that six-game series, he didn't face Cy Young, losing instead to Bill Dinneen, who pitched a three-hit shutout, and Tom Hughes, who allowed one run and six hits. For the first time since joining Boston, Young had a strong supporting cast in 1903, as both Dinneen and Hughes had fine seasons, helping the team to a 63-38 record in the games not won or lost by Young.

Boston's offense appeared to be about the same in 1902 and 1903, with their hitters' OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) holding steady at .705 and their runs per game inching up slightly from 4.81 to 5.02. But the context of those runs was very different: the scoring across the league dropped dramatically between the two years, from 4.90 to 4.10 runs per game. So while their offense was only slightly below average in 1902, no team in the league scored more runs in 1903.

Here are the runs scored per game for each league from 1901-1910:

Leag 1901  1902  1903  1904  1905  1906  1907  1908  1909  1910
NL   4.63  3.99  4.77  3.91  4.10  3.57  3.40  3.33  3.65  4.03
AL   5.36  4.90  4.10  3.54  3.68  3.66  3.65  3.44  3.44  3.64

The AL would not score as many as 5.36 runs per game again until 1930, and in 1904 would only score two thirds as many runs as they did three years earlier. One of the major reasons for the drop in scoring in 1903 (as well for the higher scoring relative to the NL in 1901 and 1902) was the adoption of the foul strike rule in the junior circuit that year, a rule change introduced in the National League two years earlier. Before the rule, foul balls were not counted as strikes except in the case of two-strike foul bunts.

The owners of the two league champions announced in September that their teams would play a best-of-nine series to determine the World Champions of Baseball. It's important to note that this was not part of any agreement between the leagues and was not seen as being much different than the various city and state series that routinely took place after each season's conclusion. There had been similar postseason series between the champions of the National League and American Association, with a variety of formats and success, from 1884 to 1890. And while these two teams were playing, similar series were being contested in Philadelphia (between the Phillies and Athletics), Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), St, Louis (Browns and Cardinals), and Ohio (Reds and Naps), and area newspapers often gave greater or equal coverage to the local games.

The teams traded wins in the first two games, with Pittsburgh's Deacon Phillippe besting Cy Young in the first, and Boston taking the second behind Bill Dinneen's three-hit shutout. Phillippe, normally not a strikeout pitcher (he averaged 3.1 per nine innings in the regular season), struck out a career high ten batters in the first, while Dinneen, not much of strikeout pitcher either (with 4.1 per nine innings), also set a career high with eleven in the second.25+ Patsy Dougherty had the only multi-homer game of his major league career in the second game, hitting both the first inside-the-park and over-the-fence home runs in modern World Series history.

Pittsburgh had entered the series short on pitching. Ed Doheny, a sixteen-game winner, had suffered a breakdown late in the season that would result in his spending the rest of his life in mental institutions, while Sam Leever, their best pitcher during the season, came into the series with a sore arm and lasted only an inning in the second game. But even though they had Phillippe and little else on the mound, it appeared that might be enough when he beat an ineffective Tom Hughes in the third game. Given two days of rest due to travel and a rainout, manager Fred Clarke decided to send him out again, a gamble that paid off in a 5-4 victory, even if he seemed to run out of gas at the end, allowing three ninth-inning runs before retiring pinch-hitter Jack O'Brien with the tying run on second to complete the victory.

With no other option, Clarke sent Brickyard Kennedy to the mound against Young the next day, and he matched the Boston star through five scoreless innings before his defense collapsed behind him, including two errors by Honus Wagner (another Pirates playing through injuries), leading to six unearned runs that put the game away. Kennedy would end up allowing ten runs, a World Series record that still stands, in what would be his last major league appearance. An ailing Leever pitched poorly the next day, and the series was tied at three apiece

There was a postponement the next day due to cold weather, a delay challenged by the Red Sox and perhaps simply an excuse by Pittsburgh to give Phillippe more rest. If so, it didn't work as Cy Young easily defeated him in game seven 7-3. A travel day as well as a third postponement allowed Phillippe to make his fifth start of the series on October 13th, but he was no match for a well-rested Bill Dinneen, who threw his second shutout, bringing Boston the championship.

While Pittsburgh had only one effective pitcher at their disposal, Boston only had two, but the three cancellations and two travel days allowed them to alternate between Young and Dinneen the rest of the way (although one of Dinneen's starts came with a single days' rest). Apart from Hughes' two ineffectual innings in game three, Boston's top two pitchers were on the mound for the entire series.

The last three games in Pittsburgh were played with crowds that overflowed into the outfield, causing balls hit into the fans to be counted as triples. Boston took advantage of the rules to hit twelve of their World Series record sixteen triples in those three games, and their five triples in two of the games are tied for the single-game mark.

Before we move on, I spend a lot of my time reading newspaper articles from the Deadball Era and sometimes I get a glimpse of the poet within each sportswriter struggling to be heard. Exhibit one describes the beginning of the seventh game according to The Boston Globe:

"The scene was a weird one. Clouds of black smoke from the large steel works came sailing down the two rivers that meet here from the Ohio, while a bright sun shot heedless through the whirling sheets of light and heavy smoke, and every face was focused on the home plate as Boston's curly-haired boy [Dougherty] and his favorite club stood ready for business."26

On June 25th, Ed Delahanty collected a hit in his 16th straight game for Washington. His single that day in Cleveland was one of only four his team collected in their 4-0 loss to Earl Moore. It began a ten-game stretch that would see the Senators shut out in seven of them and fall ten games behind the seventh-place New York Highlanders. But by then Delahanty would have missed the rest of the series with Cleveland as well as four games in Detroit with what was described as "a very bad headache."27

From Detroit, the team headed back to Washington, but Delahanty went missing and newspapers were filled with descriptions of his strange behavior on the road trip and speculation about his fate. For example:

"In his room and in the apartment of others of the players Delehanty (sic) acted in a manner that was alarming. This was the result of a spree, and several of the Washington players kept him company, fearing a disastrous termination.... While in Cleveland he kept up the lively gait, and was heard to make threats that involved his own life.... Before he departed Delehanty took out an accident policy and made it in favor of his little daughter. This he sent to his wife in Philadelphia, and in the letter he expressed the hope that the train he traveled on would jump the tracks and end his career."

"It is not expected that Delehanty will ever play with the Senators again. He has outlived his usefulness here...."28

His body was found a few days later. Apparently, he fell from the International Bridge across the Niagara River and his body "had floated about thirty miles down the river and had gone over Niagara Falls."29

No player would have a longer career-ending hitting streak until Magglio Ordonez had one of eighteen games in 2011.30+ Those tied in third-place with never-broken streaks of fourteen games since 1901 are Billy Hamilton, later that year, Billy Lauder in 1903, and Bill Sweeney in 1931.

Bill Bergen was having a career year at the plate in 1903 before his season came to a grisly end on July 30th when he "had the second finger of his right hand knocked out of joint by a foul tip from Frank Chance's bat and the tendons cruelly torn. It was an ugly looking wound, but umpire Moran bandaged the bleeding digit with his handkerchief and jerked it back into place, the snap of joint finding socket sounding like a pistol shot."31 Given how tough players were supposed to be back then, I half-expected to see that Bergen had stayed in the game, but his day and season were done. He finished the year hitting .227, which might not seem like much, but it was more than sixty points higher than he'd hit before and after that season, and the only year he topped .190 or had an OPS over .500. People often focus on how poor a hitter he was, but he must have been one hell of a defensive catcher for teams to play him regularly, .170 batting average and all, for eleven years.

The pair of Mathewson and McGinnity didn't just lead the Giants in their early going as described above, they were also one-two in the league in games started, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. They were the last pair of teammates to combine for 800 or more innings in the National League. By the way, the post-189332+ record for most combined innings pitched by two teammates is 862 by the Giants in 1894, with Amos Rusie (444) and Jouett Meekin (418) sharing the workload, while the all-time record is 1080.2, held by the 1887 Baltimore Orioles duo of Matt Kilroy (589.1) and Phenomenal Smith (491.1).

Mathewson passed a milestone on May 16th when he beat the Pirates 7-3 to begin a nine-game winning streak. The win evened his career record at 39-39. It would be the last time his lifetime winning percentage would be at or below .500.

In his last appearance before his release, Rube Waddell pitched both ends of a double-header, winning the first 1-0 and losing the second 2-1. At the time, apart from the difference in their strikeouts, his record was very similar to Joe McGinnity's:

Waddell     39* 38* 34* 21  16  324*   274* 109   85* 302*
McGinnity   42* 36* 32* 23  15  324.2* 293  127   81  121
* - leading league

Had Waddell been able to stay in Mr. Mack's good graces and remain in the rotation the remainder of the season, he would have made nine or more starts that year. And had he also continued to average eight strikeouts per start, he would have finished the year with more than 370 strikeouts. And it could have been much more. McGinnity pitched an additional 109.1 innings following his start on August 21st. Had Waddell done that as well, and been able to maintain his ratio of strikeouts to innings pitched, he would have fanned 403 batters in 1903.

On June 25th, the same day that Ed Delahanty was collecting his last major league hit, Wiley Piatt pitched complete games in both ends of the Boston Beaneaters' double-header against St. Louis, losing 1-0 and 5-3. He is the last starting pitcher to complete and lose two games in one day. The closest to do it since was Pete Schneider, who started and pitched all but one inning of a double-header loss on September 26, 1917.

Red Ames began his major league career on September 14th by pitching a no-hitter, albeit one shortened by "an impending storm and darkness" to only five innings.33 A little less than a year later, he would pitch the second shutout of his career, a game also abbreviated to five innings. He would blank opponents in five-inning outings in 1915 and 1917, and with these four, become the current career leader (at least since 1901) in these shortened shutouts.

Speaking of shutouts, the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked their opponents in six straight games from June 2nd to June 8th, a streak that, including the last two innings of their loss on June 1st as well as the first three innings on June 9th, reached a post-1901 record of 56 scoreless innings.

On the other end of the spectrum, Boston's Togie Pittinger took the NL's reverse pitching quintuple crown in 1903, leading the league in losses, walks, and hits, runs, and home runs allowed. The feat would not be duplicated until Phil Niekro did it while pitching for Atlanta in 1979. Phil wins the tie-breaker by also leading his league in games started, complete games, shutouts (tied), wins (tied with his brother Joe), innings pitched, and hit batters. And he finished that season one behind his brother and J.R. Richard for the lead in wild pitches.

I noticed that Brooklyn had a stretch in June where they were idle nine out of ten days due to inclement weather, and had a total of twelve games cancelled that month. I wondered if that was a record for the most postponements in a month (not counting games lost due to World War One, a team folding, or a players' strike), and it turns out that they'd tied that unpleasant record, originally set in May of 1893 by the Louisville Colonels.34

But they didn't hold a share of the record for long because on August 8th, disaster struck in Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a large crowd was watching the last game of a double-header between the Phillies and Boston at the Baker Bowl when: "Shrieks of help and murder from the street below were heard.... The crowd on the top left-field bleachers... rushed to the three-foot-wide wooden balcony that overhangs the top of the wall, twenty-five feet from the ground, to see what happened. Suddenly, jammed with an immense, vibrating weight, a hundred feet or more of the balcony tore itself from the wall, and the crowd was hurled headlong to the pavement."35

Hundreds were injured, at least nine died, and the rest of Philadelphia's home games that year were moved to Columbia Park, the Athletics' field.36 Three games earlier that month had been rained out, nine games were postponed or cancelled after the bleachers collapsed, and an additional two games were rained out near the end of the month. All of these forced Philadelphia to play 19 doubleheaders in a span of 39 days, including six in a row from September 17th to 22nd.

This unenviable mark of fourteen postponements in a month was almost tied by the 1927 Boston Braves in May when they lost nine games to rain, two to cold, and one each to wet grounds and threatening weather. Coincidentally, their last rainout of the month came at Shibe Park, home of the Athletics', and once again, the Phillies had been forced to move their home games there due to another deadly collapse at the Baker Bowl, this one on May 14, 1927.37

The discrepancies I wanted to focus on this time involved the number of innings Joe McGinnity pitched in 1903. In general, there are two common types of errors we encounter during the Deadball Era with regard to innings pitched: scorers getting creative when dividing an inning between two or more pitchers, and pitchers getting credit for a full inning when it's not completed.

An example of the first type of problem occurred in the Giants game on May 21st, when McGinnity relieved Cronin in the sixth inning. According to our sources (The New York Times and the New York Evening Telegram), Cronin gave up singles to the first four batters before being relieved by McGinnity, who got Weaver to hit a pop-up and McFarland to ground into a double-play. While we would credit the entire inning pitched to McGinnity (since he was on the mound when all three outs were recorded), scorers of the time might credit Cronin with 2/3 of inning (since he faced four of the six batters) or, as the scorer did in this case, split the inning down the middle and give both pitchers 1/2. Similar errors occurred four other times with McGinnity in 1903.

An example of the second type of error occurred on June 16th, when the Phillies pushed across the winning run with no one out in the bottom of the 12th. Despite the fact that McGinnity didn't retire a batter, the official scorer credited him with an inning pitched. Unlike the first type of error, which varied from scorer to scorer, this was so consistent as to constitute a scoring practice of the time. One could reasonably argue that we should go along with the custom of crediting the unmade outs of an incomplete inning to the pitcher who was on the mound when the game ended. We decided not to do this, but to instead document all the cases where we didn't. In McGinnity's case, this happened five times in 1903.

In addition to those problems, there was one case of a scorer simply swapping each starter's innings pitched, as well as an uncertainty about how the various fractional innings were added together. Once you go through and factor in all of these differences, we think that McGinnity actually pitched 433 innings that year, not 434. Which some might think is much ado about a single inning (but of course they would be wrong).


While 1904 is perhaps best known today for what it didn't have (a World Series), it did have one of the most exciting pennant races in baseball history. On August 22nd the entire first-division of the American League was within two games of each other. Even the fifth-place Naps were only five games back. From August 27th until the last series of the season, the Boston Americans and the New York Highlanders would be within a single game of each other for all but four days. Even the White Sox hung around the top of the league, and weren't eliminated until Boston beat them on October 3rd.

On October 7th, Boston took a half-game lead into New York for the start of a five-game series to decide the pennant. They dropped the opener on Friday to Jack Chesbro, who pitched a five-hitter to win his 41st game of the season, already five more than any other pitcher had won since 1893. His workload during the last months of the season look bizarre to someone accustomed to pitch counts and six-inning quality starts, but it was extreme even by the standards of the day. After he had pitched that complete game to put his team into first-place, when New York took the field in Boston the next day, needing only a split of the two remaining double-headers to capture the pennant, Chesbro was once again on the mound and things, to put it mildly, did not go well.

At this point, I should make it clear that this was not manager Clark Griffith's idea. According to The Sporting News: "Griff's plan was to keep Chesbro in New York while the Highlanders invaded Boston. But Old Fox's scheme was upset by Jack showing up at Grand Central Terminal to make the trip. Farrell said he could go. It was a fatal decision...."38

And I should also note that the only reason the team had to get on that train to Boston was because New York's owner Frank Ferrell, anticipating that his team would be playing out a string of meaningless games rather than fighting for the pennant, had rented out his park to Columbia University so their football team could play Williams College. So yes, the Highlanders had voluntarily given up home-field advantage for the most important double-header of the season, but at least Columbia managed to defeat Williams 11-0.

Where were we? Oh right: Boston, Saturday.

After holding Boston scoreless through the first three innings, Chesbro got battered for five hits and six runs in the fourth. Boston would add seven more runs against rookie reliever Walter Clarkson on their way back into first place with a 13-2 rout. The second game was a well-pitched seven-inning affair between Cy Young and Jack Powell, the only run of the game being scored on an error by third-baseman Wid Conroy. With the double-header loss, the Highlanders had to win both games back in New York on Monday and sent out--who else?--Jack Chesbro, with a single day's rest in the first. Pitching with less than two days' rest was nothing new for Chesbro down the stretch. He made fourteen starts from September 5th to the end of the season and half of those were with one day of rest or less. And while it's easy to be critical of his heavy workload in the late stages of that season, he had won his first five of those seven starts, and was only hit hard on October 8th.

I mentioned in the previous article that Mathewson and McGinnity were the last National League teammates to combine for 800 or more innings. Well, Chesbro and Powell set the post-1901 major league mark with 845 innings between them. Number three on their depth chart that season (and the pitcher who probably would have started at least one of the games in the series) was Al Orth, who had come over from the last-place Washington Senators in late July, but he had been injured in his previous start on October 3rd and couldn't pitch.

The first game of that last double-header is one of the most famous of the Deadball Era. It pitted Chesbro against Bill Dinneen, last year's World Series hero, who was also pitching with a single day's rest. New York took a lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally that featured Chesbro's second hit of the game (he had tripled in the third), a run-scoring single by Patsy Dougherty and a bases-loaded walk to Kid Elberfeld. Boston came back to tie the game in the top of seventh courtesy of two errors by Highlander second-baseman Jimmy Williams, and the score stayed tied at two until Lou Criger led off the top of the ninth for Boston with a single. A sacrifice and an infield out moved Criger along to third and brought Freddy Parent to the plate. Chesbro got two quick strikes on him but his third pitch was wild and went all the way to the backstop, Criger jogging home with the go-ahead run. Two walks in the bottom half of the ninth gave the home crowd a glimmer of hope before Dougherty struck out to end the game.39

That wild pitch would haunt Chesbro for the rest of his life, and it is front and center in almost every account of his baseball career. His widow is reported to have campaigned major league baseball to have the scorer's call changed to a passed ball,40 and to take one example of many, a review of his career by the New England Historical Society is titled "Happy Jack Chesbro, the Yankees' Bill Buckner of 1904." It's obviously unfair to focus on that one pitch as the reason the Highlanders didn't take the pennant in 1904. For example, the game probably wouldn't have been tied in the top of the ninth were it not for Jimmy Williams' two errors in the seventh, and they may very well have split Saturday's double-header if Wid Conroy had held on to that throw at third-base in the fifth inning, or if those games had been played in New York as originally scheduled. But fair or unfair, we tend to remember the last in a series of events that led us to one place instead of another, and for the 1904 Highlanders, that event was Chesbro's wild pitch.

And not that this definitively decides the wild-pitch/passed-ball debate but here is how The Boston Globe described that pitch the next day: "He [Chesbro] took his time and tried to send the ball close and high, but was spellbound when he saw it soar over the catcher's head and go bang against the backstop...." I thought it interesting (and obviously not prophetic) that the sportswriter's next sentence was: "Parent singled to center, thereby taking the curse off the bad work of Chesbro."41

The National League pennant race became far less dramatic when the New York Giants went on an 18-game winning streak in mid-June, turning what had been a close three-team race into a foregone conclusion. The Giants had both the best pitching and hitting in the league. For the second straight year, Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity won at least thirty games apiece, improving on their combined mark from the year before, 68-20 compared to a 61-33 mark in 1903. It was the second time Mathewson had won thirty or more games in a season and he had yet to lead his team, much less his league, in wins. It was the last time a team has had two thirty-game winners, the next closest being Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout for the second-place Detroit Tigers in 1944, who won 29 and 27 games respectively.

Despite scoring the most runs in the majors in 1904, the Giants didn't boast any players with great offensive numbers. They led the majors in slugging and on-base percentage without a player among the leaders in either. They did it by being somewhat better than average up and down their lineup. With the exception of catcher, the Giants had a higher OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) than the league average at every position. And besides, this was the Deadball Era and great offensive numbers weren't exactly in fashion. Ginger Beaumont led the league with only 185 hits. Yes, Honus Wagner hit 44 doubles, but no one else in the league had more than 28.

As I alluded to in the opening, there was no World Championship Series between the two league champions following the 1904 season. On September 27th, John T. Brush, the owner of the Giants, issued a statement congratulating his team for winning the National League pennant for the first time since 1889, and then went on to say: "There is nothing in the constitution or playing rules of the National League which requires its victorious club to submit its championship honors to a contest with a victorious club in a minor league. The club that wins from the clubs that represent... the eight largest and most important cities in America, in a series of 154 games, is entitled to the honor of champions of the United States without being called upon to contend with or recognize clubs from minor league towns."42

At the time, the three teams still in contention for the American League pennant were in three "towns" (Boston, New York and Chicago) also home to NL teams. But his main point was that the AL was not a major league and unworthy of his team's attention. This decision was very unpopular, causing Giants manager John McGraw to come to his defense, arguing that the decision not to play the Americans was his and his alone. In an open letter to the "Base Ball Patrons of New York," he writes in part: "The people of New York have been kind enough to give me some credit for bringing a pennant to New York, and if there ia any just criticism for the club's action in protecting that highly prized honor the blame should rest on my shoulders, not Mr. Brush's, for I and I alone am responsible for the clubs actions."

He went on to say that while he wouldn't put the NL pennant ("the highest honor in base ball") in jeopardy by playing the AL champions, he would be glad to in the future if "the National League should see fit to place post-season games on the same plane as championship games and surround them with the same protection and safeguards for square sport...."43 Which is pretty much what happened the following February, with the two leagues agreeing on a format for future World's Championship Series that I presume included sufficient protection and safeguards for square sport.

Only six players had multi-homer games in 1904. One of them was the Highlanders' Willie Keeler, who hit two inside-the-park home runs on August 24th. They are the only homers he hit in a span of 483 games from July 13, 1901 to April 25, 1905.

And speaking of home runs, on October 7th, George Stovall hit a first-inning homer off of his brother, Jesse Stovall. It was the first home run of brother George's career, one which would span a dozen years, ending with him as a player-manager of the Federal League's Kansas City Packers in 1915. For Jesse, it would be the last game of his major career, one that began the previous year with five straight wins during a September call-up with Cleveland, including back-to-back shutouts followed by a ten-inning three-hitter, but ended with him posting a 2-13 mark with the 1904 Tigers, included ten straight losses to start the year. There would be two more brother-brother home run combinations, with the Ferrells in 1933 and the Niekros in 1976.

Two things happened on the base paths on May 27th that you don't see every day. The first was turned in by the Phillies Rudy Hulswitt who was called out for being hit by a batted ball twice in one game. It's relatively rare to get hit once in a game, but this is the only time I've seen it happen twice. In both cases, he got in the way of an apparent base hit, either ending or curtailing a rally, causing a sub-headline in the story concerning the loss the next day to read: "Phillies Are Also A Bit Dopy On The Bases And Aid Not A Little In The Hubites' Victory."44

At the other end of the baserunning spectrum, Giants first-baseman Dan McGann set a season-high by stealing five bases in a game against Brooklyn that day. First-basemen tend to be slower than average players, but Johnny Neun in 1927 was also playing first when he repeated McGann's feat. The last first-baseman with as many as four stolen bases in a game was rookie John Jaha in 1992. Neither Neun nor Jaha would have as many stolen bases in their careers as the 42 McGann stole in 1904 alone.

On April 25th Cy Young gave up only two first-inning runs on his way to dropping a 2-0 decision to Rube Waddell and the Athletics. Waddell, back with Philadelphia after getting suspended the previous August, blanked the Red Sox in his next start as well, this time allowing only a single hit, and when he faced Cy Young on May 5th for his third straight start against Boston, his scoreless-inning streak reached 32 before he gave up a run in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, all eyes were on Young, who had already retired the first 18 Athletics on his way to the first perfect game in American League history. It was the third perfect game of nine or more innings in the major leagues, the previous two coming within a span of five days in 1880, when Worcester's Lee Richmond victimized the Cleveland Blues on June 12th, and Monte Ward did the same to the Buffalo Bisons in the Providence Grays' 5-0 win on the 17th.

While it didn't attract much attention at the time, in his loss to Waddell on April 25th, Young retired the last nine Athletics without a hit. He appeared in relief five days later, entering the game in the third inning with two runners on and no one out, and held his opponents without a hit over the final seven innings. So when he took the mound on May 11th in his first start since his perfect game, he had pitched 19 hitless innings in a row. Young would extend that to a record 25 1/3 straight before surrendering a hit with one out in the seventh.45+ That game would be scoreless until Boston's Patsy Dougherty's single pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the fifteenth inning. Young's scoreless streak would reach an AL record 45 innings before ending in the eighth inning on May 17th, when Red Donahue, the opposing pitcher, singled to drive in the first of three runs in Cleveland's 3-1 victory.

Young's sole ownership of the scoreless-inning mark would not survive the season. After finishing August with a 8-10 record, Doc White had a September to remember in 1904. It started with a three-hit shutout on the fifth before taking a 5-3 decision in Cleveland four days later, giving up the last run of the game with none out in the bottom of the ninth. These would be the last runs he'd allow the rest of the month as he proceeded to pitch five straight shutouts, including a one-hitter, two-hitter, three-hitter, and four-hitter. He would finish the month with a seventh game winning streak and 45 consecutive scoreless innings, one that would end with two outs in the first inning of his first outing of October.46+

A well-rested Rube Waddell came into Chicago for a four-game series in early June and, fresh off back-to-back shutouts over the Tigers and Highlanders, boasted that he would pitch all four games against the White-Sox.47 I'm not sure why Connie Mack agreed to go along with this scheme, but Rube was allowed to start the first three games before Mack came to his senses. He got removed after two innings in the first one, a 14-2 rout and the only game all season that saw the Athletics use more than one reliever. The loss inspired a writer for the Chicago Journal to write a poem that began:

"In the morn," said the Rube, "I was full of glee,
In the eve I was full of prunes!
For the brutal Sox beat my speed like a drum,
And pounded some wonderful tunes!"

And ended five stanza's later with:

Such was the Tale of the Twenty-one Hits,
The tale of the batting rally,
How the White Sox handed three pitchers theirs,
And did it symmetrically!48

Having had most of the previous day off, Waddell came back and pitched his team to a 6-3 win the next day, but pitched poorly in his third straight start, going the distance in a 6-1 loss and striking out only one batter all day, a season low (not counting a two-batter outing on September 5th) for the pitcher who would set the league record for strikeouts in a year with 349, a mark that would stand (with apologies to Bob Feller in 1946) until Nolan Ryan struck out 383 in 1973. The Athletics' brain trust came to their senses after that and called off the experiment, giving Waddell six days to recover before sending him out again.

On June 4th a huge crowd (37,223) at the Polo Grounds saw the Reds' Jack Harper and Joe McGinnity face each other in a battle of unbeaten pitchers. It is the only time since 1901 that two pitchers with at least seven wins apiece and no losses have faced each other. The crowd size was said to be a record, easily eclipsing the 31,000 said to have attended the 1886 Decoration Day game between the Giants and the Detroit Wolverines (although the New York Times only listed the size of that crowd at over 26,000, 20,000 who paid their way in plus another 6,000 who "were clamoring for admission" and let in without tickets),49+ as well as the 31,500 who attended the previous year's game at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and Pirates.50

Record or not, the game certainly lived up to expectations. The Reds pushed across a run in the top of the first, one that looked like it might be enough to hand McGinnity his first defeat of the year when the Giants went into the bottom of the ninth still down 1-0. Art Devlin led off the inning with a double: "and pandemonium broke loose. Men, women and children in the stands and on the field shrieked, shouted, and showed other manifestations of enthusiasm, and it was some time before play was continued." McGann sacrificed him to third, Bresnahan scored him on what today would be called a sacrifice fly (but back then was simply a productive out), and the game headed into extra-innings. A throwing error in the top of the eleventh gave the Reds a 2-1 lead. But two singles and another deep fly tied the score in the bottom half as darkness brought an end to the game.

A week later, the Cubs were in town and, apart from the visiting teams, things were strangely similar. Where the two earlier starters had entered their game a combined 20-0, this time McGinnity and his opponent, Bob Wicker, were 19-1. Last week's contest was played before a record crowd of 37,223; this one, before an even larger crowd of 38,805. And finally, where the previous game was tied at 1-1 heading into the eleventh inning, this one was scoreless into the top of the twelfth, when the Reds turned a single, infield out and another single into a run, while the Giants, who managed only two singles all day against Wicker, went out in order in the bottom half, sending McGinnity to his first defeat of the year.

Harper and McGinnity had a rematch in the first-game of the double-header on August 31st, this time at the Palace of the Fans in Cincinnati. Their combined record at the start of the day was 46-10, and their winning percentage of .841 is the second highest since 1901 (with a minimum of twenty decisions each). Once again, it was a low-scoring extra inning affair, won by New York in the top of the eleventh on a two-out error by Joe Kelley, the Reds player-manager. By that time, two of the Giants players had been ejected for arguing a call at second, an argument that took place while the Reds were scoring a run, and a third Giant, Frank Bowerman, was wasn't playing, was arrested for assaulting a fan, one Alfred Hartzel, a music teacher and I must assume, a particularly vocal supporter of the Reds.51

Oh, and the highest combined winning percentage since 1901 for starters with at least twenty decisions each: the identical 17-3 records both the Astros' Darryl Kile and the Braves' Denny Neagle brought into their game on August 28, 1997. Neagle won, 4-2.

Speaking of enthusiastic fans, after the Giants swept Boston in a double-header on September 5th in front of a near-record crowd of 37,327: "... the enthusiastic spectators made a wild demonstration. They rushed on the field to carry Mertes, Ames, Browne and others off the field on their shoulders. A couple of thousand made a dash for manager McGraw. In trying to escape McGraw slipped and fell. His left foot was twisted under him and several of the fans fell over the little manager in their excitement. McGraw tried to rise, but was unable to do so. He was carried to the clubhouse, where a physician examined his leg and said it was fractured."52

His ankle turned out to be only dislocated, but I'm sure the little manager's pride was fractured.

The Cardinals' Jack Taylor lost to Pittsburgh in the first game of their July 31st double-header. In the off-season, he would be accused by the Pirates of conspiring with gamblers to lose the game, and tried by the Board of Directors of the National League. While Taylor admitted drinking heavily the night before, and that his heavy drinking left him in no condition to pitch the next day, he argued that he tried his best to win in spite of his hangover. Mike Grady, his catcher that day, came to Taylor's defense and was instrumental in Taylor getting a stiff fine for his poor behavior rather than a lifetime ban for throwing a game.

But Grady's testimony, at least as reported in The Sporting Life at the time of his hearing, makes no sense. According to the paper: "Grady said he did all of the signaling and Taylor never crossed him once; the score was 5 to 3 in favor of Pittsburgh, and was tied up to the last inning, when, with the bases full and two out, Smith had two strikes on him and Grady signaled Taylor for a fast ball close to Smith's chin. The batsman pulled away and the ball, hitting the handle of the bat, dropped just out of reach of the third baseman."53

But the score of the game was 5-2, not 5-3, and the Pirates led from the second inning to the end. Their last score was in the seventh, a single that merely increased their lead from two to three runs.

A follow up on the Red Ames item from 1903: Otto Hess was inserted into Cleveland starting rotation on August 18th. It was his first appearance on the mound for the Naps since giving up ten runs in the last inning of a 21-3 loss to the Highlanders more than a month earlier. Hess pitched just well enough to keep his spot before throwing a three-hit shutout on September 17th. He would hold three more teams scoreless in his next five starts, including a one-hitter, and finish with an 8-7 record. So what does this have to do with Red Ames? Well, three of his shutouts lasted only five innings, setting the post-1901 season mark.

The 1904 Washington Senators were a really bad team. They were so bad that year that they inspired sportswriter Charley Dryden's famous line "Washington - first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." They finished the year with four starting pitchers who lost 23 or more games, although one of those pitchers, Tom Hughes, came over from the Highlanders in July so only 12 of his 23 losses came while pitching for Washington. Still they finished the year with the pitcher (Happy Townsend) who shares the AL record for the most losses in a season, along with three others who are tied for twelfth place,

One of the better players on that Washington team was Frank Huelsman, who came to the team from the St. Louis Browns in a trade on July 14th. It was the end of the long, record-setting journey for Frank, one that began in Chicago on the White Sox bench. After appearing in only three games in six weeks, he was sold to Detroit, who put him in left field for four games before returning him to Chicago. A single pinch-hit appearance later, he was on his way to the St. Louis Browns, where they played him regularly in the outfield for three weeks and then sent him on to the Senators, where he found a home for the rest of the year.

When the dust had settled, Frank had tied the record for the most teams played for in a single season, a record originally set in 1892 by Tom Dowse.54+ It wouldn't happen again until Willis Hudlin's 1940 season. It got more common after that, with ten more occurences between 1951 and 2016, before Oliver Drake set a new standard by appearing with five teams in 2018.

And finally, I thought I'd take a look at a discrepancy that was discovered and thoroughly investigated nearly 75 years ago, involving a single statistic that was over forty years old at the time: the number of Rube Waddell's strikeouts in 1904. For years, it had been listed in the record books as 343, but as Bob Feller started to approach that figure in 1946, people started to take a closer look, or as Cliff Kachline put it at the time: "Competent research experts, going over box scores of all the games in which the Rube appeared 42 years ago, have come up with various other totals, ranging all the way from 347 to 352."55 The researchers identified eight games where there was some disagreement in contemporary accounts about the number of Waddell's strikeouts, and by the time they had come to a consensus, they'd settled on a number (349) one more than Bob Feller's total.

I don't have really much more to add, except to point out that the only thing unusual about the story is the effort that people took to ensure the number was as accurate as possible. There are reasonable doubts about the stats associated with over ten thousand games during the Deadball Era and as people have the time, energy and resources to resolve these doubts, we should expect to discover small changes (like a 343 turning into a 349) at nearly every turn.


For the second straight season, there was a pennant race to remember in the American League. On July 1st, the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Naps were tied for first place, with the Philadelphia Athletics just a game and a half behind. But after the game that day, Nap Lajoie, Cleveland's best player and manager, went on the shelf due to blood poisoning caused by an untreated spike wound and was pretty much done for the year.56 But even with their best player sidelined and two of their best pitchers, Addie Joss and Bob Rhoads, missing starts that month, Cleveland was in first place by three games as late as July 24th.

And then the wheels came off. They lost 12 of their next 13 games and were never able to recover. At their high-water mark that day in July their record stood at 52-29, but they would finish the year on a 24-49 slide. Of course, such a dramatic collapse was not simply due to the loss of Lajoie. Their second half plunge was accompanied by a litany of maladies: Addie Joss had a cold and then a lame back, Otto Hess and Bob Rhoads suffered from sore arms, George Stovall missed two weeks with blood poisoning, and at one point it was feared that Bill Bradley, their star third baseman, had come down with tuberculosis.57+

With Cleveland out of the way, the race turned into a two-team affair between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, one that Philadelphia seemed to have in hand when their lead reached 4 1/2 games on September 7th. But the next day, Rube Waddell, their star pitcher, was removed after the second inning and would be sidelined for all but seven ineffective innings the rest of the year. Without their ace, and we'll get back to Waddell's absence later on, the Athletics lost almost their entire lead over the next three weeks and were in front of the White Sox by .003 percentage points when the two met in Philadelphia on September 28 for a three-game showdown.

The White Sox came into the series having played eleven games. including five double-headers, against Boston and New York in the previous seven days. They had done well, winning nine of them, but the heavy workload forced them to start with series with Roy Patterson on the mound. Patterson, a former twenty-game winner, had pitched sparingly all season, winning only twice, and was making his first appearance since September 3rd. The White Sox used only six pitchers all season, the fewest in the league, and Roy was clearly number six on their depth chart. He faced Eddie Plank, the Athetics' best pitcher since Waddell went missing, who had allowed only ten runs in his seven previous starts, winning them all.

It was a closely fought affair. Plank allowed only three hits, tying his career high with twelve strikeouts, but Patterson also pitched well and the game was tied at two apiece heading into the bottom of the seventh. With Topsy Hartsel on second, two out, and Harry Davis at the plate: "So simple a thing as Hartsel's glove won the game.... While Topsy reposed on second base in the seventh his fielding glove lay palm upward in short left field. Davis poked a liner in that direction and Topsy dug for home. The ball struck the glove, which checked its speed an instant. That instant saved Topsy, for Callahan took the ball on its belated bound and shot a beautiful throw to the plate. Sullivan missed Topsy by the narrow margin of a gnat's heel as he sped over the rubber with the winning run."58

The two teams split the final two games, and Philadelphia took a one-game lead into October. Both teams had eight games to play and would finish their seasons against Washington and St. Louis, the league's two worst teams. The Athletics swept the Browns at home and then went into Washington, where they extended their winning streak to five with a double-header sweep of the Senators. Chief Bender was the hero that day, pitching a shutout to win the first game, and coming on in relief to help take the second. But his hitting was even more impressive, as he had five hits, including a double and two triples, knocking in a combined seven runs. He had come into the game hitting only .176 with two extra bases hits (both doubles) on the year.

The White Sox, meanwhile, had taken two of three in Washington before travelling to St. Louis for their final five-game series of the year, where they were eliminated when they dropped the opener on October 6th. One side note on the conclusion of the race: since the pennant was determined by winning percentage, and since teams were not required to make-up games cancelled or tied after teams had made their last trip to each city, had the White Sox swept the Browns in that final series (instead of going 2-2-1), they would have finished the season with three more wins than Philadelphia but lost the pennant by .0007 percentage points:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
PHI A    152   92   56    4  .6216  0.5
CHI A    158   95   58    5  .6209    -

The pennant race in the National League wasn't all that much different than the year before, with the New York Giants posting a similar record (105-48 compared to their 106-47 mark in 1904) and although the second-place Pirates would draw as close as five games in September, the Giant's three-game sweep in Pittsburgh from September 25th to the 27th, settled the issue, giving New York the liberty of getting their players ready for the World Series.59+ They were led on the mound by Christy Mathewson who won thirty or more games in a season for the third year in a row, and at the plate by Mike Donlin who'd arrived from the Reds in a trade the year before and had the best season of his career, leading the league in runs scored and placing among the leaders in hits, extra-base hits, batting average and slugging percentage.

The Giants started the season with two one-sided wins (10-1 and 15-0) over the Boston Beaneaters and they kept beating them all year long, outscoring them 145-40 on their way to a 19-3 mark. And it would have been even worse were it not for Irv Young, who was responsible for all three Boston victories (by scores of 2-1, 2-0 and 1-0). Even with Young battling New York to a 3-3 draw in his six starts, their season series was the second most lopsided in major league history (with a minimum of fifteen decisions). Here are the ones where one team scored at least three times as many runs as their opponent:

Year  Team   Oppon   W   L   RS   RA  RS/RA
1885  NY  N  BUF N  15   1  150   38  3.947
1905  NY  N  BOS N  19   3  145   40  3.625
1965  PIT N  NY  N  14   4  105   33  3.182
2019  CLE A  DET A  18   1  116   38  3.053
1933  NY  N  CIN N  17   4   99   33  3.000
2001  STL N  PIT N  14   3  111   37  3.000

The World Series is well-known today for Mathewson's three shutout victories. In addition to allowing only 13 hits in the three games, he walked only one batter (and in his first eight World Series starts, he would walk only three batters in 73 innings). The series is considered a prime example of offensive futility during the Deadball Era: every game ended in a shutout and the Athletics were outscored 15-3. But the series was actually much closer than it looked.

The teams alternated between cities for the first four games, trading 3-0 shutouts before the visiting Giants won the only blowout of the series, taking the third game 9-0 behind Mathewson's four-hit shutout. So when the Athletics went into New York for the fourth game, they had Eddie Plank, their best pitcher not named Waddell on the mound, needing a win to even the series. He was opposed by Joe McGinnity, and the two kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Sam Mertes led off with a grounder to short that Monte Cross muffed, moved to second on a ground out before scoring what would be the only run of the game on a ball hit past third-baseman Lave Cross that the Philadelphia Inquirer said "looked like a possible chance, and Lave did not get to it," and The Sporting Life considered an error. It was the first run scored by a home team in the series. The Athletics threatened in the eighth when Topsy Hartsel led off with his second walk of the day. Bris Lord's subsequent failure to sacrifice loomed large as Hartsel was unable to score when Lave Cross hit a two-out single to center.60

Down three games to one, the Athletics sent Chief Bender out to face Mathewson, two pitchers who had yet to allow a run in the series. That streak was broken in the bottom of the fifth when Bender's two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a fly ball gave the Giants their first run. Three innings later, a walk, ground-rule double and infield out accounted for another, while Mathewson was retiring the last ten Athletics in order to end the game and the apparently one-sided series. But if you had known ahead of time that the Athletics would hold the Giants to a total of three runs in games four and five, smart money would have been on the series returning to Philadelphia for games six and (if needed) seven.

Speaking of smart money, in reading newspaper articles on the World Series, I was struck by how openly sportswriters discussed the bets participants were placing on their teams. In a New York Times article on the first game, they noted that: "It became know that McGraw had succeeded in placing about $400 at even money with Philadelphia followers. In some cases the Philadelphians cut the price nicely and insisted on a proportion of $75 to $70 or 15 to 14. Clark, Donlin and Dahlen also succeeded in getting a few bets down."61+ And The Sporting Life reported that the Giants players had pooled their resources to bet $2500 on them winning the series.62

Once the series ended and the post-mortem began, much of the blame settled on Rube Waddell, his mysterious injury and subsequent absence the rest of the season. At the time, it was reported that he was removed after two innings on September 8th because "he was not himself," perhaps due to the strain of pitching into the thirteenth inning (and walking seven while striking out seventeen) three days earlier.63 That evening, he reportedly got into a scuffle with Andy Coakley in the Providence, Rhode Island railway station over his teammate's straw hat, injuring his shoulder. But people started doubting his story (and injury) almost immediately:

"Waddell claimed that in action his shoulder muscles pained him so much as to make the pitching arm useless. His trainer and his physician upon examination declared that there was nothing wrong with the arm. Meantime Manager Mack and most of the Athletic players came to the conclusion that Waddell was shamming, for some reason best known to himself...."64

An article by Steven A. King in SABR's The National Pastime in 2013 entitled "The Strangest Month in the Strange Career of Rube Waddell" covers this saga in more detail and can be read in its entirety here. But what is known is that Rube pitched poorly the three times he took mound the rest of the year and Connie Mack did not use him in the World Series. By the way, he was not so much blamed for the loss because of how he might have pitched in the series (when a team scores only three runs in five games you can hardly fault their pitching), but because of the added strain the close pennant race had put on the entire team down the stretch.65

While there was some argument over who to blame for the Athletics' loss, the was a roaring consensus on the hero, and Christy Mathewson ended the 1905 season on top of the baseball world. He was barely two months past his 25th birthday, supremely talented and on the best baseball team in the world. He had also just finished winning his first and, as it would turn out, last World Series.

Two final points about the series. First, the Giants came within a single pinch-hit strikeout (by Sammy Strang) and a scoreless relief inning (by Red Ames) of using only ten players in the five games. And secondly, the final game of the World Series was 507th and last time Lave and Monte Cross would play together in the same infield (not counting exhibitions and such), something I figured out at some point because I'd assumed they were related. But although Lave Cross had three brothers who also played in the major leagues, Monte Cross wasn't one of them. Two of the other Cross boys, Joe and Frank appeared in just a single game.

The best hitter in 1905 was Cy Seymour, who led the majors in hits, triples, batting average and slugging percentage, led the NL in doubles, and was tied for the major league lead in home runs until teammate Fred Odwell broke the tie with his ninth homer on the second to last day of the season. Seymour's .377 batting average was the highest in the NL from 1901 until Roger Hornsby hit .397 in 1921, although six different American League hitters had a higher batting average on seventeen occasions over the same period including three each in 1911, 1912 and 1920.

Earlier in his career, Seymour had also been a successful pitcher, winning 25 games in 1898 and twice leading the NL in strikeouts. Unfortunately control problems derailed that career (he also led the NL three times in walks allowed, and once in wild pitches and hit batters), forcing him by 1901 to move on to an even more successful plan B: playing center field.

Fred Odwell had hit only one homer prior to leading the majors in 1905 and would not hit another in his two remaining major league seasons. Not counting the National Association, his career total of ten is tied with Count Campau (1890 AA) for the fewest among players who led their league, and since 1900 the second lowest career totals are Dutch Zwilling (1914 FL) and Braggo Roth (1915 AL) with thirty each. The lowest since 1920 (not counting active players) are two home run leaders during World War Two: Tommy Holmes (1945 NL) with 88 and Nick Etten (1944 AL) with 89.

Prior to 1905, five different players had tripled three times in a game on two occasions during their careers, the last being Elmer Flick in 1898 and 1902. Dave Brain joined that club in 1905, becoming the first and last major leaguer to do it twice in one season. He was playing for the Cardinals when he did it against the Pirates on May 29th, and playing for the Pirates when he tripled three times against Boston on August 8th. Despite those two outbursts, Brain didn't hit a ton of triples, adding only five more in his other 127 games. In addition to those two games in 1905, Brain is notable for being the only third-baseman to commit five errors in a game since at least 1901, when his errors were among eleven committed by Boston on June 11, 1906.

On August 30th, Ty Cobb made his major league debut, three weeks after his father was shot and killed by his mother. Cobb hit his first major league homer on September 23rd. It came in the third inning off of Cy Falkenberg and was the first home run allowed by the second-year pitcher for Washington. Cobb hit his last homer on May 16, 1928 off of Cleveland's rookie right-hander Mel Harder, the first home run allowed of his career as well, although he surrendered his second three batters later.

Hall of Fame left fielder Jesse Burkett wrapped up his career on October 7th with five hits and six runs scored in Boston's double-header sweep of New York, and his hits that day extended his career-ending hitting streak to thirteen games. Also playing his last game that day was 23-year-old Joe Cassiday, Washington's shortstop. After playing in over 300 games and averaging nearly 580 at-bats during his two years in the majors, Cassiday would die the following March from either typhoid or malaria.

I wondered if he holds the mark for most games and at-bats for a player with a career that brief. And he does. Here are the leaders in games played and at-bats for careers that lasted from one to ten seasons long (ignoring players active after 2018):

Len  Player              Years    G    Player              Years    AB
  1  Sparky Anderson      1959  152    Irv Waldron          1901   598
  2  Joe Cassiday      1904-05  303    Joe Cassiday      1904-05  1157
  3  Milt Byrnes       1943-45  390    Fred Raymer       1901-05  1380  
  4  Rube Ellis        1909-12  555    Lyman Bostock     1975-78  2004
  5  Spike Shannon     1904-08  694    Homer Smoot       1902-06  2635
  6  Heinie Sand       1923-28  848    Johnny Frederick  1929-34  3102
  7  Rebel Oakes       1909-15  986    Rebel Oakes       1909-15  3619
  8  Mike Mitchell     1907-14 1124    Mike Mitchell     1907-14  4095
  9  Alexei Ramirez    2008-16 1371    Alexei Ramirez    2008-16  5134
 10  Ralph Kiner       1946-55 1472    Tommy Dowd      1891-1901  5514

Fred Raymer also played his last major league game on October 7, 1905.

I mentioned above that Cy Seymour had the highest batting average in the NL that year, but heading into the last day of the season that race still hadn't been settled, with Seymour holding an eleven point lead (.375 to .364) over Honus Wagner. Since Seymour's Reds were playing host to the Pirates for a season-ending double-header, fans had the opportunity to watch the two contenders head to head, and according to The Cincinnati Enquirer: "Ten thousand people followed with more interest than they manifested in the games the contest between Seymour and Wagner for the batting honors of the league. Cheers upon cheers greeted the appearance of each at the plate, and mighty cheering was the echo to the ring of bat against ball as Cy kept driving out hit against hit."66

I like the image of fans in the stands computing updated batting averages in the margins of their newspaper after each at-bat, but if people were actually doing something like that, they could've stopped after the first game. Wagner catching Seymour was a long shot at the start of the day (assuming the same number of bats, Wagner would've needed six more hits than Seymour), and by the second game even eight more hits wouldn't have been enough.

Speaking of fans, a record crowd of over 25,000 at the Athletics' July 8th double-header with Boston stormed onto the field during the first game, stopping play for twenty minutes while 75 additional police were called in to help control the crowd. There were several injuries, including two fans behind home plate who were knocked unconscious by foul tips, and several fans were arrested before order could be restored.67 With thousands behind ropes in the outfield, ground rule doubles became the order of the day. In the opener, Boston tied the AL record for the most two-base hits in a game with eight, only to see Philadelphia set a new mark with ten in the second, a league record that wouldn't be tied until Cleveland matched it in 1920 (a game the Indians lost), and it wouldn't be broken until the Red Sox hit twelve in 1990.

With all the talk about Rube Waddell's injury and absence down the stretch and throughout the World Series, we shouldn't lose sight of just how well he pitched in 1905. He didn't make his first start (a one-hit shutout) until the season was nearly three weeks old and missed almost all of the last four weeks and still won 27 games and struck out 287 batters. He pitched a five-inning no-hitter (the only runner reached on his error), threw 43 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, and beat Cy Young in a memorable twenty-inning marathon on July 4th. Had he avoided whatever sidelined him in September, he could have easily won thirty games or more and set a new high in strikeouts.

That loss against Waddell on July 4th dropped Cy Young's record to 7-10 on his way to the first losing season of his career. He was a much better pitcher than his 18-19 record indicated, allowing an average of 2.78 runs per 9 innings, better than his 22-9 teammate Jesse Tannehill's 3.01. The reason? Boston scored an average of 4.66 runs in Tannehill's starts and only 2.94 in Young's. He allowed fewer runs per nine innings than he had two years earlier, when he went 28-9 and benefited from his team scoring nearly twice as many runs per start (5.77) than they would in 1905.

That day was also a particularly bad one for Boston second-baseman Hobe Ferris, who got up thirteen times without a hit. Since 1901, only seven players have gone 0-12 or worse in a double-header:

ABs  Player              Team   Date
 13  Hobe Ferris         BOS A  1905- 7- 4
 12  Doug Baird          PIT N  1916- 7-22
 12  Baby Doll Jacobson  STL A  1922- 5-30
 12  Skeeter Newsome     BOS A  1943- 8-12
 12  Red Schoendienst    STL N  1947- 6- 9
 12  Bob Saverine        WAS A  1966- 6- 8
 13  Brian Hunter        DET A  1998- 7-20

Ferris' teammate Freddy Parent had seven hits in the double-header, including a career-high five in the first game.

Not to be outdone, on August 24th the Cubs and Phillies played the second twenty-inning game of the year. For Rookie Cubs pitcher Ed Reulbach, it was his second marathon win of the year, having won an eighteen-inning game exactly three months earlier. Like the earlier Boston-Athletics contest, both starting pitchers threw a complete game, which was the norm at the time. Of the seven major league games in 1905 that went fifteen innings or more, only one team used a relief pitcher, the Athletics on August 18th, when Connie Mack called on the seemingly ever-present Rube Waddell to relieve Weldon Henley in the middle of a ninth-inning St. Louis rally that tied the game. Rube then proceeded to pitch seven scoreless extra-innings until darkness prevailed.

On June 22nd, Mordecai Brown dropped a 4-0 decision to Togie Pittinger and the Philadelphia Phillies, dropping his season mark to 5-11 and his career record to 29-34. His eleven losses at the end of the day tied him with Vic Willis and Mal Eason for the league lead. Brown didn't start again for more than two weeks, but he turned things around in the season's second half, allowing an average of 2.45 runs a game (down from 3.86) and winning 13 of his last 14 decisions. It was the start of a four and a half year stretch that saw him go 115-31.

Vic Willis had to wait a little longer for things to turn around for him. There's an expression that you have to be a pretty good pitcher to lose twenty games, meaning that bad pitchers aren't given the opportunity to lose that many games. Well, if that's true, you must be especially good to lose 29 games, which is what Willis did in 1905. He lost his 20th game on August 4th, and after his loss on September 24th, he had 27 losses and was scheduled to start three more times. In his next start, he gave up a season high ten runs to the Reds, but his teammates bailed him out by battering two Cincinnati pitchers, including Rip Vowinkel, for fourteen runs and instead of his 28th loss, he had his 12th win, and a thirty-loss season was no longer a possibility.

Things did get better for Vic during the off-season. On December 15, 1905 he was traded to the Pirates, going from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best, and he suddenly went from a 29-game loser to four straight seasons where he went 23-13, 21-11, 23-11 and 22-11. In his first season in Pittsburgh, he allowed only 2.35 runs per game, down from 4.61 the year before with Boston.

Frank Smith pitched a no-hitter on September 6th against the Tigers winning 15-0. He was opposed by Jimmie Wiggs who was making his first appearance of the season (and second career start) and who departed after giving up eight runs in the top of the first inning. Wiggs' teammates certainly didn't help matters, committing five errors behind him. It was the most lopsided no-hit victory in AL history, although Jake Arrieta and the Cubs scored 16 runs during his no-hitter against the Reds in 2016.

You could forgive the fans in Cleveland if they thought that the best pitcher in the AL in 1905 wasn't Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank or even their own Addie Joss, but rather Tom Hughes of the seventh-place Senators. Hughes made five starts at Cleveland's League Park that year, pitching four shutouts, including back-to-back two-hitters, while holding the Naps to a single run (and four hits) the only time they managed to push across a run against him. And even that run scored on a close play at home that could have gone either way. He is the only pitcher to shut out an opposing team four times in a season while on the road. Here is his record in those games as well as his home and road games not in Cleveland:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA68+
HOME       18  17  13   1  145    128   61   40   83   6  11  3.79
@ CLE       5   5   5   4   45     20    1    6   35   5   0  0.20
@ OTHERS   16  13   8   0  100.2   91   51   37   33   6   9  4.56

After his last game in Cleveland that year, the Washington Post wrote: "'Good-by, Tommy Hughes, we're glad that you must leave us,' warbled the Cleveland fans to-night. In fact, they don't care if Tommy never comes back, unless it is the occupant of a white uniform with the word 'Cleveland' across the breast."69

Unfortunately, his magic in Cleveland was a one-year phenomenon. Here is his record in Cleveland before and after 1905:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA
1902-04     4   4   3   0   32.1   40   17   11   15   0   3  4.7370+
1905        5   5   5   4   45     20    1    6   35   5   0  0.20
1906-13    20  13  10   1  117    134   66   39   75   5  11  5.08

And finally, on June 29th, the Giants travelled to Brooklyn and beat the last-place Superbas 11-1. Christy Mathewson started the game, but retired after five two-hit innings with a 10-0 lead. Claude Elliott replaced him and pitched what at the time was considered four mop-up innings, but is now considered to be one of his six league leading retroactive saves of the year, his others coming when he took the mound with leads of 10-2, 8-0, 10-2, 10-1 and 8-2. But this is not why we're talking about this game, or why it is a subject of a SABR article. People talk about this game because in the bottom of the eighth inning, John McGraw sent Moonlight Graham into right field to replace George Browne. It was Graham's only appearance in the major leagues and what happened in that game, or more precisely what didn't happen (any fielding chances or plate appearances), found its way into J. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe and, more importantly, the movie Field of Dreams, where Graham was played by Burt Lancaster.


On Saturday, August 4th, the Chicago Cubs dropped the opening game of a four-game series in New York, cutting their lead over the Giants to 4 1/2 games. While their 68-30 record was the team's best this late in a season since 1886, three of the last NL pennant winners (the 1902 Pirates and the 1904-1905 Giants) had a better record at the same point in the pennant race, and if they continued their losing ways for the remainder of their games in New York, things could have gotten very interesting over the next final two months.

But of course that's not what happened. Things turned ugly on Monday when, down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, the Giants' Art Devlin attempted to steal home with men on first and third and two outs and was called out by umpire Jim Johnstone. In the ensuing argument, Johnstone ejected both Devlin and Giants manager John McGraw.71+ The game ended with a near-riot: "When Johnstone called Dahlen out on strikes in New York's ninth, with two Giants on the bases and two out, thus ending the game, the crowd jumped the low-barriers on to the field and rushed for Johnstone. Quicker than that, however, the police surrounded the umpire and escorted him to his dressing room while the mob had to content itself with hurling cushion s at him."72

Up until now, this had been pretty normal kicking on the part of McGraw and his charges, but things would get interesting when Jim Johnstone showed up for work the next day only to be refused admission to the grounds. Johnstone declared the game forfeited to Chicago, while the Giants replaced him with Sammy Strang, one of their players, and suggested that the Cubs fill out the crew with a player of their own. When the Cubs refused to play under these circumstances, Strang declared the game forfeited to New York. McGraw for his part said that he knew nothing about the umpire being barred from the park, only that Johnstone failed to appear, forcing the Giants to appoint one of their players as an emergency replacement.73

I'm not sure what McGraw and the Giants expected to happen, but NL president Harry Pulliam quickly awarded the game to Chicago and reaffirmed that the league, and not John McGraw, would be providing the umpires for these games. And then a strange thing happen the next day, when Johnstone and Bob Emslie, his partner, took the field in front of a crowd of 8,000 Giants fans: "when the two officials went to their respective positions, Emslie at the plate and Johnstone at the bases, they received an enthusiastic greeting from all parts of the grounds."74

The fans were treated to an exciting if ultimately disappointing game, one that ended with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants down by a run and the Cubs best pitcher, Mordecai Brown on the mound in relief with a full count on Hooks Wiltse, the pitcher who had relieved Red Ames in the top of the inning, at the plate. It wasn't as strange as it might seem today to let a pitcher bat in such a crucial situation. Wiltse began the day with a .251 career batting average, but the best he could do that day was a fly ball to Frank Schulte to end the game.

The disputed game with the Giants on August 6th was the start of the greatest stretch in baseball history, one that saw the Cubs lose only two games in six weeks, including consecutive winning streaks of eleven, fourteen, and twelve games. When the dust had settled, Chicago had won a record 116 games and the pennant by a margin of twenty games. They scored 79 more runs than any other team in the league and allowed 89 fewer. At the plate, they were led by player-manager Frank Chance, third-baseman Harry Steinfeldt, and catcher Johnny Kling. They had six different pitchers win a dozen or more games and only Mordecai Brown won more than twenty. The two pitchers of that group with the fewest wins, Jack Taylor and Orval Overall combined to go 24-6, which was not much worse than Brown's 26-6 mark. Of those six, Jack Pfiester had the lowest winning percentage, and he went 20-8. And we haven't even mentioned Ed Reulbach, who set a record (one not broken until 1968) by allowing an average of only 5.33 hits per nine innings.

But they're most famous today for their defense, or more specifically their Hall of Fame double-play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance. Much of their fame (and perhaps a few of their plaques in the Hall of Fame) are due to Franklin Pierce Adams' 1910 poem, The Sad Lexicon, but I think it's clear that they were an excellent defensive team in 1906. Yes, they had fine pitchers, but when the sixth-best starter on your team (Carl Lundgren) allows an average of only 2.73 runs per game, the tenth lowest in the league, there's a good chance that their fielding is at least partly responsible. And we can rule out any park factor contributing to this, since the 1906 Cubs allowed fewer runs in other parks (2.20) than at home (2.71) while posting the best road record (60-15) since the 1885 Chicago White Stockings (the same franchise with a different nickname).

Without any team as dominant as the Cubs, the American League had an excellent pennant race for the third straight year. By August 4th, it was looking like it would be a two-team battle between the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Highlanders. But looks were deceiving, because the fourth-place White Sox played host to the two front-runners over the next nine days, sweeping the Athletics in a five-game series and beating Highlanders three straight before battling them to a scoreless draw on August 13th. That ended a 17-game home-stand for Chicago, one that began with them only a half-game ahead of the fifth-place Tigers and ended with the team in first place by half a game over Philadelphia.

For the Athletics, their five straight losses in Chicago was the start of a collapse that would drop them into fourth-place by year's end. They had been without an effective Rube Waddell since he injured the thumb on his pitching hand in mid-July,75 and they would lose Eddie Plank to a sore arm in early August and Chief Bender to rheumatism shortly after that. The trio that had combined to go 43-18 into early August would win just six more times the rest of the year. And their offense would suffer even more: their four best hitters, Harry Davis, Socks Seybold, Danny Murphy and Topsy Hartsel, would all slump badly over the last two months, with Murphy abandoning the team to return home in early September. As a result, the Athletics would score the fewest runs in the league over the last two months.

The first-place White Sox took to the road on August 15th and continued their winning ways, sweeping both Boston and New York. By the time they took the opener of their series in Washington on August 23rd, they hadn't lost in twenty games (nineteen wins and that tie), and much like their cross-town rivals, were threatening to run away with the pennant. But six days later the Highlanders started a winning streak of their own, one that saw them sweep five double-headers in six days, against Washington (three in a row), Philadelphia and Boston. By the time their winning streak reached fifteen straight, it was their turn to be in first place. The teams jockeyed back and forth over the next two weeks, and were tied when they met in the last of a four-game series in Chicago on September 23rd.76+

A full house attended the game, and the crowd saw a well-played, exciting contest with Ed Walsh facing off against Bill Hogg. Had the game been decided by the eventual fame of the starting pitchers, it wouldn't have been close, but as it was, Walsh allowed the only run to score in the top of the first when, with one out and Kid Elberfeld on first, Hal Chase singled to left. Elberfeld, knowing that Patsy Dougherty had a weak arm, raced to third ahead of the throw, Chase taking second. With the infield playing back, Jimmy Williams hit a fast grounder to George Davis who threw to Jiggs Donahue at first for the second out, who then fired to third in time to tag Chase out attempting to advance for the third out. But in "the second's interval between those two outs, Elberfeld crossed the plate with the run which gave New York first place."77+

Had that game taken place on October 6th instead of September 23rd, the game, and Bill Hogg, would probably be a lot more famous than they are today. As it was, the Highlanders, perhaps exhausted from those four games, when into Detroit and lost all three games (including Bill Hogg's 2-0 loss to John Eubank, a pitcher even more obscure than Hogg), before heading into Cleveland where they dropped two of three, while Chicago rebounded to win ten of their next eleven to secure the pennant.

The 1906 championship series was the first between two teams from the same city.78+ After their record-setting regular season, the Cubs were heavy favorites to win over the team called "the hitless wonders," a nickname that came into fashion earlier in the year when the team was managing to stay on the fringes of the first division despite scoring the fewest runs in the AL. By the end of the season, however, their offense was no worse than average, producing 3.68 runs a game compared to the league's 3.66 (despite the AL's worst team batting average). Still, compared to the Cubs, who had far and away the NL's best offense and defense, they seemed unlikely to fare well in the series.

The White Sox struck first, winning 2-1, with both runs coming after catcher Johnny Kling's misplays (a dropped throw and a passed ball) in an otherwise well-played pitching duel between Nick Altrock and Mordecai Brown. The Cubs evened the series next in a game more like what the experts had expected: a strong pitching performance by Ed Reulbach (who allowed only one hit), and a barrage of hits, runs and stolen bases by the Cubs' hitters. The teams split the next pair of games as well, two-hit shutouts by Ed Walsh, where all the runs scored on a bases-loaded triple by George Rohe, and Mordecai Brown, where the game's only run was manufactured in the seventh courtesy of two singles separated by a pair of sacrifices.

At this point, apart from the games being tied at two apiece, the series had gone pretty much to form, with the Cubs' superior pitching dominating the White Sox hitters, holding them to just eleven hits in four games, good for a .097 batting average. But things were about to change. Cold weather had kept the crowds down at the start of the series, but fans were out in force for game five, and the ground rules necessitated by having the fans cordened off in the outfield led to a flurry of doubles, including four by Frank Isbell, and might have cost the Cubs the game in the bottom of the sixth when Frank Schulte hit a long drive over Fielder Jones' head in center field with the bases-loaded and two out. Without fans in the outfield, the hit would likely have gone for a game-tying inside-the-park grand-slam, but was instead ruled a two-run ground-rule double, a difference that loomed large when the inning (and eventually the game) ended with the Cubs trailing 8-6.

Since the teams didn't have to worry about travel days, the games had alternated between the two parks, with game six taking place in South Side Park, the home of the White Sox. Any thought the Cubs might have entertained of evening the series and forcing a game seven were quickly dispelled when Mordecai Brown, pitching with one day's rest for the first time all season,79+ surrendered four first-inning runs before being removed in the second with another run in and two more on the way. Staked to a large lead, Doc White coasted to a 7-3 win and the White Sox had their championship. Despite both teams hailing from Chicago, the 20,000 baseball fans in attendance were hardly neutral and: "Realizing only the most unexpected events could rob their heroes of the hard fought for honors, the thousands whose sympathies were with the Sox turned the affair into a jubilee of noise. The waving banners, the tin horns, the dinner bells, the megaphones, the counting of the score in unison--all were suggestive of a gridiron contest. Nothing like it ever before was seen on a baseball diamond."80

For the first time since 1900, no pitcher in the majors won thirty or more games. Christy Mathewson, who had done it the three previous years, got a late start in 1906 due to a bout with diphtheria, and struggled through the early months.81 In back-to-back starts on June 4th and 7th, he failed to make it out of the first inning, the second game a 19-0 pasting at the hands of the Cubs. Up to that point Mathewson had allowed an average of 5.81 runs a game. Although he did pitch better as the season progressed and finished with 22 wins, he never did solve the Cubs, finishing the season with a 2-5 record against them, allowing nearly a run an inning.

One of the most interesting players in the NL that year was the Phillies' Johnny Lush. He was only eighteen when he came up in 1904 as a pitcher, but after losing his first six starts, he spent the rest of the season moving between first base and right field, batting a respectable .276 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .705. After playing most of the next year in the independent Tri-State league, he returned to the Phillies and in 1906 and was named their opening day starter, losing a 3-2 decision to Red Ames and the New York Giants. In his next start, he pitched a four-hitter against the same Giants, this time beating Ames 4-2. In that game he walked eleven batters and struck out ten. Here are the pitchers since 1901 to have ten or more walks and strikeouts in a 9-inning game:

Player           Date       Team   IP    H  R ER BB SO DEC
Johnny Lush    4-16-1906    PHI N   9    4  2    11 10   W
Orvil Overall  5-30-1909(1) CHI N   9    7  5    10 10   L
Bob Feller     8- 6-1937    CLE A   9    9  6  6 10 12  ND82+
Sam McDowell   7- 4-1964    CLE A   7.2  4  4  3 11 12   L
Sam McDowell   5- 2-1970    CLE A   8.1  5  3  3 10 10  ND
Bobby Witt     9- 1-1990    TEX A   7    4  2  2 10 10   W

But Lush was just getting warmed up. He pitched a two-hit shutout against the Boston Beaneaters in his next start, went into Brooklyn eight days later and pitched a no-hitter, striking out twelve for only his fifth career major-league win, and before the month was out, shut out the Braves again, this time holding them to a single hit. And in case you're wondering, that is the earliest in a season a pitcher has completed the low-hit trifecta (no-hitter, one-hitter and two-hitter) and it isn't even close:

  Date      Player
 5-30-1906  Johnny Lush
 7-17-1917  Eddie Cicotte
 7-29-1911  Smoky Joe Wood
 7-30-1973  Jim Bibby
 8-19-1965  Jim Maloney

And Lush wasn't done: his bat had been quiet in the first half of the season, but on July 15th, Phillies manager Hugh Duffy started putting him in the outfield when he wasn't pitching and he responded by hitting .304 with a .702 OPS the rest of the way. He was the last player in the major leagues to have at least 200 at-bats, 200 innings pitched and play at least 20 games at some position other than pitcher. The last six:

Player           Year   AB   AVG   OPS   IP     W   L   DG  POS
Win Mercer       1898  249  .321  .767  233.2  12  18   48  SS-23,OF-19,3B-5,2B-1
Cy Seymour       1898  297  .276  .647  356.2  25  19   36  OF-35,2B-1
Walter Thornton  1898  210  .295  .700  215.1  13  10   34  OF-34
Win Mercer       1900  248  .294  .676  242.2  13  17   43  3B-19,OF-14,SS-7,2B-3
Nixey Callahan   1902  218  .234  .545  282.1  16  14   24  OF-23,SS-1
Johnny Lush      1906  212  .264  .617  281.0  18  15   25  OF-23,3B-2

So they went from having three two-way players in 1898 to no one after 1906. If you change the criteria to 150/150/15, there are an additional five players after Lush, but none after 1918:

Player           Year   AB   AVG   OPS   IP     W   L   DG  POS
Jack Coombs      1908  220  .255  .642  153     7   5   51  OF-50,1B-1
Doc White        1909  192  .234  .639  177.2  11   9   40  OF-40
Doc Crandell     1914  278  .309  .853  196    13   9   65  2B-63,OF-1,SS-1
Ray Caldwell     1918  151  .291  .729  176.2   9   8   19  OF-19
Babe Ruth        1918  317  .300  .966  166.1  13   7   72  OF-59,1B-13

Speaking of pitchers doing double-duty, Chief Bender hit the first home run of his career during his win on May 5th. He then replaced Topsy Hartsel in left field on May 8th and homered twice more, which when taken with his performance in his last two games of 1905, gave him the following batting line over those ten games:

  G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  BB   AVG   OBP   SLG
 10  29   5  14   3   2   3   3  .483  .531 1.034

More importantly, these three home runs put him into a tie with teammate Harry Davis for the American League lead. Davis would take over sole ownership of the home run lead with his fourth homer on May 17th, while Bender would not hit his fourth until 1914.

While the fans in Chicago got to see both of their teams in the World Series that fall, the fans in Boston could have held a bizarro World Series to determine the worst team in the majors. It had been a horrible year for both clubs. On May 1st, the Americans began a twenty game losing streak, and when that still had more than a week to go, the Beaneaters started one of their own that reached nineteen games before ending on June 9th. Later in the summer, they would lose another fourteen in a row. Both teams would finish the season with just 49 wins and each would score the fewest and allow the most runs in their league. Unlike the year before, the two teams didn't meet in a postseason series which was probably just as well.

On September 22nd the Philadelphia Athletics started a string of 48 straight innings without scoring a run. The streak was broken in the 6th inning of their game on the 26th when rookie pinch-hitter Eddie Sullivan was safe on an error, advanced to second on Hartsel's walk, moved up on a passed ball, and scored (along with Hartzel) when Davis hit a single. It was the first of 1821 runs that Sullivan would score in his career, with all but two of them scored under his real name, Eddie Collins. The Athletics streak of offensive futility would not be eclipsed until 1968, when the Chicago Cubs were held scoreless for 49 1/3 consecutive innings.

White Sox catcher Babe Towne had an auspicious debut when he began his career with five straight hits, albeit spread out over more than three weeks. His brief career was sharply divided into his first seven games (8-16) and his last seven (2-17). He made his final major league appearance as a pinch-hitter for Doc White in the second game of the World Series. By the way, we believe that Babe has been wrongly denied a .300+ lifetime batting average for well over a century. In his final regular season game, he was charged with three at-bats when it appears he walked in his only plate appearance that day. Removing those three at-bats raises his final career batting average from .278 to .303.

On June 20th, Bill Bergen had a career highlight of sorts when he batted cleanup for the first and last time in his career. For some reason manager Patsy Donovan kept moving him around the Brooklyn lineup during the first half of the year. He started hitting eighth, but when his average had sunk to .123 three weeks into the season, Patsy moved him into the fifth and sixth slot for most of the month leading up to his appearance batting cleanup. I think that most fans exaggerate the importance of a team's batting order, but I can imagine more than a few of them grumbling when Bergen dragged his bat to the plate in the bottom of the first that day with one out and runners on second and third and "lifted a puny foul to [catcher Admiral] Schlei."83 After the game, Donovan apparently came to his senses and Bergen would bat eighth the rest of the season.

The marathon of the year, and one of the few bright spots in the second half of the season for the Athletics, came on September 1st, when Philadelphia defeated Boston 4-1 in 24 innings. As was the custom of the time, both starting pitchers were still around at the finish, and Jack Coombs and Joe Harris combined for 32 strikeouts in their 48 innings on the mound. I'm not sure if that's a major league record, but it is the most since at least 1901. And while it's not surprising that Harris' 14 strikeouts was a career high, Coombs' would strike out 18 batters in a game again, in a 16-inning scoreless tie on August 4, 1910, and Ed Walsh and his combined 28 strikeouts that day would be the second highest until Bob Veale (16) and Jim Maloney (13) in 1964.

For Harris, his loss that day after holding the Athletics to a single run for 23 innings was typical of his entire season. Here are three of Boston's pitchers that year along with the averages runs per game they allowed (RA) and their average run support (RS):

Pitcher            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      R   W   L    RA    RS
Cy Young          39  34  28   0  287.2  137  13  21  4.29  2.82
Joe Harris        30  24  20   1  235    130   2  21  4.98  1.67
Jesse Tannehill   27  26  18   2  196.1   91  13  11  4.17  4.31

Yes, Tannehill was a better pitcher than Harris that year, but the enormous difference in their won-lost record is due to the fact that Boston scored more than two and a half times as many runs for Tannehill. Here are the pairs of teammates in major league history when one pitcher had at least twice as many run scored in their starts (with at least twenty starts apiece):

Ratio Year Team  Pitcher            GS   R    RS   W   L   Pitcher            GS   R    RS   W   L
2.585 1906 BOS A Jesse Tannehill    26 112  4.31  13  11   Joe Harris         24  40  1.67   2  21
2.187 1980 CHI A Richard Dotson     32 143  4.47  12  10   Ross Baumgarten    23  47  2.04   2  12
2.165 1970 PHI N Woodie Fryman      20  96  4.80   7   6   Grant Jackson      23  51  2.22   3  15
2.155 1906 BOS A George Winter      22  79  3.59   6  16   Joe Harris         24  40  1.67   2  21
2.123 1964 HOU N Turk Farrell       27 101  3.74  11   9   Hal Brown          21  37  1.76   2  15
2.032 1977 HOU N Floyd Bannister    23 134  5.83   8   8   Mark Lemongello    30  86  2.87   9  13
2.028 1947 PHI A Phil Marchildon    35 181  5.17  19   9   Jesse Flores       20  51  2.55   3  13
2.017 1916 CIN N Clarence Mitchell  24 110  4.58  11   9   Al Schulz          22  50  2.27   4  15
2.012 1935 BOS N Fred Frankhouse    29 141  4.86  11  15   Ben Cantwell       24  58  2.42   3  20

There is as large a gap between the top two entries above as there is between the 2nd and 40th place. Harris lost his first fourteen games that year and the last thirteen of his career. Note: the W and L columns contain each pitcher's won-lost record only counting their games started.

Ed Walsh had a streaky year in 1906. Through the end of July, he was in and out of the starting rotation with mixed results (a 6-6 record with 3.75 runs allowed per game). But starting with a one-inning relief appearance on August 1st, Walsh allowed only a single run in his next 60 innings. Those games were part of eleven straight wins for Walsh, but he combined for a 6-13 record before (2-6) and after (4-7) that streak. Despite his modest 17-13 record, he led the league with ten shutouts (plus another in the World Series), making him the only pitcher with ten or more shutouts in a season who failed to win at least twenty games.

Henry Mathewson, Christy Mathewson's 19-year-old brother, made his first major league start in the Giants final game, walking fourteen batters over nine innings, three more than any other pitcher in 1906. He had allowed only one hit through six, but with the game knotted at one heading into the seventh, he seemingly ran out of gas, giving up five hits and seven of his walks in the last three frames, good for six runs. The official sheets for the game swapped his hits and runs for the game, charging him with seven hits and six runs instead of the other way around.

And finally, while we're on the subject of discrepancies, Wish Egan, went 2-9 for the Cardinals in 1906, with 45 runs allowed in 86 1/3 innings. Now I've mentioned in an earlier footnote why I don't like to use ERA for pitchers during this period, preferring a simple runs average (RA), but I thought it odd that of the 45 runs Egan allowed that year, 44 of them were officially earned. That seemed like a suspiciously high percentage, given that in the NL that year a little more 72% of the runs allowed were earned. I don't have detailed descriptions of all the runs scored off of Egan that year, but I decided to look at what I had to see how many of his runs might have been unearned. And here's what I found:

May 2nd  The second Cubs run scores in the third on an error by Pug Bennett.84
May 18th - The three eighth-inning runs follow a two-out error by Bennett.85
May 31st - The last run in the eighth scores after a two-out error by George McBride86
June 13th - The first run scored after a bad throw by Joe Marshall.87
July 7th - The first run scored on a single after a passed ball put a runner on second.'
           The second run in the third scored as a result of Pete Noonan's error.88
July 16th - The three ninth-inning runs were the result of McBride's error.89

Note: in all the cases where my sources indicated an error was involved in a run being scored, I made sure that the fielder mentioned had at least one error charged in the game.

So by my admittedly unofficial account, I think that Egan gave up somewhere in the vicinity of eleven unearned runs in 1906, give or take a couple, which if true, would drop his ERA more than a run, from 4.59 to 3.54.


In early April 1907, Ty Cobb got into a fight with Boss Schmidt and according to The Sporting Life: "Manager Jennings has decided to retain Cobb, although Boston wants him badly to fill the vacancy caused by 'Chick' Stahl's death. Jennings concluded to keep the hot-headed Southern lad after a heart to heart talk with the players on Saturday."90 It's hard to imagine that Detroit was ever serious about letting Cobb go, and it was fortunate they didn't because, despite being the youngest regular in the league that summer, Cobb was arguably the best player in the American League as he led his team from the second division into the thick of the pennant race.

By mid-July it looked like the White Sox, despite the ineffectiveness of Frank Owen and Nick Altrock, their two winningest pitchers the year before, might have enough to repeat in the AL. After the first game of their double-header on July 17th, Chicago was 52-26 and had a 5 1/2 game lead over the second-place Cleveland Naps. But they slumped after that high-point and by the beginning of September were third in a four-team race, trailing the surprising Tigers, who were led by the best outfield in baseball: Cobb, Sam Crawford and Davy Jones, each of whom would finish in the top three that year in runs scored. Squeezing between the Tigers and White Sox in second place was the Philadelphia Athletics with the fourth-place Naps only 2 1/2 games behind.

Philadelphia took a slim lead with their victory over New York on September 4th, one they maintained until three straight losses to second-division teams cut their lead to three percentage points (.003) over Detroit on the 20th. A week and a half earlier, Rube Waddell had battled Cy Young to a 13-inning scoreless tie in Boston, but as in previous years, he would prove to be ineffective down the stretch, including his last two starts of the season, losses to St. Louis and Chicago.

Once again, unplayed games would have an impact on the pennant race and when the Athletics hosted Detroit for a three-game series starting on September 27th, they were 1/2 game behind the Tigers despite having a higher winning percentage:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
PHI A    141   83   54    4  .60584 0.5 
DET A    144   86   56    2  .60563   -

In the opener, the Tigers' pitcher Bill Donovan gave up thirteen hits and walked four, but was able to hold onto a slim lead late in the game by getting Danny Murphy to ground into a double-play with the bases-loaded and none out in the seventh (Jimmy Collins then made the third out with a runner on third), Simon Nicholls and Socks Seybold to pop up to the infield and ground out with bases loaded and one out in the eighth, and Rube Oldring to tap back to Dononvan with a runner on second and two-outs in the ninth.91

The next day's game was rained out and as there was no Sunday baseball in Pennsylvania, the teams squared off on September 30th for a double-header that would be their last meeting of the year. Nearly 25,000 fans were on hand with many more on nearby rooftops to witness the contests, and while the fans might have been cheated out of a second game that day, the one they did see was a classic, described by a local newspaper as "the most remarkable game ever played on the Athletic ground."92+

Bill Donovan, starting his second straight game for the Tigers was touched for three runs in the first, and when Detroit loaded the bases with one run in and a man out in the top of the second, Connie Mack called upon Rube Waddell to relieve Jimmy Dygert, a decision that looked good when Rube fanned Davy Jones and Germany Schaefer to end the threat, and he held the Tigers scoreless through six as Philadelphia added four more runs to their lead. Waddell ran into trouble in the seventh when a walk and two errors loaded the bases before a Sam Crawford double and two infield outs narrowed the gap to 7-5. The teams traded runs before entering the ninth with the Athletics ahead 8-6 and Waddell still on the mound. A single by Crawford and a Ty Cobb home run quickly tied the game, putting an end to Rube's day. Eddie Plank came on to restore order and after Philadelphia went out in order in the bottom half, the teams headed into extra-innings.

The two teams each scored a run in the eleventh before a controversial interference call in the bottom of the fourteenth might have cost the Athletics the game (and first place). Harry Davis led off with a fly to deep left field and a police officer "getting out of Crawford's way, ran across him. There was not the slightest evidence of interference. Crawford reached the ball while on a full run. It struck his mitt and dropped out again. The claim of interference was made and, to the surprise of everyone, it was allowed by {Silk] O'Loughlin."93 Well, that was the Philadelphia Inquirer's take on the play. For a different version, here's what the Detroit Free Press had to say: "Crawford made a long run for the ball, bumped into the crowd, and got the sphere in his mitt. As he grabbed the ball a spectator knocked it from his hands."94

The call was protested vehemently by the home team and a fight nearly ensued, which given the overflow crowd could have gotten very ugly. Once things had settled down, Danny Murphy followed with a single "on which Davis would have easily scored from second. And it may have cost them the championship."95 Of course, Donovan would probably have pitched very differently to Murphy with a runner on second, but when darkness ended the day for the two teams three innings later, the resulting tie (as well as the loss of a second game) was a huge disappointment to the Athletics and their fans.

From there, Detroit headed to Washington and swept the last-place Senators in four straight, while Philadelphia took two of three from a much tougher Cleveland team. When the Athletics followed the Tigers into Washington for a split of their double-header on October 4th, losing the first game 2-1 in ten-innings to rookie right-hander Walter Johnson, they still had a long-shot chance to win the pennant because if they swept the Senators in their double-header the next day (which they did) and Detroit lost all three of their games to the seventh-place Browns (which they didn't do, losing only two), the final standings would have been:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
PHI A    150   88   57    5  .60690 0.5 
DET A    153   91   59    3  .60667   -

But with their victory over the Browns on October 8th, the Detroit Tigers secured the American League pennant despite losing one more game than the Athletics.

While the American League was enjoying their fourth exciting pennant race in a row, the National League was also staying true to form with their fourth straight walk-over. Any hopes of a team catching the Chicago Cubs were put to rest by their 47-12 start, giving them an eleven-game cushion on June 26th, a margin that had increased to 17 1/2 games by September 1st, allowing them to coast to their second straight pennant. From 1904 to 1907, the average distance between the NL champion and runner-up was nearly 15 games. By contrast, the average fourth-place team in the AL was less than 11 games out of first.

The hot start to their season allowed the Cubs to post the best record for any 154-decision stretch in major league history (not counting the National Association). Here are the most wins for a team across 154 decisions (with overlapping stretches removed):

Team      W   L      Start          End
CHI N   124  30   1906- 6-19    1907- 6-26(2)
CHI N   122  32   1884- 9- 2    1886- 5-22
NY  A   117  37   1927- 5-30(2) 1928- 5-29(1)
STL N   117  37   1943- 8-29(2) 1944- 8-28
PIT N   116  38   1901- 8-29(1) 1902- 9- 2(1)
PIT N   116  38   1908- 9-19    1909- 9-22
DET N   115  39   1885- 9-24    1887- 5-21
CHI N   114  40   1880- 5- 5    1881- 9-10
NY  N   114  40   1884-10-13    1886- 6-24
BAL N   114  40   1896- 5- 9    1897- 6-18
NY  N   114  40   1911- 7- 5(2) 1912- 7- 9
CLE A   114  40   1954- 4-25    1955- 4-22

The World Series opened on October 8th with a sloppy and exciting 12-inning tie game that Detroit appeared to have won when Bill Donovan struck out the Cubs' Del Howard with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Boss Schmidt, their catcher, snatched a tie from the jaws of victory by missing the pitch, and as the ball headed to the backstop, Harry Steinfeldt scored the run that sent the game into overtime. It was arguably a more dramatic turn of events than Mickey Owen's famous dropped third strike in the 1941 World Series (which only became significant when Hugh Casey couldn't get the next five batters out), and the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune the next day featured a cartoon showing three startled cops in a police station while the captain reassured them: "Naw, that ain't a bomb explosion. The Cubs have just tied the score in the ninth."96

Prior to 1907, the player's share was taken out of the receipts from the first four games, but this was the first World Series game played after the National Commission ruled that a tie game entitled the player's to collect receipts from an extra game. So Schmidt's muff, while it cost Detroit a win, did increase both the winner's and loser's share.97 And Schmidt's defensive woes were not limited to the one passed ball, as he made another error on a wild throw and, along with Donovan, permitted the Cubs to steal seven bases in the game, although none led to a score.

The next four games seemed to epitomize the adage that good pitching beats good hitting, as the best pitching staff in the NL shut down far and away the best hitting team in the AL, allowing the Tigers to score a total of three more runs in the series. Unlike the first four games of the previous World Series, when the White Sox were held to only eleven hits, the Tigers got their share of hits, and actually hit better than Chicago when the bases were empty (.264 to .229). But it was a different story after that, as Detroit hit .160 (with no extra-base hits) in the series with men on, an average that got even worse (.149) with runners in scoring position. Four different Cubs pitchers took part in the sweep, culminating in Mordecai Brown's shutout in game five.

Ty Cobb had an especially rough series, hitting .200 and, more importantly, going hitless with runners in scoring position (although to be fair, we're only talking about seven at-bats). After leading the AL in stolen bases during the regular season (including 32 stolen bases in his last 42 games), Cobb was caught stealing in his only attempt, as Cubs' catcher Johnny Kling for the most part kept the Detroit's runners in check, throwing out runners on 5 of their 11 attempts to steal, while the Cubs ran wild on three different Tiger catchers, on its way to a World Series record 18 stolen bases.

1906 had been a rough year for Boston's baseball fans, and 1907 got off to an even worse start. In the quote at the top of this article, the writer mentions Boston Americans' interest in acquiring Ty Cobb to replace Chick Stahl, who had recently died. On March 28, 1907, Chick Stahl, who had managed the Boston Americans for last 40 games of 1906, committed suicide in his hotel in West Baden Springs, Indiana. Stahl had recently resigned his managerial duties and at the time some thought that the strain of managing a last-place team had contributed to a depression that caused him to take his life. The next day, Cozy Dolan, the Boston Beaneaters regular shortstop the year before, died of typhoid fever in Louisville, Kentucky.

As they did in 1906, both Boston teams suffered through extended losing streaks in 1907, the Beaneaters dropping 16 straight from August 2nd to 17th, and the Americans following suit with 16 losses between wins (they had two ties in the streak) starting on September 12th. And while they both managed to escape the basement, they each lost 90 games, finishing in seventh place.

The Americans' losing streak took place during a stretch that saw them play all four of their league's first-division teams, while all but one of the Beaneater's losses came against the NL's two worst teams, including one team that was well on their way to being historically awful. When Boston went into St. Louis for the start of a nine-game home and away series with the Cardinals, St. Louis was 18 games out of seventh-place, having won only 23 of their first 101 games. But their sweep of Boston in those nine games would be the start of a surge in the final third of the Cards' season. Here are the standings of the league from August 8th to the end of the year:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
CHI N     56   35   19    2  .648     -
PHI N     58   32   24    2  .571   4.0
STL N     54   29   23    2  .558   5.0
PIT N     63   34   27    2  .557   4.5
NY  N     61   27   32    2  .458  10.5
BRO N     53   21   29    3  .420  12.0
CIN N     57   22   33    2  .400  13.5
BOS N     56   20   33    3  .377  14.5

Another highlight in the last two months for the Cards came on September 2nd, when they hosted the champion Chicago Cubs in a Labor Day double-header. They started the day 53 games behind their guests, but after sweeping their guests 6-0 and 9-0, with Art Fromme's and Johnny Lush holding the Cubs to a combined five hits in fifteen innings, they had narrowed that gap to a mere 51 games, causing The Chicago Daily Tribune to call it "The Surprise of the National League Season," and to add: "A big holiday crowd went dippy with delight, cheering the gallant Cardinals and reviling the poor Cubs."98

The Cardinals' turn-around was done with the help of a strong finish by a trio of pitchers, Ed Karger, Art Fromme and Johnny Lush, who had a combined 9-29 record with 4.21 runs allowed per game before August 8th, and went 18-13 with 2.80 runs allowed after. Their offense also improved, driven in part by a strong finish by rookie Ed Konetchy, who hit a miserable .158, with an equally awful .410 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), into early August, but hit .318, with a .848 OPS down the stretch. Coupled with their five games to two win over the Browns in their post-season series for the championship of St. Louis, and you can forgive Cardinal fans for being optimistic as 1908 approached.99+

Cardinals pitcher Stoney McGlynn also had a better record in the last third of the season (6-20 and then 8-5) despite allowing more runs per game (3.83 and then 4.78). He was a workhorse for St. Louis that year, leading the league in nine categories, including games started, complete games, innings pitched, hits, runs and walks allowed, and losses. He had come up the previous September as a 34-year-old rookie, and 1907 was the middle of a three-year career, one that would see him make only six starts both before and after his one extremely busy year.

The Phillies' George McQuillan made his major league debut on May 8th, pitching a single scoreless inning in relief against St. Louis. Then, after spending the summer going 19-7 for Providence of the Eastern League, he returned to Philadelphia on September 22nd and pitched three consecutive shutouts, including six and nine-inning two-hitters. He finally gave up a run in the first inning of his next start, a three-hit 4-1 win over the Pirates, before wrapping up his season with a 3-2 seven-inning win on October 5th, having allowed just 3 runs in 41 innings.

McQuillan's record of 25 scoreless innings at the start of a career would not be broken until Brad Ziegler's debut in 2008. In that first start, he struck out what would be a career high nine batters and a week later he would strike out eight. He would fan as many as eight in a game only once more in a career that would see him average only 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Nick Maddox also had a late-season call-up to remember when struck out 11 in his debut, shutting out the Cardinals on five hits. He would follow that up by pitching a no-hitter in his third start. He would complete all six of his games in 1907, allowing a total of 8 runs in 54 innings. Like McQuillan, his strikeouts in that first start would be a career high. In two of his other games that year, he would strike out seven, and again, like McQuillan, he would fan as many as that only once more, averaging an even lower 2.9 strikeouts per nine innings in his career.

And we're not done with impressive late season call-ups because on August 28th, 30-year-old rookie Tacks Neuer pitched a three-hit shutout in his first major league game, and before his five-week trial was over, had pitched two more shutouts, a two-hitter over the Senators, and a season-ending three-hitter against the Highlanders. He didn't have as impressive a final record as McQuillan or Maddox (in his next start after his two-hitter, for example, those same Senators pounded him for 16 hits and 10 runs), but I was still surprised that he never pitched in the major leagues again after his performance that year, or at least I was until I read Peter Morris' excellent biography of Neuer, part of the invaluable SABR Baseball Biography Project.

But perhaps the most important pitching debut of the season took place on August 2nd, when 19-year-old Walter Johnson took the mound for the last-place Washington Senators in the first game of their double-header with the second-place Detroit Tigers. Ty Cobb had a bunt single in the top of the second inning, went to third on Claude Rossman's bunt single, and scored the first run of Johnson's career on a Red Downs fly out. The game was knotted at one until Sam Crawford hit a solo inside-the-park home run in the top of the eighth, giving the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish and Johnson his first career loss.

Despite the loss, the reviews of his performance were glowing. The Washington Post: "Walter Johnson, the Idaho Phenom, who made his debut in fast company yesterday, showed conclusively that he is perhaps the most promising young pitcher who had broken into a major league in recent years." And Washington manager Joe Cantillon: "He was as cool as a cucumber at all stages, and he should have won his game in a walk. He impressed me very much, and I believe we have the making of a great pitcher"100

He won his next start, a four-hitter against Cleveland, and a month later pitched the first shutout of his career, following that up with his second five days later. He finished with a final record of 5-9 despite allowing only 2.86 runs per game, the lowest on the team, with only Charlie Smith (at 3.59) allowing fewer than four.

While perhaps not technically a rookie,101+ Rube Vickers was still looking for his first major league win when he entered the first game of the Athletics' season-ending double-header on October 5th with his team ahead 2-1 and no one out in the bottom of the fourth. He would give up the tying run in the sixth, but was still around in the fifteenth inning when the Athletics scored the go-ahead (and in this case, stay-ahead) runs. Not satisfied with just one win, Vickers was sent out in the second game, and retired all fifteen batters he faced before darkness brought an end to the game and season with his team ahead 4-0. So has any other pitcher ever won the first two games of their career on the same day? Now, before checking this out, I was reasonably sure that the answer was going to be: "No." Or maybe even: "Of course not." But since 1901, it has happened on three other occasions, and one of the pitchers is pretty well-known. So here they all are:

Player            Date                      IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO
Rube Vickers    1907-10- 5  Game 1  Game 2  17     7   1       2   8
Ted Lyons       1923-10- 6  Game 1  Game 2   7.2  11   4   3   7   2
Chi-Chi Olivo   1964- 7-26  Game 1  Game 2   2     1   0   0   0   2
Joe Kerrigan    1976- 9- 8  Game 1  Game 2   4     2   0   0   0   1

At this point, the next obvious question is: has any pitcher ever lost their first two games on the same day? And at least since 1901, the answer is: No. Of course not.

In addition to Rube Vickers, the Cardinals Ed Kargar also pitched a shortened perfect game, this one lasting seven-innings, while Ed Walsh and Howie Camnitz also had five-inning no-hitters. It sure seemed as if there were a lot of shortened games in 1907, especially those going seven innings in the NL. Since most of these shortened games were the second games of double-headers, I thought I'd look at the percentage of those games that went five through nine innings as well as those going into extra-innings. Here is the chart for both leagues from 1903 to 1908:

Year Leag    5    6    7    8    9   10+    Year Leag    5    6    7    8    9   10+
1903 NL     2.4  4.9  8.5  4.9 75.6  3.7    1903 AL     1.5  3.0  4.5  6.1 78.8  6.1
1904 NL     3.2  4.3 29.8  3.2 55.3  4.3    1904 AL     7.2  8.4  6.0  3.6 67.5  7.2
1905 NL     3.8  5.0  6.2  8.8 71.2  5.0    1905 AL     5.6  1.1  7.8  6.7 67.8 11.1
1906 NL     6.8  5.1 32.2  8.5 44.1  3.4    1906 AL     0.0  7.5  4.5  0.0 80.6  7.5
1907 NL     4.3  1.1 51.1  3.2 36.2  4.3    1907 AL     2.7  5.3  8.0  1.3 74.7  8.0
1908 NL     2.5  0.0  2.5  1.2 92.5  1.2    1908 AL     0.0  2.9  1.4  7.2 82.6  5.8

So clearly there was a policy in the NL during 1904, 1906 and 1907 to shorten the second-game of double-headers to seven-innings, a policy that was abandoned in 1908. Between 1908 and 2019, there wasn't a year when more than 8.5% of the second game of double-headers lasted only seven innings.

After Rube Waddell failed to hold a 7-1 lead against the Tigers on September 30th, he would make only one more appearance for the Athletics, pitching to one batter in the first game of the October 5th double-header mentioned above, and then only to give Rube Vickers more time to warm up. An extremely valuable pitcher when he was on his game, his history of failure down the stretch had exhausted Connie Mack's patience, and Rube was sold to the St. Louis Browns in February, ending a fascinating, if not often frustrating, chapter in Philadelphia baseball history. It's hard to imagine the Athletics winning either the 1902 or 1905 pennants without him, but it's also fair to wonder whether the team would have won a couple more were it not for his late-season failures and injuries. Rube won more games in September and October in 1902 (when he went 9-1) than in his other five seasons with the Athletics combined (when his record was 7-15).

Prior to the 1907 season, the New York City Police Department issued a new order that they would no longer furnish police protection within ball parks, requiring the owners to provide crowd control at their own expense. As a result, when an overflow crowd attended the Giants' season opener on April 11th, there was no one on hand to deal with the fans when they decided to take over the field in the top of the ninth inning with their team losing 3-0 to the Phillies. It was far from a riot, with the mood of the mob generally good-natured. They had simply decided en masse that they had seen enough baseball for one day, and given the fact that Frank Corridon had held the Giants to one hit through eight innings, I suppose it was hard to blame them.102

A less benign form of mob rule occurred in Brooklyn on July 8th, when with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cubs first-baseman Frank Chance got tired of the fans hurling insults and soft-drink bottles his way and returned fire, throwing a few bottles into the crowd, hitting a man in the bleachers as well as a boy. And then: "Hundreds of yelling fanatics, swelled from all the stands, gathered around the fear-blanched player bent on doing him bodily harm, but just at this point, Captain Maude, with a dozen bluecoats and detectives, jumped onto the field and scattered the would-be rioters all over the diamond. President Ebbets, coatless and anxious, was also speedily on the scene begging the people to calm themselves." Chance was then escorted from the field, order restored, and Phil Lewis allowed to make the game's final out.."103

On August 22nd, Heinie Wagner became the first and last player in 1907 to hit two homers in a game, the only time since at least 1901 that there weren't at least two multi-homer games in a season. And Wagner was one of the more unlikely batters to do it, as he had yet to hit a home run in any of his previous 101 major league games, and would not hit his third career round-tripper for another 171 games. He would never hit more than two in a season and would retire in 1918 with a total of ten home runs in 3,333 at-bats.

And finally, before the 1907 season, the National Commission was said to be considering an idea put forth by Cardinals' owner Stanley Robison that each team play a 112-game schedule within the league, followed by an inter-league session where each team would play a 3-game series against the eight teams in the other league. The results from both of these would be added together to determine the champion of each league, who would then participate in the World Series. The writer thought that it was unlikely to be adopted and that the public wouldn't like it, but that "the idea in itself is all right."104

My first reaction when reading his proposal was that it was a crazy idea, but of course, had each interleague series been six games (three at each park) and those games intermingled with the intraleague ones, what he described would be pretty much what we've had since 1997.


For many, the 1908 baseball season, one that saw two furious pennant races go down to the wire, has been distilled down to a single play: rookie first-baseman Warren Gill's failure to run from first to second on Chief Wilson's apparent game-winning single with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth inning of Pittsburgh's September 4th game with the Cubs, Had umpire Hank O'Day not called Gill out at second, turning the 1-0 victory into a scoreless tie, the Pirates would have remained only a half-game behind the Giants, while adding a game to their slim lead over the third-place Cubs.

Only kidding. As soon as Fred Clarke crossed home plate that day: "Umpire Hank O'Day turned and walked to the players' bench to get a drink of water. The Pirates and most of the Cubs trotted for the exit, but Evers hustled over to second base and yelled at Slagle, who had picked up the ball. Shorty threw it to Evers, who called 'O'Day, O'Day,' but Hank failed to hear him owing to the noise made by the crowd leaving the park. Tinker, however, ran to the hydrant and called the thirsty umpire's attention to what had happened, but Hank merely remarked: 'Clarke has crossed the plate.'"105

The Cubs protested the game, but it was not allowed by league president Harry Pulliam, who asserted that whether or not there was a force out at second was a judgement call on the part of the umpire and could not be challenged.106 And as the Fates would have it, less than three weeks later an eerily similar situation arose in New York, with Giants rookie first-baseman Fred Merkle playing the role of William Gill, Moose McCormick substituting for Fred Clarke, and the Cubs as well as umpire Hank O'Day, reprising their earlier roles.

Having been embarrassed by Chicago's earlier protest, O'Day ignored his post-game thirst long enough to preside over an extremely hectic out call at second, and the home team's 2-1 victory had morphed into a 1-1 tie. O'Day had worked the earlier game alone, but he was behind the plate this time, with veteran umpire Bob Emslie handling the bases, and I think it's telling that O'Day and not Emslie took the lead in calling Merkle out. I also think it's clear that had it not been for the earlier protest, or had any umpire other than O'Day been teamed with Emslie that day, the run would have counted, and we would have been cheated out of the most famous game of the Deadball Era.

After the fact, it seemed inevitable that Merkle's baserunning blunder, which would be known from then on as simply "Merkle's Boner," would only gain in importance as the tight three-team pennant race went into its final two weeks. After the games on September 25th, 6 percentage points (.006) separated the top three teams. There were no head-to-head matchups between them over the next eight days and both the Cubs (6-1) and Pirates (7-0) cleaned up against the weaker competition, while the Giants lost crucial ground by dropping three games in five days to the Phillies' Harry Coveleski. Coveleski was a 22-year-old callup from Lancaster of the Tri-State League who had won his first career major league start only three days before defeating the Giants for the first time. He would eventually be an excellent pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, winning 65 games in a three-year span from 1914 to 1916, but would forever be known for those five days. For example, upon his death in 1950, The Sporting News obituary headline read: "Harry Coveleskie [sic] Dies; Famed as 'Giant Killer.'"107

Here were the standings after the games of October 3rd, the day before the Cubs and Pirates faced off in their final regularly scheduled game:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
PIT N    154   98   55    1  .641     -
CHI N    156   97   55    4  .638   0.5
NY  N    153   95   55    3  .633   1.5

A Pittsburgh win would have won the pennant outright, while a Cubs victory would shift the attention to the Giants' three-game series with Boston that would start the next day, with the first loss by New York or cancellation seemingly guaranteeing Chicago the pennant. The Cubs, behind Mordecai Brown's 28th win, apparently eliminated the Pirates 5-2, "before a crowd which was declared to be the largest which ever paid to see a game of baseball in the world."108 And then they sat and waited to see what would happen between the Giants and Boston.

The next day, the league's Board of Directors made three rulings. First, they sustained Pulliam's decision and declared the September 23rd game a tie. Next, they disallowed a Chicago claim that by not scheduling two games on the following day, the Giants should forfeit the unplayed game to the Cubs. And finally, they ruled that the tie game would be replayed on October 8th, regardless of what the Giants did in Boston. This created the possibility that a single Giants loss in the Boston series, followed by a Cubs loss in the October 8th rematch, would have resulted in a three-way tie for first place, meaning that the Pirates, who had already disbanded for the season, would have had to reassemble to participate in a round-robin playoff.109 And while that might have been a fitting end to a most unusual pennant race, that possibility disappeared when the Giants completed their sweep of Boston on October 7th.

Christy Mathewson started for the Giants the next day, in search of his 38th win of the season, and Cubs manager Frank Chance countered with lefty Jeff Pfiester, who despite a pedestrian 12-10 record that year, was 8-2 lifetime against the Giants. Pfiester ran into trouble in the bottom of the first and after Mike Donlin knocked in a run with a double into the overflow crowd and Cy Seymour walked with two outs, Chance brought in Mordecai Brown, the winner of their last do-or-die game four days earlier, to end the first inning with the Cubs down a run.

Chicago got that back and then some in the top of the third when Mathewson suffered through his only bad inning. Joe Tinker led off with a triple, before a single, walk and back-to-back doubles produced four runs for the visitors. The Giants had their best chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the seventh when they loaded the bases against Brown with no one out. But Larry Doyle, who was hitting for Mathewson, fouled out, Fred Tenney hit a fly to right, scoring the runner from third, before Buck Herzog grounded out to end their last threat of the game. Brown retired New York in order in the eighth and ninth, and the Cubs had their third straight pennant.

The Giants were led to the precipice of a World Series that year by Mathewson, who despite his two losses in the last week of the season, had perhaps the best year of his career, setting career highs with 37 wins, 11 shutouts and 390 2/3 innings pitched, and outfielder Mike Donlin, the league's best hitter not named Honus, who had returned to the team after missing most of 1906 with a broken ankle and all of 1907 while on a vaudeville tour of the country with his wife, actress Mabel Hite. After nearly reaching the World Series with the Giants, Donlin would return to the theater in 1909 and 1910.

And we haven't even discussed the pennant race in the American League, which was even closer than the National League's, with the last two champions, the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago White Sox, being joined by those perennial under-achievers, the Cleveland Naps, as well as by the surprising St Louis Browns, a team that hadn't finished in the first division since 1902. Since all of the contenders were in the western part of the league, the schedule was divided into a repeating sequence of roughly two weeks or so playing each other followed by a similar batch of games against the second-division teams from the east.

So starting on September 17th, with all four western teams within five games of first place, the bottom half of the league arrived from the east, hoping to play spoiler over the next fourteen days. New York started by taking two of four from Detroit while Cleveland was sweeping Boston in three, including a no-hitter by Bob Rhoads. Boston then took three from the Tigers, while the Highlanders, who had given Detroit such a fight, went quietly against the Naps. Then it was Cleveland's turn to struggle, losing two to Washington, getting only three hits off Walter Johnson before scoring only a single run against Roy Witherup, who picked up the first of his three career major league wins, while Detroit was in the process of winning four straight against the Athletics.

By the time the eastern teams returned home on October 1st, the top of the league looked like this:

Team       G    W    L    T   PCT    GB
DET A    149   87   61    1  .588     -
CLE A    151   87   62    2  .584   0.5
CHI A    151   85   62    4  .633   1.5

On October 2nd, the White Sox were in Cleveland for the start of a two-game series, while the Tigers were entertaining the Browns, and both games were memorable. Ed Walsh, looking for his 40th win of the season, struck out fifteen Naps, allowing four singles. The only run scored when Joe Birmingham singled to lead off the third, was picked off first by Walsh but reached third when first-baseman Frank Isbell's throw went into left field. Walsh then retired George Perring on a grounder and struck out Addie Joss before a passed ball during Walsh's strikeout of Goode allowed Birmingham to score, making it about an unearned as a run could get.110 And while Walsh was doing all this, Joss was pitching the second nine-inning perfect game in American League history.

Meanwhile, Detroit rallied from one down in the ninth to beat the Browns, Ty Cobb scoring the winning run from first on Claude Rossman's hit down the left-field line that was either, depending upon your team allegiance, deflected into the crowd and should have been ruled a ground-rule double, holding Cobb at third, or didn't go into the crowd at all and the Browns simply decided to argue with the umpires while Cobb made the winning circuit of the bases.111

While the Tigers were easily dispatching the Browns the next day, the White Sox avoided elimination by defeating the Naps in an exciting match in front of a packed house. Down by two runs in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and two down, Nap Lajoie, Cleveland's best player, faced Ed Walsh, who was on in relief after his game with Joss the day before. By the time the count reached 2-2, the Cleveland fans were in an uproar: "The yelling by this time was deafening, as the rooters pulled with hearts in their mouths for that base hit," But Walsh fooled Lajoie and instead of a spit ball and threw a "fast straight low ball" for strike three. The Naps drew one closer in the bottom of the eighth, but Walsh was able to coax Lajoie into a fly out with a runner on first and two outs in the ninth to end the game.112+

The next day, as the White Sox faced the Tigers in a three-game series and the Naps took on the Browns, the math was relatively simple: Cleveland needed to sweep St. Louis and have the White Sox win two or more games from the Tigers, and the White Sox need to sweep the Tigers and have the Naps lose at least one game. Any other scenario would result in a second straight title for Detroit. The Naps were the first out, losing to Bill Dinneen in the first game of their double-header (necessitated by their eleven-inning tie the day before), while the White Sox took the first two games from Detroit, holding the Tigers' hitters to a total of nine hits and two runs, including a four-hitter by Ed Walsh for his 40th win of the year.

All of this set up a single game showdown for the pennant in front of a packed weekday crowd in Chicago. And here's how the Chicago Daily Tribune began their game story the next day: "No more pitiable, heart rending spectacle ever was, or can be, imagined than that presented by Chicago's White Stockings yesterday...." The top of the first inning started with a lead-off single, Sam Crawford's one-out double, Ty Cobb's triple, two errors and another single, putting the visitors four runs ahead before the crowd had a chance to get settled into their seats. Any hopes of getting back into the game were put to rest by Bill Donovan, who limited the White Sox hitters to two singles over the course of the 7-0 rout.113

And it was on to the World Series.

The Cubs used late-inning rallies to win the first two games, scoring five in top of the ninth inning of the opener to overcome a 6-5 Tigers' lead before breaking up a scoreless pitching duel the next day with six runs in the bottom of the eighth. It wasn't surprising that in both instances the pitcher on the mound at the start of those innings (Ed Summers and then Bill Donovan) were still on the mound by the end. Cobb's four hits led the Tigers to a come from behind win against Ed Pfiester the next day, a game notable for Cobb's attempt to steal his way around the bases with his team ahead by five runs and two outs in the top of the ninth. After stealing second and third during Claude Rossman's walk, he was thrown out at home on an attempted double steal.

The teams moved to Detroit for games four and five, but the Cubs continued their winning ways at Bennett Park, blanking the Tigers in both games, with Mordecai Brown limiting them to four hits, and Orval Overall allowing only three, for Chicago's fifth straight win in Detroit's home field. The Tigers managed to load the bases in the first inning of game five on a walk, single and a passed ball on a strikeout, but Overall fanned Germany Schaffer, his fourth strikeout of the inning, to end the threat. They also had men on second and third in the fifth with one out but failed to score, and after Cobb walked to start the six, Overall retired the last twelve batters to close out the series.

Pittsburgh was led that year by Honus Wagner, who at age 34 was enjoying perhaps his finest season. He led the NL in hits, doubles, triples, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and stolen bases, and was second in the league in runs scored and home runs. He was not surrounded by a lot of offensive talent, however, with 35-year-old Fred Clarke, who had the lowest batting average and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of his career, probably the second-best hitter on the team. On the mound, the Pirates had five good pitchers, led by Vic Willis' 23 wins and 304 2/3 innings pitched. The best won-lost record among the five was Nick Maddox, who had the best run support on the team, leading to a 23-8 mark despite giving up slightly more runs per game than the others.

In my previous article, I mentioned the similarities between the Phillies' George McQuillan and Maddox's excellent showings during their callups the previous year. The similarities continued in 1908, with McQuillan also winning 23 games, although with a much heavier workload (only Mathewson pitched more innings in the NL), poorer run support, and the third lowest average of runs allowed per game in the league (2.20, behind Mordecai Brown and Mathewson). And the similarities would continue beyond 1908 as well. Both would win 13 games the next year; and both would see their careers go downhill after that, Maddux's due to arm troubles and McQuillan's because of alcoholism.

Similarities aside, McQuillan did something with the help of his teammates that no one has done before or since when he lost three consecutive starts that June by 1-0 score. It was part of a seven-game stretch where he allowed only three runs in 48 2/3 innings and had a losing record to show for it (2-3). Three starts later, he lost a ten-inning 1-0 game, where his team not only failed to score, but failed to get a hit off of Hooks Wiltse. While no other pitcher has lost three 1-0 games in a row, Roger Clemens' team did in April 2005, when the Astros dropped three straight 1-0 games with Clemens starting. Each of them was lost in extra-innings, however, so rather than three losses, Clemens had three no-decisions to show for 21 consecutive scoreless innings.

I referred to Cleveland above as perennial under-acheivers. Back in the 1980s Bill James came up with a formula to estimate a team's winning percentage based upon their runs scored and allowed, called the pythagorean expectation (the details are in the footnotes).114+ Here are the teams in each league that had the highest expected winning percentage using this formula from 1901 to 1908:

Year  Team    Act   Exp   Diff    Fin    Team    Act   Exp   Diff    Fin
1901  PIT N  .647  .665  -.018(2)   1    CHI A  .610  .617  -.007(1)   1
1902  PIT N  .741  .738  +.003(0)   1    PHI A  .610  .589  +.021(3)   1
1903  PIT N  .650  .616  +.034(5)   1    BOS A  .659  .651  +.008(1)   1
1904  NY  N  .693  .695  -.002(0)   1    CLE A  .570  .632  -.062(9)   4
1905  NY  N  .686  .689  -.003(0)   1    CHI A  .605  .636  -.031(5)   2
1906  CHI N  .763  .755  +.008(1)   1    CLE A  .582  .643  -.061(9)   3
1907  CHI N  .704  .670  +.034(5)   1    DET A  .613  .619  -.006(1)   1
1908  NY  N  .636  .658  -.022(3)   2    CLE A  .584  .597  -.013(2)   2 

The difference between the actual and expected is shown both as a +/- percentage and the number of games (in parenthesis) that percentage represents.

In every year where the team with the highest expected winning percentage did not win the pennant, the team with the second highest did.

So on the three separate occasions, the Naps had the best run differential in the league but failed to win the pennant, and in two of those, they won nine fewer games than expected and didn't even finish in second place. For most of these years, Cleveland had the best overall player in the league (Nap Lajoie), one of the league's best pitchers (Addie Joss), as well as stars like Elmer Flick, Terry Turner and Bill Bradley, talent that is reflected in their excellent run differentials. Why that didn't translate into at least one pennant is a matter for debate. Late in the 1908 season, with Cleveland in first by a narrow margin, a sportswriter in The Sporting Life wrote:

"While those fans who live in National League cities and never get to see the Cleveland team play have always considered it the strongest team in the American League, patrons of the American League games should be greatly surprised if the Naps should win the pennant this year. There is nothing about the Cleveland team's work which suggests it as a championship team. Its listless style of play, it's lack of spirit and dash always creates the impression that it is a team which is merely playing out its schedule and takes little interest in its own standing in the race."115

While I suspect this is probably an overly harsh assessment of the team, I figured I'd present it, since he actually saw the Naps play and I didn't.

You got the idea this might be a rebuilding year for the Athletics right at the outset, when their starting pitchers for the first series of the year were Nick Carter, Rube Vickers and Biff Schlitzer. Carter and Schlitzer were making their major league debuts, and as I mentioned in the last review, Vickers' first two major league victories had come on the last day of the previous season. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, after Connie Mack's announced that Carter was his choice to open the season: "There was some surprise when the batteries were announced, for 'Kid' Carter was the man Connie Mack named as his standard bearer. It is an unusual proceeding for a major league manager to trot out a bush leaguer, who is considered to be only on trial, and the fact that this was an opening... made the surprise all the greater."116 Carter pitched shutout ball into the twelfth inning before losing 1-0, but he would make only three more starts before being farmed out for good by early June.

Since 1901, there have been five pitchers who made their major league debut while pitching a team's opening game:117+

                                   ----------- Debut -----------   ---------- Career ---------
   Date     Team   Players         IP     H   R  ER  BB  SO  DEC   Yrs     G    IP      W    L
1903- 4-17  BRO N  Henry Schmidt    9    11   7       2   2    W     1    40   301     22   13
1908- 4-14  PHI A  Nick Carter     11.2  10   1       3   4    L     1    14    60.2    2    5
1925- 4-14  PHI A  Lefty Grove      3.2   6   5   4   4   0   ND    17   616  3940.2  300  141
1938- 4-18  BOS A  Jim Bagby        6     5   4   3   6   5    W    10   303  1666.1   97   96
1943- 4-24  PHI N  Al Gerheauser    4     7   5   5   3   2    L     5   149   643     25   50

So Carter actually pitched much better than the others on this list, although he had the shortest career.

A large part of Philadelphia's decline in 1908 was due to their offensive failures, as they scored 98 fewer runs (while playing seven more games) than they had the year before. The left side of their infield in particular had a precipitous decline, with both third-baseman Jimmy Collins and shortstop Simon Nicholls having poor seasons at the plate. The good news was that significant upgrades were already on their way, with Jack Barry showing up in July and Frank Baker (his "Home Run" nickname was still a couple of years away) making his debut on September 21st.

The Tigers won the AL pennant with the best offense in the league, but they were also helped by the addition of rookie Ed Summers, who came from Indianapolis of the American Association and led the team in innings pitched and wins.118+ He won his last five starts in September, including both ends of a double-header against Philadelphia on September 25th, the second a two-hitter that ended when Claude Rossman led off the bottom of the tenth with a home run. It was Summers' seventh win of the year against Philadelphia.

Like he had back in 1902 with the Athletics, Rube Waddell made a fine first impression with his new teammates, throwing a one-hit shutout against the White Sox in his first start for the Browns. A week later, the fans in St. Louis got their first look at Waddell in a home uniform and he responded by throwing a four-hitter. On July 29th, pitching against his ex-teammates, Waddell set an AL record by striking out 16 batters in a 9-inning game. Despite the strikeouts, the Browns were down by three heading into the bottom of the ninth and rallied to win, the last two runs scoring on a one-out single by Tubby Spencer. And unlike the previous five years, Rube pitched better down the stretch, going 12-5 over the second half of the season as his team replaced the Athletics in the first-division.

Despite his 232 (or 233119+) strikeouts in 1908, Waddell failed to lead the AL for the first time since entering the league in 1902. He was replaced atop the leaderboard by Ed Walsh, who struck out 269 batters in an AL-record 464 innings, the most in the majors since Amos Rusie threw 482 innings in 1893. No one would pitch in as many as 66 games in a season again until Ace Adams appeared in 70 for the 1943 Giants, and his AL record wouldn't be broken until Ellis Kinder's 69 games for the Red Sox in 1953. No pitcher since at least 1901 has pitched as many innings in one month (107) as Walsh did that September, and he did it while pitching incredibly well. Here is his record from the beginning of September through the end of the season:

  G GS CG SH GF SV  IP     H  R BB   K  W  L   RA
 17 14 13  6  2  1 130.1  85 19 14 103 10  5 1.31

And if you eliminate his 3 2/3 innings of relief on the last day of the season (less than 24 hours after pitching a four-hitter against the Tigers), his runs allowed average drops to 1.13. Both of those averages are lower than any season (100 innings minimum) in major league history (Dutch Leonard has the lowest with 1.36 runs allowed for the Boston Red Sox in 1914), and he did it while carrying a historically heavy workload. Only three times since 1901 have pitchers thrown six shutouts in a month and all three pitched for the White Sox between 1904 and 1908. They are: Doc White (September 1904), Ed Walsh (August 1906), and Ed Walsh again (September 1908).

41-year-old Cy Young came within a leadoff-walk of pitching his second perfect game on June 30th, settling for his third no-hitter instead. He also had three hits in the game, and along with Wes Ferrell in 1931, are the only pitchers with as many as four RBIs in a no-hitter since at least 1901. It was a highlight of one of his best seasons, as he allowed only 2.05 runs per game, the lowest in the league (and of his career). Boston traded him the next February for pitchers Charlie Chech, Jack Ryan and cash, but Chech and Ryan only had to live with the burden of being the guys the Red Sox got for Cy Young until that July, when Boston sent the two of them as well as cash to St. Paul of the American Association for Ed Karger and Charley Hall, who from then on were known as the guys the Red Sox got for the guys the Red Sox got for Cy Young.

The two worst teams in the American League, the Senators and Highlanders, met in a four-game series in early September, and Walter Johnson pitched the first three games, allowing a total of twelve hits, one walk and no runs. Were it not for an awful relief outing on August 31st, Johnson would have had four consecutive shutouts and 41 straight scoreless innings.

The Highlanders game with the Red Sox on October 6th featured two starting pitchers, Doc McMahon and Andy O'Connor, making their major league debuts. That by itself isn't particularly noteworthy, having happened as recently as September 12, 1906,120+ but this was also their final appearance, the only time in major league history that both starting pitchers were playing in their only game. McMahon had the best of it by far, defeating O'Connor and the Highlanders 11-3.

And finally, the highest nine-inning game score of the Deadball Era (101121+) was turned in by Brooklyn's Nap Rucker on September 5th, when he pitched a 14-strikeout no-hitter against Boston. The only batters to reach base were the result of three Brooklyn errors, so instead of pitching a perfect game, he did something harder and unique (since at least 1901): he didn't allow a hit, walk, or hit-batsman to all 29 batters in a nine-inning game. And calling it merely the highest nine-inning game score of the Deadball Era is an understatement: although Sandy Koufax would tie him in 1965, no pitcher would have a higher score until Kerry Wood in 1998.


The Chicago Cubs, after winning a combined 213 games in 1906 and 1907, had struggled to win their third straight title in 1908, surviving back-to-back win-or-go-home games at the end of the season. During the off-season, their catcher Johnny Kling asked to be sent to Cincinnati so he could manage both the team and his pool emporium there, and decided to sit out the season when the Cubs declined to accommodate him. Despite the loss of their regular catcher, the team's pitching bounced back to their 1907 level with another strong performance from the usual suspects (Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Ed Reulbach, and Jack Pfiester), as well as with a surprisingly good season from spot-starter Rube Kroh, who allowed fewer runs per game than his much more famous teammates. As a result, the Cubs were able to win 104 games, the sixth highest total to that point in major league history.

Unfortunately, number two on the "most wins" list was the 1909 Pirates, who took the pennant by going 110-42. It was their first since 1903. In their last championship season, the team had their two longest winning streaks in franchise history, ones of 14 and 15 games. This time around, they did them one better with 14 straight wins, giving them a five-game cushion by mid-June, followed by a 16-game streak that went from September 9th, until September 27th, the day before they clinched the pennant. Their only longer winning streak since then spanned seasons, when they won the last ten games of 1937 and the first seven of 1938.

As usual, they were led by Honus Wagner, who for the third straight year topped the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. This time around, however. he had more help on offense with a better sophomore season by Chief Wilson, and upgrades all around the infield from Bill Abstein,122+ rookie Dots Miller and the mid-August trade for Bobby Byrne. They also had a deep pitching staff led by Howie Camnitz and Vic Willis, who combined for 47 wins, as well as by the late-season emergence of Babe Adams.

Pirates manager Fred Clarke didn't have much confidence in Adams for much of the season due to his inconsistency. He would pitch an 11-inning shutout against the defending champions one day and get knocked around by the last-place Cardinals the next. He pitched only nine innings in June and even less in July. On August 9th, after Adams had been idle for over five weeks, the Pittsburgh Press ran a picture of him along with a caption that read:

"Yes, fans, this is 'Babe' Adams, the Pittsburgh pitcher. Pretty big and fine looking for that nickname, isn't he? Well, most of you think Mr. Adams has a lead pipe cinch, drawing a neat salary for doing nothing. He hasn't pitched many games this season, and has been returned victor in all that he has twirled except one. Adams doesn't think his job a sinecure. He would rather work regularly, for he is big and strong and healthy, and naturally fond of activity. As it is, even if he doesn't get into a game once a month, he has to keep in condition just the same, and work twice as hard at practice as he would if he were performing regularly on the firing line."123

Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe Clarke read that caption and remembered that Adams was still on his staff, but the next day Babe was called on to pitch the last three innings of a 12-inning 2-1 win over Boston. It was the start of a dramatic turnaround, one that turned Adams from a forgotten member of the pitching staff to the hero of that year's World Series. He made five more relief appearances that month, a total of 22 scoreless innings and three wins, before making his first start in two and a half months, a four-hit shutout against Brooklyn to raise his record to 9-1 and cement his spot in the starting rotation. Down the stretch, he was the most effective pitcher on the staff. After that caption had appeared in The Pittsburgh Press, Adams gave up only 10 runs in 85 innings, and finished the year allowing 1.73 runs per game, the lowest on the team.

The Detroit Tigers had a more strenuous path to the World Series. They were led by Ty Cobb, already the best player in the game at 22, veteran Sam Crawford, who led the AL in doubles and was second to Cobb in total bases, shortstop Donie Bush, who in his first full season tied Cobb for the league lead in run scored and led the league in walks, and by George Mullin, who won his first eleven starts, including a one-hit shutout on opening day, on his way to a 29-8 record and the best season of his major league career.

This time, their primary competition came from the Philadelphia Athletics, back after a one-year trip to the second division, and led by a revamped pitching staff that went from being the second-worst to the league's best, thanks to Chief Bender's comeback season, Jack Coombs, who averaged nearly a run a game less now that he wasn't splitting his time between the mound and the outfield, and excellent seasons from newcomers Cy Morgan, who came over from Boston in a June trade involving Biff Schlitzer, as well as Harry Krause, who had a brief trial the year before when he was 19, and went 18-8 with the second lowest runs allowed average in the league.124+

Their improved pitching was no doubt helped by a young infield that included Eddie Collins at second, Frank Baker at third and Jack Barry at short. 22-year-old Collins hit .347 and trailed only Ty Cobb in batting average, on-base percentage and stolen bases. Baker, a year older than Collins, hit .305 and led the league in triples, while Barry didn't hit much but was already being recognized as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.

On August 24th, the Tigers beat the Athletics in an exciting see-saw game that ended when Bill Donovan, on in relief of Ed Summers, struck out Frank Baker and coaxed Harry Davis to fly out with the bases loaded, preserving a 7-6 victory. The win moved Detroit into a tie with Philadelphia for first place, with the Boston Red Sox, led by another young star, 21-year-old Tris Speaker, only a game and a half back.

But the big story that day wasn't so much about the game's outcome and what that might mean to the pennant race, but rather the rough play of Ty Cobb, who spiked Frank Baker at third-base when he was caught stealing in the first, and up-ended Eddie Collins at second-base when he doubled in the seventh. These two events caused Connie Mack to send a formal complaint to league president Ban Johnson which said, in part, that "Cobb is too aggressively inclined on the ball field... Cobb is the greatest ball player in the world, but he is also one of the dirtiest. He boasted before the game that he would get some of the Athletics before the game was over, and he made good by spiking Baker and all but cutting the legs off Collins. Action against Cobb should be taken by the league officials."

Ban Johnson responded by issuing a warning that Cobb "must stop that sort of playing or he will have to quit the game. Steps will be taken next winter to overcome the possibility of spiking players." Detroit manager Hughie Jennings called Mack a "squealer," argued that Cobb did not intentionally spike Baker and that "cases of spiked players are common."125 But what I found interesting was that the game stories in the next day's papers hardly mentioned these two incidents at all. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer's only reference to the spiking incident was that "Davy Jones and Ty Cobb both tried to steal while Krause held the ball and died painlessly," and of Cobb's double in the seventh wrote only that he made "second himself by hard running."126

A few days later a picture surfaced that showed Cobb sliding toward the third-base bag with Baker reaching toward him to apply the tag, one that was widely circulated in defense of Cobb.127 By that time, the Tigers had completed a three-game sweep of the Athletics, part of a franchise-record 14 straight wins (a mark tied in 1934)128+ that also included a sweep of Boston, putting the Tigers in first by five games. Whether the spiking was intentional or not, Cobb was already well on his way to being viewed as both the greatest and dirtiest player of his generation. Oh, and by the way, Cobb batted .531 (26/49) during their winning streak.

The race got tighter when the Tigers dropped three of four in Philadelphia from September 16th to the 20th and saw their lead cut to two games.129+ But that was as close as the Athletics could get as they went only 8-6 over the last two weeks, including four out of five losses to Chicago in the final week. Their faint pennant hopes were finally put to rest when, despite Detroit's loss in Boston, they dropped both ends of a double-header to the visiting White Sox on September 30th.

The World Series featured two teams who had been there before only to come away empty each time. And before we go much further, we should probably start with the most famous play of the 1909 World Series (and the only one I knew about growing up), one that involved the two biggest stars of the game right as things were getting underway. Here's how it was described at the beginning of a biographical piece on Honus Wagner printed in a 1969 issue of The Sporting News:

"When Ty Cobb reached first base the first time at Pittsburgh's brand-new Forbes Field in the 1909 World Series, the fiery Detroit star cupped his hands and shouted to the Pirates' shortstop, 'Hey, Knothead, I'm coming down on the next pitch.' ... 'I'll be waiting," Wagner answered Ty the Terrible.... When Ty slid into second, spikes high, Wagner was there, not only holding his ground to make the putout, but applying the tag so forcefully, trying to stuff the ball down tyrannical Ty's throat, that Cobb wound up with a lacerated lip."130

And this is the sanitized version of the story, since most have Cobb calling Wagner a 'Krauthead.' But Knothead or Krauthead, this story is still made-up nonsense. The first time Cobb got on base that day, Davy Jones was on second and so there was no attempted steal. Cobb's only caught stealing in the series didn't involve Wagner or even Cobb being thrown out at second: it came in game four (in Detroit) when he was picked off first and reached second safely because the Pirate first baseman muffed the throw.

Despite being the Pirates' most effective pitcher down the stretch, Babe Adams was still a bold and surprising choice to start the opening game of the series. And it started to look like manager Fred Clarke might have lost his gamble when Adam walked two of the first three batters in the top of the first in front of Jim Delahanty's run-scoring single. Adams settled down after that and while he was holding the Tigers scoreless, Clarke's home run tied the game in the fourth before three Detroit errors allowed the winning runs to score in the fifth and sixth.

The team swapped wins after that, highlighted by George Mullin's shutout in game four, and Adams, despite allowing his first two home runs of the season, hanging on for an 8-4 victory the next day, all leading up to the thrilling ending of game six. Detroit, facing elimination, held a two-run lead heading into the top of the ninth, with Mullin on the mound, pitching with one day's rest. Dots Mlller and Bill Abstein each singled to open the inning, and when Chief Wilson laid down a sacrifice bunt, catcher Boss Schmidt threw low to Tom Jones, who collided with Wilson while attempting to catch the ball. Jones lost consciousness and had to be carried from the field, Miller scored and the score was now 5-4 with runners on first and third with no one out. After a fielder's choice out at home, Ed Abbaticchio, pinch-hitting for Deacon Phillippe, struck out while the Pirates were unsuccessfully attempting a double-steal, and the series headed to the first winner-take-all game in modern World Series history.

As is often the case, the leadup to the game was more exciting than the game itself. Babe Adams was back on the mound for Pittsburgh, holding the Tigers to six scattered hits, while his team took advantage of ten walks from Bill Donovan and George Mullin to score eight runs and secure their first World Championship. Honus Wagner, with help from Tommy Leach and Adams, among others, had gotten the best of Ty Cobb and the Tigers. It would be the only meeting between the two biggest stars of the Deadball Era,131+ as both Wagner and the 22-year-old Cobb would not play in another World Series.

Wagner had six stolen bases against the Tigers, part of his team's record-tying 18. Here are the top six World Series teams in stolen bases per game:

Year Team   G  SB  SB/G   
1907 CHI N  5  18  3.60
1908 CHI N  5  15  3.00
1909 PIT N  7  18  2.57
1992 ATL N  6  15  2.50
1914 BOS N  4   9  2.25
1905 NY  N  5  11  2.20

What the top three teams all had in common was the Detroit Tigers pitching staff and catchers. Here are the six catchers who allowed the most stolen bases per game in World Series play:

Years      Teams        Player              G  SB  SB/G
1907       DET A        Fred Payne          1   5  5.00
1905       PHI A        Osee Schrecongost   3   9  3.00
1907-1909  DET A        Boss Schmidt       13  36  2.77
1907,1910  DET A,CHI N  Jimmy Archer        3   8  2.67
1903 1903  PIT N        Harry Smith         1   2  2.00
1992 1993  TOR A        Pat Borders        12  22  1.83

I mentioned earlier that the Cubs pitching went back to their 1907 level in 1909. As a matter of fact, it was to exactly the same level: 390 runs in 155 games, tied for the second best runs allowed average (2.52) in major league history, behind only their 1906 squad. Here are the stingiest teams in major league history:

Year Team    W   L   T   RA  RA/G
1906 CHI N 116  36   3  381  2.46
1907 CHI N 107  45   3  390  2.52
1909 CHI N 104  49   2  390  2.52
1909 PHI A  95  58   0  411  2.69
1972 BAL A  80  74   0  430  2.79
1905 CHI N  92  61   2  442  2.85
1905 CHI A  92  60   6  451  2.85
1910 PHI A 102  48   5  442  2.85
1919 CIN N  96  44   0  401  2.86
1908 PHI N  83  71   1  445  2.87

All but the 1972 Orioles were from the Deadball Era and half of them were Chicago teams between 1905 and 1909.

On a related note, the 1909 Senators don't hold the record for the fewest runs scored per game in history (that honor belongs to the 1908 Cardinals),132+ but they came awfully close (within four runs). And their pitching was also the worst in the league. Even Walter Johnson, their Idaho phenom, struggled, and when he lost a 1-0 decision to Ed Walsh and the White Sox on August 29th, it dropped his record to 12-23. Then on September 1st, the same day his team lost their seventh game in a row (part of a 2-23 stretch), the headline in the Washington Post proclaimed: "Johnson May Never Pitch Again--Johnson In Bad Way--Local Pitcher Believes His Arm Permanently Injured--Was Most Valuable Player." Johnson was quoted as saying that "there is not a chance of my pitching another game this season. Rest may help it, but I will not attempt to use it again until next spring." The article then goes on to speculate on just how much the team could have gotten for him if they'd only sold the 21-year-old pitcher before his arm went lame.133

As it was, Johnson missed just over three weeks, making a triumphant return with a six-hit shutout of the first-place Tigers on September 21st. He made two more starts, a 2-0 loss against the White Sox, his tenth shutout loss of the season,134+ before running out of steam against the Athletics in the late innings on October 2nd, failing to hold a 4-1 seventh-inning lead on the way to his 25th loss of the season. So while his sore arm certainly didn't signal the end of his effectiveness as a pitcher, it probably cost him five or six starts, which could've saved him the unwelcome distinction of becoming the only AL pitcher to lose thirty games in a season. As it was, his 25 losses wasn't even enough to lead his team, as Bob Groom finished the year with a 7-26 mark.

Rookie teammate Dolly Gray lost a 6-4 one-hitter to the White Sox on August 28th. All of Chicago's runs were scored in the second inning when Gray walked seven straight batters, including six with the bases loaded. The eight walks he allowed that inning are a record. I'm not sure if Washington manager Joe Cantillon fell asleep on the bench during that record-setting half-inning or if he simply had a lot of confidence in Gray's ability to work through his difficulties, regardless of the mounting evidence to the contrary.135+

Eventually, Cantillon's patience was rewarded and Gray settled down to hold Chicago hitless and runless the rest of the way. These kinds of control problems were unusual for Gray who, apart from his eleven walks that day, didn't walk more than four batters in another game all year. This was the second time in a month and a half he held opponents to a single hit through eight innings. On July 16, in the year's longest game, he teamed with Bob Groom to hold Detroit scoreless for 18 innings before darkness ended the contest, with Ed Summers going the distance for the Tigers. Gray was forced to leave the game in the top of the ninth with what were described as torn ligaments in his side and missed almost three weeks.136

At the time it was the longest scoreless game in major league history, breaking the mark set in a 15-inning game between the Pirates and Reds on September 11, 1906. As always, the long game elicited superlatives from the press. In Washington, a crowd gathered around an electrical scoreboard in front of The Washington Post's building and: "No game which has been reproduced on the electric board has created as much interest as this one, which will go down in baseball history as one of the most remarkable struggles ever played."137 It held the mark for the longest scoreless game until the Reds and Dodgers blanked each other over 19 innings in 1946.

Addie Joss' career hit a high-water mark on July 13th when he pitched a two-hit 10-inning shutout against the Athletics to improve his season record to 12-3 and his career mark to 157-82. Here's how he did up to that game and after, both during that season and over the remainder of his short career:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA
To 7-13    17  16  14   4  140.2   95   31   19   35  12   3  1.98
After      16  12  10   0  102    103   40   15   33   2  10  3.53
Career     29  24  19   1  209.1  199   75   33   82   7  15  3.22

For teammate Cy Young, his turning point came 11 days later, when he pitched a three-hit shutout against the New York Highlanders on July 24th. Here's a similar chart for him:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA
To 7-24    22  22  21   3  196    155   55   33   74  15   7  2.53
After      13  12   9   0   98.1  112   55   26   36   4   8  5.03 
Career     52  50  35   3  388    398  192   81  149  18  27  4.45

His career record after his win on July 24th was 493-288. Two years later, when he beat Brooklyn on September 2nd while pitching for Boston, he had exactly 200 more wins than losses (510-310). He lost his next two decisions (and four of his last five), and the closest anyone has come to having 200 more wins than losses since is Christy Mathewson, who had 194 more wins on both July 25, 1914 (355-161) and August 3, 1914 (356-162).

While he was managing the Yankees, Casey Stengel had a reputation for matching his top-of-rotation starters against the better teams. Cubs manager Frank Chance certainly seemed to be doing that with his best pitcher in 1909 when Mordecai Brown made half of his starts against the Pirates and Giants. His season splits:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA
PIT/NYG    19  17  15   3  158    119   38   25   66   9   8  2.16
OTHERS     31  17  17   5  184.2  127   40   28  104  18   1  1.95

The White Sox were never in contention in 1909, due in part to Fielder Jones' retirement and Ed Walsh's failure to duplicate his results of the year before. But in a way, Ed Walsh was almost exactly the same as he was in 1908, only in half as many innings. Here's what I mean:

            G  GS  CG SHO   IP      H    R   BB   SO   W   L    RA
1908       66  49  42  11  464    343  111   56  269  40  15  2.15
1909       31  28  20   8  230.1  166   52   50  127  15  11  2.03

With the pennant clinched, the game on October 3rd between the Cubs and Pirates didn't mean anything, something you could tell by a quick glance at the lineup. The Pirates sent out Ham Hyatt, Ed Abbaticchio and Mike Simon in place of Fred Clarke, Honus Wagner and George Gibson, while the Cubs countered with Bill Davidson, Fred Luderus and Heinie Zimmerman subbing for Jimmy Sheckard, Frank Chance and Harry Steinfeldt. Gibson's absence made news because it was only the second time all year the catcher had missed a game, the first back on May 5th. But while the understudies might have made the game seem like a Sunday matinee, it was the first meeting in major league history between two teams with 100 or more wins. After that series was completed, this happened again in the fifth game of the 1909 World Series (adding Detroit's two wins in the series to their 98 in the regular season), and a regular season matchup wouldn't happen again until October 1, 1962, at the start of the Dodgers and Giants three-game play-off. And in case you're wondering, the first game between two teams with 100 or more losses took place in the second game of the double-header between Brooklyn and Boston on October 5, 1905.

Teams in the middle of a pennant race are often watching to make sure that second division teams continue to put up a fight when playing other contending teams. Or at least play equally poorly. In that regard, neither the Pirates or Cubs had any complaints with the Boston Doves in 1909, as the last-place contingent won only a single game (a combined 2-41) against both of the teams fighting for the title.

As it became apparent that Pittsburgh and not Chicago was going to win the pennant, Johnny Kling, who took the year off when the Cubs didn't go along with his plan to manage the Reds and run a pool hall, had this to say about his former (and future) teammates' loss: "I am tickled to death that the Pirates have won the flag. That suits me exactly. At the beginning of the season I was 'pulling' for New York, but I am glad Pittsburgh won it and not Chicago. Revenge is sweet, and I have got it."138 He would rejoin the Cubs the following spring, and I'm assuming had some fences to mend there.

John McGraw was also happy with the Cubs defeat, saying that: "We're nearly even with the Cubs for that Merkle affair last fall. In future generations, when someone asks 'Who put the Cubs entirely out of it when they had the chance to make it four straight championships?' and the answer will come good and sonorous, 'The Giants.'"139 While the Giants did win seven of their last nine decisions with the Cubs, those games only allowed them to even the season series with Chicago at 11 apiece. And since they also battled the Pirates to a 11-11 tie, you could argue that New York's overall effect was negligible.

By the way, the two third-place teams in each league, the Giants and the Red Sox, played a postseason series that fall, called "a sort of deferred series" to make up for the World Series that wasn't in 1904. After losing to Mathewson in game one, the Red Sox swept the next four, and in the five games, Tris Speaker went 12-20 with a triple, two homers and six stolen bases. And just so no one confused it with an actual World Series, 789 fans attended the last contest and the winner's share was around $200.140

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention Neal Ball's unassisted triple-play on July 19th. Despite some people who believe that Paul Hines turned the trick on May 8, 1878, Ball's was the first in major league history, and the only one of the Deadball Era (although they would get pretty common in the 1920s). Ball also hit his first major league home run in that game. He would hit only four in his career, the other three coming in a nine-day span toward the end of 1911.

And finally, all major league games were postponed on August 2nd for the funeral of National League president Harry Pulliam, who committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on July 29th.141+ It was the first time since the funeral of president McKinley on September 19, 1901 that all games in both leagues were cancelled or postponed due to a death or funeral. The NL had postponed its slate of games twice earlier in 1909, for the funeral of Boston Doves owner George Dovey on June 22nd, and for Israel Durham, the president of the Phillies, on July 1st. The next time either league would shut down would be after the death of Warren Harding in 1923, when all games were cancelled on August 3rd, when he died, and on August 10th, when he was buried.


A host of people worked on making these boxscores available to baseball researchers. They include: Dave Lamoureaux, David Vincent, Bob Allen, Javier Anderson, Greg Antolick, Mark Armour, Chris Bates, Bob Boehme, Steve Bond, Jeff Bower, Tom Bradley, Rob Carron, Jim Clausing, Wade Coble, Clem Comly, Dennis Dagenhardt, Tom Davis, Richard Deegan, Larry Defillipo, Chris Dial, Jeff Eby, Mike Elliot, Steve Elsberry, Ken Fisher, Michael Fornabaio, David Foss, Jim Fraasch, Terry Frala, Jonathan Frankel, Gary Frownfelter, Mike Grahek, Aaron Greenberg, Brian Grinnell, Ed Hartig, Kathy Hartley, Chuck Hildebrandt, David Hoehns, Patrick Hourigan, Hugh Humphries, Howard Johnson, Ryan Jones, John Kalous, Christopher Kamka, David Kocher, Herm Krabbenhoft, Sean Lahman, Gary Lauher, Andre Leclerc, Walter LeConte, Dan Lee, John Lee, Bob LeMoine, Joel Luckhaupt, Trent McCotter, Bill McMahon, Sheldon Miller, Joe Murphy, Jack Myers, Dave Newman, Bill Nowlin, Paul Olubas, Charlie O'Reilly, Eric Orns, Ian Orr, Claude Paradis, Gary Pearce, Rob Pettapiece, Jonathan Pollak, J.G. Preston, Brad Ramirez, Denis Repp, Mike Round, Mark Ruckhaus, Ken Ruppert, Charles Saeger, Carl Schweisthal, Tasha Shaindlin, Stu Shea, Terry Small, Sean Smith, Matt Souders, Tom Stillman, Bob Strab, Tom Thress, Bob Timmermann, Dixie Tourangeau, Steve Vetere, Ron Wargo, Ed Washuta, Ron Weaver, Paul Wendt, Neil Williams, Mark Williamson, Rob Wood, Andrew Zager, Don Zminda and Pete Palmer.


1Of course, there are those who believe that the 20th century began with 1900 instead of 1901, and perhaps we will also subscribe to that belief once box scores for 1900 are released. But until then, we're sticking with 1901.

2After losing four straight to the Tigers, despite having late-inning leads in all of them, Milwaukee headed to Cleveland on April 29th where it was deja vu all over again, as they gave up three eighth-inning runs to turn a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss. Had all of those games been seven-inning affairs, they would have undefeated after their first five games instead of still looking for their first win.

3"Ten Runs Won In The Ninth." Detroit Free Press. April 26, 1901. Pages 1, 10.

4"Rusie. In Good Form Again." The Cincinnati Enquirer. June 6, 1901. Page 4.

Their reaction reminds me of Neil Allen's return to New York a week after his trade to the St. Louis Cardinals for Keith Hernandez. Allen pitched eight shutout innings, Hernandez was hitless in four at-bats, and after the Mets lost 6-0 that night, the fan sitting next to me shook his head and said "There's a trade we're going to regret," a comment that has aged about as well as this one.

5"Spuds Take Last Game Of The Trip." The Chicago Daily Tribune. August 14, 1906. Page 6.

6In addition to one tie, the streak also includes one no-decision game where the statistics were counted but no win or loss credited because the pitching rubber was too close to the plate.

7"One Scratch Hit. Dowling Shuts Out Old Teammates." The Boston Globe. July 1, 1901. Page 10.

8"Boston Wins and Loses." The Boston Globe. August 6, 1901. Page 4.

9"17 Innings--1 To 0." The Boston Globe. September 22, 1901. Page 4.

10"Remnants In Great Game." The Chicago Sunday Tribune. September 22, 1901. Page 17.

11"Chicago Won In Nineteenth." The Pittsburgh Press. June 23, 1902. Page 10.

12"Orphans Win A 19 Inning Game." The Inter Ocean. June 23, 1902. Page 4.

13There are some cryptic sheets that contain statistical data for the 1902 National League, but it's not clear how to decode them. For example, the first page of the Cozy Dolan sheet shows the following:

 Pos      A.B.  Runs  Ist B.   T.B.   S.H.   S.B.   P.O.  Ass't  Errors    
Center    5 5           2 1    4 1           0 1    2 2              
          4 5                                       1
          6 5    2 1    3 1    3 1             1    4
          3 4             1      1    1             4 3
          4 4    1        2      2             1    4 3           1
          4 4    1 1    3 1    3 1                  2 2
          4 4           1 1    1 2                  2             1
          5 5      1    2 4    2 5             2    3 3

It looks like each line contains the stats for a pair of games without dates. Which might not be a problem if they were entered in any kind of order. So unraveling the lines above, we get the following sequence:

AB  R  H TB SH SB  PO  A ER   Game?
 5  0  2  4  0  0   2  0  0   5-11
 5  0  1  1  0  1   2  0  0   5-12
 4  0  0  0  0  0   1  0  0   5-13
 5  0  0  0  0  0   0  0  0   5-14
 6  2  3  3  0  0   4  0  0   5-15
 5  1  1  1  0  1   0  0  0   6- 6 (no SB)
 3  0  0  0  1  0   4  0  0   6- 7(1)
 4  0  1  1  0  0   3  0  0   6- 7(2)
 4  1  0  0  0  0   4  0  1   6- 9 (with SB)
 4  0  2  2  0  1   3  0  0    ?  
 4  1  3  3  0  0   2  0  0   6-17
 4  1  1  1  0  0   2  0  0    ?  
 4  0  1  1  0  0   2  0  1    ?  
 4  0  1  1  0  0   0  0  0    ?  
 5  0  2  2  0  0   3  0  0    ?  
 5  1  4  4  0  2   3  0  0   8-24(1) (with 2B)

Alongside each entry is my best guess at which game they are associated with. Clearly these games are not entered in any apparent order. For comparison, here are the dailies based upon the ICI sheets. In short, these sheets are useless.

14The most important thing to know about the ICI batter dailies is that they did not keep track of batter sacrifices (SH) and hit-by-pitches (HBP). The next thing to realize is that in addition to consulting game stories in newspapers to identify which batters walked in each game, they also apparently employed a method where you look for plate-appearance holes in the batter data and fill them in with walks. This is best shown by example: here is a sample set of statistics by batting order for a game where the opposing pitcher walked four batters:

        ----- Known ------  Unk
Order   AB   SH  HBP   TOT  BB?
  1      5    0    0    5    0
  2      3    1    0    4    0
  3      4    0    0    4    0
  4      2    0    1    3    1
  5      2    0    0    2    2
  6      3    1    0    4    0
  7      4    0    0    4    0
  8      3    0    0    3    1
  9      4    0    0    4    0

Since the number of plate appearances of each batting order slot (barring cases when a player bats out of order) must be equal to or one less than the previous slot (and only one slot at most can be one less), you can reasonably assume that the walks should be assigned as shown above. We can feel even better about our assumption if we can proof the box score by showing that the last batter in the game matches what we expect. Since in the example above, that would have been the leadoff batter, we would need to show that the number of plate appearances in the game (in this case, 37) equals the number of the opposition putouts plus runs scored plus runners left on base.

Of course, if substitutes caused more than one player to occupy the same batting slot, you'd have to dive into game stories to determine which one of them walked, but this method can get you extremely close to the correct answer. BUT... ICI didn't keep track of sacrifices or hit-by-pitch. and so we find that there are numerous cases where, for example, ICI gives a batter too many walks in a game because they didn't know that he sacrificed or was hit by a pitch.

15I did say this was a quick and dirty, and I admit that plate appearances and innings pitched are not a great proxy for talent, and more importantly, the method treats a player as not lost even if they only appear in a single game the next season (as Nap Lajoie did with the 1902 Athletics).

16Murphy quickly came down to earth the next day, when he went hitless in seven at-bats during the Athletics 4-2 17-inning win over the same Red Sox, a game notable for Rube Waddell's complete-game 16-strikeout performance.

17Monte Cross was allowed to stay with the A's, as Phillies owner John Rogers felt they already had a better replacement at shortstop in Rudy Hulswitt.

18We'll cover the teams that did much better on the road in a later article.

19"Six Months In Jail." The Baltimore Sun. March 20, 1902. Page 12.

20I probably shouldn't have relegated this to a footnote, but I will frequently link to SABR biographies. Produced by that organization's BioProject committee, they are a wonderful resource for anyone interested in baseball history. I am constantly surprised and delighted to discover that one of my favorite little-known players now has a biography courtesy of their efforts. You can find their main page, where you can search for players or simply browse biographies at random here.

21Admittedly my most recent source is page 33 of The 2007 Complete Baseball Record Book put out by The Sporting News.

22"New War Clouds Darken Horizon." Sporting Life. July 4, 1903. Page 4.

23Full disclosure. The last one really wasn't a fourteen-game winning streak, since it also contained a tie. Instead, it was a fifteen-game loss-less streak.

24"Waddell Released By The Athletics For Misconduct." The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 26, 1903. Page 10.

25We don't have complete box-score coverage for either Phillippe or Dinneen, but I checked their ICI sheets for their earlier seasons and neither had a double-digit strikeout game except for those two World Series games.

26"Boston Wins Again, 7 To 3." The Boston Globe. October 11, 1903. Pages 1 and 4.

27"Runless Game Again." The Washington Post. June 30, 1903. Page 9.

28"Where Is Delehanty." The Washington Post. July 5, 1903. Page 8. Newspapers accounts routinely spelled his name "Delehanty", not "Delahanty".

29"Body Is Delehanty's." The Washington Post. July 10, 1903. Page 9.

30There was one hitless game in the middle of Ordonez's streak when he walked as a pinch-hitter. It is the normal practice to ignore games without plate appearances when determining the length of hitting streaks, but feel free to consider Delahanty the leader since 1901 if you wish.

31"Egged." The Cincinnati Enquirer. July 31, 1903. Page 3.

32People normally pick 1893 as a dividing line since that was the year the pitching box was replaced by a rubber slab, effectively increasing the pitching distance by five feet. Another significant change was the adoption of the foul strike rule (where fouls with less than two strikes were counted as a strike) which was adopted by the NL in 1901 and the AL two years later.

33"New York Takes Two Games from St. Louis--New Pitcher, Ames, Does Well." The New York Times. September 15, 1903. Page 10.

34I got the postponement information from the original regular season schedules that you are available here.

35"Nearly Two Hundred Hurt, Three Dead, Following A Crash At Base Ball Park." The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 9, 1903. Page 1.

36"Rotten Beams Caused Crash, Says The Mayor." The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 11, 1903. Page 1.

37"1 Dies, 50 Injured In Stand Collapse At Phillies Park." The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 15, 1927. Page 1.

38"Daguerreotypes Taken Of Former Stars Of The Diamond." The Sporting News. November 30, 1933. page 7.

39"Boston Champions Capture The Pennant." The Boston Globe. October 11, 1904. Pages 1 and 4-5.

40Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella, "The Biographical History of Baseball." (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc., 1995). Page 77.

41"Boston Champions Capture The Pennant." The Boston Globe. October 11, 1904. Pages 1 and 4-5.

42"No World's Series." The Sporting Life. October 1, 1904. Page 5.

43"Shoulders The Blame." The Sporting Life. October 15, 1904. Page 6.

44"Boston Lands On Chick Fraser." The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 28, 1904. Page 10.

45It is often confusing what we mean by a hitless or scoreless inning. For example, how many hitless innings did Young pitch on April 30th? He entered the game after Winter had allowed two hits. So clearly, the third inning wasn't hitless, despite the fact that Young retired three straight. Would it have mattered if Young had given up a hit to the first batter he faced before retiring the next three? Scoreless innings are even more problematic. When Young relieved Winter, runners were on second and third: what if one of those inherited runners had scored on one of the outs Young recorded? Or what if he had recorded two outs without a score, left the game, and the next reliever allowed a run? In general, and where possible, I am going to calculate these streaks as the number of outs recorded between either hits allowed by or runs charged to the pitcher. I added the "where possible" above because without play-by-play data, it is often not possibly to determine precisely where a hit or run occurred within an inning. In the case of Young's hitless streak, we know that the last hit he surrendered on April 25th came with none out in the sixth and that the next hit he allowed came on May 11th came with one out in the seventh. So instead of the 24 consecutive innings in most record books, we consider the streak to include the last three outs in the sixth inning on April 25th as well as first out of the seventh on May 11th, or 25 1/3.

46Expanding upon the previous footnote, we currently show Young and White with streaks of 45 innings, but that is only because we do not currently have play-by-play data for the games at the end-points of these. But from newspaper accounts, we know that we will eventually show Young's streak at 45 1/3 innings and White's at 46 2/3 innings. Now I realize that this is a controversial way of figuring these kinds of things, but there are plenty of on-line places where you can go to see the length of these calculated in a more traditional way if this bothers you.

47"Chicago Gleanings." The Sporting Life. June 18, 1904. Page 7.

48Whittier, "Twenty-One Hits." The Sporting Life. June 18, 1904. Page 5.

49"Winning Even Honors." The New York Times. June 1, 1886. Page 2.

The crowd size referred to the second game of the separate admission double-header. The morning game was said to have drawn 7,000.

50"Baseball's Record Crowd." The New York Times. June 5, 1904. Page 9.

51"Warlike." The Cincinnati Enquirer. September 1, 1904. Page 4.

52"Giants Take Two From Boston Men. Manager McGraw Hurt by Enthusiastic Rooters After the Games." The Boston Globe. September 6, 1904. Page 5.

53"The Taylor Case." The Sporting Life. February 25, 1905. Page 4.

54If you count the 1884 Union Association as a major league (and for some odd reason, MLB does), you can add George Strief and Harry Wheeler to the list.

55Cliff Kachline, "Statisticians Still Fanning Figures Over Bobby Feller's Whiff Mark." The Sporting News. October 9, 1946. Page 12.

56Jay Knox, "Loss Of Lajoie." The Sporting Life. July 15, 1905. Page 3.

57"Cheerless Cleveland." The Sporting Life. September 9, 1905. Page 7.

Here's what The Sporting Life had to say about Bradley:

"Bill Bradley, Cleveland's star third baseman, is not likely ever to play again. This is the information given out by close friends of the great player. Tuberculosis has finally downed him, and there is little hope here among those who know his condition that he will ever be able to resume his station with the Naps. Every effort is being made here to suppress the facts concerning Bradley's actual condition. The player has been sent to a sanitarium at Geneva, O., to give him absolute quiet and to prevent his condition becoming generally known. Bradley has suffered several hemorhages, it is said, one or two of them having been in his stomach. This led to the statement being given out that it is dysentery that has put him out of the game, but a close personal friend said last night: 'There is nothing in the world the matter with Bradley except consumption. That's all, but it's quite enough, and we have practically no hope of ever seeing him on the diamond in action again."

Bradley would end up missing a week.

58"Athletics Take First From Sox." The Chicago Daily Tribune. September 29, 1905. Page 6.

59A side note here: The Sporting Life posted recaps of the pennant races at the end of each season, and in reviewing both the 1904 and 1905 NL races, made much of the disparity in strength between the western and eastern teams. For example, their 1905 review began: "The National League's 1905 pennant race was, like that of the preceding year, marred by the preponderance of strength in the West, all of whose teams were pennant-contenders, while the East had but one candidate, New York. This very excess of strength, however, was fatal to the West, as, while its teams were pulling each other down, New York so fattened its record upon the teams of its own section that the path to the pennant was made very easy."

Apart from the fact that Philadelphia, an eastern team, finished ahead of two western teams and that the seventh-place Cardinals, the league's western-most team, was hardly contending for anything but the cellar, this is nonsense because EVERY TEAM WAS SCHEDULED TO PLAY THE SAME NUMBER OF GAMES AGAINST EVERY OTHER TEAM (emphasis mine). Now, I realize it's silly getting upset with sportswriters who've been dead for a century, but I don't understand why it matters where the teams are located if you face each of them 22 times.

And talk about lazy! Here is the opening sentence of their review from the year before: "The National League's 1904 campaign was marred by the preponderance of strength in the West, all of whose teams were pennant-contenders, while the East had but one candidate, the Giants. This very excess of strength, however, was fatal to the West, as, while its teams were pulling each other, New York so fattened its record upon the teams of its own section that its path to the pennant race made very easy." -

I guess it's nice to know they had cut and paste back in the early 1900s.

"Review Of The Race," The Sporting Life. October 14, 1905. Page 9. And "Review Of The Race," The Sporting Life. October 22, 1904. Page 6.

60Frank L Hough, "Game Hinged On One Misplay," The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 14, 1905. Page 10. And "The Fourth Game," The Sporting Life. October 21, 1905. Page 5.

61"Giants Triumph, 3-0, In Inter-League Game," The New York Times. October 19, 1905. Page 4.

Note the reference to the "Inter-League Game," not the "World Series."

62"Echoes of the Series," The Sporting Life. October 14, 1905. Page 3.

63"Boston Again Defeated By The Athletic," The Philadelphia Inquirer. September 9, 1905. Page 1.

64"Much Ado About Nothing," The Sporting Life. September 30, 1905. Page 3.

65"The Old Sport's Musings," The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 16, 1905. Page 15.

66"Baseball Gossip," The Cincinnati Enquirer. October 9, 1905. Page 3.

67"Riotous Scenes, Several Injured At Ball Game," The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 9, 1905. Pages 1 and 13.

68Throughout the early Deadball Era, I will often refer to a pitcher's average number of runs per game (Run Average or RA) rather than a traditional Earned Run Average (ERA), even though we do have ERA statistics for these years. There are three reasons for this. First, the ERA data is only available for each player's season, not for each game, and so it can not be used to look at slices of a season.

Next, this data was not computed based upon contemporary scoring decisions. Rather, they are the product of the work done by Information Concepts Inc. (ICI) during the 1960s as part of their research leading up to the publication of the first Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia in 1969. And as wonderful as that book was, I don't trust the accuracy of this data (and the same goes for the RBI and strikeout data they also compiled), and suspect (but do not know) that in many cases, they simply made educated guesses about which runs were earned or unearned.

And finally, I think that in high-error environments, where it was common for there to be four or more errors per game, it was essential that pitchers perform well after the errors are made and the pitcher is "in a pinch" (to quote Christy Mathewson), an ability that ERA ignores for the most part.

69"Each Team Won Games," The Washington Post. August 22, 1905. Page 9.

70This data ignores games Cleveland played during 1902 and 1903 in Canton and Dayton, Ohio. Hughes was the visiting starter in one of the three games the Naps played in Canton during those years as well as their only game in Dayton.

71I thought it was interesting how the play was described in the home-team newspapers of the two teams. First, the New York Times: "He {Devlin] ran fast and the ball was returned fast and true, but Devlin made a fine slide and to all appearances was safe. He was declared out, however, and then almost the entire New York team, headed by Manager McGraw, surrounded the umpire with violent protests." And the Chicago Daily Tribune: "The Giant third baseman slid away from and past Kling to avoid being touched but, in doing so, missed the plate by fully a half yard. This was palpable to any one watching the play at all closely, and Johnstone motioned Devlin 'Out.' Almost instantly McGraw and his heelers surrounded Johnstone in a mass and poured out a torrent of abuse, which was not checked in the least when Johnstone promptly ordered both Devlin and McGraw off the lot."

By the way, the losing pitcher that day was Joe McGinnity, who was making his first start following a ten-day suspension for fighting with Heinie Peitz, the Pirates back-up catcher, during his previous start in Pittsburgh on July 24th. As McGinnity was walking off the field after giving up two runs in the bottom of the fourth, he exchanged words with Peitz, who was not even in the game, and one thing led to another, which led to both players being suspended.

"Champions' Defeat Due To Poor Fielding," The New York Times. August 7, 1906. Page 4. And "Spuds Win, 3 To 1; Giants In A Fury," The Chicago Daily Tribune. August 7, 1906. Page 6. And "Pittsburgh Takes Third From Giants," The Pittsburgh Post. July 25, 1906. Page 8.

72"Spuds Win, 3 To 1; Giants In A Fury," The Chicago Daily Tribune. August 7, 1906. Page 6.

73"New York Nuggets; A Unique Event," The Sporting Life. August 18, 1906. Page 8.

74"Giants Play Chicago And Lose Game, 3 To 2," The New York Times. August 9, 1906. Page 4.

75"Athletics Win A One-Inning Game," The Philadelphia Inquirer. July 15, 1906. Page 14.

76The second game of that four-game series was cut short by a tremendous downpour after six innings, causing one reporter to note that: "the picture that lot presented after the crowd deserted it so hurriedly was one none who saw it will forget. As is typical of the wrecked hopes of the rooters, derelict boxes, chairs and boards--temporarily erected vantage points from which a peep at the game could be had--were strewn thickly about the lot in a huge misshapen circle where the throng had been, while one lone wreck of a mortal, minus one leg, sat through the whole downpour on an equally disabled box, as if bound to hold that seat pending a resumption of play."

"Double Defeat Cost Sox Lead," The Chicago Daily Tribune. September 22, 1906. Page 10.

77We have an attendance figure of 21,000 for the game (compared to 25,000 for the double-header two days earlier), but the story in the Chicago Daily Tribune says "Greatest Crowd Ever at American League Park" and that "The only official information obtainable was that the attendance broke by a long ways the record for the park, and mere estimates varied all the way from 23,000 to 30,000."

The game started fifteen minutes early since by that time everyone who could get in was already in and there was no point in waiting, something that clearly wouldn't have happened in the era of radio and TV.

"Sox Lose Final To New York 1-0," The Chicago Daily Tribune. September 24, 1906. Page 10.

78Although the 1889 series between the National League's New York Giants and the American Association's Brooklyn Bridegrooms would have held that distinction if Brooklyn hadn't waited until 1898 to become a borough of New York.

79Brown technically pitched on one day of rest on August 10th, but he had only pitched an inning in relief on the 8th.

80"White Sox's Flag; Beat Cubs 8 To 3," The Chicago Daily Tribune, October 15, 1906. Page 1.

81Wm. F. H. Keolsch, "Metropolis News," The Sporting Life. March 24, 1906. Page 5.

82Both this and Sam McDowell's 1970 game were not 9-inning games, but McDowell was removed in the ninth, while Feller allowed a hit to the leadoff hitter in the tenth before being removed (probably because he had thrown about 500 pitches and was still only eighteen).

83"Weak Hitting Loses Another," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 21, 1906. Page 14.

84"Nationals Take Entire Series," The Chicago Daily Tribune. May 3, 1906. Page 6.

85"Superbas Win By Good Hitting; Inside Work Is Improving," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 18, 1906. Page 8.

86"Coat of Calcimine Covers Cardinals," The Pittsburgh Post. June 1, 1906. Page 10.

87"Game Full of Star Stunts," The Boston Globe. June 14 1906. Page 6.

88"Indian To Join the Red Legs," The Cincinnati Enquirer. July 8, 1906. Page 8.

89"New York's Strong Finish," The New York Times. July 17, 1906. Page 5.

90"Cobb to Remain," The Sporting Life. April 6, 1907. Page 2.

91"Detroit Wins From Athletics 5-4," The Philadelphia Inquirer. September 28, 1907. Pages 1 and 10.

92Some details on the lengths fans went to see the game that day: "From the Twenty-ninth street end of the bleachers a sympathetic fan threw a rope. Where he got it no one who saw it dangling to the sidewalk paused to inquire. There was a stampede towards the rope and up it squirmed a dozen or more to swell the crowd within."

"From the three-story house at the northeast corner of Twenty-ninth street and Oxford streets a large banner had been unfurled extending to those unable to get through the turnstiles a cordial greeting to 'step up on the roof and get a grand view of the game.'"

"A druggist on the corner of Twenty-ninth street and Columbia Avenue must have accommodated nearly 200 at from one to three dollars each. Upon stools that usually grace the front of his soda water fountain dozens of mad ones stood for four solid hours, peering over one another's shoulders at the coveted vista beyond the uncompromising timber walls. Columbia houses presented a similar scene, while from a huge factory building west of the packed enclosure scores of others stood looking down upon the contest during the whole seventeen innings."

"Darkness Stops Grand Struggle," The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 1, 1907. Pages 1 and 10.

93"Athletics Foozle It In The Seventh," The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 1, 1907. Page 10.

94"Mad, Record Crowd Sees Tiges Pull A Hopeless Game Into A 17-Inning Tie," The Detroit Free Press. October 1, 1907. Pages 1 and 6.

95"Athletics Foozle It In The Seventh," The Philadelphia Inquirer. October 1, 1907. Page 10.

96McCutcheon, Cartoon," The Chicago Daily Tribune. October 9, 1907. Page 1.

97"Start With Draw," The Sporting Life. October 19, 1907. Page 5.

98"Cub Champs Are Twice Shut Out," The Chicago Daily Tribune. September 3, 1907. Page 11.

99Spoiler alert: they finished last again in 1908, with a 49-105 record. And in a stark contrast to 1907, the Cards finished the year on a 7-35 tailspin.

"The Cardinals Won The Fall Series From The Browns," The Sporting Life. October 19, 1907. Page 17.

100"Lose Two To Tigers," The Washington Post. August 3, 1907. Page 8.

101I can't imagine anyone in 1907 being concerned with what did and did not constitute rookie status. For now, let's assume the common-sense meaning that it refers to a player's first season.

102"Phillies Easily Defeat Giants," The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 12, 1907. Pages 1 and 10.

103"Police Quell Disturbance at Washington Park Grounds," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 9, 1907. Page 2.

104"Post-Season Work," The Sporting Life. December 1, 1906. Page 2.

105"Cubs Protest Yesterday's Ball Game Claiming Clarke's Run Should Not Go," The Pittsburgh Post. September 5, 1908. Page 1.

106"Protest Of Chicago Club Not Allowed By Pulliam." The Chicago Daily Tribune September 11, 1908. Page 6.

107"Harry Coveleskie (sic) Dies; Famed as 'Giant Killer.'" The Sporting News. August 16, 1950. Page 20.

108"Pirates Lose To Champions." The Pittsburgh Post. October 5, 1908. Page 1.

109"Review Of The Race." The Sporting Life. October 17, 1908. Page 8.

110"Sox Lose to Naps in Great Pitchers' Battle, Walsh vs. Joss, 1-0." The Chicago Daily Tribune. October 3, 1908. Page 8.

111"'Phony' Finish To Game." The Chicago Daily Tribune. October 3, 1908. Page 8. And "Rallying In Ninth Tiges Beat Browns In Desperate Fray." The Detroit Free Press. October 3, 1908. Pages 1 and 9.

112I.E. Sanborn. "Sox Stay In Race By Beating Naps." The Chicago Daily Tribune. October 4, 1908. Part 3, Pages 1 and 3.

After describing Lajoie's strike out in the bottom of the seventh, Sanborn continued: "Long after Lajoie and Walsh have passed from the diamond, when both are dandling grandchildren on their creaky old knees, will the baseball fans of Cleveland and Chicago at least remember the day King Ed struck out Emperor Larry with the bases full, and after that the fans will be telling their children and their children's children of the feat."

113I.E. Sanborn. "Tigers Overwhelm White Sox, 7-0 in Deciding Game for Pennant." The Chicago Daily Tribune. October 7, 1908. Page 12.

114Originally, the formula was simply:

                        (Runs Scored)**2
Winning Pct = ----------------------------------------
              ((Runs Scored)**2) + ((Runs Allowed)**2)

In other words: runs scored squared divided by runs scored square plus runs allowed squared. But a more accurate formula (and the one I used above) is:

                          (Runs Scored)**1.83
Winning Pct = ----------------------------------------------
              ((Runs Scored)**1.83) + ((Runs Allowed)**1.83)

115J. Ed. Grillo, "Lajoie's Team Is The Most Peculiar One In The Game." The Sporting Life. October 3, 1908. Page 6.

116"Athletics Lose Opening Game." The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 15, 1908. Pages 1 and 6.

117This does not include three opening day pitchers for 1901 American League teams who, while technically making their major league debut on opening day had pitched regularly for an AL team in 1900: Roy Patterson (who went 17-8 for Chicago in 1900), Roscoe Miller (who went 19-9 for Detroit in 1900) and Win Kellum (who went 20-18 for Indianapolis in 1900).

118He is also listed as the team ERA leader, but that is because less than half of his runs allowed were considered earned, which is highly doubtful given that over 70% of his teammate's runs were earned. He allowed 3.35 runs per game that year, which puts him third on the staff.

119We think that Waddell might have had one more strikeout than he's credited with on July 20th.

120I was surprised that in 1871, when the start of the season featured entire teams making their major league debuts, only the first two games of the season featured both starting pitchers pitching their first major league games.

121Game scores were a method devised by Bill James in the 1980s to evaluate a start by a pitcher. You start with 50 points and add one point for each hitter the pitcher retires, two points for each inning completed after the fourth inning, and one point for each strikeout. You then subtract one point for a walk, two points for hit, four points for an earned run and two points for an unearned run.

122It appears as if few fans would have agreed with my assessment of Abstein as an upgrade, given this comment in the lead-up to the World Series:

"Come what may, Abstein is deserving of just a few words of praise. You can hear dozens of fans tell of Abstein's faults, etc., but why not be fair and in the next breath tell of his good qualities. Bill has more than the average first base guard. Then in the wind-up to the estimate, why not declare that, all things considered, the team might not have won the pennant if Abstein had not been on that bag. It's fair to say that the St. Louis man is points ahead of Kane, Gill, Swacina and other men tried by Pittsburgh at the corner since Bransfield was let go. If the team supplants William next year the new-comer will have to show talent far ahead of the present defender at first base."

A. R. Cratty, "In Pittsburgh Speculation As To World Series Is Rife." The Sporting Life. October 9, 1909. Page 9

A poor performance in the World Series (nine strikeouts and five errors) didn't help his standing with the fans and he was waived out of the league the following January.

123"Charles Adams." The Pittsburgh Press. August 9, 1909. Page 12.

124On July 18th, Harry Krause left the Athletics' game with the Browns with no outs in the bottom of the 11th, runners on first and third and his team in the lead 4-3. Chief Bender came on in relief but pinch-hitter Dode Criss hit the second pitch for a game-winning double. As was the practice of the day, both of the inherited runners were charged to Bender, but league president Ban Johnson said that the loss should be charged to Krause, apparently breaking the pitchers 10-game winning streak, or so it was reported at the time. But on June 3rd, he left the game with the White Sox in the top of the seventh with a man on third and the score tied. Rube Vickers came in to pitch and allowed that run and another to score. Both runs were charged to Vickers, but again, Krause was charged with the loss, but in this case it appears that no one outside of the league offices knew that until the season was over.

125"One More Regrettable Athletic-Detroit Controversy" and "Cobb's Critics Are All Wrong, According To Jennings." The Sporting Life. September 4, 1909. Page 6.

126"Tigers Get To Krause Hammer Out A Victory, Downing Athletics, 7 To 6." The Philadelphia Inquirer. August 25, 1909. Page 6.

127"That Cobb-Baker Spiking Incident." The Sporting Life. September 11, 1909. Page 5.

128Which would be, not coincidentally, the next time the Tigers would win a pennant.

129Despite the intense rivalry, during the series it was reported that Cobb "suffered not the slightest molestation on or off the field, though the Athletic management wisely provided ample police protection and prohibited the sale of soft drinks throughout the series. The fame of Philadelphia as one of the fairest and most appreciative of base ball cities was preserved untarnished."

Francis C. Richter, "The Athletics' Grand Triumph." The Sporting Life. September 25, 1909. Page 5. Page 12.

130Bob Broeg, "Mighty Honus: Low Pay, Much Talent." The Sporting News. March 22, 1969. Page 24. Page 12.

131Not counting exhibitions like the one held in Syracuse on June 3, 1915.

E. A. Batchelor, "Buccaneers Whipped By Jungaleers." The Detroit Free Press. June 4, 1915. Pages 14-15.

132The ten least offensive teams (ignoring two Union Association teams that played only 9 and 18 games):

Year Team    W   L   T   RS  RS/G
1908 STL N  49 105   0  372  2.42
1908 BRO N  53 101   0  375  2.44
1909 WAS A  42 110   4  380  2.44
1942 PHI N  42 109   0  394  2.61
1906 BOS N  49 102   1  408  2.68
1907 STL N  52 101   2  419  2.70
1904 WAS A  38 113   6  437  2.78
1909 BOS N  45 108   2  435  2.81
1910 STL A  47 107   4  451  2.85
1918 BRO N  57  69   0  360  2.86

133"Tigers Increase Their Lean In Race--Johnson May Never Pitch Again." The Washington Post. September 1, 1909. Page 8.

134"The 10 shutout losses are not a record. The post-1901 record was set the year before, when the Cardinals' Bugs Raymond lost 11 shutouts (and coincidentally also finished the season with 25 losses), and the all-time mark is 14, by Jim Devlin, who started all but one of the Louisville Grays' games in 1876 (and they weren't even the worst hitting team in the league).

135Observant readers might recognize a variant of this text from a previous article of mine, "Runs Produced By The Most and Fewest Hits," which can be read here.

136"Gray In Bad Way." The Washington Post. July 17, 1909. Page 8.

137"Scoreboard Draws Crowd." The Washington Post. July 17, 1909. Page 8.

138"Ungrateful Kling." The Sporting Life. October 9, 1909. Page 2.

139"McGraw Gloats." The Sporting Life. October 2, 1909. Page 17.

140"Giants-Red Sox Series To Be Played Under Proper Conditions." The Sporting Life. October 9, 1909. Page 8. And "Boston Winner." The Sporting Life. October 23, 1909. Page 12.

141The coverage of his death in The Sporting Life was especially graphic about the state of his body after the shooting. Pulliam shot himself the night of the 28th, but lingered in a semi-conscious state until around 8 the next morning. Before he died, a detective went through the formality of putting him under arrest for attempted suicide, which given Pulliam's condition at the time, must have be surreal (and more than a little disgusting).

"Passing Of Pulliam!" The Sporting Life. August 7, 1909. Pages 1 and 3.