1910: Doves Postmortem

I know a lot of American Indians don’t like the nickname “Braves” (What, only Indians can be Brave?).  And I can understand their concern, but be honest, would you rather root for a team called the “Braves” or the “Doves’? Thought so.

The 1910 Boston Doves (who are now in Atlanta) finished the season 53-100, 50.5 games out of first. It got manager Fred Lake fired. He never managed in the Major Leagues again.

Most of it wasn’t his fault. The Doves were a miserable team. They finished seventh (in an eight team league) in hitting and slugging, last in runs, and sixth in hits. They had one real star, or at least semi-star, Fred Beck. Beck hit .275, slugged .415, led the National League in home runs with 10, and led the team with 64 RBIs. The rest of the team gave him little support. Three other starters hit above .250 (and one was right on .250), but with weak slugging percentages and only shortstop Bill Sweeney had more than 50 walks.

The bench wasn’t anything special either. Outfielder Wilbur Good got into 23 games and managed to hit .337 but struck out more than he walked. No one else who played 20 or more games hit .250 and the entire bench gave the team two home runs and 64 RBIs (the same number of RBIs as Beck alone).

It would be comforting to say the pitching was better. It wasn’t. Twenty year old Billy Burke went 1-0 and was the only pitcher with both a win and a winning record (There were two guys who went 0-0 and another posted a 1-1 record). “Ace” Al Mattern was 16-19 with a 2.98 ERA (big in 1910) in over 300 innings. He had more walks than strikeouts, as did two of the other four starters). The team ERA of 3.22 was seventh in the league and the Doves pitchers were dead last with 699 walks. The NL leading Pittsburgh, by contrast, had only 392 bases on balls.

Again, there’s just not a lot to like here. Beck’s OK, so of course the Doves sent him to Cincinnati the next season. Of the eight primary position players, only three would start the bulk of the team’s games in 1911, and many of the new men were retreads from other teams.  Although the team actually got a year younger going from 28 to 27 on average, most of that was because of an influx of rookies. There was no pitcher to look forward to as a potential ace.

If I told you this team was going to win the World Series in four years you’d probably laugh, unless of course you know your baseball history. But then the 1914 “Miracle Braves” team bears almost no resemblance to the 1910 team (even the name changed). Only pitcher Buster Brown (9-23 in 1910) from the Doves remained on the roster in training camp and he died before pitching a single game during the season. Somebody in Boston finally figured out what they were doing. They just didn’t figure it out in time to save the 1910 team.


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One Response to “1910: Doves Postmortem”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Never knew the Braves were once called the Doves. Yeah, I’ll take “Braves.” Always something new to learn on your blog, which is why I always come back for more. Bill

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