Opening Day, 1913: American League

Walter Johnson (later than 1913)

Walter Johnson (later than 1913)

In 1913, the American League opened its season one day later than the National League. Opening Day was 10 April. Among other games it saw Philadelphia win its first game of the season.

Although the Red Sox were defending World’s Champions, Connie Mack’s Athletics were the loaded team. The 1913 A’s boasted the “$100,000 Infield” of Stuffy McInnis at first, Jack Barry at short, and Hall of Famers Eddie Collins and Frank Baker at second and third. Of outfielders Rube Oldring, Amos Strunk, Eddie Murphy (obviously not the modern comedian), and Jimmy Walsh, only Oldring was older than 25 (he was 29) and only Walsh hit below .280. Jack Lapp and rookie Wally Schang shared catching duties with Schang being much the better hitter. Aging Danny Murphy was solid of the bench. It was a strong team that looked good for many years. They had won the 1910 and 1911 World Series and finished third in 1912. The fall back was primarily because of the pitching. Ace Eddie Plank was 37 and former ace Jack Coombs was ill from typhoid. There was nothing wrong with Chief Bender, however, and he managed 21 wins with a 2.21 ERA and 13 saves. The A’s would win the pennant by 6.5 over Washington and beat up on the Giants in the World Series, winning four games to one.

The Senators would finish second primarily because they had Walter Johnson and no one else did. Johnson had a season for the ages. He went 36-6, had an ERA of 1.14, struck out 243 men, and ended with an ERA+ of 259. It got him the pitching triple crown and the AL’s Chalmers Award (an early form of the MVP). The Chalmers lasted four years (eight total awards) and Johnson is the only pitcher to win one. Washington’s top hitter was probably Chick Gandil, who became infamous in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

Defending champ Boston would finish in fourth (Cleveland was third) 15.5 games back. Tris Speaker hit in the .360s but the pitching collapsed. Notably, Smoky Joe Wood went from 34 wins to 11.

Ty Cobb won another batting title, hitting .390, while Baker won both the home run and RBI titles. Collins led the AL in runs, while Cleveland’s Joe Jackson had the most hits.

1913 saw a number of rookies who would make their mark. On 28 June Wally Pipp played his first game for the Tigers. He would anchor first base for the initial Yankees pennant winners before losing his position to Lou Gehrig. Hall of Fame outfielder Edd Roush made his debut on 20 August with Chicago. On 4 August Cleveland brought up Billy Southworth. He was an okay players, but made the Hall of Fame as a manager. Finally on 17 September Detroit brought Lefty Williams to the Major Leagues. He would eventually lose three games while helping the 1919 White Sox throw the World Series.

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4 Responses to “Opening Day, 1913: American League”

  1. William MillerW Says:

    That’s quite a cast of characters. Ole Smoky Joe would have been one of my favorites if I’d been a kid back then. I’m guessing that kid Ruth over in Boston must have been a year or two away yet.
    Nice stuff,
    Bill

  2. Glen Russell Slater Says:

    V, thanks for a nice article. I’ve always loved baseball history, and more so than ever since I became so turned off by the current product. (I pretty much lost interest in major league baseball starting in the early ’90s, after having been a rabid baseball enthusiast since 1970.) But I still love baseball history, which, I guess, now includes the era in which I was an active baseball fanatic. (Which makes me feel kind of old!)

    My question is this, and I haven’t found anything on this on the web (and I’m very proficient on doing research on the web), and that question is WHY was that A’s team’s infield known as the $100,000 dollar infield? The way they paid ballplayers before the Reserve Clause came tumbling down, added to the fact that $100,000 dollars was an ASTRONOMICAL amount of money in 1913, it seems highly unlikely that the four infielders’ annual salaries added up to 100,000 dollars!

    This is pretty much a first for me asking a question like this, because since I started using the internet in the late ’90s, there has hardly been an answer to a question of this nature that I haven’t been able to find out on my own! It seems incredible that I couldn’t find even ONE source on the web that would concretely answer me a question that I would imagine has as simple an answer to a question as concrete as this one. In fact, I’m incredulous, because I’m generally a whiz when it comes to research on the web! (I generally scoff at people who use “Yahoo Questions” and things of that nature as being used by people who are either not good at research when they have the internet at their fingertips, or are simply too lazy to Google it. And here I am, asking this!)

    Do you happen to know the answer, V? Because I’ve always been curious about this particular question!

    Thanks.

    Glen

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