Opening Day 1914: American League

Stuffy McInnis, first base Philadelphia Athletics

Stuffy McInnis, first base Philadelphia Athletics

Next week marks what most of us consider the real Opening Day for MLB. So it’s time for a look at what was going on Opening Day 100 years ago. As the American League contained the World Champion Athletics, I think I’ll start with them (having done the “outlaw” Federal League already).

The champion A’s were much the same team as the 1913 version with the $100,000 Infield in place (Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry, and Frank Baker). The outfield was still decent and in Wally Schang the A’s had a good catcher. They led the AL in hits, runs, home runs, RBIs, and average. The Athletics used a dominant pitching staff to rule the A for five years, but it was beginning to fray. Jack Coombs was gone (he pitched only 2 games), Eddie Plank was 38 and not aging well. Herb Pennock had five starts over the previous two years, while Bullet Joe Bush had all of 17. As a consequence, the A’s would have 24 shutouts, but lead the league in no other category. They were fourth in ERA and hits allowed.

Two teams would give them a run for their money. One was Washington. The Senators finished 19 games back, but they had Walter Johnson who led the AL in wins, shutouts, and strikeouts.

The greater challenge came from Boston. the Red Sox still had Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis, ad Harry Hooper as their outfield. Speaker led the league in hits and doubles. Pitcher Dutch Leonard went 19-5 with an all-time low ERA of 1.00 (try losing five games with that ERA). But the most important news at Boston and for baseball in general was the arrival on 11 July of a rookie pitcher from Baltimore with the nickname of “Babe” Ruth. He would go 2-1 over four games (three starts), but it was the beginning of the most famous of all Major League careers.

Around the rest of the AL, Ty Cobb again won a batting title (.368) and the slugging crown (.513). His teammate Sam Crawford led the league in RBIs and triples. Fritz Maisel, a third baseman for the Highlanders, won the stolen base title with 74 and Baker with the A’s copped the home run title with nine. In April future Hall of Fame pitcher Red Faber made his debut for the White Sox, while Fred McMullin, one of the 1919 Black Sox (and Faber teammate) played his first big league game with Detroit in August. The 1920s stalwarts Everett Scott and Jack Tobin also first show up in 1914. Finally, 1914 is the rookie campaign for Bill Wambsganss, famous for the only unassisted triple play in World Series history (1920).

In the World Series, Philadelphia would be mauled by the “Miracle Braves” of Boston. It would be the end of Connie Mack’s A’s dynasty (he’d put together another in 1929) and the arrival of Ruth would signal the start of a new dynasty. This one in Fenway Park.


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6 Responses to “Opening Day 1914: American League”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    Nice post, V. Weren’t the “Miracle Braves” sort of similar to the “Hitless Wonders” in Chicago, in that they didn’t hit too well?

    I wish that I had asked my grandfather more about this stuff. He probably remembers some of this stuff, since he was about eight years old in 1913. I regret not having asked my grandfather more about the old baseball years. I never even asked him about Ty Cobb. I’ll bet that he actually saw Cobb play! Well, maybe. He told me that Babe Ruth once ruffed up his hair outside of Yankee Stadium one day and said, “How ya doin’, Kid?” By him telling me this, I inferred that at one time, Grandpa had hair.

    Little did Babe Ruth know that Grandpa was a Brooklyn Dodger fan.


  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Now that I think of it, Ruth might have ruffed up Grandpa’s hair outside of the Polo Grounds. I’m gonna guess that Yankee Stadium wasn’t built yet, and by the time it was, Grandpa was too old to be called “Kid”, even by Ruth, who called EVERYONE “Kid”. Well, maybe he wasn’t too old to be called “Kid” by Ruth, but he was probably too old to have his hair ruffed up, since he would have been about 17 or 18 in 1923, even though he still had hair back then. Well, maybe he looked young for his age! He wasn’t a particularly big guy—- he was sort of slight and stocky, and I guess he was as a youngster, as well. So maybe Ruth thought he was in his EARLY teens, or something.


    • verdun2 Says:

      The first 3 years Ruth played for NY the Yanks used the Polo Grounds (1920-2). In 1923 they moved to Yankee Stadium. Maybe it was 1920-2?

  3. glenrussellslater Says:

    I meant that he was slight and FEISTY. Grandpa sure was feiisty! One thing he WASN’T was STOCKY! He was ALWAYS thin as a rail, as far as I know!


  4. glenrussellslater Says:

    Yeah, it could have very well been those years. Grandpa was between 15 and 17 between those years.

    I can’t imagine anyone calling my grandfather “Hey, Kid!” By the time I was born, he certainly was no KID, that’s for sure!


  5. Says:

    Even though my grandfather didn’t tell many stories about the old days of baseball (even though he was a big Dodger fan and then became a big Mets fan), he had many OTHER great stories that he told. What a funny guy (often unintentionally funny) and a great storyteller he was!


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