1908:The First Division of the Senior Circuit

John Titus from his Wikipedia page

Following up a look at the American League going into 1908, here’s a look at the National League. Please note that the standings here reflect the end of the 1907 season.

Chicago: The Cubs were defending World Series champions going into 1908 (a phrase repeated exactly once since 1908). This was the famous Tinker to Evers to Chance infield (although the poem that made them famous came later) with Harry Steinfeldt at third. As you might guess, the Cubs stood pat mostly for 1908. Heinie Zimmerman would make more of an impact in ’08 than in ’07, and Orval Overall would slip behind Mordecai Brown in pitching, but the Cubs in 1908 seemed to understand the old admonition “if it ain’t broke; don’t fix it.”

Pittsburgh: The Pirates finished 1907 in second place, 17 games back. That made for a good team that needed to make a few changes. They shifted first basemen (and got older doing so) and brought Tommy Leach from the outfield to third base. That alone meant changes in the outfield. Chief Wilson replaced Goat Anderson (and I don’t know how he got the nickname “Goat”) and Roy Thomas took Leach’s place. What remained the same were player-manager Fred Clarke and simply the best shortstop in the game, Honus Wagner. In 1908, he would have a season for the ages. Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe were still around from the 1903 World Series pitching staff.

Philadelphia: The Phillies finished third in 1907. You probably ought to think about that for a second. It didn’t happen often. They were 4.5 games behind the Pirates with an outfield of Sherry McGee, Roy Thomas (who, as noted above was in Pittsburgh in 1908), and John Titus who should probably be better remembered. The rest of the starters remained the same. The major change on the mound saw George McQuillan go from five starts to 42.

New York: John McGraw’s Giants were a formidable team in 1907 and again in 1908. As usual for a McGraw team it was built on speed, pitching, and good fielding (for the era). Gone were Bill Dahlen and Dan McGann, replaced by McGraw favorite Al Bridwell and Fred Tenney. Tenney, the first baseman, had a 19-year-old back up named Fred Merkle who would manage to get into 38 games. In 1908 Mike Donlan decided to play instead of go on the vaudeville circuit and was the major outfield addition. On the mound there was Christy Mathewson. He’d been great in 1907 and no one expected a falling off in 1908. Behind him Joe McGinnity was 37 and fading.

A lot of the names above are utterly obscure today, but in 1908 they had meaning. The National League was still considered the stronger league in 1908 and a lot of those guys were the reason why. Next time, the bottom feeders in the NL.

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2 Responses to “1908:The First Division of the Senior Circuit”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    Seeing all these Irish names on the rosters that you mentioned made me think about the hard time that the Irish had gaining true acceptance in the United States and how badly they were treated. “Irish Need Not Apply” became such a common sight in store windows and in newspaper job ads after they came en masse in the 1840s during the Potato Famine in Ireland. Maybe it was BASEBALL that gave them a niche in America, as they finally gained acceptance as they assimilated to American ways.

    Glen

  2. wkkortas Says:

    That bat Titus has is only missing the business end to be a sledgehammer.

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