1908: The Second Division of the Senior Circuit

Bill Dahlen (with the Giants)

Now a brief look at the teams in the lower half of the National League (according to the 1907 standings) prior to Opening Day in 1908.

I’d like to say something good about the teams in Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Boston, and St. Louis, but there’s not a lot positive to be said about any of them. Brooklyn finished in fifth place, 40 games out. St. Louis brought up the rear 55.5 games back (and with 101 losses). It was harder to lose 100 games in 1907 simply because they played less games than (154), but the Cards gutted it up and took on the challenge and succeeded.

A measure of the desperation of the bottom tier of the league was Boston trumpeting the addition of Bill Dahlen to their roster. The Doves (and there’s a baseball name for the ages, the Fightin’ Doves) were right, he had a terrific year, putting up 5.2 WAR. But Dahlen was 38 and pinning your hopes on a geezer wasn’t the smartest idea in sports. I looked over the 1907 Doves pitching rotation in 1907. Never heard of any of them. I looked over the 1908 Doves pitching rotation. A few different pitchers, but never heard of any of them either. In 1908 they added Hall of Famer Joe Kelly in the outfield. He came out of retirement to play, got into 73 games, hit .259, and went back into retirement.  They also had, in 1907, Al Bridwell and Fred Tenney. Both would feature prominently in the 1908 pennant race. Unfortunately for Boston, they would do it with the Giants.

Cincinnati’s big player was pitcher Bob Ewing (apparently not related to the Ewing’s of “Dallas”).  He gave them 6.2 WAR with a losing record. They did have Hall of Famer Miller Huggins at second, but Huggins is in the Hall of Fame for his managerial skills (although he was a decent ball player). Hans Lobert moved from third to short in 1908. At least I’d heard of him. He put up decent numbers in 1907 and would do so again in 1908.

Brooklyn had Nap Rucker and not much else. He’d pitched well in 1907 and would continue doing so through 1913. He ended up with 134 wins and 134 loses, the very definition of a mediocre pitcher.

Going into 1908, no one except a few die-hard fans expected much out of the bottom dwellers in the National League. They would be right. As a group they finished fewer games out in 1908 (St. Louis was still last but only 50 games back), but most of that had to do with the teams at the top not putting up quite as many wins as they had in 1907.





7 Responses to “1908: The Second Division of the Senior Circuit”

  1. Miller Says:

    Regarding Rucker, I think he was a lot better than a mediocre pitcher. From 1908-1913, he was the game’s 4th best pitcher by WAR, 11 WAR ahead of 5th. For my money, he’s actually a borderline Hall of Famer who was saddled with some pretty awful Dodger teams.

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    I’m going to ask you a stupid question that I mean with sincerity. I might get scorned or be laughed at, but I’ll take that chance.

    Now, I realize that the Braves of Boston went through a lot of names before they settled on Braves. The Beaneaters were one, the Pilgrims was another. And, obviously, the Doves were another.

    Now, I am taking a chance on seeming like a complete moron in asking this, but I’ll take my chances.

    You mentioned in this post “The Doves (and there’s a baseball name for the ages, the Fightin’ Doves) were right, he had a terrific year…….”

    When you said “and there’s a baseball name for the ages, the Fightin’ Doves”, I was assuming that “Fightin’ Doves” were a product of your sense of humor. I did laugh, so if it was a product of your sense of your sense of humor, V, you succeeded in making me laugh at that line.

    But, ya never know! Are you actually aware of any incidences that the Boston Doves were actually affecftionately known as “the Fightin’ Doves”?

    When I was growing up, a short part of my growing up was in eastern Indiana in a town called Richmond, and in that town, there was a college called Earlham. Earlham’s teams were called “The Earlham Quakers”, named for the fact that that the college was founded by Quakers. (Yes, just like oatmeal was invented by Quakers.) A lot of people kiddingly refered to the Earlham Quakers by the name “The Earlham Fightin’ Quakers.” It turns out that this oxymoron was a joke; I don’t think that stuffy Earlham College would have even had sense of humor enough to find that funny. They were actually known as “The Hustlin’ Quakers.”

    With that in mind, I’m asking you with, sincerity about the Boston Hustlin’ Doves. No, I am not asking this in jest. I really am curious to know the answer, V!


    • verdun2 Says:

      Just a gag, Glen. As far as I know no one ever called them the “Fightin’ Doves” (or your “Hustlin’ Doves for that matter). Not like the Fightin’ Irish.

  3. Precious Sanders Says:

    Thanks for the overview. I often think it would be a lot of fun to jump in a time machine and see some good old baseball. When I do so, I’ll make a mental note to skip this bit (except maybe one game with the Cards — I’d like to get an idea of how they pulled that off).

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