Opening Day 1908

Jack Coombs

Continuing with the ongoing look at 1908, 14 April was opening day. That’s a Saturday this year, and I don’t post normally on a Saturday. So here’s an early look at the first day of the 1908 season.

There were seven total games opening the 1908 season, three in the National League, four in the American League. The defending champion Cubs opened on the road against Cincinnati. Chicago won 6-5. There are a couple of interesting points about the game. First Orval Overall started the opener, not Mordecai Brown (Brown relieved). Second, the Reds got all five runs in the first inning (only one was earned) then were shutout for the remainder of the game. Third, Hans Lobert, a pretty fair third baseman, started the game in left field. For the season he played 21 games in left and 99 at third. Finally, the hitting star was Johnny Evers. He went three for three with a double, three runs scored, an RBI, and a walk.

The Giants beat the Phillies 3-1 with Christy Mathewson throwing a four hit gem. He struck out seven, walked one, and saw a shutout lost in the ninth inning. In the other NL game, the Doves (Boston) knocked off the Superbas (Brooklyn) 9-3. Brooklyn first baseman Tim Jordan hit the NL’s first home run in the losing effort.

In the American League, Cy Young picked up a win leading the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory over the Senators. The one Washington run was a home run by Jim Delahanty. The Browns (St. Louis) knocked off the Naps (Cleveland) 2-1 with Hall of Famer Addie Joss taking the loss. Fellow Hall of Famer Nap LaJoie, for whom the team was named, went one for four with a double. The New York Highlanders (now Yankees) beat Connie Mack’s Athletics 1-0 in 12 innings. All 12 innings took two hours and 25 minutes to play. In another oddity, later star pitcher Jack Coombs started the game in right field for Philadelphia. He went two for five. The two hits led the team. For the season he played 47 games in the outfield and pitched 26.

The defending AL champion Detroit Tigers were in a slugfest with the Chicago White Sox. The final was 15-8 for the ChiSox with Doc White picking up the win. Every Chicago starter, including White, scored at least one run. For Detroit, both Hall of Famers Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb did well. Crawford was two for five with a double and two runs scored, while Cobb went two runs scored, a double, and a home run.

That was opening day 1908.




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3 Responses to “Opening Day 1908”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    V, was Mordecai Brown known as “Three Finger Brown” by his teammates, or was it just a nickname (and not a particularly original one, being that he had, well, three fingers on his throwing hand) that the press invented? It’s such an non-catchy name (in print it looks okay, but who calls a person “Three Finger”? Hey, how are ya, Three Finger! Come on, a hit’s as good as a walk, Three Finger! Mordecai is a cool name in my opinion, and I notice that you refer to him as such. Was Mordecai Brown happy with that nickname about his physical status, or did he despise it, the same way that Henry Aaron ACCEPTED being called “Hank”, which the media started, but he (and I imagine his teammates, too) referred to himself as “Henry”. Not that Hank is a bad name, but Henry Aaron preferred to be called what was on his birth certificate and what everybody in his neighborhood and his family called him while he was growing up in Mobile, Alabama. I guess that the media wanted to nickname him “Hammering Hank”, just like Hank Greenberg was nicknamed, but Greenberg called HIMSELF Hank; Henry Aaron thought of himself, and greatly preferred, being called “Henry” and he didn’t like the name “Hank”. (According to the excellent book “The Last Hero: A Life of Hank Aaron” by Howard Bryant.)

    Anyway, I’m just wondering if it was the same kind of thing with Mordecai/”Three Fingers” Brown, too.


  2. verdun2 Says:

    I think it was primarily a fan and journalism moniker. But I’m not absolutely certain.

  3. wkkortas Says:

    I didn’t realize Colby Jack played the outfield.

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