1908: The End of July

Here’s the next update in my continuing look at the 1908 season (110 years on).

Bobby Wallace

With approximately two-thirds’ of the 1908 season gone, the pennant race in the American League was taking shape seriously. Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, and Cleveland all had winning records and held down the first division. The Tigers were two games up on the Browns, with Chicago 5.5 back, and Cleveland at eight behind. For Detroit, Ty Cobb was hitting .346, but fellow Hall of Famer Sam Crawford was only at .287. Chicago was standing behind Ed Walsh on the mound and 37-year-old George Davis (in his next-to-last season). Davis was only hitting .212. For Cleveland Nap LaJoie was having a down season so far (.269 with four triples), but the pitching (read Addie Joss here) was holding up. For the Browns, Bobby Wallace, their most famous player, was also having a bad season (hitting .269), but pitcher Rube Waddell was doing well (By WAR, a stat unknown in 1908, Wallace was having a terrific season. He’d end at 6.3). Among the also rans, the Highlanders (Yankees) were in last place, 25 games out.

John Titus

In the National League, five teams winning records on 31 July: Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The Pirates were a half game up on the Cubs, two up on the Giants, 6.5 ahead of the Phils, and eight up on the Reds. St, Louis was all the way at the bottom 23.5 games out of first. The Pirates leaders, Tommy Leach, manager Fred Clarke, and Roy Thomas were a mixed bag at the end of July, but the team revolved around shortstop Honus Wagner. By 31 July, he was hitting .328 with an OPS of .939. Chicago, relying on the Tinker to Evers to Chance infield and Three-Finger Brown, was also getting good years out of Harry Steinfeldt, the other infielder, and a 21-year-old backup named Heinie Zimmerman. For the Giants it was a standard John McGraw team with great pitching from Christy Mathewson and Hooks Wiltse (with an assist from part-time pitcher, part-time coach, Joe McGinnity), and 3.0 WAR from first baseman Fred Tenney. Philadelphia played Cincinnati on 31 July and the Phillies win put the Reds another game back. Philadelphia’s John Titus was having a good year and for the Reds Hans Lobert was leading the hitters.

The season still had two months to go, two terrific pennant races to conclude, one utter memorable game to play. But it also had one of the more interesting games coming up between two also-rans in just a few days.


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3 Responses to “1908: The End of July”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    Interesting. Looking forward to reading more about the pennant race of 1908. I’ve heard of all the players mentioned in this post except for John Titus. Bobby Wallace was an under-publicized hall-of-famer and Sam Crawford, of course, was overshadowed by his more flashy teammate Ty Whatsisname. I like that last name “Crawford” too, as i’m a fan of the movie actor Broderick Crawford, so when i hear that last name, I think of a tough, no nonsense kind of guy like Broderick was both on and off the movie screen and television set.


    • verdun2 Says:

      Titus was a fixture at Philadelphia playing there from 1903 into the 1912 season when he was traded to Boston (the Braves, not the Red Sox). He hit .282 and was considered an acceptable right fielder. Baseball Reference lists players who are most like him. Denard Span is the most modern player on the list and is at 4th place.
      Thanks for reading.

  2. Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    I want Bobby Wallace’s jacket! (And, I’ve said it before … I LOVE this 1908 series you’re sharing this season.)

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