Posts Tagged ‘Bill Bergen’

1908: Rucker’s Gem

September 5, 2018

Nap Rucker

In an otherwise dreadful season, Brooklyn had one ray of sunshine in 1908. On 5 September, Nap Rucker, their best pitcher, tossed a no hitter against Boston.

Rucker’s gem was game two of a Saturday double-header (Brooklyn lost game one). The Superbas (that’s Brooklyn) sent him to the mound with a 14-14 record. He’d pitched well but hadn’t gotten a lot of support from his hitters. The Boston Doves (who are now in Atlanta) parried with Patrick “Patsy” Flaherty, who was 10-14.

Brooklyn put up four runs in the second inning and two more in the eighth to post six runs. Clean up hitting first baseman Tim Jordan went three for three with two runs scored and an RBI and an eighth inning solo home run (his ninth of what would be a league leading 12). Second baseman Whitey Alperman had two hits and scored two runs, while catcher Bill Bergen knocked in two with a second inning double. Rucker, meanwhile struck out 14 while walking none.

The Doves (don’t you just love that nickname?) took advantage of three Brooklyn errors to put men on base, but had no hits. Shortstop Bill Dahlen struck out three times in as many trips to the plate. Flaherty allowed eight hits, walked two, and struck out two.

Flaherty ended the season 12-18 with more walks than strikeouts, while Rucker went 17-19 with a 2.08 ERA,199 strikeouts, and a league leading 125 walks. At the end of the day Boston would was 52-72 and in sixth place. Brooklyn, after this day was 44-78 and in seventh place (next-to-last), 31 games out of first.

It was a long season for both teams, but at least Brooklyn had a no-hitter to its credit.

1910: Superbas Postmortem

September 4, 2010

The 1910 Brooklyn Superbas , under rookie manager Bill Dahlen, went 64-90 for 1910 and finished sixth, 40 games back. They weren’t yet either the Boys of Summer  of the 1950s or the Daffiness Boys of the 1930s. They also weren’t very good (which is tough for a Dodgers fan to say).

Brooklyn in 1910 was dead last in hitting, slugging, RBIs, hits, and doubles. They were seventh in runs and walks, and first in striking out. Only first baseman Jake Daubert, third baseman Ed Lennox, and outfielder Zack Wheat managed to hit .250 while shortstop Tony Smith hit .181 and  catcher Bill Bergen made it all the way to .161. You know you’re in trouble if two of your starters don’t make it to the Mendoza line.

The problem with replacing some of these guys was that the bench was equally awful. A common theme of these posts is that teams who finish in the bottom part of the standings have terrible benches. Brooklyn was no exception. The highest average from the bench players was Al Burch’s .236. He also had one of the highest slugging percentages at .284. Tex Erwin, backup catcher, hit .188, not much of an improvement over Bergen, and Pryor McElveen’s .225 wasn’t that much better than Smith’s average. Outfielder Bob Coulson managed a .404 slugging percentage in 23 games. That led the team with Wheat second at .403.

Among the pitchers, knuckleballer Nap Rucker and Cy Barger had acceptable seasons. Rucker went 17-18 and led the NL in innings, hits, and shutouts with six. Barger was 15-15. It went south from there. George Bell was 10-27 and Doc Scanlan was 9-11. If you look down the list, there’s nobody below that even hints at solving the problems of the staff.

The Superbas have a little to look forward to in 1911. Daubert and Wheat are good players and will continue to improve. I know nothing about Bergen, but he must have been a heck of a catcher because in 1911 he will catch 84 games and hit all of .132 and slug .154. Both Hy Myers and Otto Miller come up in 1911. Neither are particularly good in ’11, but both will be significant contributors to the rise of the 1916 team to the NL pennant. Other than that, Oh, well.

Opening Day, 1910: Brooklyn

April 11, 2010

Zack Wheat

The Superbas were anything but superb in this era. They hadn’t finished out of the second division since 1902, had ended up dead last in 1905, and had not progressed beyond sixth by 1909. Not only were they not “The Boys of Summer”, it’s doubtful they were even the boys of winter.

Brooklyn finished the 1909 season in sixth place, 55.5 games out of first and 19 games out of fifth place. That meant major revision in the team. It started at the top, with manager-right fielder Harry Lumley losing his managerial job. He remained a part time right fielder, and I wonder how much tension existed between Lumley and new manager Bill Dahlen. Dahlen was 40 and something of a John McGraw clone. He won a World Series with New York in 1905. He was tough, fiery, intolerant of fools, and had never managed before.

The positional starters underwent major change in 1910. The day before the season began, Brooklyn picked up a new center fielder, Bill Davidson. He led off the first game, which must have been a trifle odd, even for Brooklyn. Rookie Jake Daubert was the new first baseman and hit second. Former first baseman Tim Jordan was still around but only got into five games in 1910 because of injuries. In 1909 a rookie named Zack Wheat got into 26 games. This season he would begin a Hall of Fame career by hitting third and holding down the left field spot. Second baseman Jerry Hummel, a bench player the year before,  took the clean up hole. Jack Dalton took former manager Lumley’s slot in rght field and hit fifth. Hold over third baseman Ed Lennox was in sixth and new guy Tony Smith was at short and hit seventh. Bill Bergen remained as catcher and eight hitter. Many of the old starters got bench roles. As mentioned, former first baseman Tim Jordan was hurt. Former manager Lumley got into only eight games, and 1909 shortstop Tommy McMillan was traded after 23 games. Ex-leadoff man Al Burch became the fourth outfielder. Gone entirely was ex-second baseman Whitey Alperman. Tex Erwin was the new backup catcher with Otto Miller getting spot duty as the third catcher. Pryor McElveen remained the backup middle infielder with Hap Smith doing a lot of pinch hitting.

The Superbas pitching in 1909 was nothing special. George Bell was 16-15 and everyone else, except Doc Scanlan (8-7) had a losing record.  At least all of them had more innings pitched than hits allowed. For 1910, Bell was back, so was potential ace Nap Rucker, along with Scanlan. Cy Barger who was over from the Yankees and Elmer Knetzer, a rookie who had pitched five games in ’09,  rounded out the starters. Gone was former starter Harry McIntire, and the final starter in 1909, Kaiser Wilhelm, was now the main man in the bullpen.

Brooklyn was in turmoil in 1910. They had done little to actually improve the team. Prospects of lifting in the standings were minimal. Having said that, new guys Daubert, and especially Wheat, held out prospects of a coming rise, but it was going to take a while.

Next: ST. Louis