Posts Tagged ‘Bill Sweeney’

1910: Doves Postmortem

August 28, 2010

I know a lot of American Indians don’t like the nickname “Braves” (What, only Indians can be Brave?).  And I can understand their concern, but be honest, would you rather root for a team called the “Braves” or the “Doves’? Thought so.

The 1910 Boston Doves (who are now in Atlanta) finished the season 53-100, 50.5 games out of first. It got manager Fred Lake fired. He never managed in the Major Leagues again.

Most of it wasn’t his fault. The Doves were a miserable team. They finished seventh (in an eight team league) in hitting and slugging, last in runs, and sixth in hits. They had one real star, or at least semi-star, Fred Beck. Beck hit .275, slugged .415, led the National League in home runs with 10, and led the team with 64 RBIs. The rest of the team gave him little support. Three other starters hit above .250 (and one was right on .250), but with weak slugging percentages and only shortstop Bill Sweeney had more than 50 walks.

The bench wasn’t anything special either. Outfielder Wilbur Good got into 23 games and managed to hit .337 but struck out more than he walked. No one else who played 20 or more games hit .250 and the entire bench gave the team two home runs and 64 RBIs (the same number of RBIs as Beck alone).

It would be comforting to say the pitching was better. It wasn’t. Twenty year old Billy Burke went 1-0 and was the only pitcher with both a win and a winning record (There were two guys who went 0-0 and another posted a 1-1 record). “Ace” Al Mattern was 16-19 with a 2.98 ERA (big in 1910) in over 300 innings. He had more walks than strikeouts, as did two of the other four starters). The team ERA of 3.22 was seventh in the league and the Doves pitchers were dead last with 699 walks. The NL leading Pittsburgh, by contrast, had only 392 bases on balls.

Again, there’s just not a lot to like here. Beck’s OK, so of course the Doves sent him to Cincinnati the next season. Of the eight primary position players, only three would start the bulk of the team’s games in 1911, and many of the new men were retreads from other teams.  Although the team actually got a year younger going from 28 to 27 on average, most of that was because of an influx of rookies. There was no pitcher to look forward to as a potential ace.

If I told you this team was going to win the World Series in four years you’d probably laugh, unless of course you know your baseball history. But then the 1914 “Miracle Braves” team bears almost no resemblance to the 1910 team (even the name changed). Only pitcher Buster Brown (9-23 in 1910) from the Doves remained on the roster in training camp and he died before pitching a single game during the season. Somebody in Boston finally figured out what they were doing. They just didn’t figure it out in time to save the 1910 team.


Opening Day, 1910: Boston (NL)

April 13, 2010

Peaches Graham

There’s no way to sugarcoat this, Boston in 1909 was a Truly Awful Team. That’s how I describe a team that finishes under a .300 winning percentage. Boston ended the season 45-108 (a .294 winning percentage), 65.5 games out of first and 9.5 out of seventh.

As you would expect, the Doves underwent wholesale change during the offseason. During the 1909 season manager Frank Bowerman had a winning percentage of .290 and was fired with 77 games remaining. New manager Harry Smith did better. His winning percentage was .299. So out he went too. In came Fred Lake. Lake was the former manager at the other Boston team (the Red Sox) and had finished third (I have no idea what possessed him to switch teams. As far as I can tell he wasn’t fired.).

The 1909 outfield had been Roy Thomas in left field and leading off, Beals Becker in right hitting second, and center fielder Ginger Beaumont hitting fourth. In 1910 they were all gone (to Philadelphia, the Giants, and the Cubs), replaced by Bill Collins in left and leading off, Fred Beck in center who hit seventh, and clean up hitter and right fielder Doc Miller (who would actually arrive in Boston about a month into the season).

Catching was holdover Peaches Graham, the eighth hitter. In trying to find a good picture to post with this comment, Graham’s was the best I could do. That alone should tell you the quality of what Boston was putting on the field in 1910.

The infield had two holdovers. Second baseman Dave Sheen remained but moved from the three hole in the lineup to fifth, and Bill Sweeney, the 1909 third baseman and five hitter, moved to shortstop and now hit sixth. The new third baseman was Buck Herzog who hit second. First base saw Bud Sharpe, the new three hitter, take over. (He was traded during the season.) 

The pitching was a mess. Al Mattern, Lew Richie, Kirby White, Cecil Ferguson, Buster Brown, and Tom Tuckey were the 1909 pitchers who started 10 or more games. Only Richie managed to pitch .500 (he went 7-7) and he came over in a trade from Philadelphia. Ferguson managed to go 5-23 and lead the NL in losses.  By 1910 Mattern, Ferguson, White, Richie, and Brown were all back. They were joined by Cliff Curtis (who started nine in 1909). Billy Burke became the major bullpen pitcher.  

I wish I could say something positive about this team. The only thing I can think of is that they will get above .300 in 1910 (.346) and end up only 50.5 games out of first. It’s a long road to redemption in the form of Gene Stallings and the 1914 Miracle Braves.

Next: the Tigers