Posts Tagged ‘Rube Waddell’

The Water in Philadelphia

October 29, 2018

“water, water everywhere.”–Coleridge

A couple of days ago I did a little thing on those players who hit .400 and failed to win a batting title. In 1894 there were four of them, all in Philadelphia. I commented that there must have been something in the water. So let’s take a quick look at what was going on in Philly in 1894.

First we have to acknowledge that after the 1892 season, Major League Baseball, which at that point consisted solely of the National League, moved the pitcher back to 60″ 6′ and built a mound. It changed forever the way pitchers worked and how batter could respond. It made an immediate difference in the game. As just one example, in 1892 Dan Brouthers won the batting title at .335. In 1893 Billy Hamilton (who will be one of the waterboys in Philadelphia in 1894) won the title at .380. The last time a NL batting title was won by hitting over .380 was in 1886 by King Kelly who’d hit .388 (there were American Association titles that were higher, but the AA was gone by 1894). On the other hand strikeouts by pitchers dropped from Bill Hutchinson’s 314 to Amos Rusie’s 208. It wouldn’t be until 1904 (Rube Waddell) that the 314 would be surpassed.

So acknowledging all that, what about the Phillies? In 1894 the team hit a team average of .350 and led the NL in hits. The starters were (with their batting average in parens) catcher Jack Clements (.351), and infield of (from first around to third) Jack Boyle (.300-lowest among the starters), Bill Hallman (.312), Joe Sullivan (.353), Lave Cross (.387), and an outfield of “Sliding” Billy Hamilton (.403), Ed Delahanty (.405), and Sam Thompson (.415). On the bench Tuck Turner who got into 82 games and had 347 at bats) was the backup outfielder and led the team with a .418 average. Backup catcher Mike Grady hit .363 in 61 games. From there the remainder of the reserves fell off with shortstop Tom Murray going 0 for 2 and hitting .000 (this doesn’t count pitchers who had some terrible averages also).

What did all that hitting get the Phillies? It got them a record of 71-57, good for fourth place in the NL (behind Boston, New York, and pennant winner Baltimore who went 89-39), 18 games behind the winner and 10 games out of third place. The problem? Their team had the second highest ERA (5.63) in the league, were seventh in hits (in a 12 team league), and also seventh in strikeouts.

What’s it all mean? Well, maybe good pitching does beat good hitting. Or maybe it just means that the 1894 Philadelphia Phillies could hit a lot, but didn’t pitch nearly as well. In case you’re curious, only Hamilton, Delahanty, and Thompson made the Hall of Fame. Again, thought you just might like to know.

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1908: The End of July

August 1, 2018

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.

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1916

June 1, 2015

Refreshed from seeing our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, I’m back to business. So it’s a new month and a new addition to My Own Little Hall of Fame. This time a pair of newly retired players, one from the everyday players list and one a pitcher.

Willie Keeler

Willie Keeler

“Wee” Willie Keeler was a star outfielder from 1892 through 1910. With a career average of .341 he managed to hit above .300 in the first 15 years of his 19 year career. Twice leading the National League in hitting, once at above .400, he was a key member of pennant winning teams in both Baltimore and Brooklyn. He led the NL in hits three times and in runs once.

Rube Waddell

Rube Waddell

George “Rube” Waddell was the premier strikeout pitcher of his era, winning strikeout titles in six consecutive seasons. His 349 strikeouts in 1904 is a record among pitchers throwing from a mound. He posted more than 20 wins four seasons and won two ERA titles.

Now the commentary:

1. The two men enshrined this time are easily the kind of men that would be elected to an existing Hall of Fame in 1916. Both were well-known and both had the kinds of numbers that impressed in the period.

2. Keeler, as is usual for the big names of the pre-1910 era, had a lot of hits, scored a bunch of runs, and had very high averages. He was also one of the players I was able to find out quite a bit about. He was extremely popular and well-known (He was elected to Cooperstown in 1939, very quickly after it was formed).

3. Waddell is a bit more problematic. He didn’t get anywhere near 300 wins, notching only 193. That’s not a lot for an era obsessed with high win totals among pitchers. He did, however, have an enormous number of strikeouts and was dominant for a while. The statement that his 349 strikeouts in a season is a record is correct for 1916. It has since been passed several times. His personality was a bit of a difficulty, which I ultimately decided was worth overlooking. There were a handful of things I found that seemed to indicate that some writers didn’t take him seriously enough to elect him to a 1916 Hall of Fame. Offsetting that was the knowledge that he was dead by 1915 (he died in 1914) and that should have led to a certain amount of sympathy vote.

4. The newly eligible for the Class of 1917 includes one certainty, Cy Young, and a handful of other players. Bill Dahlen, Roy Thomas, and Fred Tenney are probably the best of the everyday players coming up. All have a distinct problem from a 1917 perspective and Tenney is probably DOA Hall-wise. Deacon Phillippe and Jesse Tannehill (old Pirates teammates) show up with Young and probably, but not certainly, will have to wait if they are elected at all. Young would, I believe, so dominate the pitching list that all other pitchers would find themselves downgraded for at least that one year. Among Conributors, Bill Carrigan who won two World Series’ while manager of the Red Sox shows up. No idea at this point how much that achievement was lauded in the era. If he hangs around my ballot the chances are that early pioneer Bob Ferguson drops off.

5. The 1917 class puts me half way through this project. I intend to go through 1934 which will come in December next year and will get me very close to the opening of the actual Hall. That seems like a good place to stop. After announcing the 1917 class, I intend to do a post about what I’ve learned midway through this project. Hopefully, it will explain some about how I got to that point.

Gettysburg Eddie

April 10, 2013
Eddie Plank

Eddie Plank

Quick bit of trivia. Which left-handed pitcher has the most wins in the American League? Want some help? The number is 305. OK if you’re clever (and because you read this blog, most of you are) you looked at the title and the picture and guessed Eddie Plank. You win.

Plank was born to a farming family in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (scene of the famous battle) in 1875. His first taste of organized baseball came in 1893, when he was 17. It was a local team and brought him to the attention of Gettysburg Academy, a prep school for the local university, Gettysburg College. Apparently students enrolled at the Academy could participate in varsity athletics for the College, so Plank pitched for Gettysburg College but was never a student (Figure that one out, NCAA. I wonder if you can sanction a team after 100 years?). He came to the attention of Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics and in 1901 he joined the A’s without ever playing for a minor league team.

It was the first year for the American League and the Athletics. Plank was good and he would remain with Philly for most of his career. In his initial campaign he was 17-13 with an ERA over 3.– (which was big in the Deadball Era). The next four years he won 20 plus games each season. His ERA dropped, his strikeout total soared, peaking at   210 in 1905. The A’s won the AL pennant in both 1902 and 1905. In both cases Plank was the two pitcher behind Rube Waddell. In 1905, the A’s participated in the second World Series. With Waddell hurt, Plank got two games. He struck out eleven, walked four, gave up three earned runs, had an ERA of 1.59. Despite all that, he took the loss in both games as the Giants pitching staff gave up no earned runs for the entire series.

He continued to pitch well during the rest of the first decade of the 20th Century, having his first (of two) losing seasons in 1908 (14-16). By 1910 he was becoming the third member of the rotation behind Chief Bender and Jack Coombs. The A’s made the World Series in four of the next five seasons, winning three (1910, ’11, and ’13). Plank pitched well all three seasons, winning 20 games in 1911 (and again in 1912, the one year the Athletics failed to win the pennant).

His World Series record wasn’t as good as his regular season totals. In 1910 he didn’t pitch in the Series. Bender and Coombs pitched every game as the A’s beat the Cubs. In 1911 he was 1-1 with an ERA of 1.86. His game two win over Rube Marquard was a five hit masterpiece, but he was overshadowed by Frank Baker’s two-run home run that proved the difference. He wa 1-1 again in 1912 while putting up an 0,95 ERA. His victory was in game five when he two hit the Giants for a 3-1 win that clinched the Series for the A’s. In 1914, he pitched game two, lost it 1-0 on a double, stolen base, and a single in the top of the ninth. The Braves swept the A’s out of the Series in four games. For his career Plank was 2-5 with a 1.32 ERA and 32 strikeouts.

In 1914 the Federal League was formed. It offered players better salaries and something like quality play (the play could be pretty good or wretched depending on the team). Plank was interested and in 1915 Mack waived him (and both Bender and Coombs). Plank ended up with the St. Louis Terriers as their ace. He went 21-11, led the league in WHIP and ERA+, and found himself on one final pennant winner. The Feds folded after the 1915 season and Plank, now 40, found himself looking for work. The St. Louis Browns picked him up for the 1916 season (my wife’s grandfather once told me he saw Plank pitch with the Browns). He was 5-6 with a 1.79 ERA. It was only his second losing season. He was through. He retired to his farm in Gettysburg, where he farmed and led tours of the battlefield. In 1926 he suffered a stroke and died a couple of days later. In 1946 he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

For all his ability, Plank had one severe problem when he pitched. He was slow. Really slow. Really, really slow. He was infamous for taking a lot of time between pitches. As mentioned above, my wife’s grandfather told me he saw Plank pitch. He told me “you could drink a whole bottle of pop between pitches.” It seems to be part of the reason that Mack went with other pitchers in critical situations. A slow pitcher can cause the defense to become lax and Mack, as a former catcher, had to be aware of that. I looked at a handful of Plank’s games that had times listed (all of them don’t) and compared him with both Bender and Coombs. His games did seem to take longer, although not a lot, but were nothing like the length of games today.

Over his career, Plank was 326-194 for a .627 winning percentage. His ERA was 2.35 with an ERA+ of 122. He pitched 4495.2 innings, gave up 3958 hits, walked 1072, and struck out 2246 for a WHIP of 1.119. When he retired he had more wins than any other left-hander. In the 96 years since, he’s been passed by only two other lefty’s: Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton. Not bad considering all the left-handed pitchers that have played since 1917. As mentioned in the first paragraph, he still holds the record for most wins by a lefty in the American League.

When I first began this somewhat extended look at the 1910-14 Athletics, I was a little surprised I hadn’t dealt with Plank. After all, I’d done all four of the infield plus Bender and Coombs (and utility man Danny Murphy). In some ways that’s kind of fitting. Plank was never really a big star and only infrequently the team ace. Seems to be that way here also.

Plank's final resting place in Gettysburg, PA

Plank’s final resting place in Gettysburg, PA

A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Rube Marquard

December 30, 2011

Rube Marquard while with Brooklyn

Since I’ve been hung up on left-handed pitchers for a while, I thought I should end the year with one more lefty.

1. Richard William Marquard was born in Cleveland 9 October 1886. He was nicknamed “Rube” because his pitching (not his eccentric ways) reminded people of Rube Waddell.

2. He got his start in baseball working for the Telling Ice Cream Company as a deliveryman. During the week he delivered ice cream. On the weekends he delivered strikes for the company team. He also was a batboy for the Cleveland Naps (now the Indians) for a while.

3. In 1908 the Giants paid $11,000 for him (a huge sum at the time). For a return they got nine wins over the next three years.

4. He hit his stride in 1911 winning 24 games and leading the National League in strikeouts.

5. The Giants made the first of three consecutive appearances in the World Series that season, losing to the Athletics in six games. During the Series Frank Baker became “Home Run” Baker when he hit two crucial home runs. The first was off Marquard. For the three World Series’ Marquard’s record was 2-2 with 20 strikeouts and six walks.

6. In 1912 he put together a 19 game winning streak. New York won the pennant, Marquard won two games in the Series, but Boston won the championship.

7. His numbers slipped in 1913, ’14, and ’15. In late 1915 he was traded to Brooklyn, not long after tossing his only no-hitter. It was against Brooklyn.

8. In 1916 he was 13-6 with a 1.58 ERA (his career low), and 107 strikeouts to go with only 38 walks. Brooklyn won the pennant, but lost the World Series to Babe Ruth’s Red Sox. Marquard was 0-2 with a plus 5 ERA (He did not pitch against Ruth).

9. He won 19 games in 1917, lost 18 in 1918 and continued having up and down seasons for the rest of his career. He got into one last World Series in 1920 with Brooklyn, losing his only start (game one to Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski). For his postseason career he was 2-5 with an ERA in the threes.

10. Just prior to game four of the 1920 Series he was arrested by an undercover policeman for scalping tickets (he had box seats for the game). He was fined one dollar and court costs (the judge saying that the embarrassment should be enough punishment). Charles Ebbets took a dimmer view of the matter and traded Marquard to Cincinnati.

11. He had one last decent year at Cincinnatti, the was traded to Boston (the Braves) where he stayed until his retirement in 1925.

12. For a time he was married to Vaudeville actress Blossom Seeley, refered to at the time as “The Hottest Woman in New York”. Here’s a tobacco card image of her (Actresses got trading cards too? Who knew?). You can judge “hot” for yourself. The marriage produced a child, but didn’t last.

Blossom Seeley about 1910

13. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1971 and died 1 June 1980.

The Last Lefty

December 24, 2011

Yeah, I know, the title’s a little dramatic, but what the heck. If you’ve been following closely (and you should) you’ll note I’ve gotten through nine on my way to the 10 top left-handers in the Major Leagues. I began this by complaining that depth among left-handed starters is almost nonexistent. Trying to find 10 who were really top of the line is difficult and the search for the 10th is the hardest.

I went at this the way I normally do, I put down a preliminary list, looked it over, decided it was wrong, then began to research. That’s where I found an interesting problem developing among southpaws. There really is not true consensus about the top 10. I looked at traditional stats, I looked at the new SABR-type stats and realized you can pick your guy based on which stat you like. Pick a stat and when you run through the nine I’ve already looked over, you get all sorts of different picks. I looked at a bunch of SABR-style stats, but will only bore you to tears with three of them for this post. First, I’ll give the stat, then the top five left-handers on that stat’s list that aren’t the nine guys I’ve already done. Notice the differences (all active players in parens).

1. WAR: Tommy John, Jerry Koosman, Hal Newhouser, Frank Tanana, Billy Pierce

2. ERA+: (Johan Santana), John Franco, Rube Waddell, Harry Brecheen, John Hiller. And if you leave out the relievers Franco and Hiller the next two are Noodles Hahn and Newhouser

3. WHIP: Reb Russell, Jack Pfiester, Waddell, Ed Morris, (Santana). Morris pitched his entire career prior to the mound. Leave him out and you add Doc White

Notice something interesting? The only names that repeat are Waddell, Newhouser, and Santana, with Santana still being active and liable to rise or fall depending on what happens with the rest of his career. Not much consensus is there? A couple of these guys (Russell and Morris) I’d never heard of, so I looked them up and that led to the disqualification of Morris. It’s also interesting to note who isn’t there. Hall of  Fame pitchers like Lefty Gomez, Rube Marquard, Eppa Rixey, and Herb Pennock are missing.

Other stats do the same kinds of things. There seems to be something of a belief, at least statistically, that Waddell and Newhouser are the best of the old timers (Old timers? Newhouser pitched his last few years in my lifetime. Yikes.) and that Santana is the best of the current lot. OK, I guess. But how impressed are you really at that list? Nice group of pitchers, but are there really only nine guys better in 150 years of the Major Leagues? If so, then the crop of southpaw hurlers is as weak as I thought.

OK, to wrap it up, which one do I add to my list? Tentatively I pick Newhouser and reserve the right to drop him depending on the rest of Santana’s career.

1910: Browns Postmortem

August 23, 2010

By the end of August 1910, the St. Louis Browns were on the verge of elimination in the American League pennant race. If you ignored ties that might or might not be replayed, they were eliminated on 22 August. If you count the ones that were replayed, then they managed to hang on another week.

For the season the Browns went 47-107 (a .305 winning percentage). In an eight team league they finished 7th in hits, runs, and doubles; 6th in triples, walks,  and slugging: and dead last in hitting, stolen bases, and RBIs. They did manage 4th in home runs with all of 12. The pitching was as bad. They finished 7th in complete games (a bigger deal in 1910 than it is now) and hits allowed. They were dead last again with the most walks, highest ERA , and least strikeouts in the American League.

Individually, only Hall of Fame shortstop Bobby Wallace (.258) and outfielder George Stone (.256) managed to hit .250. Wallace and sub Art Griggs led the team in doubles with 19 and 22, while Stone led with 12 triples, 40 RBIs, and 144 hits. A real problem was that of all the bench players with 30 or more at bats, only Griggs managed to hit above .200 (.236), so there was no one to go to if one of the starters slumped (With this team I’m not sure how you determined if someone was slumping.). Another real problem for the team was that Stone and Wallace, their best position players were, at 36 and 33, the oldest position players on the team (pitcher Jack Powell was 35).

The pitching ace (if there is an “ace”) was Joe Lake who went 11-18 with a 2.21 ERA, which is third highest in the AL among “aces”. He’s the only pitcher to pick up double figure wins. Lefty Bill Bailey went 3-18 with more walks than strikeouts. Only Roy Mitchell at 4-2 (over six games), Rube Waddell 3-1 (10 games and only two starts), and Dode Criss 2-1 (six games, all in relief) had winning records (Bill Crouch and Harry Howell both went 0-0, which at least isn’t a losing record).

All this got first year manager Jack O’Connor fired. Shortstop Wallace was picked to replace him. Wallace would make in 39 games into 1912 before being shown the door. O’Connor never managed again in the big leagues.

I’d like to say something good about this team, but just can’t find anything positive to say. It’s not like a young George Sisler came up at the end of the year and showed possibilities or anything.  This team is a typical Browns team of the era. There’s a reason the Browns made exactly one World Series (1944) before transferring to Baltimore (where they are now the Orioles). Too many teams like this is the reason.

Over the next month or so, I intend to do one of these for each team that failed to win the 1910 pennant. I want to see what went wrong and what went right. It may take a while, because I’m not going to slavishly do it each time until all are done.

1910: Chief

May 12, 2010

Today marks the centennial of Chief Bender’s one and only no-hitter. He beat Cleveland 4-0 (Cleveland was involved in both 1910 no hitters with Addie Joss winning in April) with 1903 World Series hero Bill Dinneen taking the loss. Dinneen had thrown his own no-hitter in 1905. Of the three major pitchers who were the centerpieces of the 1910-1914 Athletics dynasty (Eddie Plank, Jack Coombs being the others), only Bender tossed a no-no.

Charles Albert Bender was born in Minnesota in 1884. He was a Ojibwa tribal member who attended both Carlisle Indian School (before Jim Thorpe arrived) and Dickinson College, both in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He seems to have been an OK student and was a gifted pitcher. In 1903 Connie Mack brought him to the Philadelphia A’s where he became the third pitcher and leading right-hander  behind southpaw aces Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell. He pitched in the 1905 World Series, taking both a win and a loss. The win was Philly’s only victory in the series. By 1910 he was well established as one of Philadelphia’s aces. He was also a Connie Mack favorite, who was generally chosen to pitch critical games. In 1910, he will start two World Series games, splitting them. In 1911, he will start three going 2-1. With Coombs disabled in 1913, Bender will be the ace and win two games in the series. In 1914, lost his only start in the Miracle Braves sweep.

With the advent of the Federal League in 1914,  Mack began dismantling his team. Bender jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League where he had a terrible year, going 4-16 giving up more hits than innings pitched. With the collapse of the Feds, Bender ended up back in Philadelphia, but this time with the National League Phillies. He went 15-9 with other good numbers too. He retired then, went into war work for World War I, then coached for the White Sox in the 1920s. He got into one game in 1925, giving up a run in one inning with a walk and a hit, then was through for good. He returned to The A’s and coached, scouted, and manged at the minor league level through 1950, when both he and Mack retired. In 1953 he was elected to the Hall of Fame and died the next year.

For his career, including the Federal League year, Bender was 210-128 (a .621 winning percentage) with 1711 strikeouts in 3017 innings,  712 walks, and an ERA of 2.46. In World Series play he pitched ten games going 6-4 with 64 hits,59 strikeouts, and 85.1 innings pitched. Certainly a good enough career.

In one way it’s an even better career. Because Bender was an American Indian he faced the standard racial prejudices of his day every time he took the mound. Phil Sheridan of “The only good indian is a dead indian” fame had only been dead for 15 years prior to Bender’s rookie campaign. He faced problems from the stands and from the opposing players. One symbol of it was his nickname, “Chief.” It was common in the period for any American Indian player to have that nickname and frequently it was meant derogatorily. Mack, sensitive to Bender’s problem and his initial feelings about the name, refered to him as “Albert”, his middle name. Bender seems to have at a point late in his career finally embraced the name (or at least quite despising it) and used it as a badge of honor against a hostile world. One of his favorite responses to heckling from the stands was to refer to the hecklers as “Foreigners.”

His teammates and most of the Philly fans liked him (Considering the way they treat their own players today, what happened to Philly fandom in the last 100 years???). He was considered a good teammate and friend, a player the other players liked to be around both on and off the job. Mack trusted him with scouting and developing minor league players after Bender’s retirement. It wasn’t easy being an American Indian in 1910, but among his friends, coaches, and teammates Bender was respected and liked.

By this point, he’s been almost forgotten. Unlike the black community’s embrace of Jackie Robinson, the American Indian Movement never picked up on him as someone to remember and that’s a real shame. They probably should have done so. He’s worth it as both ballplayer and man.

Opening Day, 1910: St. Louis (AL)

April 21, 2010

Bobby Wallace

It’s uncharitable to say that the St. Louis Browns were hopeless, but sometimes the truth hurts. The Browns were hopeless. In their entire existence, 1902-1953, they finished first once. 1910 wasn’t it.  

 The Browns finished seventh in 1909, 36 games out of first. It led to a general housecleaning, something the Browns did frequently. Manager Jimmy McAleer was canned and replaced by Jack O’Connor a former catcher whose rookie season was 1887 with the American Association Cincinnati Reds. It was his first managerial job (and his last). He would survive in the job exactly one year. 

He didn’t have a lot to work with in St. Louis. Three of the infielders were different. Future Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace remained at short, but he was 36 in 1910 and on is last legs as a player. Former right fielder Roy Hartzell moved to third base with fairly predictable results. Pat Newman and Frank Truesdale took the jobs at first and second. Both were rookies. Art Griggs and Dode Criss remained the men off the bench. Criss sometimes moonlighted as a pitcher for St. Louis. He wasn’t an upgrade. 

The outfield had two stable members, Hartzell moving to third as mentioned above. Al Schweitzer replaced Hartzell in right and Danny Hoffman and George Stone remained in the other two spots. Schweitzer had been, with John McAleese, one of the backup outfielders in 1909. 

The 1909 catcher, Lou Criger, was gone, replaced by ’09 backup Jim Stephens. The new backup was Bill Killefer who would go on to fame as Grover Cleveland Alexander’s catcher with the Phillies. Killefer played 11 games in 1909. 

The pitching in 1909 was weak, but at least none of the major starters had given up more hits than innings pitched, and only one had walked more than he struck out. In 1910 four of the big starters, Jack Powell, Barney Pelty, Bill Bailey, and Hall of Famer Rube Waddell were back. Joe Lake was new, coming over from New York. So was rookie Robert “Farmer” Ray. 

And that was it. There were new guys, but they weren’t much of an upgrade, if at all. There was a new manager, four rookies (including Killefer), and a bunch of guys nobody ever heard of. The genuinely good players like Wallace and Waddell were at the end of their careers. The 1910 season was Waddell’s final year. It was the same story for most of the Browns’ history. 

Next: the Senators

Matty vs the Elephants

January 22, 2010

In 1905 the World Series resumed after a one year hiatus. The New York Giants won the National League pennant in 1904 but refused to play a postseason series against what Giants manager John McGraw called “an upstart league.” Public outcry was such that the next year the World Series resumed.

The Giants won the NL pennant by 9 games over the Pirates so McGraw was going to have to play whether he wanted to or not. His team was pitching heavy with Joe McGinnity and Red Ames both winning 22 games and Christy Mathewson winning the pitching triple crown (wins, strikeouts, ERA). The hitting wasn’t all that great. The infield consisted of (from 1st around to 3rd) Dan McGann, Billy Gilbert, Bill Dahlen, and Art Devlin. The outfield was George Browne, Mike Donlin, and Sam Mertes, with Hall of Famer Roger Bresnahan doing the catching. Backups Sam Strang and Frank Bowerman were the only other players to net 50 or more games. Never heard of most of them, right? (Although if you get a chance to see the Buster Keaton silent movie The General Donlin plays one of the Union commanders.)  Like I said, pitching heavy.

They faced off against Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, sometimes nicknamed the “White Elephants” (another story for another post) who won the AL pennant by 2 games over the White Sox. The A’s were also pitching heavy with Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, Andy Coakley, and Chief Bender all winning 16 or more games. Waddell, like Mathewson, won the American League pitching triple crown. Again, not a great hitting team. The infield (again 1st to 3rd) was Harry Davis, Danny Murphy, Jack Knight, and Lave Cross. The outfield was Socks Seibold, Danny Hoffman, and Topsy Hartsel,with all-name-team catcher Ossee Schreckengost behind the plate. Monte Cross, Briscoe Lord, Mike Powers, and Harry Barton were the entire bench (no one else played even one inning in the field for the A’s). Again, never heard of them, right?

Looking at the rosters it appeared the 1905 World Series would be dominated by pitching. There was one down note to that premise. Just before the Series began, A’s ace Rube Waddell was injured in a freak injury on the train returning from a game. The Sports Encylopedia: Baseball lists the injury as a shoulder separation, but there were rumors it was faked and Waddell had been paid to miss the Series, thus turning the odds towards the Giants. There is no evidence that I can find that substantiates this rumor, so I’m discounting it now, but can be persuaded if evidence is found.

 It turned out to be the greatest Series-wide pitching performance ever. The Giants won in 5 games with the A’s taking game 2 by a score of 3-0 behind Chief Bender. In the game the A’s got 3 unearned runs off “Ironman” McGinnity. It was a unique event in the Series. In the 4 Giants wins the A’s scored exactly zero runs. McGinnity won game 4 1-0 and Mathewson won the other three.

Mathewson’s totals are unquestionably the finest totals in World Series history. He pitched 3 complete games (27 innings), giving up no runs (not even an unearned run) for a 0.00 ERA, with 14 hits, 1 walk, and 18 strikouts. In fact, you can argue that the Giants pitching (Mathewson, McGinnity, and Red Ames for 1 whole inning) had the single greatest World Series for any staff. In the Series the Giants ERA was 0.00 with only 25 hits, 25 strikeouts, and only 5 walks. They didn’t give out Series MVP’s back then, but Mathewson surely would have won it.