Baseball Judgments

Baseball Judgments |
Moving forward: The early 1900s


By Roger Weber


1904 was, like 1903, a remarkable season. In the American League, the Boston Base Ball Club and the New York Highlanders, predecessors to the Yankees, fought back and forth for the title. Boston ended up winning by 1.5 games. For New York, though, pitcher Jack Chesbro won 41 games, losing just 12. In the National League, the New York Giants, led by a young, soon to become famous John McGraw, won 106 games, cruising to the league championship.


In 1905 the American League champion looked to be the Philadelphia Athletics, but late in the season, the upstart Chicago White Sox began to carve into the lead. Chicago ended up meeting the New York Giants in the World Series. The 1905 World Series was scheduled to be a best of seven series, instead of a best of nine. The Giants won easily, 4 games to 1. Christy Matthewson won three games for the Giants in the Series, and didn't give up a single run in 27 innings of work.


Ty Cobb entered the major leagues in 1905. In 1905, he would steal just two bases, but from 1905 to 1919, Cobb stole 754 bases and had a .373 batting average.


In 1906, the Chicago White Sox won the American League by three games. In the National League, the other Chicago team, the Cubs posted an incredible 116 wins, a record number that would stand until 2001. Their .763 winning percentage is still a record. The famous lineup included names such as Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, and Joe Tinker. The Tinker-Evers-Chance infield is still one of the most famous in history. Three Finger Brown led the Cubs' pitching staff with a 1.04 ERA. For almost the entire regular season, the Cubs seemed unstoppable. In the World Series, though, the White Sox won 4 games to 2.


In 1907, the Cubs got it right, though. They lacked the same dominance, but still won 107 games. They won the World Series 4 games to 0, with one tie, over the young Detroit Tigers, who were led by Ty Cobb.


In 1908, the Cubs won again. They again defeated the Tigers, this time 4 games to 1. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they would not win another World Series in the next century. The way the Cubs got to the World Series, though, was more memorable. The Giants seemed to be ready to lock up the pennant in the final game of the season when Al Bridwell got a hit, but teammate Fred Merkle, who was already on the base paths forgot to touch second base and was called out. The game was ruled a tie, and the Cubs won the makeup game.


In 1909, the Cubs won 104 games, but their reign of dominance ended because the Pittsburgh Pirates won 110 games, losing 42. Honus Wagner led them with a .339 batting average. In the American League, Ty Cobb had an incredible year in which he batted .377 with 76 stolen bases. Cobb led the Tigers to the World Series against the Pirates. Although Cobb had the better season, Wagner's Pirates had the last laugh, as they won the first great World Series 4 games to 3. In the World Series, Pirates' pitcher Babe Adams had three of his team's four wins.


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