A Retro-Review of the 1900s (the 1901-1904 edition)

By Tom Ruane

This article is a continuation of the Retro-Review articles. As with the other pieces, this is not intended to be a proper history of the decade. Instead, each review is a collection of things that interested me while I was helping to proof the box scores for that year and generate the html files for our web-site.

In addition, from time to time I will be focusing on a few of the statistical discrepancies from these years. These are cases where the data being displayed on Retrosheet's web-site differs from either the current official statistics or what was considered official at the time. In many cases, it is unclear which version is correct, but in many others the official view is pretty obviously wrong and at some point ought to be corrected.

Of course, like the earlier articles, this one would not have been possible without the work of dozens of Retrosheet volunteers who worked on digitizing the major league box scores for the 1900s.

Similar articles on the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are also available on our web-site.

Yearly links:



For major league baseball, the 20th century began with a war.1 When the National League dropped four teams after the 1899 season, Ban Johnson, the president of the Western League, shifted teams into Cleveland and Chicago, renaming his circuit the American League. Despite the changes, it was still a minor league and didn't directly challenge the NL players or markets (the move into Chicago had been approved by the Cubs).

All that changed before the 1901 season, with Johnson withdrawing from the National Agreement (a move which allowed his owners to go after players under contract to NL teams) and invading Boston and Philadelphia, as well as putting teams into the ex-NL cities of Baltimore and Washington. By the time they started the season, the only two cities left in the circuit from the 1899 Western League were the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers, and the Brewers would move into St. Louis, to compete with another NL club, prior to 1902.

The Chicago White Sox repeated as American League champions with a record nearly identical to their 1900 mark (82-53 in 1900 and 83-53 in 1901), but needed several upgrades to accomplish that. The largest of these was Clark Griffith, who moved to the White Sox from the cross-town Orphans to take over the managerial duties from owner Charlie Comiskey while going 24-7 on the mound. Second-baseman Sam Mertes and 15-game winner Nixey Callahan also came over from the Orphans, while Fielder Jones (who along with Callahan would also manage the White Sox before the end of the decade) joined the team from Brooklyn and was one of the team's best hitters.

Their principal competition that year came from the Boston Americans who had poached the second biggest prize that off-season from the senior circuit, Cy Young, and by the time he'd improved his record to 24-8 on August 23rd, his team was only a half-game behind the White Sox. But they would go only 5-12 over the next two weeks, culminating in a disastrous four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox. The collapse wasn't Cy Young's fault. Of the five wins in that two-week stretch, all but one were won by Young, and that was not atypical of their season as a whole, as Boston went 33-10 in the games Young pitched, but had a losing record (46-47) in the rest.

Over in the National League, the Pirates were able to hold on to more of their talent than any other team in their league, and even their biggest loss, third-baseman Jimmy Williams, turned into an up-grade when Tommy Leach had a fine season in his place. Pittsburgh took over first place to stay on June 11th, and although their lead had shrunk to a single game as late as August 18th, their eleven-game winning streak, starting on August 31st and including a sweep of the last-place Giants in back-to-back-to-back double-headers by a combined 80-21 score, was only the start of a hot streak that would see them lose only four more games before clinching the pennant with ten days to spare on September 26th.

Milwaukee had a rough introduction to the American League, blowing a nine-run lead in the bottom of the ninth of the opening game of their season, falling to Detroit 14-13. The next day, they lost another game in the bottom of the ninth, this time squandering a one-run lead, and in the finale of their four-game series with the Tigers, they couldn't hold a three-run ninth-inning lead. In the only game that wasn't decided in the bottom of the ninth, Milwaukee lost a one-run lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Of course, one team's pain was another team's pleasure, and the hometown fans were delighted, having been treated to four straight dramatic come-from-behind victories.2

Pop Dillon's game-winning double in Detroit's opening day win was his second of the inning and fourth of the day. An AL player would not hit four doubles in a regular-season game again until Boston's Billy Werber did it in 1935, although Frank Isbell managed to hit four in the fifth game of the 1906 World Series. Dillon was helped by the overflow crowd which spilled into the outfield, causing any ball hit into the fans to be a ground rule double.3 Without the aid of a shortened outfield, Dillon seldom hit doubles, and at one point later that season, hit only one in a stretch of 36 games.

Less than a month after Detroit's opening day win, there was another, even more unlikely comeback when Cleveland, trailing by eight runs to Washington with two out and none on in the bottom of the 9th, rallied to win. These two comebacks still rank as two of the most unlikely in American League history. The rally made a winner of Bill Hoffer, who went the distance for Cleveland, allowing 13 runs. He would win only once more in his major league career, a career that had begun in 1895 with much promise (he went 31-6, 25-7 and 22-11 in his first three seasons). In addition to winning one of the league's most unlikely games, he also has the distinction of losing the AL's first, the season opener on April 24th.

Apart from perhaps Cy Young, the best player in the American League was Nap Lajoie, who had a tremendous season, leading the league in every major offensive category except triples, and finished with the highest batting average in the history of the AL. He also did something that had only been done twice before when he had back-to-back multi-homer games on August 9th and 10th. It had been done previously by Cap Anson at Lake Front Park on August 5-6, 1884, and before that by Mike Muldoon on August 18-19, 1882.

The Boston Americans started quickly in their May 2nd game against the Athletics, scoring 21 runs in the first three innings. The starting pitcher for Philadelphia was Pete Loos, who was making his first and last major league appearance. To be fair, he was out of the game when most of the damage was done, getting charged with only five of the runs. It was the last time a team has scored nine or more runs in back-to-back innings. We don't have complete line scores of the 19th century games, but it was done at least once before, when the Pittsburgh Pirates scored twelve runs in the third inning and nine in the fourth on their way to a 27-11 win over Boston on June 6, 1894. The last time a team scored as many as eight runs in consecutive innings was on May 30, 2012 when the Seattle Mariners scored eight runs each in the second and third innings on their way to thrashing the Texas Rangers 21-8.

On May 5th, the White Sox had two statistical lines you won't see today when the team scored seven runs on three hits and nine errors (7 3 9 to those scoring at home), and their pitcher Roy Patterson threw a complete game in the 21-7 loss:

 9 25 21 14  2  2

It was Patterson's fourth major league game. In his debut, he had the distinction of throwing the first pitch in an American League game. Yes, he was the pitcher who defeated Bill Hoffer in the game mentioned above. Patterson would go on to win twenty games, and he would never come close to allowing 25 hits or 21 runs again. Cincinnati's Doc Parker set the mark for most hits allowed in a game in 1901 with 26 on June 21st, matching Patterson's 21 runs allowed. No one has allowed more than 26 hits in a nine-inning game since, although it has been tied twice. It would be the only game of the good doctor's season and the last of his career.

Christy Mathewson was the early season pitching sensation of the National League with eight straight complete game wins, four of them shutouts. In one stretch, he allowed only a single run in 50 innings. Even after his first loss on May 28th, a 1-0 defeat to Jack Powell, he had still allowed less than a run a game for the Giants. His pitching was a large part of the reason New York was in first place as late as June 10th and within a half-game of first as late as July 4th. But after losing the second game of their double-header that day to the Pirates 12-0, the team would collapse, going 22-64 the rest of the year to finish in seventh place.

At the other end of the spectrum, the biggest disappointment had to be the play of future Hall of Fame pitcher Amos Rusie, the man the Reds had picked up from the Giants for Mathewson in an off-season trade. Or so the story goes. While it is true that Mathewson had been drafted by the Reds late in 1900, it is far from clear how he ended up back in New York prior to the season, and whether that had much to do with Rusie, who hadn't pitched since 1898 due to a contract dispute, ending up in Cincinnati. However he got there, the Reds had high hopes that Rusie would return to the form that had made him one of the best pitchers in baseball during the 1890s. After all, despite sitting out two years, he was only 29 at the start of the season. These days, people wouldn't be so much looking at the 234 games he had won in his eight seasons with the Giants, but rather the 441 innings he'd averaged each year, all starting when he was only 18 years old.

The story of his season is quickly told. He made his first start on May 8th, and was clobbered by the Cardinals, giving up 19 hits, good for 14 runs in a complete game loss. Four weeks later, he made his second start, this one much more successful, allowing a single run in an eight-inning 1-1 tie called in the bottom of the eighth due to rain. He took the mound against his former team four days later, entering in the top of the fourth with his team already down 10-4. Rusie made a bad situation even worse, allowing 15 hits and 10 runs before leaving with his team now down 20-12. It would be his last appearance in the major leagues.

In all, the Giants collected 31 hits that day, including six by Kip Selbach and five each by George Van Haltren (the second time in a week he would have a five-hit game) and Charlie Hickman. No other team has had that many hits in a nine-inning game since, and only the Milwaukee Brewers, on August 28, 1992, have matched it.

Before moving on, I thought that the reaction of the sportswriter for the Cincinnati Enquirer to Rusie's second start was interesting. Here is part of wrote he wrote after that game:

"Amos Rusie, the great Hoosier Thunderbolt, convinced more than 2,000 people yesterday afternoon that he is still 'some pumpkins' as a pitcher. In fact, almost every person who witnessed his work left the local park thoroughly convinced that Rusie is as good as he was when he pitched for New York. His appearance shows that he has taken excellent care of himself, and his twirling against the Brooklyn champions could hardly have been better.... The showing of the big pitcher was a revelation to his host of local friends and admirers. Judging from what Amos showed yesterday Mr. Mathewson and the other stars will have to look to their laurels or the Hoosier will again be recognized as the premier twirler of the National League."4

Jack Taylor pitched poorly through the first four innings of Chicago's loss to the Giants on June 13th and was replaced by Mal Eason in the top of the fifth. For Taylor, in his third full season and appearing in his 84th game, it was only the second time in his career that he'd been removed from a game. It wouldn't happen again until August 13, 1906--a span of 186 starts and 15 relief appearances. The article in the Chicago Daily Tribune the day after the streak was broken only mentioned that: "It is the first time Jack Taylor has failed to finish a game since he returned to Chicago."5 Since he returned to Chicago only a month and a half earlier, the sportswriter either didn't know or thought it unimportant to mention that when he joined the club in early July his streak was already more than five years old.

This is not to say that there weren't many games in which his work merited removal, even by the standards of the day. He allowed ten or more runs seven times during the streak, reaching a peak of fifteen once. Thirteen of those games went into extra-innings and two of those lasted 18 or more innings. His record in those 186 starts was 97-87-2.6

On June 30th, Cleveland's Pete Dowling shut-out the Milwaukee Brewers 7-0. The headline in The Boston Globe read: "One Scratch Hit. Dowling Shuts Out His Old Teammates."7 And the other out of town newspapers as well as The Sporting Life and The Sporting News all agreed that Wid Conroy had a hit that day for the Brewers, a single in the seventh, the only thing preventing Dowling from pitching the first no-hitter in AL history. But The Milwaukee Journal that day disagreed and its description of the play and box score clearly indicated that Conroy reached on an error by third-baseman Bill Bradley.

So who do we believe? There is little we can say with certainty about scoring decisions from this era. There are no surviving official dailies from either league in 1901, so all we have are unofficial newspaper accounts. But there are two good rules of thumb to guide us through these situations. First, don't be fooled into thinking that a consistent account from out of town newspapers represents a consensus. They are almost always simply repeating what the wire service reported. And second, local reporting is usually more reliable, especially when it comes to determining a scoring decision, than out of town accounts. That is no doubt why Information Concepts Incorporated (ICI), when generating the 1901 AL player and team dailies to be used to create the first edition of the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, decided that Conroy went hitless that day, Bradley had an error, and Dowling pitched a no-hitter. And that is why Retrosheet decided to follow their lead.

In the second game of the double-header between Boston and Baltimore on August 5th, Orioles first-baseman Jimmy Hart punched umpire John Haskell in the face over a disputed call at third-base. According to a description in The Boston Globe, both men tried to continue the fight when John McGraw "threw himself between the contestants and prevented further hostilities until a crowd of players and spectators came on the scene and made warfare impossible."8 I'm not sure what surprised me most about this quote, the fact that McGraw played peace-maker or that spectators came onto the field to help calm things down.

After the game, both Hart and Haskell were arrested for disturbing the peace, and Hart was suspended for ten days. Once his suspension was up, he returned to the lineup and, after going 4-4 on August 24th (and a combined 7-8 over his last two games), quit the team when the Orioles refused to pay the $25 fine the league imposed along with his suspension. I guess some principals are worth more than a career because the 25-year-old rookie never played in the major leagues again.

The season's best pitching duel took place on September 21st when Tom Hughes shut out Boston for seventeen innings before the Orphans Sox could push across a run against Bill Dinneen and end the longest game of the year. The two pitchers entered the game with one career shutout between them (by Dineen in 1900) and had the game been called by darkness before the last inning, they could have tripled that total. The contest could have gone on even longer had the Boston pitcher had been able to handle the bottom of the Orphans order. He held the first six batters in the lineup to a combined 0-40, but the bottom third reached him for eight hits, including Pete Childs' game-winning single, his fourth of the day.

Sportswriters loved long low-scoring games during the Deadball Era. While many fans today view marathon games as an inconvenience to be avoided, the feeling 120 or so years ago was: the more baseball the better. Here's what The Boston Globe had to say about the game:

"17 INNINGS---1 TO 0. Boston Loses One Of Greatest Games Ever Played. Tom Loftus managed a team of real champions today, when the much-maligned Orphans showed a reversal of form, remarkable even for them, and figured as a winning combination in a game with Boston that was easily the most remarkable contest seen on either of the local parks this season."9

And from the Chicago Daily Tribune:

"Remnants In Great Game. Chicago defeated Boston yesterday by a score of 1 to 0, in one of the most sensational games in the history of the National league, a game won in the seventeenth inning."10

And it wasn't that this was a particularly sensational long game. Pretty much every one of them inspired these kinds of reports. The longest game of 1902, also played in Chicago, was described by a sportswriter covering the visiting Pirates as "the most brilliant ever seen here."11 While a Chicago reporter, perhaps forgetting the game in his city played only nine months earlier, wrote that it was "the most exciting and in many respects the most brilliant game of ball played in Chicago in the last three years."12

The defending champion Brooklyn Superbas, stung by the loss of their star center fielder and best pitcher in Fielder Jones and Joe McGinnity, were on the verge of elimination when they headed into Cincinnati for a three-game series starting on September 23rd. It may not have changed the outcome of the NL race, but the Superbas hardly looked like former champions when they routed the Reds by scores of 25-2, 16-2 and 9-2. Brooklyn's pitchers in the first two games, Jay Hughes and Frank Kitson collected four hits apiece, and left-fielder Jimmy Sheckard hit a grand-slam in each game.

Irv Waldron led the American League in both games and at-bats in 1901, playing for Milwaukee and Washington. When he was released by Milwaukee on July 7th, they had played nine more games than Washington, the team that signed him. As a result, he was able to play in more games (141) than any team in the league (139).

That got me to wondering what would have been the maximum number of games a player could have played in a season had he a) not had any idle days between teams (so he played for his first team one day and his new team the next) and b) played all of the games for both his old and new teams. To give you an example of how this works, the most number of games a player could have played in 1901 is 155. In order to do that, our player would've had to have started the season with the Chicago Orphans, left after playing all 96 games up through August 7th, been traded that night to the Giants, and showed up the next day in time to play the remaining 59 games on their schedule. Or in tabular form:

Trade Date From  To    TOT  T1  T2
1901- 8- 7 CHI N-NY  N 155  96  59

Not bad for a player in a league with a 140 game schedule, but nowhere near the record. Here they are:

Trade Date From  To    TOT  T1  T2
1916- 8-24 STL A-BOS N 176 125  51
1974- 5-27 SD  N-MON N 176  52 124
1975- 6- 7 HOU N-MON N 176  58 118

The 1916 trade would have also worked had it occurred on August 25th or 26th. And I suspect that the Expos would have continued to make this list in other years had they not moved from Parc Jarry to Stade Olympique in time for the 1977 season and no longer had to contend with so many early season postponements.

1901 would turn out to be Irv Waldron's only season in the major leagues, but that's a little deceptive since he'd been a regular for Milwaukee the previous three years as well.

Finally, I would like to talk about discrepancies. As I mentioned above, there are no official league dailies that survive for the early years of the Deadball Era. The earliest set of official dailies we have are 1903 for the NL and 1905 for the AL.13 For years earlier than that, we will be working from the player and team dailies generated by ICI. And for reasons perhaps best left in a footnote,14 the majority of all our batting discrepancies deal with batter walks.

Some of what we include from the ICI dailies (in particular RBIs and earned runs) should be considered approximations and while Retrosheet does include this data, unchanged for the most part, people should not be surprised if it changes, sometimes significantly, as more research is done in this area. And while batter walks are also approximations, we made quite a few changes to their data and believe that what we present, while certainly not perfect, represent better approximations than what ICI had before.

As an example, here are the 1901 AL leaders in batter walks according to ICI along with the totals derived from our box scores:

Player         ICI  RET   #
Dummy Hoy       86   82   6
Fielder Jones   84   86   5
Jimmy Barrett   76   78   2
Herm McFarland  75   77   8

Where in addition to the ICI and Retrosheet data, I have listed the number of games where we disagreed. Now, these are not great differences, but sometimes, as in the case of the league leader that year, even small differences matter.


The war between the two leagues heated up after the 1901 season. That October, the second-place Phillies apparently saw their hopes for the next season crushed when eight players, including five starters and two of their three best pitchers, jumped to the rival league. Three of these players, Elmer Flick, Bill Duggleby, and Monte Cross went to the cross-town Athletics. In April, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that players reserved by the Phillies after the 1900 season could not play for any other team. This ruling, which only applied within the state of Pennsylvania, also affected the three players who had joined the A's in 1901: Nap Lajoie, Bill Bernhard, and Chick Fraser. Of the six, only Duggleby and Fraser returned to the Phillies, while Nap Lajoie, Elmer Flick, and Bill Bernhard were released by A's and signed by the Cleveland Broncos, with the court-imposed restriction (at least until the injunction was dropped in June, 1903) that they not play any games in Philadelphia.

Apart from the turmoil in the Quaker State, most of the war news in 1902 centered around the National League's attack on the Baltimore Orioles. John McGraw had played his entire major league career in Baltimore before the team was contracted following the 1899 season, despite finishing fourth in a twelve-team league. In 1901, he returned to the city as manager and part-owner of the new American League team. While McGraw was famous for battling umps and anyone else close at hand, league president Ban Johnson was determined to support his umpires and crack down on the rowdiness that had characterized play during the 1890s, especially in Baltimore. In short, it was a match made in Hell.

After more than a season of ejections, brawls, forfeits and suspensions, McGraw met with Andrew Freedman, the owner of the New York Giants, to plan his exit strategy from the American League. It began with him getting suspended again, something easily accomplished after his strenuous objections to a call on June 28th resulted in his ejection and a forfeit. Next, he got out of his contract with the cash-strapped team by agreeing to forgive $7000 owed to him by the Orioles in return for his release. That allowed him to sign a contract to manage and play for the Giants. Finally, an agent for Freedman, with help from John T. Brush, the owner of the Reds, was able to purchase a controlling interest in the Orioles on July 16th. His agent only owned the team for one day, but it was a busy one, as he released Joe McGinnity, Dan McGann, Jack Cronin, Roger Bresnahan, Cy Seymour, and Joe Kelley. The first four players were immediately signed by the Giants, while the last two went to the Reds, in payment for their help in the scheme. More players were targeted, in particular Kip Selbach and Jimmy Williams, but they refused to jump back to the NL and remained in Baltimore.

The next day, the Orioles were forced to forfeit their game with the Browns when only five of their players showed up. Ban Johnson quickly announced that the league would assume ownership of the team and began the process of restocking their roster. The Tigers and Senators playing nearby in Washington, loaned the Orioles three of their players, allowing them to field a team on July 18th. The White Sox sold them Jack Katoll, who joined the starting rotation, and Herm McFarland, who replaced Joe Kelley in centerfield and hit a team-high .322 the rest of the way, while the Athletics' Connie Mack sold them Snake Wiltse, who had recently been dropped from his starting rotation.

The Orioles were not a good team after that, going only 19-47 after the July 17th forfeit, but they were not a good team to begin with, and the fact that the team didn't fold was a victory for the league, and no doubt part of the reason that subsequent threats by the National League to go after other teams in a similar matter never materialized.

Back on the field, the Pittsburgh Pirates won the NL pennant in a walk, posting a franchise best .741 winning percentage (103-36) and clinching the title on September 2nd, with over a month left in the season. They scored 142 more runs than the second-best hitting team, and allowed 65 fewer runs than the second stingiest. They started the season going 30-5 and had a ten-game lead by June 12th.

They were led by Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and Ginger Beaumont on offense, and Jack Chesbro on the mound. In stark contrast to the Phillies, the Pirates were almost untouched by the baseball wars. I did a quick and dirty look at how much talent each NL team lost from 1900 to 1901, and from 1901 to 1902. To do this, I calculated the percentage of each team's talent that would still be around the next season. I used plate appearances and innings pitched as an proxy for talent and, using the old adage that pitching is 30 percent of baseball, weighted the two percentages accordingly.15 Here what I found:

1900 -> 1901                     1901 -> 1902
Team   Total   PAs    IPs        Team   Total   PAs    IPs
NL     58.87  60.74  54.51       NL     54.87  53.26  58.63
PIT N  79.71  72.73  96.01       PIT N  92.88  91.62  95.82
PHI N  72.53  82.95  48.21       BRO N  70.96  65.30  84.15
CIN N  66.68  69.46  60.20       CIN N  70.82  72.40  67.13
BOS N  58.08  51.81  72.72       BOS N  52.72  55.40  46.45
STL N  56.32  55.46  58.35       PHI N  47.85  50.43  41.82
BRO N  55.89  59.69  47.02       CHI N  38.60  31.72  54.66
NY  N  44.46  55.25  19.27       NY  N  34.84  23.48  61.36
CHI N  36.84  38.02  34.09       STL N  30.11  34.81  19.14

I mentioned how well the Pirates had done at holding onto the players after 1900 in the previous article, but they were even better in the offseason following 1901, picking up shortstop Wid Conroy from Milwaukee and catcher Harry Smith from the Athletics without losing anyone to the NL.

Over in the AL, the Philadelphia Athletics, despite having the best record in the American League over the last half of 1901, were hurt by the loss of Lajoie, Bernhard, and Frasier, and struggled in the early months of 1902, ending June in fourth place with a 27-26 mark. They had what amounted to a three-man pitching rotation, and only Bert Hustings, who Mack had purchased from the Red Sox in April, had a winning record. But help had already arrived a week earlier when Rube Waddell joined the team from the west coast, where he'd had a 11-8 record pitching for the California League's Los Angeles Looloos. After losing a road game against the Orioles, Waddell made his home debut a memorable one, facing only the minimum 27 batters while striking out 13 and walking no one in a two-hit shutout. He would win eight more times before the July was over and finish with a 24-7 mark, a huge upgrade from Snake Wiltse, the pitcher he replaced.

Another new addition made an equally fine first impression, this time with the bat, when Danny Murphy, purchased on July 7th from the Norwich Reds of the Connecticut State League for $600, showed up after the start of the game the following day, was immediately sent in to replace Lou Castro, and proceeded to knock out six hits, including a three-run homer, in the Athletics 22-9 win over the Red Sox.16 In addition to these new arrivals, Philadelphia was also helped by Eddie Plank's second-half resurgence (6-13 through his loss on July 16th and 14-2 after).

They were a streaky team in those last three months. Beginning on July 12th, they went: 10-1 to go from fourth to second place, a game behind the White Sox; 2-8, to drop back to fourth place; 16-1, to surge into first place by three games; 3-7, to see that lead narrow to a half-game over the Brown; and 20-3, a streak that ended when they swept the Orioles in a double-header on September 24th to clinch the pennant.

I mentioned above that the players who jumped from the Phillies to the Athletics were prohibited from playing in the state of Pennsylvania for any team but the Phillies. That same restriction applied to the players on other AL teams, like Ed Delahanty. Red Donahue, Al Orth, Happy Townsend, and Ed McFarland.17 The fact that teams traveling to Philadelphia to play the Athletics were often missing some of their best players contributed to their large home/road disparity in 1902, as they had a .767 winning percentage at home compared to .429 on the road. Put another way, a home-only version of the A's would have gone 104-32 compared to a 58-78 mark of the road-only crew. Here are the greatest disparities between home and away winning percentages since 1901:

Year Team     G   W   L   Pct    G   W   L   Pct    Diff
2020 HOU A   30  20  10  .667   30   9  21  .300    .367
1945 PHI A   74  39  35  .527   76  13  63  .171    .356
1902 PHI A   73  56  17  .767   63  27  36  .429    .339
1949 BOS A   77  61  16  .792   77  35  42  .455    .338
1987 MIN A   81  56  25  .691   81  29  52  .358    .333
1996 COL N   81  55  26  .679   81  28  53  .346    .333
2020 MIN A   30  23   7  .767   30  13  17  .433    .333
2020 TEX A   30  16  14  .533   30   6  24  .200    .333
1978 HOU N   81  50  31  .617   81  24  57  .296    .321
1908 PHI A   76  46  30  .605   77  22  55  .286    .320

If we include the 19th century as well, and there's really no good reason to exclude it apart from that fact that shorter schedules (like the one in 2020) make extreme splits more likely, there are seven teams ahead of the first entry above:

Year Team     G   W   L   Pct    G   W   L   Pct    Diff
1897 CLE N   65  49  16  .754   66  20  46  .303    .451
1891 MIL a   21  16   5  .762   15   5  10  .333    .429
1893 NY  N   69  49  20  .710   63  19  44  .302    .409
1883 BUF N   49  36  13  .735   48  16  32  .333    .401
1877 STL N   30  20  10  .667   30   8  22  .267    .400
1883 BOS N   49  41   8  .837   49  22  27  .449    .388
1885 LOU a   56  37  19  .661   56  16  40  .286    .37518

Even before all the on-field and back-room drama, Baltimore's year got off to a horrible start when left-fielder Mike Donlin, one of their best hitters, was arrested in March and charged with assaulting a chorus girl and her companion. He was released by the Orioles, pled guilty to the crime and was sentenced to six months in jail.19 He would be signed by the Reds and join them upon his release. A talented hitter, between hold outs, arrests, injuries, and vaudeville tours, he would manage to play 100 or more games in only five seasons, but hit a combined .343 when he did.

On April 25th, former pitcher Zaza Harvey hit six singles in the Cleveland Bronco's 10-0 win over the St. Louis Browns. Despite his big day, his major league career would last only nine more games. No American League player would hit six singles in a game again until the Athletics' Doc Cramer on June 20, 1932.

The Reds had 28 hits and 24 runs against three Philly pitchers on May 13th, setting season highs in both categories. Doc White, Philadelphia's best pitcher, was driven from the mound with one out in the first inning. He would pitch at least eight innings in all 34 of his other starts that year. All nine players for Cincinnati had at least two hits. This happened the previous September when the Pirates turned the trick, but would not be done again until 1921. The last was in 1980, but if you ignore games with a DH, it hasn't happened since 1949.

On May 29th, Bill Bradley hit his 6th home run in eight games, including homers in four straight from May 21st to 24th. It was part of a hitting streak that reached a season-high 29 games before being stopped on June 18th. While he was the first AL player to homer in four straight games, he would have company a little more than a month later when Bill Keister duplicated his feat from June 24th to 27th. No batter would do it again until the Federal League's Steve Evans and Ed Lennox in 1914, and the next AL player to do it was Babe Ruth in 1918.

Despite their home run streaks, neither Bradley or Keister led the AL, that honor going to Socks Seybold who hit 16 for Philadelphia. It was a very different story in the National League. On June 25th, Jake Beckley took over the NL lead when he hit his fourth homer of the season. He was still the only player in the league with as many as four nearly a month and a half later when he hit his fifth and last home run of the season on August 8th. That would have been enough to lead the league had it not been for Tommy Leach who entered the August 13th double-header against Boston with a single homer to his credit. He hit one that day and two the next to leap into sole possession of second place. Two more later in the month allowed him to pass Beckley and post the lowest league-leading home run total since 1880, when teams played less than 100 games.

A highlight for the depleted Baltimore Orioles that summer was their back-to-back wins over the second-place White Sox on August 23rd and 25th by scores of 14-8 and 21-6. In the first game, Snake Wiltse, a pitcher starting at first base that day, hit a triple and a grand-slam, before chipping in four hits while pitching a complete-game two days later. He was overshadowed at bat in the second win by Jimmy Williams, who had six hits in as many at-bats. It was all downhill for the Orioles after that, as they finished the season on a 5-29 slide, including ten and eleven-game losing streaks.

Bob Ewing had a rough introduction to the major leagues on April 19th, walking 11 batters, including a record-tying 7 in one inning. It had been done twice before, by George Keefe in 1889 and Tony Mullane in 1894. Despite his inauspicious debut, Ewing would go on to have a fine career, winning 124 games over 9 seasons, most of them with the Reds. His SABR biography mentioned that he was the Reds' winningest pitcher of the Deadball Era,20 and of course that got me to wondering who the others were. So... here are the winningest and losingest pitchers for each franchise from 1901 to 1919:

Team      W Pitcher               L Pitcher
NY  N   372 Christy Mathewson   185 Christy Mathewson
PHI N   190 Pete Alexander       96 Bill Duggleby
CHI N   188 Mordecai Brown       86 Mordecai Brown
PIT N   157 Sam Leever           94 Babe Adams
BRO N   134 Nap Rucker          134 Nap Rucker
BOS N   116 Dick Rudolph        109 Vic Willis
CIN N   108 Bob Ewing           103 Bob Ewing
STL N   106 Slim Sallee         107 Slim Sallee

Team      W Pitcher               L Pitcher
WAS A   297 Walter Johnson      191 Walter Johnson
PHI A   284 Eddie Plank         162 Eddie Plank
DET A   209 George Mullin       179 George Mullin
CHI A   195 Ed Walsh            125 Ed Walsh
BOS A   192 Cy Young            112 Cy Young
CLE A   160 Addie Joss           97 Addie Joss
NY  A   128 Jack Chesbro         99 Ray Caldwell
STL A   117 Jack Powell         143 Jack Powell

A week after Ewing's debut, Cleveland's Addie Joss had a very different introduction to the majors, pitching a 1-hit shutout against the St. Louis Browns. That September, he would also pitch back-to-back two-hitters, his third and fourth of the season, and as you can see from the chart above, he was his team's winningest pitcher (at least until he was passed by Stan Coveleski on June 16, 1924).

The new-look Giants made their home debut on July 19th with a 4-3 loss to the Phillies. The influx of talent from the Orioles was not enough to help them escape the cellar, as they were 8 games out of seventh-place before that day, and finished the year 7 1/2 games out. Their top pitcher also didn't see an improvement as Christy Mathewson was 7-8 before McGraw took the helm, and 7-9 after.

One pitcher who did finish on a high note was Boston American's Bill Dinneen. After his loss on August 9th had dropped his mark on the season to 10-19, he went 11-2 the rest of the way to even his record at 21-21. Despite Dinneen's strong finish, Boston once again had a losing record when Cy Young wasn't pitching, as Young finished 32-11 compared to the rest of the staff's 45-49 mark.

By the way, no one has posted a .500 record with more than 21 wins (and losses) since, but George Mullin probably wins the tie-breaker by matching Dinneen's mark in 1905, before going 20-20 two years later, the last time a pitcher has had matching pair of wins and losses of 20 or more. For the all-time record, you'd need to go back to Bill Hutchinson's 1892 season with the Chicago Colts, when he finished 36-36, tying Cy Young for the most wins in the league, and finishing one behind George Cobb's 37 losses. For Cobb, who won only ten games for the last-place Orioles, it was his only season in the major leagues.

Baltimore pitcher Jack Katoll set a major league season high with 23 hits allowed on September 2nd and then matched it ten days later, allowing a combined 38 runs in the two games. I wondered where he ranked among Deadball Era pitchers in most hits allowed per nine innings (100 innings minimum) and found this:

Year Team(s)     Pitcher           IP      H   H/9IP
1902 BAL A       Ike Butler       116.1  168  12.997
1902 CHI A-BAL A Jack Katoll      124    176  12.774
1902 BAL A-STL A Charlie Shields  172.1  238  12.429
1912 NY  A       Jack Quinn       102.2  139  12.185
1902 WAS A       Bill Carrick     257.2  344  12.016
1911 WAS A       Dolly Gray       121    160  11.901
1902 PHI A-BAL A Snake Wiltse     302    397  11.831
1911 BOS N       Hub Purdue       137.1  180  11.796
1914 STL A       Roy Mitchell     103.1  134  11.671
1901 CIN N       Bill Phillips    281.1  36 4 11.645

Four of the top seven on that list appeared for the 1902 Orioles. And all three of the pitchers who split time with another team did the bulk of their pitching with Baltimore. So that got me to wondering about which Deadball Era team allowed the most hits per 9 innings and the team at the top was not a surprise:

Year Team    IP      H  H/9IP
1902 BAL A 1210.1 1531 11.384
1901 WAS A 1183   1396 10.620
1902 WAS A 1207.2 1403 10.456
1901 CIN N 1265.2 1469 10.446
1901 CLE A 1182.1 1365 10.390

There is more distance between Baltimore and the second-most team as there is between that team and the one in 18th place. The two seasons with the most hits allowed per nine innings during the Deadball Era are probably not too surprising given the chart above: 1901 and 1902 (with 1903 in third place). So while we refer to 1901-1919 collectively as the Deadball Era, the first three years were among the least dead.

As part of Rube Waddell's 24 wins in the last three months of 1902 were wins in both ends of a double-header on September 10th. That by itself, is not too surprising. It wasn't that rare for a pitcher to start both ends of a double-header (Joe McGinnity did it three times in 1903 alone), but Waddell won both of his games that day in relief, something that wouldn't happen again until Bill Harris turned the trick for the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League on June 13, 1914, and in the AL until Chicago's Dickey Kerr did it on July 21, 1919.

The discrepancy of the year involves a game played on July 25th between the Reds and Cubs. In it, Cy Seymour, recently released by the Orioles, wrapped up his first full week with his new team by tying the major league record with four sacrifice hits.

At least, that's what my most recent record book says.21 But did he? According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Seymour had two at-bats that day with only two sacrifices, while hitting fourth. It also mentions him sacrificing in the fifth and doubling in the sixth. The (Chicago) Inter-Ocean doesn't provide at-bats, but it also credits him with two sacrifices as well as describing the team's ninth inning, which included a strike out by Seymour as well as a two-run rally that ended when John Dobbs made the Red's final out of the game. That will be important later. The Chicago Daily Tribune had the most detailed box score, crediting Seymour with two at-bats, two sacrifice hits, and a walk.

So where did the record-setting account come from? Well, the Philadelphia Inquirer didn't show at-bats for the game, but they credited Seymour with four sacrifices. They were the only out-of-town account I found that did, but The Sporting Life agreed with them, showing Seymour with two at-bats to go with his record-setting bunts. When ICI got around to creating their dailies, they did not list sacrifice hits, but agreed with the consensus that Seymour had two at-bats in the game, as well as with the Chicago Daily Tribune that he walked once.

So I think a few things are clear: Seymour had two at-bats in the game. He batted fourth in the lineup. The Reds made 27 outs, scored 6 runs and left men 13 on base, and that translates to 46 plate appearances by the team, consistent with the account that John Dobbs, the leadoff hitter, made the last out in the ninth inning. It's also clear that Dobbs had six plate appearances, and that the rest of his teammates in the game had five. So while it's possible, but extremely unlikely, that Seymour had one more sacrifice instead of a walk that day, he couldn't possibly have had four.


Peace came to major league baseball in 1903, but not before another round of player raids shook up both leagues. Even the champion Pirates were not spared this time around. No sooner had the previous season ended than the American League announced that five Pittsburgh players, including star pitchers Jack Chesbro and Jack Tannehill, who had gone a combined 48-12 in the just-completed season, had signed contracts with the American League team in New York. The second-place Brooklyn Superbas lost three of their regulars, including Willie Keeler, their best hitter, as well as almost their entire pitching staff. The league's other key losses to the AL included Sam Crawford, the Reds best hitter, who went to the Tigers, and Doc White, the ace of the Phillies' staff, who jumped to the White Sox.

But the raids went both ways, with one NL team in particular benefitting from the free-for-all. The New York Giants signed four regulars from the junior circuit, including outfielder Sam Mertes and future Hall of Fame shortstop George Davis from the White Sox. The signing of Davis threatened to upend the peace negotiations between the leagues, and his status was the subject of lawsuits and court rulings all summer.22 The end result was a lost season for the infielder (Davis would appear in only four games for the Giants) and his return to the White Sox for 1904.

While most of the talent that off-season moved between major league teams, three of the players that Brooklyn lost, third-basemen Charlie Irwin, as well as pitchers Doc Newton and Jay Hughes. went to the fledgling Pacific Coast League. Newton and Hughes thrived in the slower company of the new league, going a combined 69-27 for their two teams.

For Hughes, it would be the end of a four-year major league career, one that saw him go 80-43. It wasn't uncommon for a ball player, even a star, to opt out of the major leagues in order to play on the west coast, something Hughes had already done once before, leaving Brooklyn after posting a 28-6 mark in 1899 to play for Sacramento in the California League. And nothing shows how attractive these teams could be than the case of Henry Schmidt, one of the pitchers Brooklyn added in 1903 to help replace the exodus of their starting rotation. Henry had gone 35-20 with the Oakland Dudes of the California League the year before joining the Superbas, and had the best record on the team in his rookie season (22-13), although he was only slightly better than the rest of the staff in runs allowed per nine innings (4.99 compared to 5.07). Still, Brooklyn couldn't have been pleased when Schmidt told them he was heading back to Oakland, now in the PCL, after the season, and he wouldn't pitch in the majors again.

In an earlier article, I showed how much of each NL teams' talent was still around from 1900 to 1901 as well as from 1901 to 1902. Here's a similar chart for the final year before the peace settlement:

1902 -> 1903
Team   Total   PAs    IPs
NL     62.08  62.93  60.10
STL N  74.18  69.55  84.99
CHI N  70.37  67.74  76.49
BOS N  69.40  65.98  77.37
CIN N  68.44  67.97  69.55
PIT N  65.90  70.84  54.38
NY  N  56.64  51.53  68.55
PHI N  55.54  62.26  39.86
BRO N  35.54  46.84   9.18

The Giants were the surprise team of the first two months of the season. After Christy Mathewson pitched a one-hit shutout against the Reds on June 13th, New York was in first place with a 34-13 record. They were doing it behind the pitching of Mathewson and McGinnity, who had already combined to go 25-6, as well as with an offense led by Roger Bresnahan and Mertes, who finished the day almost tied with each other for the league lead in slugging percentage (.564 for Bresnahan to Mertes' .561).

Despite their off-season losses, however, the Pirates were still the class of the league, and two long winning streaks, one in June lasting fifteen games and the other stretching into early September and reaching fourteen games, cemented their hold on the pennant.23 They still had the best offense in the league. led by Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, and Ginger Beaumont, and while their pitching suffered due to the loss of Chesbro and Tannehill, excellent seasons by both Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe gave them the third-best staff in the league. They won twelve fewer games than they had the year before, but a 91-49 mark was still easily the best in the NL.

By the end of 1903, the top three teams in the league were the Pirates, Giants and Cubs, and those three teams would continue to dominate the NL for the next nine years as well. Here are the order of finishes for each of the eight teams from 1903 to 1912:

       --------------------- Years----------------------     ------ Finishes ------
       1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8
CHI N     3    2    3    1    1    1    2    1    2    3     4  3  3  0  0  0  0  0
NY  N     2    1    1    2    4    2    3    2    1    1     4  4  1  1  0  0  0  0
PIT N     1    4    2    3    2    2    1    3    3    2     2  4  3  1  0  0  0  0
PHI N     7    8    4    4    3    4    5    4    4    5     0  0  1  5  2  0  1  1
CIN N     4    3    5    6    6    5    4    5    6    4     0  0  1  3  3  3  0  0
BRO N     5    6    8    5    5    7    6    6    7    7     0  0  0  0  3  3  3  1
STL N     8    5    6    7    8    8    7    7    5    6     0  0  0  0  2  2  3  3
BOS N     6    7    7    8    7    6    8    8    8    8     0  0  0  0  0  2  3  5

Over in the American League, the Athletics, behind Rube Waddell's strong pitching, led through the first two months of the season. After the games of June 17th, they held a slim lead over Boston, in large part due to Rube's fourteen wins. But he went into his first slump since joining the team after that, losing five straight games, and by the time Boston came into town for a six-game home and away series in early August, the Athletics had dropped into second place, two and a half games behind the Americans. Waddell lost the opening and closing games of the extended series, part of his second five-game losing streak of the summer and by the time he was released by Connie Mack for misconduct on August 25th,24 the team had dropped into third place and the pennant race was essentially over.

It's telling that in Waddell's two losses against Boston in that six-game series, he didn't face Cy Young, losing instead to Bill Dinneen, who pitched a three-hit shutout, and Tom Hughes, who allowed one run and six hits. For the first time since joining Boston, Young had a strong supporting cast in 1903, as both Dinneen and Hughes had fine seasons, helping the team to a 63-38 record in the games not won or lost by Young.

Boston's offense appeared to be about the same in 1902 and 1903, with their hitters' OPS holding steady at .705 and their runs per game inching up slightly from 4.81 to 5.02. But the context of those runs was very different: the scoring across the league dropped dramatically between the two years, from 4.90 to 4.10 runs per game. So while their offense was only slightly below average in 1902, no team in the league scored more runs in 1903.

Here are the runs scored per game for each league from 1901-1910:

LG   1901  1902  1903  1904  1905  1906  1907  1908  1909  1910
NL   4.63  3.99  4.77  3.91  4.10  3.57  3.40  3.33  3.65  4.03
AL   5.36  4.90  4.10  3.54  3.68  3.66  3.65  3.44  3.44  3.64

The AL would not score as many as 5.36 runs per game again until 1930, and in 1904 would only score two thirds as many runs as they did three years earlier. One of the major reasons for the drop in scoring in 1903 (as well for the higher scoring relative to the NL in 1901 and 1902) was the adoption of the foul strike rule in the junior circuit that year, a rule change introduced in the National League two years earlier. Before the rule, foul balls were not counted as strikes except in the case of two-strike foul bunts.

The owners of the two league champions announced in September that their teams would play a best-of-nine series to determine the World Champions of Baseball. It's important to note that this was not part of any agreement between the leagues and was not seen as being much different than the various city and state series that routinely took place after each season's conclusion. There had been similar post-season series between the champions of the National League and American Association, with a variety of formats and success, from 1884 to 1890. And while these two teams were playing, similar series were being contested in Philadelphia (between the Phillies and Athletics), Chicago (Cubs and White Sox), St, Louis (Browns and Cardinals), and Ohio (Reds and Naps), and area newspapers often gave greater or equal coverage to the local games.

The teams traded wins in the first two games, with Pittsburgh's Deacon Phillippe besting Cy Young in the first, and Boston taking the second behind Bill Dinneen's three-hit shutout. Phillippe, normally not a strikeout pitcher (he averaged 3.1 per nine innings in the regular season), struck out a career high ten batters in the first, while Dinneen, not much of strikeout pitcher either (with 4.1 per nine innings), also set a career high with eleven in the second.25 Patsy Dougherty had the only multi-homer game of his major league career in the second game, hitting both the first inside-the-park and over-the-fence home runs in modern World Series history.

Pittsburgh had entered the series short on pitching. Ed Doheny, a sixteen-game winner, had suffered a breakdown late in the season that would result in his spending the rest of his life in mental institutions, while Sam Leever, their best pitcher during the season, came into the series with a sore arm and lasted only an inning in the second game. But even though they had Phillippe and little else on the mound, it appeared that might be enough when he beat an ineffective Tom Hughes in the third game. Given two days of rest due to travel and a rainout, manager Fred Clarke decided to send him out again, a gamble that paid off in a 5-4 victory, even if he seemed to run out of gas at the end, allowing three ninth-inning runs before retiring pinch-hitter Jack O'Brien with the tying run on second to complete the victory.

With no other option, Clarke sent Brickyard Kennedy to the mound against Young the next day, and he matched the Boston star through five scoreless innings before his defense collapsed behind him, including two errors by Honus Wagner (another Pirates playing through injuries), leading to six unearned runs that put the game away. Kennedy would end up allowing ten runs, a World Series record that still stands, in what would be his last major league appearance. An ailing Leever pitched poorly the next day, and the series was tied at three apiece

There was a postponement the next day due to cold weather, a delay challenged by the Red Sox and perhaps simply an excuse by Pittsburgh to give Phillippe more rest. If so, it didn't work as Cy Young easily defeated him in game seven 7-3. A travel day as well as a third postponement allowed Phillippe to make his fifth start of the series on October 13th, but he was no match for a well-rested Bill Dinneen, who threw his second shutout, bringing Boston the championship.

While Pittsburgh had only one effective pitcher at their disposal, Boston only had two, but the three cancellations and two travel days allowed them to alternate between Young and Dinneen the rest of the way (although one of Dinneen's starts came with a single days' rest). Apart from Hughes' two ineffectual innings in game three, Boston's top two pitchers were on the mound for the entire series.

The last three games in Pittsburgh were played with crowds that overflowed into the outfield, causing balls hit into the fans to be counted as triples. Boston took advantage of the rules to hit twelve of their World Series record sixteen triples in those three games, and their five triples in two of the games are tied for the single-game mark.

Before we move on, I spend a lot of my time reading newspaper articles from the Deadball Era and sometimes I get a glimpse of the poet within each sportswriter struggling to be heard. Exhibit one describes the beginning of the seventh game according to The Boston Globe:

"The scene was a weird one. Clouds of black smoke from the large steel works came sailing down the two rivers that meet here from the Ohio, while a bright sun shot heedless through the whirling sheets of light and heavy smoke, and every face was focused on the home plate as Boston's curly-haired boy [Dougherty] and his favorite club stood ready for business."26

On June 25th, Ed Delahanty collected a hit in his 16th straight game for Washington. His single that day in Cleveland was one of only four his team collected in their 4-0 loss to Earl Moore. It began a ten-game stretch that would see the Senators shut out in seven of them and fall ten games behind the seventh-place New York Highlanders. But by then Delahanty would have missed the rest of the series with Cleveland as well as four games in Detroit with what was described as "a very bad headache."27

From Detroit, the team headed back to Washington, but Delahanty went missing and newspapers were filled with descriptions of his strange behavior on the road trip and speculation about his fate. For example:

"In his room and in the apartment of others of the players Delehanty (sic) acted in a manner that was alarming. This was the result of a spree, and several of the Washington players kept him company, fearing a disastrous termination.... While in Cleveland he kept up the lively gait, and was heard to make threats that involved his own life.... Before he departed Delehanty took out an accident policy and made it in favor of his little daughter. This he sent to his wife in Philadelphia, and in the letter he expressed the hope that the train he traveled on would jump the tracks and end his career."

"It is not expected that Delehanty will ever play with the Senators again. He has outlived his usefulness here...."28

His body was found a few days later. Apparently, he fell from the International Bridge across the Niagara River and his body "had floated about thirty miles down the river and had gone over Niagara Falls."29

No player would have a longer career-ending hitting streak until Magglio Ordonez had one of eighteen games in 2011.30 Those tied in third-place with never-broken streaks of fourteen games since 1901 are Billy Hamilton, later that year, Billy Lauder in 1903, and Bill Sweeney in 1931.

Bill Bergen was having a career year at the plate in 1903 before his season came to a grisly end on July 30th when he "had the second finger of his right hand knocked out of joint by a foul tip from Frank Chance's bat and the tendons cruelly torn. It was an ugly looking wound, but umpire Moran bandaged the bleeding digit with his handkerchief and jerked it back into place, the snap of joint finding socket sounding like a pistol shot."31 Given how tough players were supposed to be back then, I half-expected to see that Bergen had stayed in the game, but his day and season were done. He finished the year hitting .227, which might not seem like much, but it was more than sixty points higher than he'd hit before and after that season, and the only year he topped .190 or had an OPS over .500. People often focus on how poor a hitter he was, but he must have been one hell of a defensive catcher for teams to play him regularly, .170 batting average and all, for eleven years.

The pair of Mathewson and McGinnity didn't just lead the Giants in their early going as described above, they were also one-two in the league in games started, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. They were the last pair of teammates to combine for 800 or more innings in the National League. By the way, the post-189332 record for most combined innings pitched by two teammates is 862 by the Giants in 1894, with Amos Rusie (444) and Jouett Meekin (418) sharing the workload, while the all-time record is 1080.2, held by the 1887 Baltimore Orioles duo of Matt Kilroy (589.1) and Phenomenal Smith (491.1).

Mathewson passed a milestone on May 16th when he beat the Pirates 7-3 to begin a nine-game winning streak. The win evened his career record at 39-39. It would be the last time his lifetime winning percentage would be at or below .500.

In his last appearance before his release, Rube Waddell pitched both ends of a double-header, winning the first 1-0 and losing the second 2-1. At the time, apart from the difference in their strikeouts, his record was very similar to Joe McGinnity's:

Waddell     39* 38* 34* 21  16  324*   274* 109   85* 302*
McGinnity   42* 36* 32* 23  15  324.2* 293  127   81  121
* - leading league

Had Waddell been able to stay in Mr. Mack's good graces and remain in the rotation the remainder of the season, he would have made nine or more starts that year. And had he also continued to average eight strikeouts per start, he would have finished the year with more than 370 strikeouts. And it could have been much more. McGinnity pitched an additional 109.1 innings following his start on August 21st. Had Waddell done that as well, and been able to maintain his ratio of strikeouts to innings pitched, he would have fanned 403 batters in 1903.

On June 25th, the same day that Ed Delahanty was collecting his last major league hit, Wiley Piatt pitched complete games in both ends of the Boston Beaneaters' double-header against St. Louis, losing 1-0 and 5-3. He is the last starting pitcher to complete and lose two games in one day. The closest to do it since was Pete Schneider, who started and pitched all but one inning of a double-header loss on September 26, 1917.

Red Ames began his major league career on September 14th by pitching a no-hitter, albeit one shortened by "an impending storm and darkness" to only five innings.33 A little less than a year later, he would pitch the second shutout of his career, a game also abbreviated to five innings. He would blank opponents in five-inning outings in 1915 and 1917, and with these four, become the current career leader (at least since 1901) in these shortened shutouts.

Speaking of shutouts, the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked their opponents in six straight games from June 2nd to June 8th, a streak that, including the last two innings of their loss on June 1st as well as the first three innings on June 9th, reached a post-1901 record of 56 scoreless innings.

On the other end of the spectrum, Boston's Togie Pittinger took the NL's reverse pitching quintuple crown in 1903, leading the league in losses, walks, and hits, runs, and home runs allowed. The feat would not be duplicated until Phil Niekro did it while pitching for Atlanta in 1979. Phil wins the tie-breaker by also leading his league in games started, complete games, shutouts (tied), wins (tied with his brother Joe), innings pitched, and hit batters. And he finished that season one behind his brother and J.R. Richard for the lead in wild pitches.

I noticed that Brooklyn had a stretch in June where they were idle nine out of ten days due to inclement weather, and had a total of twelve games cancelled that month. I wondered if that was a record for the most postponements in a month (not counting games lost due to World War One, a team folding, or a players' strike), and it turns out that they'd tied that unpleasant record, originally set in May of 1893 by the Louisville Colonels.34

But they didn't hold a share of the record for long because on August 8th, disaster struck in Philadelphia. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a large crowd was watching the last game of a double-header between the Phillies and Boston at the Baker Bowl when: "Shrieks of help and murder from the street below were heard.... The crowd on the top left field bleachers... rushed to the three-foot-wide wooden balcony that overhangs the top of the wall, twenty-five feet from the ground, to see what happened. Suddenly, jammed with an immense, vibrating weight, a hundred feet or more of the balcony tore itself from the wall, and the crowd was hurled headlong to the pavement."35

Hundreds were injured, at least nine died, and the rest of Philadelphia's home games that year were moved to Columbia Park, the Athletics' field.36 Three games earlier that month had been rained out, nine games were postponed or cancelled after the bleachers collapsed, and an additional two games were rained out near the end of the month. All of these forced Philadelphia to play 19 doubleheaders in a span of 39 days, including six in a row from September 17th to 22nd.

This unenviable mark of fourteen postponements in a month was almost tied by the 1927 Boston Braves in May when they lost nine games to rain, two to cold, and one each to wet grounds and threatening weather. Coincidentally, their last rainout of the month came at Shibe Park, home of the Athletics', and once again, the Phillies had been forced to move their home games there due to another deadly collapse at the Baker Bowl, this one on May 14, 1927.37

The discrepancies I wanted to focus on this time involved the number of innings Joe McGinnity pitched in 1903. In general, there are two common types of errors we encounter during the Deadball Era with regard to innings pitched: scorers getting creative when dividing an inning between two or more pitchers, and pitchers getting credit for a full inning when it's not completed.

An example of the first type of problem occurred in the Giants game on May 21st, when McGinnity relieved Cronin in the sixth inning. According to our sources (The New York Times and the New York Evening Telegram), Cronin gave up singles to the first four batters before being relieved by McGinnity, who got Weaver to hit a pop-up and McFarland to ground into a double-play. While we would credit the entire inning pitched to McGinnity (since he was on the mound when all three outs were recorded), scorers of the time might credit Cronin with 2/3 of inning (since he faced four of the six batters) or, as the scorer did in this case, split the inning down the middle and give both pitchers 1/2. Similar errors occurred four other times with McGinnity in 1903.

An example of the second type of error occurred on June 16th, when the Phillies pushed across the winning run with no one out in the bottom of the 12th. Despite the fact that McGinnity didn't retire a batter, the official scorer credited him with an inning pitched. Unlike the first type of error, which varied from scorer to scorer, this was so consistent as to constitute a scoring practice of the time. One could reasonably argue that we should go along with the custom of crediting the unmade outs of an incomplete inning to the pitcher who was on the mound when the game ended. We decided not to do this, but to instead document all the cases where we didn't. In McGinnity's case, this happened five times in 1903.

In addition to those problems, there was one case of a scorer simply swapping each starter's innings pitched, as well as an uncertainty about how the various fractional innings were added together. Once you go through and factor in all of these differences, we think that McGinnity actually pitched 433 innings that year, not 434. Which some might think is much ado about a single inning (but of course they would be wrong).


While 1904 is perhaps best known today for what it didn't have (a World Series), it did have one of the most exciting pennant races in baseball history. On August 22nd the entire first-division of the American League was within two games of each other. Even the fifth-place Naps were only five games back. From August 27th until the last series of the season, the Boston Americans and the New York Highlanders would be within a single game of each other for all but four days. Even the White Sox hung around the top of the league, and weren't eliminated until Boston beat them on October 3rd.

On October 7th, Boston took a half-game lead into New York for the start of a five-game series to decide the pennant. They dropped the opener on Friday to Jack Chesbro, who pitched a five-hitter to win his 41st game of the season, already five more than any other pitcher had won since 1893. His workload during the last months of the season look bizarre to someone accustomed to pitch counts and six-inning quality starts, but it was extreme even by the standards of the day. After he had pitched that complete game to put his team into first-place, when New York took the field in Boston the next day, needing only a split of the two remaining double-headers to capture the pennant, Chesbro was once again on the mound and things, to put it mildly, did not go well.

At this point, I should make it clear that this was not manager Clark Griffith's idea. According to The Sporting News: "Griff's plan was to keep Chesbro in New York while the Highlanders invaded Boston. But Old Fox's scheme was upset by Jack showing up at Grand Central Terminal to make the trip. Farrell said he could go. It was a fatal decision...."38

And I should also note that the only reason the team had to get on that train to Boston was because New York's owner Frank Ferrell, anticipating that his team would be playing out a string of meaningless games rather than fighting for the pennant, had rented out his park to Columbia University so their football team could play Williams College. So yes, the Highlanders had voluntarily given up home-field advantage for the most important double-header of the season, but at least Columbia managed to defeat Williams 11-0.

Where were we? Oh right: Boston, Saturday.

After holding Boston scoreless through the first three innings, Chesbro got battered for five hits and six runs in the fourth. Boston would add seven more runs against rookie reliever Walter Clarkson on their way back into first place with a 13-2 rout. The second game was a well-pitched seven-inning affair between Cy Young and Jack Powell, the only run of the game being scored on an error by third-baseman Wid Conroy. With the double-header loss, the Highlanders had to win both games back in New York on Monday and sent out--who else?--Jack Chesbro, with a single day's rest in the first. Pitching with less than two days' rest was nothing new for Chesbro down the stretch. He made fourteen starts from September 5th to the end of the season and half of those were with one day of rest or less. And while it's easy to be critical of his heavy workload in the late stages of that season, he had won his first five of those seven starts, and was only hit hard on October 8th.

I mentioned in the previous article that Mathewson and McGinnity were the last National League teammates to combine for 800 or more innings. Well, Chesbro and Powell set the post-1901 major league mark with 845 innings between them. Number three on their depth chart that season (and the pitcher who probably would have started at least one of the games in the series) was Al Orth, who had come over from the last-place Washington Senators in late July, but he had been injured in his previous start on October 3rd and couldn't pitch.

The first game of that last double-header is one of the most famous of the Deadball Era. It pitted Chesbro against Bill Dinneen, last year's World Series hero, who was also pitching with a single day's rest. New York took a lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally that featured Chesbro's second hit of the game (he had tripled in the third), a run-scoring single by Patsy Dougherty and a bases-loaded walk to Kid Elberfeld. Boston came back to tie the game in the top of seventh courtesy of two errors by Highlander second-baseman Jimmy Williams, and the score stayed tied at two until Lou Criger led off the top of the ninth for Boston with a single. A sacrifice and an infield out moved Criger along to third and brought Freddy Parent to the plate. Chesbro got two quick strikes on him but his third pitch was wild and went all the way to the backstop, Criger jogging home with the go-ahead run. Two walks in the bottom half of the ninth gave the home crowd a glimmer of hope before Dougherty struck out to end the game.39

That wild pitch would haunt Chesbro for the rest of his life, and it is front and center in almost every account of his baseball career. His widow is reported to have campaigned major league baseball to have the scorer's call changed to a passed ball,40 and to take one example of many, a review of his career by the New England Historical Society is titled "Happy Jack Chesbro, the Yankees' Bill Buckner of 1904." It's obviously unfair to focus on that one pitch as the reason the Highlanders didn't take the pennant in 1904. For example, the game probably wouldn't have been tied in the top of the ninth were it not for Jimmy Williams' two errors in the seventh, and they may very well have split Saturday's double-header if Wid Conroy had held on to that throw at third-base in the fifth inning, or if those games had been played in New York as originally scheduled. But fair or unfair, we tend to remember the last in a series of events that led us to one place instead of another, and for the 1904 Highlanders, that event was Chesbro's wild pitch.

And not that this definitively decides the wild-pitch/passed-ball debate but here is how The Boston Globe described that pitch the next day: "He [Chesbro] took his time and tried to send the ball close and high, but was spellbound when he saw it soar over the catcher's head and go bang against the backstop...." I thought it interesting (and obviously not prophetic) that the sportswriter's next sentence was: "Parent singled to center, thereby taking the curse off the bad work of Chesbro."41

The National League pennant race became far less dramatic when the New York Giants went on an 18-game winning streak in mid-June, turning what had been a close three-team race into a foregone conclusion. The Giants had both the best pitching and hitting in the league. For the second straight year, Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity won at least thirty games apiece, improving on their combined mark from the year before, 68-20 compared to a 61-33 mark in 1903. It was the second time Mathewson had won thirty or more games in a season and he had yet to lead his team, much less his league, in wins. It was the last time a team has had two thirty-game winners, the next closest being Hal Newhouser and Dizzy Trout for the second-place Detroit Tigers in 1944, who won 29 and 27 games respectively.

Despite scoring the most runs in the majors in 1904, the Giants didn't boast any players with great offensive numbers. They led the majors in slugging and on-base percentage without a player among the leaders in either. They did it by being somewhat better than average up and down their lineup. With the exception of catcher, the Giants had a higher OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) than the league average at every position. And besides, this was the Deadball Era and great offensive numbers weren't exactly in fashion. Ginger Beaumont led the league with only 185 hits. Yes, Honus Wagner hit 44 doubles, but no one else in the league had more than 28.

As I alluded to in the opening, there was no World Championship Series between the two league champions following the 1904 season. On September 27th, John T. Brush, the owner of the Giants, issued a statement congratulating his team for winning the National League pennant for the first time since 1889, and then went on to say: "There is nothing in the constitution or playing rules of the National League which requires its victorious club to submit its championship honors to a contest with a victorious club in a minor league. The club that wins from the clubs that represent... the eight largest and most important cities in America, in a series of 154 games, is entitled to the honor of champions of the United States without being called upon to contend with or recognize clubs from minor league towns."42

At the time, the three teams still in contention for the American League pennant were in three "towns" (Boston, New York and Chicago) also home to NL teams. But his main point was that the AL was not a major league and unworthy of his team's attention. This decision was very unpopular, causing Giants manager John McGraw to come to his defense, arguing that the decision not to play the Americans was his and his alone. In an open letter to the "Base Ball Patrons of New York," he writes in part: "The people of New York have been kind enough to give me some credit for bringing a pennant to New York, and if there ia any just criticism for the club's action in protecting that highly prized honor the blame should rest on my shoulders, not Mr. Brush's, for I and I alone am responsible for the clubs actions."

He went on to say that while he wouldn't put the NL pennant ("the highest honor in base ball") in jeopardy by playing the AL champions, he would be glad to in the future if "the National League should see fit to place post-season games on the same plane as championship games and surround them with the same protection and safeguards for square sport...."43 Which is pretty much what happened the following February, with the two leagues agreeing on a format for future World's Championship Series that I presume included sufficient protection and safeguards for square sport.

Only six players had multi-homer games in 1904. One of them was the Highlanders' Willie Keeler, who hit two inside-the-park home runs on August 24th. They are the only homers he hit in a span of 483 games from July 13, 1901 to April 25, 1905.

And speaking of home runs, on October 7th, George Stovall hit a first-inning homer off of his brother, Jesse Stovall. It was the first home run of brother George's career, one which would span a dozen years, ending with him as a player-manager of the Federal League's Kansas City Packers in 1915. For Jesse, it would be the last game of his major career, one that began the previous year with five straight wins during a September call-up with Cleveland, including back-to-back shutouts followed by a ten-inning three-hitter, but ended with him posting a 2-13 mark with the 1904 Tigers, included ten straight losses to start the year. There would be two more brother-brother home run combinations, with the Ferrells in 1933 and the Niekros in 1976.

Two things happened on the base paths on May 27th that you don't see every day. The first was turned in by the Phillies Rudy Hulswitt who was called out for being hit by a batted ball twice in one game. It's relatively rare to get hit once in a game, but this is the only time I've seen it happen twice. In both cases, he got in the way of an apparent base hit, either ending or curtailing a rally, causing a sub-headline in the story concerning the loss the next day to read: "Phillies Are Also A Bit Dopy On The Bases And Aid Not A Little In The Hubites' Victory."44

At the other end of the baserunning spectrum, Giants first-baseman Dan McGann set a season-high by stealing five bases in a game against Brooklyn that day. First-basemen tend to be slower than average players, but Johnny Neun in 1927 was also playing first when he repeated McGann's feat. The last first-baseman with as many as four stolen bases in a game was rookie John Jaha in 1992. Neither Neun nor Jaha would have as many stolen bases in their careers as the 42 McGann stole in 1904 alone.

On April 25th Cy Young gave up only two first-inning runs on his way to dropping a 2-0 decision to Rube Waddell and the Athletics. Waddell, back with Philadelphia after getting suspended the previous August, blanked the Red Sox in his next start as well, this time allowing only a single hit, and when he faced Cy Young on May 5th for his third straight start against Boston, his scoreless-inning streak reached 32 before he gave up a run in the bottom of the sixth. By that time, all eyes were on Young, who had already retired the first 18 Athletics on his way to the first perfect game in American League history. It was the third perfect game of nine or more innings in the major leagues, the previous two coming within a span of five days in 1880, when Worcester's Lee Richmond victimized the Cleveland Blues on June 12th, and Monte Ward did the same to the Buffalo Bisons in the Providence Grays' 5-0 win on the 17th.

While it didn't attract much attention at the time, in his loss to Waddell on April 25th, Young retired the last nine Athletics without a hit. He appeared in relief five days later, entering the game in the third inning with two runners on and no one out, and held his opponents without a hit over the final seven innings. So when he took the mound on May 11th in his first start since his perfect game, he had pitched 19 hitless innings in a row. Young would extend that to a record 25 1/3 straight before surrendering a hit with one out in the seventh.45 That game would be scoreless until Boston's Patsy Dougherty's single pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the fifteenth inning. Young's scoreless streak would reach an AL record 45 innings before ending in the eighth inning on May 17th, when Red Donahue, the opposing pitcher, singled to drive in the first of three runs in Cleveland's 3-1 victory.

Young's sole ownership of the scoreless-inning mark would not survive the season. After finishing August with a 8-10 record, Doc White had a September to remember in 1904. It started with a three-hit shutout on the fifth before taking a 5-3 decision in Cleveland four days later, giving up the last run of the game with none out in the bottom of the ninth. These would be the last runs he'd allow the rest of the month as he proceeded to pitch five straight shutouts, including a one-hitter, two-hitter, three-hitter, and four-hitter. He would finish the month with a seventh game winning streak and 45 consecutive scoreless innings, one that would end with two outs in the first inning of his first outing of October.46

A well-rested Rube Waddell came into Chicago for a four-game series in early June and, fresh off back-to-back shutouts over the Tigers and Highlanders, boasted that he would pitch all four games against the White-Sox.47 I'm not sure why Connie Mack agreed to go along with this scheme, but Rube was allowed to start the first three games before Mack came to his senses. He got removed after two innings in the first one, a 14-2 rout and the only game all season that saw the Athletics use more than one reliever. The loss inspired a writer for the Chicago Journal to write a poem that began:

"In the morn," said the Rube, "I was full of glee,
In the eve I was full of prunes!
For the brutal Sox beat my speed like a drum,
And pounded some wonderful tunes!"

And ended five stanza's later with:

Such was the Tale of the Twenty-one Hits,
The tale of the batting rally,
How the White Sox handed three pitchers theirs,
And did it symmetrically!48

Having had most of the previous day off, Waddell came back and pitched his team to a 6-3 win the next day, but pitched poorly in his third straight start, going the distance in a 6-1 loss and striking out only one batter all day, a season low (not counting a two-batter outing on September 5th) for the pitcher who would set the league record for strikeouts in a year with 349, a mark that would stand (with apologies to Bob Feller in 1946) until Nolan Ryan struck out 383 in 1973. The Athletics' brain trust came to their senses after that and called off the experiment, giving Waddell six days to recover before sending him out again.

On June 4th a huge crowd (37,223) at the Polo Grounds saw the Reds' Jack Harper and Joe McGinnity face each other in a battle of unbeaten pitchers. It is the only time since 1901 that two pitchers with at least seven wins apiece and no losses have faced each other. The crowd size was said to be a record, easily eclipsing the 31,000 said to have attended the 1886 Decoration Day game between the Giants and the Detroit Wolverines (although the New York Times only listed the size of that crowd at over 26,000, 20,000 who paid their way in plus another 6,000 who "were clamoring for admission" and let in without tickets),49 as well as the 31,500 who attended the previous year's game at the Polo Grounds between the Giants and Pirates.50

Record or not, the game certainly lived up to expectations. The Reds pushed across a run in the top of the first, one that looked like it might be enough to hand McGinnity his first defeat of the year when the Giants went into the bottom of the ninth still down 1-0. Art Devlin led off the inning with a double: "and pandemonium broke loose. Men, women and children in the stands and on the field shrieked, shouted, and showed other manifestations of enthusiasm, and it was some time before play was continued." McGann sacrificed him to third, Bresnahan scored him on what today would be called a sacrifice fly (but back then was simply a productive out), and the game headed into extra-innings. A throwing error in the top of the eleventh gave the Reds a 2-1 lead. But two singles and another deep fly tied the score in the bottom half as darkness brought an end to the game.

A week later, the Cubs were in town and, apart from the visiting teams, things were strangely similar. Where the two earlier starters had entered their game a combined 20-0, this time McGinnity and his opponent, Bob Wicker, were 19-1. Last week's contest was played before a record crowd of 37,223; this one, before an even larger crowd of 38,805. And finally, where the previous game was tied at 1-1 heading into the eleventh inning, this one was scoreless into the top of the twelfth, when the Reds turned a single, infield out and another single into a run, while the Giants, who managed only two singles all day against Wicker, went out in order in the bottom half, sending McGinnity to his first defeat of the year.

Harper and McGinnity had a rematch in the first-game of the double-header on August 31st, this time at the Palace of the Fans in Cincinnati. Their combined record at the start of the day was 46-10, and their winning percentage of .841 is the second highest since 1901 (with a minimum of twenty decisions each). Once again, it was a low-scoring extra inning affair, won by New York in the top of the eleventh on a two-out error by Joe Kelley, the Reds player-manager. By that time, two of the Giants players had been ejected for arguing a call at second, an argument that took place while the Reds were scoring a run, and a third Giant, Frank Bowerman, was wasn't playing, was arrested for assaulting a fan, one Alfred Hartzel, a music teacher and I must assume, a particularly vocal supporter of the Reds.51

Oh, and the highest combined winning percentage since 1901 for starters with at least twenty decisions each: the identical 17-3 records both the Astros' Darryl Kile and the Braves' Denny Neagle brought into their game on August 28, 1997. Neagle won, 4-2.

Speaking of enthusiastic fans, after the Giants swept Boston in a double-header on September 5th in front of a near-record crowd of 37,327: "... the enthusiastic spectators made a wild demonstration. They rushed on the field to carry Mertes, Ames, Browne and others off the field on their shoulders. A couple of thousand made a dash for manager McGraw. In trying to escape McGraw slipped and fell. His left foot was twisted under him and several of the fans fell over the little manager in their excitement. McGraw tried to rise, but was unable to do so. He was carried to the clubhouse, where a physician examined his leg and said it was fractured."52

His ankle turned out to be only dislocated, but I'm sure the little manager's pride was fractured.

The Cardinals' Jack Taylor lost to Pittsburgh in the first game of their July 31st double-header. In the off-season, he would be accused by the Pirates of conspiring with gamblers to lose the game, and tried by the Board of Directors of the National League. While Taylor admitted drinking heavily the night before, and that his heavy drinking left him in no condition to pitch the next day, he argued that he tried his best to win in spite of his hangover. Mike Grady, his catcher that day, came to Taylor's defense and was instrumental in Taylor getting a stiff fine for his poor behavior rather than a lifetime ban for throwing a game.

But Grady's testimony, at least as reported in The Sporting Life at the time of his hearing, makes no sense. According to the paper: "Grady said he did all of the signaling and Taylor never crossed him once; the score was 5 to 3 in favor of Pittsburg, and was tied up to the last inning, when, with the bases full and two out, Smith had two strikes on him and Grady signaled Taylor for a fast ball close to Smith's chin. The batsman pulled away and the ball, hitting the handle of the bat, dropped just out of reach of the third baseman."53

But the score of the game was 5-2, not 5-3, and the Pirates led from the second inning to the end. Their last score was in the seventh, a single that merely increased their lead from two to three runs.

A follow up on the Red Ames item from 1903: Otto Hess was inserted into Cleveland starting rotation on August 18th. It was his first appearance on the mound for the Naps since giving up ten runs in the last inning of a 21-3 loss to the Highlanders more than a month earlier. Hess pitched just well enough to keep his spot before throwing a three-hit shutout on September 17th. He would hold three more teams scoreless in his next five starts, including a one-hitter, and finish with an 8-7 record. So what does this have to do with Red Ames? Well, three of his shutouts lasted only five innings, setting the post-1901 season mark.

The 1904 Washington Senators were a really bad team. They were so bad that year that they inspired sportswriter Charley Dryden's famous line "Washington - first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." They finished the year with four starting pitchers who lost 23 or more games, although one of those pitchers, Tom Hughes, came over from the Highlanders in July so only 12 of his 23 losses came while pitching for Washington. Still they finished the year with the pitcher (Happy Townsend) who shares the AL record for the most losses in a season, along with three others who are tied for twelfth place,

One of the better players on that Washington team was Frank Huelsman, who came to the team from the St. Louis Browns in a trade on July 14th. It was the end of the long, record-setting journey for Frank, one that began in Chicago on the White Sox bench. After appearing in only three games in six weeks, he was sold to Detroit, who put him in left-field for four games before returning him to Chicago. A single pinch-hit appearance later, he was on his way to the St. Louis Browns, where they played him regularly in the outfield for three weeks and then sent him on to the Senators, where he found a home for the rest of the year.

When the dust had settled, Frank had tied the record for the most teams played for in a single season, a record originally set in 1892 by Tom Dowse.54 It wouldn't happen again until Willis Hudlin's 1940 season. It got more common after that, with ten more occurences between 1951 and 2016, before Oliver Drake set a new standard by appearing with five teams in 2018.

And finally, I thought I'd take a look at a discrepancy that was discovered and thoroughly investigated nearly 75 years ago, involving a single statistic that was over forty years old at the time: the number of Rube Waddell's strikeouts in 1904. For years, it had been listed in the record books as 343, but as Bob Feller started to approach that figure in 1946, people started to take a closer look, or as Cliff Kachline put it at the time: "Competent research experts, going over box scores of all the games in which the Rube appeared 42 years ago, have come up with various other totals, ranging all the way from 347 to 352."55 The researchers identified eight games where there was some disagreement in contemporary accounts about the number of Waddell's strikeouts, and by the time they had come to a consensus, they'd settled on a number (349) one more than Bob Feller's total.

I don't have really much more to add, except to point out that the only thing unusual about the story is the effort that people took to ensure the number was as accurate as possible. There are reasonable doubts about the stats associated with over ten thousand games during the Deadball Era and as people have the time, energy and resources to resolve these doubts, we should expect to discover small changes (like a 343 turning into a 349) at nearly every turn.


A host of people worked on making these box scores available to baseball researchers. The team doing doing this included Dave Lamoureaux, Javier Anderson, Greg Antolick, Mark Armour, Bob Boehme, Tom Bradley, Clem Comly, Larry Defillipo, Jonathan Frankel, Gary Frownfelter, Mike Grahek, Chuck Hildebrandt, Howard Johnson, Ryan Jones, Herm Krabbenhoft, Sean Lahman, Walter LeConte, Dan Lee, Bob LeMoine, Trent McCotter, Sheldon Miller, Jack Myers, Dave Newman, Bill Nowlin, Charlie O'Reilly, Ian Orr, Pete Palmer, Gary Pearce, J.G. Preston, Charles Saeger, Carl Schweisthal, Terry Small, Tom Stillman, Tom Thress, Dixie Tourangeau, Steve Vetere, David Vincent, Ron Wargo, Ron Weaver, Paul Wendt, Rob Wood, and Don Zminda,


1Of course, there are those who believe that the 20th century began with 1900 instead of 1901, and perhaps we will also subscribe to that belief once box scores for 1900 are released. But until then, we're sticking with 1901.

2After losing four straight to the Tigers, despite having late-inning leads in all of them, Milwaukee headed to Cleveland on April 29th where it was deja vu all over again, as they gave up three eighth-inning runs to turn a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss. Had all of those games been seven-inning affairs, they would have undefeated after their first five games instead of still looking for their first win.

3"Ten Runs Won In The Ninth", Detroit Free Press, April 26, 1901. Pages 1, 10.

4"Rusie. In Good Form Again", The Enquirer, Cincinnati, June 6, 1901. Page 4.

Their reaction reminds me of Neil Allen's return to New York a week after his trade to the St. Louis Cardinals for Keith Hernandez. Allen pitched eight shutout innings, Hernandez was hitless in four at-bats, and after the Mets lost 6-0 that night, the fan sitting next to me shook his head and said "There's a trade we're going to regret," a comment that has aged about as well as this one.

5"Spuds Take Last Game Of The Trip", The Chicago Daily Tribune, August 14, 1906. Page 6.

6In addition to one tie, the streak also includes one no-decision game where the statistics were counted but no win or loss credited because the pitching rubber was too close to the plate.

7"One Scratch Hit. Dowling Shuts Out Old Teammates", The Boston Globe, July 1, 1901. Page 10.

8"Boston Wins and Loses", The Boston Globe, August 6, 1901. Page 4.

9"17 Innings---1 To 0", The Boston Globe, September 22, 1901. Page 4.

10"Remnants In Great Game", The Chicago Sunday Tribune, September 22, 1901. Page 17.

11"Chicago Won In Nineteenth", The Pittsburgh Press, June 23, 1902. Page 10.

12"Orphans Win A 19 Inning Game", The Inter Ocean, June 23, 1902. Page 4.

13There are some cryptic sheets that contain statistical data for the 1902 National League, but it's not clear how to decode them. For example, the first page of the Cozy Dolan sheet shows the following:

 Pos      A.B.  Runs  Ist B.   T.B.   S.H.   S.B.   P.O.  Ass't  Errors    
Center    5 5           2 1    4 1           0 1    2 2              
          4 5                                       1
          6 5    2 1    3 1    3 1             1    4
          3 4             1      1    1             4 3
          4 4    1        2      2             1    4 3           1
          4 4    1 1    3 1    3 1                  2 2
          4 4           1 1    1 2                  2             1
          5 5      1    2 4    2 5             2    3 3

It looks like each line contains the stats for a pair of games without dates. Which might not be a problem if they were entered in any kind of order. So unraveling the lines above, we get the following sequence:

AB  R  H TB SH SB  PO  A ER   Game?
 5  0  2  4  0  0   2  0  0   5-11
 5  0  1  1  0  1   2  0  0   5-12
 4  0  0  0  0  0   1  0  0   5-13
 5  0  0  0  0  0   0  0  0   5-14
 6  2  3  3  0  0   4  0  0   5-15
 5  1  1  1  0  1   0  0  0   6- 6 (no SB)
 3  0  0  0  1  0   4  0  0   6- 7(1)
 4  0  1  1  0  0   3  0  0   6- 7(2)
 4  1  0  0  0  0   4  0  1   6- 9 (with SB)
 4  0  2  2  0  1   3  0  0    ?  
 4  1  3  3  0  0   2  0  0   6-17
 4  1  1  1  0  0   2  0  0    ?  
 4  0  1  1  0  0   2  0  1    ?  
 4  0  1  1  0  0   0  0  0    ?  
 5  0  2  2  0  0   3  0  0    ?  
 5  1  4  4  0  2   3  0  0   8-24(1) (with 2B)

Alongside each entry is my best guess at which game they are associated with. Clearly these games are not entered in any apparent order. For comparison, here are the dailies based upon the ICI sheets. In short, these sheets are useless.

14The most important thing to know about the ICI batter dailies is that they did not keep track of batter sacrifices (SH) and hit-by-pitches (HBP). The next thing to realize is that in addition to consulting game stories in newspapers to identify which batters walked in each game, they also apparently employed a method where you look for plate-appearance holes in the batter data and fill them in with walks. This is best shown by example: here is a sample set of statistics by batting order for a game where the opposing pitcher walked four batters:

        ----- Known ------  Unk
Order   AB   SH  HBP   TOT  BB?
  1      5    0    0    5    0
  2      3    1    0    4    0
  3      4    0    0    4    0
  4      2    0    1    3    1
  5      2    0    0    2    2
  6      3    1    0    4    0
  7      4    0    0    4    0
  8      3    0    0    3    1
  9      4    0    0    4    0

Since the number of plate appearances of each batting order slot (barring cases when a player bats out of order) must be equal to or one less than the previous slot (and only one slot at most can be one less), you can reasonably assume that the walks should be assigned as shown above. We can feel even better about our assumption if we can proof the box score by showing that the last batter in the game matches what we expect. Since in the example above, that would have been the leadoff batter, we would need to show that the number of plate appearances in the game (in this case, 37) equals the number of the opposition putouts plus runs scored plus runners left-on-base.

Of course, if substitutes caused more than one player to occupy the same batting slot, you'd have to dive into game stories to determine which one of them walked, but this method can get you extremely close to the correct answer. BUT... ICI didn't keep track of sacrifices or hit-by-pitch. and so we find that there are numerous cases where, for example, ICI gives a batter too many walks in a game because they didn't know that he sacrificed or was hit by a pitch.

15I did say this was a quick and dirty, and I admit that plate appearances and innings pitched are not a great proxy for talent, and more importantly, the method treats a player as not lost even if they only appear in a single game the next season (as Nap Lajoie did with the 1902 Athletics).

16Murphy quickly came down to earth the next day, when he went hitless in seven at-bats during the Athletics 4-2 17-inning win over the same Red Sox, a game notable for Rube Waddell's complete-game 16-strikeout performance.

17Monte Cross was allowed to stay with the A's, as Phillies owner John Rogers felt they already had a better replacement at shortstop in Rudy Hulswitt.

18We'll cover the teams that did much better on the road in a later article.

19"Six Months In Jail", The Baltimore Sun, March 20, 1902. Page 12.

20I probably shouldn't have relegated this to a footnote, but I will frequently link to SABR biographies. Produced by that organization's BioProject committee, they are a wonderful resource for anyone interested in baseball history. I am constantly surprised and delighted to discover that one of my favorite little-known players now has a biography courtesy of their efforts. You can find their main page, where you can search for players or simply browse biographies at random here.

21Admittedly my most recent source is page 33 of The 2007 Complete Baseball Record Book put out by The Sporting News.

22"New War Clouds Darken Horizon", Sporting Life, July 4, 1903. Page 4.

23Full disclosure. The last one really wasn't a fourteen-game winning, since it also contained a tie. Instead, it was a fifteen-game loss-less streak.

24"Waddell Released By The Athletics For Misconduct", The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 26, 1903. Page 10.

25We don't have complete box-score coverage for either Phillippe or Dinneen, but I checked their ICI sheets for their earlier seasons and neither had a double-digit strikeout game except for those two World Series games.

26"Boston Wins Again, 7 To 3", The Boston Globe, October 11, 1903, Pages 1 and 4.

27"Runless Game Again", The Washington Post, June 30, 1903, Page 9.

28"Where Is Delehanty", The Washington Post, July 5, 1903, Page 8. Newspapers accounts routinely spelled his name "Delehanty", not "Delahanty".

29"Body Is Delehanty's", The Washington Post, July 10, 1903, Page 9.

30There was one hitless game in the middle of Ordonez's streak when he walked as a pinch-hitter. It is the normal practice to ignore games without plate appearances when determining the length of hitting streaks, but feel free to consider Delahanty the leader since 1901 if you wish.

31"Egged", The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 31, 1903, Page 3.

32People normally pick 1893 as a dividing line since that was the year the pitching box was replaced by a rubber slab, effectively increasing the pitching distance by five feet. Another significant change was the adoption of the foul strike rule (where fouls with less than two strikes were counted as a strike) which was adopted by the NL in 1901 and the AL two years later.

33"New York Takes Two Games from St. Louis--New Pitcher, Ames, Does Well", The New York Times, September 15, 1903, Page 10.

34I got the postponement information from the original regular season schedules that you are available here.

35"Nearly Two Hundred Hurt, Three Dead, Following A Crash At Base Ball Park", The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 9, 1903. Page 1.

36"Rotten Beams Caused Crash, Says The Mayor", The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 11, 1903. Page 1.

37"1 Dies, 50 Injured In Stand Collapse At Phillies Park", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 1927. Page 1.

38"Daguerreotypes Taken Of Former Stars Of The Diamond," The Sporting News, November 30, 1933, page 7.

39"Boston Champions Capture The Pennant", The Boston Globe, October 11, 1904, Pages 1 and 4-5.

40Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella, "The Biographical History of Baseball" (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers Inc., 1995). Page 77.

41"Boston Champions Capture The Pennant", The Boston Globe, October 11, 1904, Pages 1 and 4-5.

42"No World's Series", The Sporting Life, October 1, 1904, Page 5.

43"Shoulders The Blame", The Sporting Life, October 15, 1904, Page 6.

44"Boston Lands On Chick Fraser", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 1904, Page 10.

45It is often confusing what we mean by a hitless or scoreless inning. For example, how many hitless innings did Young pitch on April 30th? He entered the game after Winter had allowed two hits. So clearly, the third inning wasn't hitless, despite the fact that Young retired three straight. Would it have mattered if Young had given up a hit to the first batter he faced before retiring the next three? Scoreless innings are even more problematic. When Young relieved Winter, runners were on second and third: what if one of those inherited runners had scored on one of the outs Young recorded? Or what if he had recorded two outs without a score, left the game, and the next reliever allowed a run? In general, and where possible, I am going to calculate these streaks as the number of outs recorded between either hits allowed by or runs charged to the pitcher. I added the "where possible" above because without play-by-play data, it is often not possibly to determine precisely where a hit or run occurred within an inning. In the case of Young's hitless streak, we know that the last hit he surrendered on April 25th came with none out in the sixth and that the next hit he allowed came on May 11th came with one out in the seventh. So instead of the 24 consecutive innings in most record books, we consider the streak to include the last three outs in the sixth inning on April 25th as well as first out of the seventh on May 11th, or 25 1/3.

46Expanding upon the previous footnote, we currently show Young and White with streaks of 45 innings, but that is only because we do not currently have play-by-play data for the games at the end-points of these. But from newspaper accounts, we know that we will eventually show Young's streak at 45 1/3 innings and White's at 46 2/3 innings. Now I realize that this is a controversial way of figuring these kinds of things, but there are plenty of on-line places where you can go to see the length of these calculated in a more traditional way if this bothers you.

47"Chicago Gleanings", The Sporting Life, June 18, 1904, Page 7.

48Whittier, "Twenty-One Hits", The Sporting Life, June 18, 1904, Page 5.

49"Winning Even Honors", The New York Times, June 1, 1886, Page 2.

The crowd size referred to the second game of the separate admission double-header. The morning game was said to have drawn 7,000.

50"Baseball's Record Crowd", The New York Times, June 5, 1904, Page 9.

51"Warlike", The Cincinnati Enquirer, September 1, 1904, Page 4.

52"Giants Take Two From Boston Men. Manager McGraw Hurt by Enthusiastic Rooters After the Games", The Boston Globe, September 6, 1904, Page 5.

53"The Taylor Case", The Sporting Life, February 25, 1905, Page 4.

54If you count the 1884 Union Association as a major league (and for some odd reason, MLB does), you can add George Strief and Harry Wheeler to the list.

55Cliff Kachline, "Statisticians Still Fanning Figures Over Bobby Feller's Whiff Mark", The Sporting News, October 9, 1946, Page 12.