With the Dead-ball Era in full swing by 1905, only three American League players – Elmer Flick, Wee Willie Keeler, and Harry Bay – compiled a batting average over .300. Flick topped the junior circuit with a mark of .308, giving him the lowest batting average of any batting champion in either league until Carl Yastrzemski led the A.L. with a .301 average in 1968. The entire American League batted only .241, and the circuit’s top run-scoring team, Philadelphia, scored only 623 runs and batted just .255.
It should come as no surprise that pitchers excelled during this deadest of Dead-ball years. Every club posted a team ERA under 3.00. Philadelphia’s Rube Waddell led a plethora of A.L. hurlers that allowed the opposition fewer than two earned runs per-game, winning the ERA title with a mark of 1.48. In fact, three of the league’s top pitchers were members of the starting rotation for the pennant-winning Athletics, who finished the season with a record of 92-56, to edge out the second-place Chicago White Sox by only two games. Chief Bender and Eddie Plank joined Waddell on Connie Mack’s staff, giving the A’s an extremely formidable “Big Three” at the top of their rotation. Bender finished the year with a record of 18-11 and a 2.83 ERA. Plank went 24-12, with an ERA of 2.26 and 210 strikeouts. In addition to leading the league with a 1.48 ERA, Waddell topped the circuit with 27 victories and 287 strikeouts. He also pitched 44 consecutive scoreless innings down the stretch in September.
The Athletics also featured a versatile offense that included Harry Davis, who led the American League with 92 runs scored, 83 runs batted in, and 47 doubles, Lave Cross, who drove in 77 runs, and Topsy Hartsel, who topped the junior circuit with 121 bases on balls.
Philadelphia subsequently played the New York Giants in the World Series, losing to John McGraw’s squad in just five games. New York took the Fall Classic rather handily, outscoring the A’s by a combined margin of 15-3. Each game resulted in a shutout, with New York’s Christy Mathewson keeping Philadelphia off the scoreboard in each of his three starts. Rube Waddell failed to make an appearance in the Series, sitting out the Fall Classic after injuring himself on the eve of the regular season finale in a bit of horseplay with teammate Andy Coakley.
Other notable events from the 1905 American League campaign follow:
• Ty Cobb made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers.
• The Chicago White Sox established an American League record by posting a 1.99 team ERA and surrendering only 451 runs to the opposition.
• Nap Lajoie became Cleveland's player/manager, with the team taking on the name of the "Naps" in his honor. Yet Lajoie sat out much of the season after nearly dying of blood poisoning as the result of a spike wound.
• Cy Young typified the plight of Dead-ball hurlers by finishing the campaign with a record of 18-19 despite compiling a 1.82 ERA.
• The Boston Americans established a major league record that still stands by using only 18 players all year.
• In an all-time classic pitcher’s duel, Rube Waddell defeated Cy Young in a 20-inning game on July 4.
• Weldon Henley of the A's threw a no-hitter against the Browns on July 22.
• Frank Smith of the White Sox tossed a no-hitter versus Detroit on Sept. 6.
• Bill Dinneen of Boston threw a no-hitter against the White Sox on Sept. 27.
• Browns hurler Harry Howell established an all-time record for pitchers by averaging 4.68 assists per game.
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- 1905 World Series, American League, Andy Coakley, Bill Dinneen, Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson, Connie Mack, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Elmer Flick, Frank Smith, Harry Bay, Harry Davis, Harry Howell, John McGraw, Lave Cross, Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics, Rube Waddell, Topsy Hartsel, Ty Cobb, Weldon Henley, Willie Keeler