The 1907 campaign began with Al Spalding having created a commission to unearth the origins of baseball. The commission eventually concluded that Abner Doubleday invented the sport, basing its decision primarily on the vague testimony of one witness to what was purported to have been the first game ever played. Other developments off the field included the creation of a rule that credited a player with a game played if he made any sort of appearance in a contest, and the revival by Jim Price of the New York Press of the practice of recording RBIs. Additionally, the American League’s Boston franchise became more commonly known as the “Red Sox” for the first time, and Chick Stahl, the team’s player/manager, committed suicide during spring training.
Meanwhile, on the playing field, former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Hughie Jennings assumed the managerial position of the Detroit Tigers. Jennings made one of his first moves the insertion of young Ty Cobb into the team’s everyday lineup. With Cobb leading the way, the Tigers climbed 21 games in the standings, capturing their first American League pennant by edging out the second-place Philadelphia Athletics by 1 ½ games, with a record of 92-58. Cobb batted a league-leading .350 and also topped the circuit with 119 runs batted in, 212 hits, 53 stolen bases, 283 total bases, and a .468 slugging percentage. He received a considerable amount of help from fellow Detroit outfielder Sam Crawford, who led the league with 102 runs scored and finished second to Cobb with a .323 batting average and a .460 slugging percentage. Wild Bill Donovan headed Detroit’s pitching staff, finishing the year with a record of 25-4 and a 2.19 ERA. However, the Tigers disappointed in the World Series, managing just a tie in their five-game loss to the Chicago Cubs. Chicago pitching held Detroit to only six runs in the five contests.
Second-place Philadelphia had the American League’s deepest starting rotation, featuring Rube Waddell, Chief Bender, Jack Coombs, Eddie Plank, and 22-year-old Jimmy Dygert, who compiled a record of 20-9 and a 2.34 ERA. But, with 10 members of their team over age 30, the A’s ran out of gas at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Chicago White Sox, who finished third in the league, 5 ½ games behind Detroit, featured arguably the junior circuit’s top hurler in Ed Walsh. The spit-balling right-hander won 24 games and led all A.L. pitchers with a 1.60 ERA, 37 complete games, and 422 innings pitched.
Other outstanding performers and notable events from around the league included:
• Cleveland's Addie Joss tied for the A.L. lead with 27 wins and finished third with a 1.83 ERA.
• Rube Waddell struck out 232 batters, to win the last of his seven strikeout titles.
• Walter Johnson made his debut with the Washington Senators.
• 40 year-old Cy Young won 22 games and posted a 1.99 ERA.
• Philadelphia’s Harry Davis hit eight home runs, to win the last of his four consecutive A.L. home run crowns.
• New York Highlander backup catcher Branch Rickey allowed a record 13 stolen bases to Washington on June 28.
• Despite posting a 2.59 ERA for the pennant-winning Tigers, who lost only 58 games all year, George Mullin compiled a record of just 20-20. Mullin’s 20 losses made him the only 20th century hurler to lose as many as 20 games for a first-place team.
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- 1907 World Series, Abner Doubleday, Addie Joss, Al Spalding, American League, Bill Donovan, Branch Rickey, Chick Stahl, Chief Bender, Cy Young, Detroit Tigers, Ed Walsh, Eddie Plank, George Mullin, Harry Davis, Hughie Jennings, Jack Coombs, Jimmy Dygert, Rube Waddell, Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson