The 1910 baseball season marked the beginning of two new trends that ultimately contributed to the rise of modern, home run baseball during the 1920s: the widespread building of enclosed, steel-and-concrete ballparks and the invention of the livelier cork-centered baseball.
The most influential of the newly-constructed stadiums was Chicago’s Comiskey Park, which was considered to be the finest baseball facility in the world when it first opened in 1910. With a seating capacity of a then-staggering 48,600, Comiskey Park in many ways served as the model for the many stadiums that were built in subsequent seasons. Washington’s Griffith Stadium and Cleveland’s League Park also opened their gates for the first time in 1910.
Invented by Philadelphia’s Ben Shibe, the cork-centered ball made its debut in the 1910 World Series. Both leagues subsequently adopted it for the following season.
Meanwhile, Connie Mack led his Philadelphia Athletics to their third American League pennant in the 10-year history of the junior circuit. The A’s finished 14 ½ games ahead of the second-place New York Highlanders, with a record of 102-48.
Easily the American League’s most well-balanced team, the A’s featured superb pitching and a young and talented starting lineup. Second baseman Eddie Collins led the league with 81 stolen bases and placed among the leaders with a .322 batting average and 81 runs batted in. In his second full season, third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker finished near the top of the league rankings in runs batted in, runs scored, and triples. The A’s greatest strength, though, was their pitching. Chief Bender finished 23-5, compiled a 1.58 ERA, and threw 25 complete games and 250 innings. Eddie Plank won 16 games, posted a 2.01 ERA, completed 22 games, and also tossed 250 innings. Jack Coombs served as the staff ace. In his greatest season, Coombs finished 31-9, to lead all A.L. pitchers in victories. The right-hander also topped the circuit with an A.L. record 13 shutouts, and he placed among the leaders with a 1.30 ERA, 353 innings pitched, 224 strikeouts, and 35 complete games.
The Athletics continued their dominance in the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs in five games and outscoring their overmatched opponents by a combined margin of 35-15. Jack Coombs earned three of the victories for the A’s, who batted .316 as a team against Chicago’s vaunted pitching staff.
With Philadelphia bringing the American League pennant race to an early end, fans of the junior circuit spent the final few weeks of the season focusing on the A.L. batting race, which held special significance in 1910. In a promotion that inspired the modern MVP Award, the Chalmers Motor Co. offered a car to the winner of the American League batting title. With the extremely popular Napoleon Lajoie battling the universally disliked Ty Cobb down to the wire for the batting crown, the race ended in scandal when the St. Louis Browns allegedly lay back and let Lajoie beat out seven bunts on the last day of the season to help him make up a seemingly insurmountable lead that Cobb had earlier established. Although Lajoie’s .384 batting average placed him percentage points ahead of Cobb, who finished the campaign with a mark of .383, Hugh Chalmers attempted to appease everyone involved by presenting a car to both players. The St. Louis manager ended up getting fired for his involvement in the conspiracy, and the Chalmers Award was allowed to continue in an altered form: one car was to be given to the "most important and useful" player in each league, as determined by a committee of sports writers. A player could only win one Chalmers Award in his career.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the American League included:
• Cy Young won his 500th game on July 19, almost precisely 20 years after he won his first. In the 19 seasons between the two marks, he averaged 25.68 victories per year. He also lost his 300th game during the 1910 campaign, a record that seems equally secure.
• Addie Joss tossed a no-hitter on April 20 that represented the final shutout of his career. Less than a year after tossing his hitless gem, Joss died of tubercular meningitis. Cleveland players threatened mutiny until American League officials canceled their game the day of his funeral so they could attend it en masse.
• Despite posting a league-leading 1.26 ERA, Ed Walsh finished the campaign with a record of 18-20. Walsh’s White Sox teammates batted a collective .211 over the course of the season – the lowest mark in history.
• The A's established an American League record by compiling a team ERA of 1.79.
• Walter Johnson’s 25 victories made him the first Washington Senators pitcher to surpass 20 wins in a season.
• William Howard Taft became the first U.S. President to throw out the first ball at the Washington home opener.
• Walter Johnson led the American League with 313 strikeouts, topping the junior circuit in that category for the first of 12 times.
• Earle Mack of the A's became the first son to play in the major leagues for his father (Connie Mack).
• Philadelphia’s Jack Coombs and Chicago’s Ed Walsh locked up in a 16-inning scoreless tie on August 4.
• Detroit's Sam Crawford led the league with 120 runs batted in and 19 triples.
• New York's Russ Ford posted a record of 26-6, setting in the process an American League rookie record for highest winning percentage (.813). His 26 wins and eight shutouts also remain records for A.L. rookies.
• On Sept. 17, Detroit pitcher Ed Summers hit two homers in one game.
• On Sept. 30, the Browns' Ray Jansen played in his only major league game and went 4-for-5.
More From Around the Web
On March 9, 1995, major league owners unanimously approve tw ...
On March 9, 1981, the Chicago White Sox sign prized free age ...
On March 9, 1912, future Hall of Famer Joseph “Arky” Vau ...
- 1910 Chalmers Award, Addie Joss, American League, Ben Shibe, Chief Bender, Cleveland League Park, Comiskey Park, Connie Mack, Cy Young, Earle Mack, Ed Summers, Ed Walsh, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank, Frank Baker, Griffith Stadium, Jack Coombs, Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Athletics, Ray Jansen, Russ Ford, Sam Crawford, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson