The American League unveiled two new ballparks in 1912. Navin Field, which later became known as Tiger Stadium, opened on April 20th. The Boston Red Sox christened Fenway Park the very same day with a 7-6 victory over the New York Highlanders. Meanwhile, offensive numbers in both leagues continued to soar, with the National League batting a composite .272 and the American League posting a .265 batting average as a whole. In what became known as “The Year of the Triple,” Cleveland’s Shoeless Joe Jackson topped the junior circuit with 26 three-baggers, while Ty Cobb finished second in the league with 23.
The Boston Red Sox ran away with the American League pennant by finishing 14 games ahead of the second-place Washington Senators, with a record of 105-47. Boston’s .691 winning percentage represented the highest figure compiled by any team in the decade. Tris Speaker was Boston’s top offensive performer, earning Chalmers Award honors by leading the league with 10 home runs, 53 doubles, and a .464 on-base percentage, while also placing among the leaders with 90 runs batted in, 136 runs scored, a .383 batting average, 222 hits, 52 stolen bases, and 329 total bases. Still, the foremost figures in the American League over the course of the regular season were two pitchers who totally dominated league batsmen throughout the campaign.
Boston’s Smokey Joe Wood and Washington’s Walter Johnson pitched phenomenally well for their respective teams, with both men reeling off 16-game winning streaks at one point during the season. Wood finished the year 34-5, with a 1.91 ERA, 258 strikeouts, 344 innings pitched, and a league-leading 35 complete games and 10 shutouts. Johnson was even better, lifting Washington out of the second division almost single-handedly by compiling a record of 33-12, throwing seven shutouts, 34 complete games and 369 innings, and leading the league with a 1.39 ERA and 303 strikeouts.
The Red Sox went on to defeat the New York Giants in one of the most exciting Fall Classics in major league history. Boston won the Series four-games-to-three, with Game Two ending in a tie due to darkness. Nearly all of the games were close, with four of the contests being decided by one run. Two games, including the decisive eighth contest, went to extra innings. The critical play of the final game ended up being New York center fielder Fred Snodgrass’ drop of a fly ball in the 10th inning that allowed the tying and winning runs to score. Snodgrass’ miscue became known as the “$30,000 Muff,” since that amount represented the winner’s share of the World Series money.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Ty Cobb received a suspension for attacking a heckler in the stands in New York on May 15. Cobb’s punishment contributed to one of the most bizarre events in major-league history. Angry that their best player had been suspended indefinitely, the Tigers refused to take the field in a May 18 game against Philadelphia, forcing management to recruit amateur ballplayers, former major leaguers, and even some fans from the stands to avoid a forfeit. After the A’s defeated Detroit by a score of 24-2, the league reinstated Cobb before the Tigers played their next game.
• Twice in an 11-day period, Eddie Collins stole six bases in a game.
• Ty Cobb batted over .400 for the second consecutive year, leading the American League with a mark of .410.
• Frank “Home Run” Baker tied for the A.L. lead with 10 home runs and topped the junior circuit with 130 runs batted in.
• Earl Hamilton of the Browns threw a no-hitter against Detroit on August 30.
• Detroit pitcher George Mullin celebrated his birthday by hurling a no-hitter against St. Louis on July 4.
• Despite being overshadowed for much of the year by Smokey Joe Wood and Walter Johnson, Chicago’s Ed Walsh posted 27 victories, led the American League with 393 innings pitched, and set a new league record by saving 10 games.
• The New York Highlanders, predecessors of the New York Yankees, incorporated pinstripes into their uniforms for the first time.
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- 1912 World Series, American League, Boston Red Sox, Earl Hamilton, Ed Walsh, Eddie Collins, Fenway Park, Frank Baker, Fred Snodgrass, George Mullin, Joe Jackson, Joe Wood, Tiger Stadium, Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson