Inferior working conditions and relatively low pay continued to cause acrimony among major league players as the 1900 campaign got underway. Poor treatment of players by National League owners helped facilitate the establishment of a rival American League the following year, enabling many of the game’s top stars to offer their talents to the highest bidder. But, at least for one more season, the National League functioned as a single entity in major league baseball, serving as the only channel through which players could earn a living.
Once the season began, it soon became apparent that only three teams had a legitimate chance of capturing the pennant. The Brooklyn Superbas, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Philadelphia Phillies ended up being the only three clubs in the eight-team league to post a winning record. Brooklyn won the pennant by finishing the campaign with a record of 82-54. Pittsburgh placed second, 4 ½ games back, with a mark of 79-60. Philadelphia finished third, eight games out, with a record of 75-63. The Boston Beaneaters, Chicago Orphans, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants took up the final five spots, with New York finishing last in the circuit, 23 games behind first-place Brooklyn.
The pennant-winning Superbas were led by their outstanding pitcher, “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity, who earned his nickname by routinely working both ends of doubleheaders. McGinnity posted a record of 28-8, to lead all N.L. hurlers in victories and winning percentage (.778). The right-hander also topped the circuit with 343 innings pitched, and he placed among the leaders with a 2.94 ERA.
The second-place Pirates had the league’s best player in Honus Wagner. The Pittsburgh shortstop finished among the N.L. leaders in every major offensive category, except home runs. In addition to placing among the league leaders with 100 runs batted in, 107 runs scored, and 201 hits, he topped the circuit with a .381 batting average, 22 triples, 45 doubles, a .573 slugging percentage, and 302 total bases. The Pirates also featured one of the league’s top pitchers in Rube Waddell, who posted a league-leading 2.37 ERA.
Meanwhile, third-place Philadelphia’s lineup included outfielder Elmer Flick, who led the league with 110 runs batted in and finished second in the N.L. rankings with 11 home runs, a .367 batting average, a .545 slugging percentage, and 297 total bases.
Outstanding individual achievements over the course of the campaign included the 20th century’s first no-hitter, thrown by Cincinnati Reds pitcher Noodles Hahn against the Philadelphia Phillies during a 4-0 victory on July 12th. Almost two months later, on September 7th, Kid Nichols of the Boston Beaneaters recorded the 300th win of his career.
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- Brooklyn Superbas, Elmer Flick, Honus Wagner, Joe McGinnity, Kid Nichols, Noodles Hahn, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rube Waddell