The New York Giants ended Pittsburgh's three-year reign as National League champions in 1904 by finishing the regular season with a record of 106-47, 13 games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs. Giant hurlers Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity won a total of 68 games between them, enabling New York to run away with the N.L. flag. Mathewson finished 33-12, with a 2.03 ERA, 367 innings pitched, and 33 complete games in 48 appearances. As brilliant as Mathewson was, McGinnity was even better. The latter finished with a record of 35-8, and he led the league in virtually every statistical category. In addition to topping the circuit in victories, McGinnity finished first with a 1.61 ERA, 408 innings pitched, nine shutouts, five saves, and 51 appearances, completing 38 of his starts.
New York’s first-place finish gave John McGraw his first National League pennant. A typical McGraw team, the Giants not only had the senior circuit’s two best pitchers, but they also featured the league’s top offense. Although they lacked a dominant star, the Giants’ lineup was made up of beautifully complementary parts, including George Browne, who led the league with 99 runs scored, and Bill Dahlen, who topped the circuit with 80 runs batted in. As a team, the Giants led the league in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, walks, batting average, and stolen bases.
Meanwhile, fourth-place Pittsburgh featured the league’s top hitter in Honus Wagner, who won his third batting title with a mark of .349 and topped the circuit with 53 stolen bases.
Fans who anticipated another exciting interleague postseason series were disappointed. Late in the year, John McGraw and New York owner John Brush issued a press release that called the American League a "minor league" and stated that the Giants "desired no greater glory than to win the pennant in the National League."
By subsequently refusing to meet the American League pennant winner in any sort of postseason series, McGraw struck another spiteful blow against his old enemy, Ban Johnson. However, after the season, owners from both leagues sat down to make certain that such a snub never took place again. They drafted a set of guidelines that established a formal World Series under rules that remain more or less intact today.
Other notable events that took place in the National League over the course of the 1904 campaign include:
• The 154-game schedule was adopted.
• On June 11, Cubs pitcher Bob Wicker threw a no-hitter vs. New York for nine innings. Although he lost his no-hitter in the 10th inning, he eventually won the game.
• At 18 years of age, John Lush of the Philadelphia Phillies established himself as the youngest regular in National League history.
• Provoked by noted ump-baiter John McGraw, Giants players beat an umpire unconscious after a game in spring training.
• St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Taylor was accused of throwing games, although nothing came of the charges.
• The Giants clinched the National League flag in a record 137 games.
• Ginger Beaumont set a National League record by topping the circuit in hits for the third straight year.
• The Giants led the National League in BA (.262), FA (.956), runs (744), homers (31), steals (283), and ERA (2.17).
• Kid Nichols won 21 games for the lowly Cardinals after being out of the game for two seasons.
• At age 52, Jim O'Rourke caught a full game for the Giants.
- Ban Johnson, Bill Dahlen, Bob Wicker, Christy Mathewson, Frank Chance, George Browne, Ginger Beaumont, Honus Wagner, Jack Taylor, Joe McGinnity, Joe Tinker, John Brush, John McGraw, Johnny Evers, Johnny Lush, Kid Nichols, New York Giants