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Series Wrapup

Story

An exciting and controversial three-team pennant race developed in the National League in 1908, with the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Giants battling right down to the wire to determine which club represented the senior circuit in the World Series.  In the end, a 19-year-old rookie named Fred Merkle played a huge role in determining the eventual outcome.

With the Cubs facing the Giants in a pivotal September 23 matchup at New York’s Polo Grounds, the home team put runners on first and third with two men out and the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning.  With Merkle on at first base for the Giants, Al Bridwell delivered what appeared to be a game-winning single to centerfield for New York.  Thinking the game had ended, Merkle bypassed second base and headed straight for the New York clubhouse.  However, Chicago second baseman Johnny Evers got the attention of the umpire who, after seeing Evers tag second base with the ball, declared Merkle forced out at second, thereby nullifying the winning run.  A storm of protests, counter-protests, and league hearings followed, with National League president Harry Pulliam finally ruling that the game would have to be replayed in its entirety at the end of the regular season if it proved to have a bearing on the pennant race.

As it turned out, the Giants and Cubs finished the regular season with an identical record, forcing the two teams to meet in a decisive season finale to determine the league champion.  Chicago defeated New York by a score of 4-2 in the make-up game, with Mordecai Brown outpitching Christy Mathewson in a battle of staff aces.  The victory gave the Cubs a record of 99-55, placing them one game ahead of both the Giants and the Pirates in the final standings, and giving them their third straight National League pennant.  The Cubs then experienced little difficulty defeating the Detroit Tigers in the World Series for the second consecutive year, needing only five games to dispose of their overmatched opponents.  The Cubs outscored the Tigers 24-15 during the Fall Classic, outhit them 48-33, posted a team batting average of .293 to Detroit’s mark of only .209, and compiled a team ERA of 2.60, while Detroit’s staff posted a team mark of 3.68.  Mordecai Brown pitched particularly well for Chicago, going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, and allowing the Tigers only six hits over 11 scoreless innings.  More than 100 years later, the Cubs have yet to win another world championship.  

While the 1908 Cubs exhibited their usual combination of great pitching and outstanding team defense, neither the Giants nor the Pirates had as much team balance.  However, the Giants had the league’s best pitcher, while the Pirates featured the senior circuit’s finest all-around player.  
Despite losing the season finale to Chicago, Christy Mathewson clearly established himself over the course of the season as the National League’s premier hurler.  Mathewson led all N.L. pitchers with 37 victories, a 1.43 ERA, 259 strikeouts, 390 innings pitched, 34 complete games, 11 shutouts, and five saves.  Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner topped the circuit in nine different offensive categories, including batting average (.354), runs batted in (109), stolen bases (53), on-base percentage (.410), and slugging percentage (.542).  With a career-high 10 home runs, he also came within two long balls of winning the Triple Crown.

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• Hooks Wiltse of the Giants threw a no-hitter on Independence Day, blanking Philadelphia.

• The Giants stunned the baseball world in July by purchasing minor league pitcher Rube Marquard for the inordinately high sum of $11,000.

• The St. Louis Cardinals scored a record-low 371 runs en route to finishing last in the league.

• On September, 26, Ed Reulbach of the Cubs tossed two shutouts in one day.

• A frustrated New York sportswriter immortalized Chicago’s double play combination of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance in a poem.

• Wearing shin-guards and a padded facemask, Giants receiver Roger Bresnahan established a new major league record by catching 139 games.

• Ed Reulbach defeated Brooklyn a record nine times.

Nap Rucker of Brooklyn threw a no-hitter against Boston on September 5, striking out 14 batters in the process.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BRO 1513 4897 375 1044 306 .181 110 60 28 113 0 1358 .249 .233 .493 0 0 166
BSN 1600 5131 537 1228 426 .192 137 43 17 134 0 1502 .273 .227 .509 0 0 194
CHN 1580 5085 625 1267 492 .236 196 56 19 212 1632 .328 .308 .662 270
CIN 1504 4879 488 1108 398 .159 129 77 14 196 1433 .278 .198 .527 214
NY1 1649 5006 652 1339 562 .220 182 43 20 181 0 1667 .361 .273 .667 0 0 250
PHI 1500 5012 503 1223 400 .192 194 68 11 200 1586 .278 .243 .531 213
PIT 1573 5109 585 1263 496 .194 162 98 25 186 0 1696 .303 .248 .578 0 0 184
SLN 1569 4959 372 1105 301 .178 134 57 17 150 1404 .242 .217 .475 164

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BRO 197 53 101 1368 535 444 5496 1165 17 155.310 375 514 118 20 4 24 0
BSN 233 63 91 1404 416 423 5761 1262 29 45.880 436 627 92 14 1 25 3
CHN 218 99 55 1434 668 437 5660 1137 20 28.300 341 459 108 27 12 34 1
CIN 205 73 81 1384 433 415 5463 1218 19 42.100 365 537 110 16 8 20 2
NY1 233 98 56 1412 656 288 5594 1214 26 36.120 336 453 95 24 18 18 1
PHI 198 83 71 1393 476 379 5442 1167 8 19.920 325 444 116 22 6 26 1
PIT 226 98 56 1404 468 406 5584 1142 16 32.130 331 470 100 24 9 19 1
SLN 226 49 105 1368 528 430 5717 1217 16 39.210 401 622 97 13 4 34 3

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BRO 1464 6358 4074 2037 247 .936 0 0 0 0 13
BSN 1531 6630 4154 2224 252 .948 0 0 0 0 10
CHN 1528 6549 4289 2054 206 .951 0 0 0 0 12
CIN 1462 6253 4083 1915 255 .950 0 0 0 0 21
NY1 1577 6553 4215 2088 250 .946 0 0 0 0 23
PHI 1455 6476 4167 2071 238 .967 0 0 0 0 19
PIT 1501 6334 4201 1907 226 .955 0 0 0 0 8
SLN 1501 6447 4039 2059 349 .916 0 0 0 0 24

West

Central

East

Awards

Silver Slugger

Gold Glove

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Tagged:
1908 World Series, Al Bridwell, Chicago Cubs, Christy Mathewson, Ed Reulbach, Frank Chance, Fred Merkle, Harry Pulliam, Honus Wagner, Hooks Wiltse, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, Merkle Bonehead Play, Mordecai Brown, Nap Rucker, Roger Bresnahan, Rube Marquard

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