With Navin Field and Fenway Park opening in the American League in 1912, the National League’s Cincinnati Reds opened the gates to Redland Field, which later became known as Crosley Field. Meanwhile, as the composite batting average in the senior circuit soared to .272, Pittsburgh outfielder Owen Wilson established an all-time major-league record by accumulating 36 triples.
The New York Giants were the National League’s top offensive team, scoring a league-leading 823 runs while also topping the circuit with 319 stolen bases. Since the Giants also led the league with a team ERA of 2.58, it should come as no surprise that they had little difficulty repeating as N.L. champions. New York finished the campaign with a record of 103-48, 10 full games ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
New York’s first-place finish enabled Giants second baseman Larry Doyle to walk away with the Chalmers Trophy as the circuit’s most valuable player. Doyle hit 10 home runs, drove in 90 runs, scored 98 others, and finished among the league leaders with a .330 batting average. Yet, third baseman Heinie Zimmerman of the third-place Cubs, who finished 11 ½ games behind the Giants, posted superior numbers to Doyle in most offensive categories. Zimmerman led the league with 14 home runs, a .372 batting average, 41 doubles, 207 hits, and a .571 slugging percentage, and he also placed among the leaders with 99 runs batted in and 95 runs scored. For some reason, though, Zimmerman finished just sixth in the Chalmers voting.
Heading New York’s pitching staff was the trio of Christy Mathewson, Rube Marquard, and Jeff Tesreau. Mathewson finished 23-12 with a 2.12 ERA. Rookie Tesreau won 17 games and took the ERA title with a mark of 1.96. Marquard led the league with 26 victories, 19 of which came in succession between April 11 and July 3.
The Giants subsequently faced the Boston Red Sox in a World Series considered by most baseball historians to be one of the most exciting ever. Although the Giants lost the Series in eight games (one of the contests ended in a tie due to darkness), they entered the bottom of the 10th inning of the final contest leading by a run. At that juncture, New York centerfielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a fly ball that allowed the tying and winning runs to score. Since the winner’s share of the World Series money in 1912 was $30,000, Snodgrass’ error became known as the “$30,000 Muff.”
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Buck Herzog of the Giants established a new World Series record by accumulating 12 hits against Boston pitching.
• Despite allowing only four earned runs in 28 2/3 innings in the World Series, New York's Christy Mathewson lost his two decisions.
• Rube Marquard’s 19 consecutive wins tied a major league record previously set by 19th century hurler Tim Keefe.
• The National League’s Boston franchise was referred to as the "Braves" for the first time.
• New York’s Jeff Tesreau threw a no-hitter against the Phillies on September 6.
• 38-year-old Honus Wagner batted .324 and led the National League with 102 runs batted in, en route to earning a second-place finish in the Chalmers voting.
• Phillies owner Horace Fogel was barred from the major leagues for accusing the Giants and Cardinals of conspiring to throw the pennant.
• Christy Mathewson became the eighth pitcher to record 300 career wins.
• Brooklyn Superbas outfielder Casey Stengel made an impressive major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 17, collecting four hits, two RBIs, and two stolen bases in Brooklyn’s 7-3 win.
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- 1912 World Series, Buck Herzog, Casey Stengel, Christy Mathewson, Crosley Field, Fred Snodgrass, Heinie Zimmerman, Honus Wagner, Horace Fogel, Jeff Tesreau, Larry Doyle, New York Giants, Owen Wilson, Rube Marquard