The “Miracle Braves” shocked the baseball world in 1914, overcoming a huge deficit to the three-time defending National League champion New York Giants at midseason to capture the N.L. pennant, and then stunning the heavily-favored Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series by sweeping them in four straight games. The Braves displayed tremendous resilience and determination over the course of the regular season, which they began with a 4-18 record. Still mired in last place at the end of June, the Braves won 43 of their next 53 games to pull to within seven games of front-running New York. After moving into second place, they completed a three-game sweep of the Giants in mid-August that helped propel them into the league’s top spot by the end of the month. The Braves continued their exceptional play the remainder of the year, finishing the campaign with a record of 94-59, 10 ½ games in front of the second-place Giants.
The Braves accomplished all they did despite lacking superior talent. With just one .300 hitter (outfielder Joe Connolly), Boston finished fourth in the senior circuit with a .251 team batting average. The Braves also placed fourth in the league with a team ERA of 2.74. But master motivator and pioneer of platooning George Stallings squeezed everything he could out of his team, watching it come together over the course of the season to form a running, clutch-hitting unit. A patient-hitting ball club, Boston posted a league-leading 502 bases on balls. Chalmers Award winner Johnny Evers led the team with a .390 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, his double play partner Rabbit Maranville, who
finished second in the Chalmers balloting, established a new National League record for putouts and the still-unbroken major league record for total chances at shortstop. Maranville also led the team with 78 runs batted in.
Boston also had arguably the league’s top two pitchers in Bill James and Dick Rudolph. Both men had the greatest years of their respective careers. Rudolph, who won 20 games one other time for Boston, finished 26-10 with a 2.35 ERA. James, who ended his four-year career with a record of 37-21, posted a mark of 26-7, with a 1.90 ERA, 332 innings pitched, and 30 complete games. The success of the two hurlers helped disguise the fact that the remainder of Boston’s staff failed to distinguish itself during the year. Boston’s other pitchers posted a combined record of 42-42. Rudolph and James also won all four games for the Braves in the World Series.
The Giants, who occupied first place for almost five months, left the door open for the Braves with their inability to pull away from the pack. The great Christy Mathewson, who turned 34 during the season, finally began to show signs of aging. Although Mathewson surpassed 20 victories for the 13th and final time in his career (he finished 24-13), he compiled an ERA of 3.00, thereby surrendering three runs per-game to the opposition for the first time in 14 full seasons. The New York hitters, led by George Burns who topped the circuit with 100 runs scored and 62 stolen bases, couldn't pick up the slack.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia's Gavvy Cravath led the league with 19 home runs for the second straight year. Teammate Sherry Magee topped the circuit with 103 runs batted in, 171 hits, a .509 slugging average, and 277 total bases. A young Brooklyn outfielder named Casey Stengel hit .316 and led the league with a .404 on-base percentage.
Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:
• Boston catcher Hank Gowdy led all World Series hitters with a .545 batting average.
• The Braves played their 1914 World Series home games in Fenway Park since it seated more fans than their home park.
• Brooklyn's Jake Daubert posted a .329 batting average to repeat as National League batting champion.
• On June 9, Honus Wagner became the first player in Major League history to collect 3,000 hits.
• Grover Cleveland Alexander led all National League pitchers with 27 wins, 214 strikeouts, 32 complete games, and 355 innings pitched.
• George Davis of the Braves threw a no-hitter against the Phillies on September 9.
• St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Miller Huggins established a National League record by being thrown out 36 times on attempted steals.
• Brooklyn boasted four of the top five leaders in batting average.
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- 1914 World Series, Bill James, Boston Braves, Casey Stengel, Christy Mathewson, Dick Rudolph, Gavvy Cravath, George Burns, George Davis, George Stallings, Hank Gowdy, Honus Wagner, Jake Daubert, Joe Connolly, Joe Tinker, John McGraw, Johnny Evers, Miller Huggins, Mordecai Brown, New York Giants, Pete Alexander, Philadelphia Athletics, Rabbit Maranville, Sherry Magee