After slipping in 2005, the Americans hit rock bottom in 1906. Even looking back from the 21st century, it was the worst year in franchise history.
Two early losses were at least respectable losses. Jack Chesbro squared off against Cy Young in in the season opener at New York’s Hilltop Park. The game ran through 11 innings tied 1-1, and New York only won it in the 12th, 2-1. Opening Day in Boston was marked by “thousands in wild panic” as a horse ran wild into the crowd departing the 4-3 loss to New York and knocked down around 20 people, none of whom were seriously injured.
New York had broken a 2-2 tie in the ninth, and Boston scored once but couldn’t re-tie the game. The next day’s game, however, ended in a 3-3 tie due to darkness after 11 innings.
Starting on Mayday, things fell irreparably apart – Boston lost 20 games in a row. Even with Cy Young starting seven times in the stretch, there wasn’t a W in sight until May 25, when Jesse Tannehill shut out the White Sox, 3-0.
There were the occasional gems, such as the July 27 game when Bill Dinneen threw a one-hitter and beat the Browns, 1-0. And a month later, on August 29, Cy Young was perfect through 7 2/3 innings, but had to settle for a 6-2 win. It was the first win for acting manager Chick Stahl. Jimmy Collins hadn’t been able to take the stress of attempting to manage such a sorry team. The day before he had been suspended “for absenting himself from the team without leave.” He’d left for a full week in July without even letting people know where he could be reached, and was far from keeping himself in good playing shape. The Washington Post reported that Collins had, for a period of “several weeks…declined to take any part in the management.”
One of the most remarkable games in team history – and one that will never be matched – came on September 1. Boston’s Joe Harris and Philadelphia’s Jack Coombs both pitched 23 innings in a game tied 1-1. In the top of the 24th, Harris weakened and the A’s scored three times. There was supposed to be a second game played but after the 24-inning game, there was just no time left.
Joe Harris finished the 1906 season with a won-loss record of 2-21. It’s equally impossible to think of a pitcher with only two wins being allowed to lose 21 times. To his credit, he actually pitched in a number of close games, but his team rarely came through for him.
This was the highest-paid club in baseball at the time, but they only scored 463 runs, averaging 3.00 runs per game. And the average was distorted by three games in the last week of April, in which they scored 19, 12, and 13 runs. Runs were fewer and farther between after that. The 1906 team was shut out 28 times!
Chick Stahl was the leading home run hitter – with four – and his 51 RBIs led the club, too. It was a pretty sad season all the way around.
The season ended 49-105. And Boston’s NL team didn’t really cash in at the expense of the Americans. They, too, landed in last place.
Cy Young was 13-21, with an ERA that was high for him: 3.19. Only Tannehill’s 13-11 record looked halfway respectable.
In December, Chick Stahl was promoted from interim manager to become the permanent one (though his actions in the spring of 1907 prevented him from ever managing another game). Jimmy Collins had his suspension revoked, but he signed to play third base in 1907 and not to manage.By Bill Nowlin
- Bill Dinneen, Chick Stahl, Cy Young, Hilltop Park, Jack Chesbro, Jack Coombs, Jesse Tannehill, Jimmy Collins, Joe Harris