After starring for the Braves since 1898, 30-year old Vic Willis had suffered through two sub par seasons going a combined 30-54 in 1904 and 1905, leading the league in losses both seasons.  It appeared that Willis’ career by all accounts was soon to be over.  The Pirates would take a gamble sending starters Dave Brain, third base, and Del Howard, first base, along with Vive Lindaman to the Braves for the apparent aging veteran.  The surprise would certainly be on Boston, as Willis would regain his old form finishing 22-13 with a 1.73 ERA, fourth in the league.

His presence would lead to a resurgence of this once powerful pitching staff that lowered it’s ERA from 2.86 in 1905 to 2.21, second only to the eventual National League Champion Chicago Cubs who were on their way to a record breaking 116-36 record.  Pirate great Lefty Leifeld, who was in his first full major league season and would toss a shortened 6-inning no-hitter against the Phils on September 26th, also had a solid 18-13-1.87 campaign.

Honus Wagner came through again offensively with another batting crown at .339, while rookie Jim Nealon, who replaced Howard at first, led the circuit in RBI’s with 83.

All in all it was a solid season, but the Bucs were just no match for the powerhouse that were the Cubs.  The Bucs would even, unfortunately, suffer the indignity of being Chicago’s 116th victim on October 4th, losing 4-0.  As good as the Cubs were, I’m sure they would have traded a couple of those wins to defeat the cross town White Sox, as Chicago’s record setting year went for naught in one of the greatest World Series upset of all time.

By Pirates Encyclopedia

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