Billy Murray Takes a Crack At It
After 18 years as a successful minor league manager (1,234 – 876, .585), Billy Murray, still only 43 years-old, got a chance to try his skills at the major league level. His Phillies won 12 more games than Hugh Duffy’s 1906 team and eased ahead of McGraw’s Giants for a 3rd place finish, a mere 21 ½ games behind the high-flying Cubs who slipped to only 107 wins. Unaccountably, the Pirates played eight more games than the Phillies and won all eight to finish 4 ½ games ahead of them in 2nd place, 17 games behind the Cubs. The fun began on opening day, April, 11, in New York, with new Philly, Frank, “Fiddler”, Corridon (18-14, 2.46 ERA) facing the Giants’ aging (36) Joe, “Iron Man”, McGinnity (18-18, 3.6 ERA) . Corridon was in command with a 3-0 lead into the 8th when cold and restless New York fans decided to express their disappointment by first, throwing snowballs from the piles of snow still lying around from the previous days’ blizzard, and then taking to the field to run off what energy they had left. In the absence of police to clear the field, Umpire Bill Klem awarded the game to the Phillies by forfeit.
The Phillies recorded winning records each month, 45-30 at home, 38-34 away. The team was clearly better under Murray, improving from 3-19 against the Cubs in 1906 to 8-14, and from 8-14 in 1906 against the Giants to 10-11 this year. Phillies’ pitchers once again recorded 21 shutouts, and the team suffered 17 shutouts, six by 1-0 scores, five by 2-0. The Cubs’ Orval Overall (23-7, 1.68 ERA) was the primary villain, blanking the Phillies four times, twice by 1-0 scores. In August, the Phillies were blanked six times, four times by the Cubs, including a doubleheader in Chicago on August 11 when they lost both games by 1-0 scores.l
The Cubs’ defense, backing the good pitching, was stellar, with Tinker, Evers, and Chance anchoring the infield, and Johnny Kling behind the plate providing a steady backstop. In the three Cubs’ championship years, 1906, 1907, and 1908, the team made 611 errors and turned 749 double plays, compared to the Phillies’ 765 errors and 686 double plays. In those same years, Cubs’ catcher Johnny Kling made 37 errors and had 13 passed balls, compared to the Phillies Red Dooin who made 82 errors and had 39 passed balls.
The Cubs had been winning so much over the past two years that they had developed a confidence only perennial winners can know. But they had something to prove in the World’s Series, after a humiliating loss to the South side White Sox last year. And prove it they did, against the AL Champion Detroit Tigers who had squeaked by that other Philadelphia team to gain the Series. Cubs’ pitchers, as they had done all year, carried them to a 4-0, 1 tie, win. Three-finger Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, and Ed Reulbach, each started and completed a winning game. Detroit’s 20-year-old phenomenon, Ty Cobb, coming off a breakout year in which he won the first of nine consecutive batting championships, was held to four hits in 20 at bats by the batter beware Cubs pitching staff.