The Highlanders descended further into the depths of the American League in 1908, hitting rock-bottom by finishing last in the junior circuit with a record of 51-103. Virtually nothing went right for New York all year long, as the team scored only 460 runs, while allowing the opposition to cross the plate a total of 713 times. The club’s woeful offense was led by outfielder Charlie Hemphill, who finished first on the team in virtually every statistical category, despite posting extremely modest numbers. Hal Chase, New York’s best player the previous two seasons, performed dreadfully, batting just .257, driving in only 36 runs, and scoring just 50 others. Willie Keeler found himself reduced to a part-time role in the outfield, appearing in only 91 games and batting just .263.
The team’s pitching staff fared no better. Al Orth, a 27-game winner just two years earlier, finished the season 2-13 with a 3.42 ERA. Bill Hogg, who compiled a record of 10-8 the previous year, posted a mark of only 4-16. Rookie Joe Lake won nine games and led the league with 22 losses. Jack Chesbro, the 34-year-old hurler who won a 20th century record 41 games four years earlier, finished the campaign a dismal 14-20. One note of interest, though, regarding the team’s pitchers is that a 20-year-old lefthander named James Leslie Hippo Vaughn made his major league debut with the club, appearing in two games and throwing his first two big-league innings. Vaughn later went on to star for the National League’s Chicago Cubs, posting more than 20 victories for them on five separate occasions.
The team’s poor performance cost manager Clark Griffith his job. Management decided to part ways with the beleaguered skipper after he led the team to a 24-32 record over the season’s first 56 games. Griffith’s replacement, back-up infielder Kid Elberfeld, fared even worse, with the Highlanders posting a mark of 27-71 under him the remainder of the year.By Bob_Cohen
- Al Orth, Bill Hogg, Charlie Hemphill, Clark Griffith, Hal Chase, Hippo Vaughn, Jack Chesbro, Joe Lake, Kid Elberfeld, New York Highlanders, New York Yankees, Willie Keeler