New York’s American League entry instituted a number of significant changes prior to the start of the 1913 campaign. A 50-102 last-place finish in 1912 prompted team owner Bill Devery to part ways with beleaguered manager Harry Wolverton at season’s end, replacing him with former Chicago Cubs player/manager Frank Chance. The future Hall of Fame first baseman had previously led the Cubs to four National League pennants and two world championships in his dual role, having his name immortalized by a poem that heralded the abilities of the team’s double play combination of Tinkers-to Evers-to Chance.
Devery kept busy by also signing a deal that made New York’s Polo Grounds the team’s home ballpark for the foreseeable future. With the club no longer playing its home games at Hilltop Park, the franchise changed its name from the Highlanders to the Yankees.
In spite of the extensive changes made by ownership during the off-season, New York fared only slightly better than it did the previous season, finishing seventh in the American League, with a record of 57-94. The Yankees featured an anemic lineup that placed sixth in the league with 529 runs scored. Meanwhile, the team’s pitchers allowed the opposition to score a total of 668 times. Philosophical differences with the club’s new manager prompted Hal Chase to be dealt to the Chicago White Sox in early June. Outfielder Birdie Cree took over as the team’s best player, even though he batted just .272, knocked in only 63 runs, and scored just 51 others. Rookie third baseman Fritz Maisel provided somewhat of a spark on offense, though, stealing 25 bases in only 51 games.
The performance of the pitching staff was mediocre, at best. Ray Fisher and Russ Ford tied for the team lead with 12 victories apiece. However, Fisher lost 16 games, while Ford came out on the losing end 18 times. Ray Caldwell pitched fairly well in his role as a spot-starter/long reliever, posting a record of 9-8 and a 2.41 ERA.
All in all, the season turned out to be a huge failure, both on the field and at the turnstiles. With the Polo Grounds’ other tenants – the New York Giants – capturing the National League pennant, the Yankees found it difficult to attract fans to their new home. Although their home attendance of 357,551 represented roughly a 40 percent increase from the previous year’s total, it turned out to be a major disappointment to team ownership.By Bob_Cohen
- Bill Devery, Birdie Cree, Frank Chance, Fritz Maisel, Hal Chase, Harry Wolverton, Hilltop Park, New York Giants, New York Highlanders, New York Yankees, Polo Grounds, Ray Caldwell, Ray Fisher, Russ Ford