The American League had just completed its 13th year when another new league sprang up, hoping to find its own way to success. The Federal League fielded 1914 teams in eight cities, and the competition to sign ballplayers drove us salaries throughout baseball, but the Red Sox still ruled the roost – selling more tickets than any other team and again the best-paid team in baseball. The Feds had gone after young Everett Scott, Ray Collins, and Tris Speaker – who earned more than any player in baseball history, his salary boosted to fend off Federal League offers.
It was a good thing that the Sox had held onto Scott; he filled in ably for shortstop Heinie Wagner, who was unable to return all year thanks to a bad arm. Scott himself told The Sporting News he weighed in at 125 pounds. Once he got going, he held onto his position and he built the consecutive games streak that Lou Gehrig later surpassed.
Speaker led the team on offense, taking all three Triple Crown categories with his 90 RBIs, .338 average, and the four home runs that ranked him #1. He led the whole league in both hits and doubles. And during the season he pulled off two more of his patented unassisted double plays – playing so shallow he was able to catch a fly ball in center field and run to second base in order to catch the baserunner before he could return to the bag.
On May 14, President Lannin became the sole owner of the Red Sox, buying out all the Taylor stock. On July 9, Lannin bought Ernie Shore and George Ruth from Baltimore and two days later, Babe Ruth made his debut for the Red Sox, throwing seven innings in a 4-3 win over the Indians. He struck out his first time up. Ruth only appeared in four games, the left-hander finishing 2-1.
The real story was Dutch Leonard, who was 22 years old and 19-5 with an earned run average of 0.06, which still stands today as the best in major-league history. Rube Foster was 14-8, second in the league with a 1.70 ERA and a stretch of 42 consecutive scoreless innings at one point. Shore was 10-5 with an even 2.00, and Ray Collins won the most games (20-13, 2.51). Smoky Joe Wood was still ailing from his injury the year before, but was still 10-3.
Bill Carrigan caught more than half of the games thrown by this remarkable pitching staff, a player-manager who helped the Red Sox win 91 games (their 91-62 record was good, but Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics finished 8 ½ games above them in the standings.
Fenway Park was busier than usual, in part because the Boston Braves had turned their season around so dramatically. They’d started 3-16 and even on July 31 were still just below .500, but they won game after game (50-14 over the final two months), drawing such huge crowds that they couldn’t fit into their own South End Grounds – so President Lannin loaned them the free use of Fenway Park. The Labor Day split-admission doubleheader drew 73,000 fans. There was World Series action at Fenway Park in the fall, two games as the Braves played their home games there and swept the Athletics. Both the Braves and the Red Sox led their respective leagues in attendance.By Bill Nowlin
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- Babe Ruth, Bill Carrigan, Boston Braves, Dutch Leonard, Ernie Shore, Everett Scott, Fenway Park, Heinie Wagner, Joe Wood, Joseph Lannin, Ray Collins, Tris Speaker, World Series