20th Century Baseball Tidbits
  • 1900
    Cincinnati trades young pitcher Christy Mathewson to the New York Giants for fading P Amos Rusie.
    Willie Keeler achieves his seventh consecutive 200-hit campaign. His National League-leading 204 hits come in just 136 games.
    Pittsburgh leads the league in triples with 100.
    Charlie "Piano Legs" Hickman of the last-place Giants commits a record 86 errors in his only season playing third base.
  • 1901
    The American League begins play with eight teams. The new league directly competes with the old league in three cities: Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. More than 100 players from the National League jump to the new league for increased salaries, including John McGraw, Cy Young, Clark Griffith, Hugh Duffy, and Jimmy Collins.
    For the first time in the National League, foul balls are counted as strikes (before the count reaches two strikes). So total runs dropped by almost 800. The league batting average falls from .279 to .267. Even stolen bases are affected as at-bats are shortened and strikeout totals skyrocket.
  • 1902
    In April, American League umpire Jack Sheridan watches as Boston's Bill Dinneen hits John McGraw of the Baltimore Orioles five times with pitches. Each time, Sheridan refuses to award McGraw first base on the grounds that McGraw got hit intentionally. Finally, Sheridan ejects McGraw. American League president Ban Johnson, McGraw's mortal enemy, backs Sheridan and suspends McGraw for five days.
    McGraw gets even with Johnson later in the year. Mugsy enlists two NL owners to secretly buy up a controlling interest in the Orioles and then release virtually the entire lineup to the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds. Shortly afterward, McGraw is named the Giants' manager.
    Jack Chesbro of the Pittsburgh Pirates sets a record with 41 consecutive scoreless innings.
    Cleveland establishes a dubious AL record with six errors in an inning on June 2.
  • 1903
    An irate Ban Johnson takes control of the Baltimore franchise and transfers it to New York to compete directly with the Giants. The AL franchise is called the "Highlanders" until 1913 when they become the "Yankees."
    Washington's star player Ed Delahanty falls from a railway trestle to his death.
    Cleveland SS John Gochnauer makes a 20th-century record 98 errors and hits .185.
    When part of Baker Bowl, the Phillies' park, collapses, 12 fans are killed.
    The Pirates pitch a record 57 consecutive scoreless innings on their way to the NL pennant.
    The Boston Americans win the first World's Series in eight games over the Pirates.
  • 1904
    The dead-ball era begins in earnest. Cleveland is the only American League team to average four runs a game.
    Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders wins a record 41 games in 51 starts with 48 complete games. However, his wild pitch allows the winning run to score in a game with Boston on the final day of the season to clinch the American League pennant for the Beantowners.
    In the National League, the New York Giants clinch the crown after only 137 games of the 154-game season.
    However, owner John Brush and manager John McGraw issue a press release that calls the AL a "minor league" and states that the Giants "desire no greater glory than to win the pennant in the National League." So the Giants will not play the American League champions in the second World Series.
    After the season, owners from both leagues meet to draft a set of guidelines that establish a World Series that would never be canceled again.
  • 1905
    The dead ball era at its worst. Only three men bat over .300 in the American League. Elmer Flick wins the title by hitting only .308, the lowest average ever to lead either major league.
    Every team has an ERA under 3.00.
    Southpaw Rube Waddell leads the AL in both wins (27) and ERA (1.48).
    The Giants take over first place in the NL on April 23 and never relinquish it the rest of the season.
    The World Series becomes the best-pitched Series ever. All five games between the Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics are shutouts. The loser, Philadelphia, has an ERA of 1.47. The Giants win behind Christy Mathewson's three shutouts. New York's ERA for the Series is a perfect 0.00.
    Waddell misses the Series because he is injured at the end of the season in a bit of horseplay with a teammate.
  • 1906
    The Cubs win the NL pennant with a record 116 wins. The White Sox cop the AL flag despite a .230 team batting average. The "Hitless Wonders" Sox pull a major upset by winning the World Series.
    George Stone of the St. Louis Browns leads the AL in BA (.358), SA (.501), and total bases (291).
    The Boston Braves finish last, a record 66 1/2 games out of first and again have four 20-game losers.
    The Boston Americans finish last two years after winning the pennant.
    Cardinals' P Jack Taylor's record streak of 118 consecutive complete games ends on August 9.
    Ty Cobb leaves the Tigers to testify for his mother in her trial for shooting and killing his father.
  • 1907
    The Cubs repeat as NL champs and this time win the World Series against the Tigers four games to none with one ending in a tie.
    Ty Cobb wins his first batting crown (.350) and first steals crown (49).
    Cleveland refuses a trade offered by DetroitElmer Flick for Cobb straight up.
    Chick Stahl, Boston AL player/manager, commits suicide during spring training.
    Philadelphia's Harry Davis wins the last of his four consecutive AL home run crowns. His winning number? Eight.
    The Pirates top the NL with a .254 BA, the lowest ever by an NL leader.
    Catching for the New York Highlanders, Branch Rickey allows a record 13 stolen bases to Washington on June 28.
    The Boston AL team is first called the "Red Sox."

Source: 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: A Year-by-Year History of Major League Baseball