For Major League Baseball 2015 was a great year, the biggest story currently being the Chicago Cubs winning their first postseason game since 2003. Even more tantalizing is the possibility of them winning a World Series for the first time since 1908. Well, that story has hit a serious skid, as the Cubs sit in an 0-3 deficit to the New York Mets in the NLCS. As you know, the Boston Red Sox escaped this exact situation against the New York Yankees in 2004, eventually leading to them breaking their “curse”. In my opinion I don’t see this Mets ballclub falling apart quite like the 2004 Yankees did, but I wouldn’t suggest Cubs’ fans giving up yet. But instead of looking into the future like Marty McFly, let’s take a look into the past.
The year was 1908…
Baseball was different back in 1908, things were not as flashy, travel wasn’t easy, and there were not as many rules. Also, pitchers had little-to-no restriction on pitch counts as you would see guys routinely throw over 400 innings in a season. For example, White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh won 40 games in 1908, racking up an insane amount of mileage with a total of 464 innings. Their were no huge power hitters either as Sam Crawford led the league with 7 home runs — that’s how many Daniel Murphy hit this week.
FACT: The electrical scoreboard was created in 1908 by Chicago inventor George Baird, although it wasn’t used by a professional club until the Yankees used it in the 1950 season.
The way stories were put together back in the day were also very different, as such, sentences like this are unusual and comical in today’s world.
Fred Merkle commits his famous boner, costing Giants crucial win in pennant stretch
Fred Merkle was a 19-year-old kid, who made a mistake, a mistake he never got to live down. A game in which the Giants should have won, but young Merkle ran past the bag without touching it, thinking he had won the game, but he was then tagged out before said run was scored. An ensuing protest from both clubs ended in a rematch for the Giants and Cubs. A rematch the Cubs won, which put them in the driver’s seat all the way to the Championship. They beat the Detroit Tigers to secure the title in 1908, the last title in franchise history. Possibly cursed by a young Fred Merkle? A title he may believe belongs to his Giants.
Just to break away from the sadness of Cubs fans I’ll just list a few more things that happened in the season of 1908. Enjoy:
- The song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was introduced.
- Christy Mathewson lead the NL in wins with 37.
- Cy Young throws a no-hitter against New York.
- White Sox almost win division while only hitting 3 home runs and hitting .224 as a club.
When you read some of this, hopefully you can vizualise how different baseball looked and sounded over a 100 years ago. I’ve been reading a lot about the history of baseball lately, as I stumbled on to a 20th century baseball chronicle at a yard sale. I have been unable to put it down since I got it, starting back at the year 1900. See you on page 347 , Pete Rose.