October 17, 2010

Major League Baseball – 1908, American League, with season highlights, 1908 uniforms and 1908 MLB attendances.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1908 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 3:04 pm

MLB: 1908 American League map

Please note
: a similar map was also posted for the 1908 National League, Major League Baseball: 1908 National League season, with map and NL uniforms; the post-season replay of Chicago Cubs v. New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on October 8, 1908; and an illustrated article on the Dead-ball Era in Major League Baseball (1900-1920).

The map page’s main feature is a railways and population map of the United States, from 1900. To this map I have added the jersey or cap crests of the 8 American League ball clubs. The large crests shown at the top of the map are arranged to reflect the western-to-eastern distribution of the 8 American League ballclubs, while the very small club crests serve to locate the ball clubs’ home cities on the map. On the far right of the map page I have shown the 1908 uniforms of the 8 AL ball clubs, as well as the 2010 home ball caps of the modern version of each of these 8 AL franchises, 5 of which still play in the same city, and 3 of which still have the same names. Those 3 ball clubs are the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers, and the Boston Red Sox. These three were charter members of the American League, which was established in 1901 as the second major league in baseball [the National League, established in 1876, was the first major league in baseball]. The fourth and fifth American league ball clubs from this era that have remained in the same city but later changed their names are the Cleveland and the New York franchises. The Cleveland franchise began as the Cleveland Blues, a charter member of the American League in 1901. The Naps name was the winning result of a newspaper contest for fans to vote on the new name of the Cleveland ball club iin 1905, and was in honor of batting hero and second baseman Napolean Lajoie (who the year later became player/manager of the Naps). The Naps moniker lasted until Napoleon Lajoie retired in 1914, and in 1915, the ball club changed its name to the Cleveland Indians. The New York Highlanders began as the second incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles (II), who were an American League charter member in 1901, but after two seasons the Baltimore ball club moved to the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City, and were called the New York Highlanders for a decade before changing their name to the New York Yankees in 1913. The other 3 American League franchises from 1908 are as follows…The St. Louis Browns (II) started out as the Milwaukee Brewers (I), a charter member of the American League in 1901, but moved to St. Louis after just one year. The St. Louis Browns American League team existed from 1902 to 1953, then moved its franchise east to Baltimore, to become the present-day Baltimore Orioles (III). The Philadelphia Athletics were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played 54 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 1955. The Kansas City Athletics lasted 13 seasons before moving west to the Bay Area in California, in 1968, as the Oakland Athletics. The original Washington Senators were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played in the nation’s capital for 60 years, before moving to the upper Midwest in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961, changing their name to the Minnesota Twins. The confusing thing is that another Washington Senators (II) replaced the Senators-into-Twins franchise, also in 1961…so major league baseball didn’t leave Washington, DC in 1961 (it left in 1971, with the Senators {II) moving to Texas in 1972, becoming the present-day Texas Rangers). [Then in 2005, Washington, DC finally got another chance to have an MLB franchise, when the Montreal Expos of the National League moved to DC and became the present-day Washington Nationals.]

At the bottom, center of the map page are average attendance figures from both the 1908 American League and the 1908 National League. It might surprise some how small these figures are compared to modern-day turnstile numbers, but MLB attendance figures basically did not get into the 20,000 per game numbers until the 1920s, spurred on by the rise of the slugger in major league baseball as personified by baseball’s first superstar, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Another factor was that, in the early 1900s, attending pro sporting events was not as ingrained in the culture as it is today. Also the population of the country in 1908 was a fraction of what it is today. And finally, the fact of the matter was that around two-thirds of the games were being played during regular work-day hours, because there was no such thing as night games back then.

At the upper left of the map page is a synopsis of the 1908 American league season {which is reprinted in a slightly expanded form a few paragraphs below, for easier reading}, and next to that are the final standings for the AL in 1908. Below that are two sets of images and captions. The upper set pertains to the perfect game thrown by Cleveland Naps pitcher Addie Joss. The lower set of images and captions pertains to the 1908 AL pennant-winners, the Detroit Tigers.
1908 in the American League…
The 1908 American League pennant race involved four teams, and will always be known as the closest-ever pennant race in Major League Baseball history. As late as September 1st, 1908, the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Naps, the Chicago White Sox, and the St. Louis Browns were separated by just 2 and a half games. The Browns soon fell back, but the other 3 teams remained deadlocked all the way to the end of the season.

1908 attendance leaders…
The St. Louis Browns saw a 43 percent attendance increase in 1908, to 7,935 per game, a respectable figure for its day. The White Sox had the highest turnstile count, drawing 8,155 per game. The Tigers saw the largest average attendance increase in 1908…a 48 percent increase (from 3,760 per game in 1907, to 5,592 per game in 1908).
Past seasons MLB Attendance figures, by ball club, at site, here.

1908 AL Stats leaders…
{1908 MLB stats leaders (}
The Detroit Tigers had the dominant offense of the day, with a league-high .263 Batting Average (which was 18 points higher than the second-best hitting teams – the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox, who both hit .245 as a team). These low numbers for offense are emblematic of the Dead-ball Era (circa 1900-1920), but were low even by those standards. [The many reasons for low offensive numbers in the first 2 decades of the 20th century in major league baseball will be explored in my next post, the 1908 National League season and the Dead-ball Era.]

The Detroit Tigers outfield circa 1908, called the outfield of the decade by Bill James…
The Detroit Tigers were led by the outfield trio of Matthew “Matty” McIntyre in left field; all-time triples leader Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford in center field (309 triples, lifetime); and all-time Batting Average king Ty “the Georgia Peach” Cobb in right field (.366 BAvg., lifetime). {see photos and captions at the lower left of the map page}.

The 1908 AL pennant race…
The Cleveland Naps opened up a half game lead on September 26, 1908, with a come-from-behind rally over the hapless Washington Senators, which made it 10 wins in 12 games for Cleveland…and after the game at League Park in Cleveland, the team, fans and marching bands celebrated like they had already won the pennant. But on the same day, Detroit commenced a 10-game winning streak. Sunday, Sept. 27 saw the Tigers reach a tie for first place with the idle Cleveland, and the Tigers held a slim half-game lead going into October, with Cleveland half a game back, and Chicago 1.5 games back. On October 2nd, at League Park, Cleveland and Chicago squared off for what became one of the greatest, if not the greatest pitchers’ duels in baseball history. The Cleveland Naps’ ace corkscrew right-hander Addie Joss out-dueled the Chicago White Sox spitball artist Ed Walsh 1-0. Walsh struck out 15 batters in 8 innings, but Joss did even better by not allowing a single Chicago batter to reach first base by either a hit or a base-on-balls…a perfect game. And Addie Joss only needed 74 pitches to do it. {see photos and captions at the left-center on the map page}. But Detroit also won that day, and held their slim lead. {from, by Marc Bona of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, ‘Perfect flashback: On Oct. 2, 1908, ‘Joss’ gem triumphs in Cleveland’s greatest pitching duel’}.

It all came down to the final day of the season, with the Tigers in Chicago, and an arm-depleted White Sox team were forced to pitch Doc White on only 2 days rest (and coming off a complete game). The Pale Hose were demolished 7-0 by the potent Detroit bats, and Tiger righty “Wild Bill” Donovan (18-7. 2.08 ERA that year) recorded his 6th shutout of the season.

The Detroit Tigers thus won the 1908 American league Pennant by a half of a game. Because, by the rules of the day, the Tigers were not required to re-play a rained-out game from earlier in the season, so that 0.5 game lead over the Cleveland Naps stood. What is stunning about this was that a similar thing had occurred in both 1905 and 1907, but this was the last straw, and the rules on rain-outs were changed during the off-season. After 1908, any rained-out games that had a bearing on the final outcome of the season had to be re-played. The rule became known as “the 1908 rule”.
{‘Fantastic Finishes – American League 1908′ []}.
Thanks to, for attendance figures, at > Teams > Attendance, Team Age and Ballparks.

Thanks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” uniform database, with baseball uniforms templates drawn by Marc Okkonen {1908, American League, click here. 1908, National League, click here}.

Thanks to Mitchell & Ness (Boston Red Sox 1908 home jersey). The Detroit Tigers crest I fashioned for the map page also came from a Mitchell & Ness jersey, here.

Thanks to Bill James, and his indispensable ‘The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract’, at, here.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for a few old logos, Logos.
Thanks to the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, here.
Thanks to the Boston Public Library’s McGreevey photographs collection at, here.

Thanks to the University of Texas Library’s online map collection, for the 1900s Railways and Populations map that I used as a base map on the map page, Perry-Castenada Map Collection/ Historical Maps of the United States

Thanks to the brilliant baseball ballpark historian and illustrator Jeff Suntala, who made the watercolor of Detroit’s Bennett Field that used on the map page (his old ballparks posters are very reasonably priced).

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