Once again, the greatest stars were pitchers, and a new generation came along to replace Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, and Three Finger Brown. Like those of their predecessors, the names of Walter Johnson and Pete (Grover Cleveland) Alexander still dot the pitching record books.
The 1910 baseball season also saw the beginning of two new trends that would ultimately contribute to the rise of modern, home run baseball in the '20s: the widespread building of enclosed, steel-and-concrete ballparks and the invention of the livelier cork-centered baseball.
Charles Comiskey opened
Comiskey Park in Chicago
The cork-centered ball was invented by Philadelphia's Ben Shibe and, after a successful experiment with its use in the 1910 World Series, was adopted by both leagues for the following season.
Already being referred to as "the dean of managers" -- he had only 41 more years to go as manager of the A's -- Connie Mack brought his team in at 102-48, 14-1/2 games ahead of second-place New York.
Complementing Philadelphia's veteran pitching staff of 31-game winner Jack Coombs (who posted a 1.30 ERA and 13 shutouts), 23-5 Chief Bender, Cy Morgan, and Eddie Plank was a still-maturing lineup that included Eddie Collins, Jack Barry, and Frank Baker -- all under 25 years of age. One of the greatest second basemen in history, Collins led the league in stolen bases with 81 and his team in RBI with 81; he hit .322.
The A's ran away with the American League flag after beating back a midsummer challenge from Ty Cobb's Tigers, whose league-leading offense carried a poor pitching staff to an 86-68 record.
Cobb himself led the league in runs with 106, on-base average at .456, and slugging at .551. His only rival as a hitter was Cleveland's Nap Lajoie, who led Cobb 51-35 in doubles, 304-279 in total bases, and .384 to .383 to take the batting title.
The Cobb/Lajoie rivalry heated up when the Chalmers Motor Co. offered a car to the winner of the 1910 American League batting title, a promotion that inspired the modern MVP Award. Anybody who complains that the criteria for today's MVP Award are vague should look up the 1910 batting race.
The race ended in scandal when the St. Louis Browns allegedly lay back and let Lajoie beat out seven bunts on the last day of the season in order to rob Cobb of the batting title and his Chalmers "30" roadster.
The Browns manager was fired and the Chalmers Award was allowed to continue in an altered form: one car was to be given to the "most important and useful" player in each league, as determined by a committee of sports writers. A player could only win one Chalmers Award in his career.
Frank Chance's Chicago club went 104-50 to win its fourth National League pennant in five years. Outfielder Solly Hofman led the club in hitting at .325 and RBI with 86, and Wildfire Schulte tied for the league lead in home runs with ten. Rookie pitcher King Cole went 20-4 with a league-low 1.80 ERA, and Three Finger Brown went 25-14 with the National League's second-best ERA at 1.86.
However, Chicago's pitching evaporated during the World Series, as the A's batted .316 and Bender and Coombs shut down the Cubs' bats to bring Philadelphia an easy 4-1 Series victory.
Continue to the next page to see some of the headlines from the 1910 baseball season.
To learn more about baseball, see:
- 1909 Baseball Season
- 1911 Baseball Season
- Baseball History
- How Baseball Works
- How the Baseball Hall of Fame Works
- How Minor League Baseball Teams Work
- Babe Ruth