Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1916 Baseball Season


Christy Mathewson played for the Giants for 16 years before becoming the Reds' manager.
Christy Mathewson played for the Giants for 16 years before becoming the Reds' manager.

During the 1916 baseball season, Brooklyn won its first pennant since the days of Ned Hanlon in 1900. Fan favorite Zach Wheat batted .312 with 32 doubles and 13 triples and led the National League in slugging average at .461. Wheat, Jake Daubert (whose .316 batting mark was second in the league to Hal Chase's .339), and outfielder Hy Myers (who slugged 14 triples), combined to give Brooklyn the league's second-best offense; only the Giants scored more runs, 597 to 585. Carried by Pete Alexander's 33 wins and a league-low 1.55 ERA, second-place Philadelphia finished 2-1/2 games off the pace; Boston came in 4 games back.

The National League's strangest team was undoubtedly John McGraw's chameleon-

like Giants. They opened the season with eight straight home losses, followed with a 17-game winning streak on the road, then slumped.

Trying to rebuild in midseason, McGraw put young outfielder Dave Robertson into the lineup, released catcher Chief Meyers, traded Fred Merkle to Brooklyn, and swapped Larry Doyle to Chicago for legendary hothead Heinie Zimmerman. McGraw sent the great Christy Mathewson to Cincinnati to take over for player/manager Buck Herzog, and in return acquired Herzog and Red Killefer. Federal League star Benny Kauff became an everyday outfielder.

The result of all this shuffling was that the Giants went on an all-time record 26-game winning streak -- this time, all at home -- but played badly enough before and after the streak that they came in fourth, with an 86-66 record.

Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby played his first full season with St. Louis, batting .313. In Chicago, dead-ball great Three Finger Brown recorded his 239th career win against only 130 losses; his lifetime ERA over 14 seasons was 2.06, the third-lowest in history. Boston overcame the sale of Tris Speaker to Cleveland after a salary dispute to repeat, finishing 2 games ahead of Chicago with a 91-63 record in the American League.

This year was almost the same story as 1915 for the Red Sox: Their sixth-best offense was carried by an awesome pitching staff that included emerging ace Babe Ruth, who won 23 games and the ERA title at 1.75; Dutch Leonard, Rube Foster, and underhand power pitcher Carl Mays were also part of a Sox staff that led the American League in shutouts with 24. Boston was bested in team ERA only by a Chicago staff of Eddie Cicotte (ERA runner-up at 1.78), Red Faber (who had an ERA of 2.02), Reb Russell, and young Lefty Williams.

Ty Cobb's Tigers finished third, 4 games out, as Cobb led the American League in stolen bases with 68 and runs with 113; for the first time in the past ten years, however, Cobb lost the batting title. He was beaten out by Speaker, who outhit him .386 to .371 and led the league in hits with 211, doubles with 41, on-base average at .470, and slugging average at .502. Joe Jackson, traded before the season from Cleveland to the White Sox, was third in the loop in hitting at .341 and first in triples at 21.

The 1916 World Series was a reprise of 1915, as Boston's 1.47 ERA pitching proved too strong for the National League lineup (Brooklyn logged a .200 batting average; Boston posted a .238 average against Brooklyn's 3.04 ERA). In Ernie Shore's 6-5 game one victory over Rube Marquard, Mays executed the last out in relief in the ninth to halt Brooklyn, which had racked up five runs and had one more on base. Boston finally pulled out a 2-1 win in game two-after Ruth and Sherry Smith went at it for 14 innings -- on a Del Gainor pinch single that brought in Mike McNally. Jeff Pfeffer stepped in for Jack Coombs in the seventh inning of game three -- and retired eight men -- for Brooklyn's sole triumph, a 4-3 game. Boston claimed the remaining games, winning by scores of 6-2 and 4-1.

Check out some of the headlines of the 1916 baseball season on the next page.

To learn more about baseball, see: