The 1905 baseball season was one of the deadest of the dead-ball years, especially in the American League, where only three men -- Harry Bay, Wee Willie Keeler, and Elmer Flick -- batted over .300.
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Flick won the American League batting title by hitting only .308, the lowest average to lead either league until Carl Yastrzemski's .301 in 1968. The entire American League batted only .241. The league's top run-scoring team, Philadelphia, scored only 623 runs and batted .255.
On the pitching side, every team had ERAs under 3.00. Rube Waddell won the ERA title at 1.48, beating out Doc White at 1.77, Cy Young at 1.82, Andy Coakley at 1.84, and Nick Altrock at 1.88. Of the all-time Top 20 pitchers in lifetime ERA, 15 pitched in 1905.
Three of the Top 20 -- Waddell, Chief Bender, and Eddie Plank -- pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics, who fought a long pitcher's duel of a pennant race with Chicago to win the American League flag by a slim 2 games. Waddell, the league's win leader with 27, pitched 44 straight scoreless innings down the stretch in September.
The White Sox pitching was actually a shade better, compiling a staff ERA of 1.99, thanks to Altrock; Frank Owen, who went 21-13 with a 2.10 ERA; Frank Smith, who won 19 and had an ERA of 2.13; and Doc White. Chicago's fifth starter was spitballing sophomore Ed Walsh, who was to retire in 1917 with the lowest career ERA in history: 1.82.
The Athletics' edge over Chicago was a versatile offense of Harry Davis, who led the American League in runs scored with 92, RBIs with 83, and doubles with 47; Lave Cross, who knocked in 77 runs; and run-scoring machine Topsy Hartsel, who drew an American League-high 121 bases on balls.
Outfielder Danny Hoffman played only 119 games before hurting his hand and missing the rest of the season, but still led all American League hitters with 46 stolen bases.
Elmer Flick led the American League in triples with 18 and slugging average at .462, but Cleveland faded to fifth after Nap Lajoie's season was ruined by blood poisoning.
In Detroit, several young stars pulled the Tigers out of the second division and into third place. George Mullin and Ed Killian each won more than 20 games, and 25-year-old Sam Crawford was fourth in hitting at .297 and second in doubles with 38.
Eighteen-year-old Ty Cobb was called up in late August, played 41 games, and batted .240 -- the first and last time he would hit below .300 in his 24-year career.
The National League race was over on April 23, when John McGraw's defending champions took over first place for good; the Giants won 105 games to finish 9 games ahead of Pittsburgh and 13 ahead of Chicago.
Led by Ed Reulbach, the Cubs boasted the National League's best pitching -- with four of the top five on the ERA list. But New York's combination of Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, and Red Ames on the mound and .356-hitting Mike Donlin at the plate proved unbeatable.
Fifth-place Cincinnati's Cy Seymour won the batting title at .377; he also led in RBIs with 121, hits with 219, doubles with 40, and triples with 21. Vic Willis lost a 20th-century-high 29 games on a 3.21 ERA for seventh-place Boston.
Not surprisingly, the 1905 World Series was the best-pitched Series ever. All five games were shutouts and the loser, Philadelphia, had an ERA of 1.47. It was also one of the most one-sided Series Behind Christy Mathewson's three shutouts and 15 base-runners allowed in 27 innings, New York took the Series by a composite score of 15-3. The Giants' ERA for the Series was a perfect 0.00.
Find even more highlights from the 1905 baseball season on the next page.
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