The introduction of a livelier, cork-centered baseball definitely put some bounce in the 1911 baseball season. Here's a look at what made headlines during the year:
Joe Jackson Has .408 BA
According to the rule for what constituted a rookie, Joe Jackson was not a yearling when he hit .408 in 1911, his first full season; by today's rule, however, he was. In any case, he still holds the record for the highest single-season batting average for the Nats, and he has both Cleveland and White Sox records for the highest career average.
Terry Turner Tops at 3B, SS
Prone to injuries and somewhat lacking in range, Terry Turner was not regarded as being in the same class as Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie, Lee Tannehill, Bill Dahlen, and the other great fielding shortstops and second basemen of his day. But he was, without a doubt, one of the most versatile glove men and, arguably, the steadiest. For 17 years, he gave solid and sometimes brilliant service at whatever station he was put. In 1911, he held the season's fielding average records at both third base and shortstop.
Ty Cobb Wins 1911 Chalmers
Several of Ty Cobb's playing colleagues shared in his proud moment as he received the brand-new Chalmers automobile awarded him for being the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1911. Cobb led the majors that year in runs (147), hits (248), doubles (47), total bases (367), RBI (127), and batting and slugging averages (.420 and .621). Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, the players were all members of the Philadelphia A's.
Bob Bescher Sets 1911 Steals Mark
Not many men who were 6'1" and weighed 200 pounds were used as leadoff batters in 1911; fewer still were deft at collecting walks; and only one could also steal bases by the bundle. Bob Bescher set a National League record in 1911 with his 81 thefts, a mark that stood until 1962. The following year, he established a modern Reds club record for runs (120) that lasted until 1956.
Walter Johnson Does It All
The first pitcher to win 20 games with a Washington American League team the previous year, Walter Johnson revealed additional evidence in 1911 that he would soon mature into a most extraordinary performer. That year, not only did he again win 25 games for the lowly Nats, his hitting improved to .234, whereupon he began to function as a pinch hitter.
To discover other highlights from the 1911 baseball season, see the next page.