The 1914 baseball season belonged to the "Miracle Braves," baseball's all-time comeback kids, who rose from last place in July to a pennant in the fall. Starting the season with a 4-18 record and temporarily without injured star shortstop Rabbit Maranville, master motivator and pioneer of platooning George Stallings saw his team come together to form a running, clutch-hitting unit by midsummer.
The Braves won eight straight baseball games in early July, part of a 34-10 stretch that put them in fourth place; nine consecutive wins later, they closed to within 7 games of front-running New York. On August 10 and in second, they headed into a three-game, make-or-break series with the Giants. The Braves swept, roared into the lead in early September, and sprinted to a 94-59 record, 10-1/2 games up on New York.
With just one .300 hitter (outfielder Joe Connolly), Boston finished in fourth place in batting with a mediocre .251 team average; in addition, the Braves had only the National League's fourth-best team ERA at 2.74. Their performance was based on patient hitting and great defense: They posted a league-leading 502 bases on balls. The 1914 Chalmers winner Johnny Evers was the team leader with a .390 on-base average (he also headed up all second basemen in fielding); runner-up Maranville led in double plays while setting a National League record for putouts and the still-unbroken major league record for total chances at shortstop (he also contributed a team-high 78 RBI).
The Giants, who occupied first place for almost five months, left the door open for the Braves with their inability to pull away from the pack. The great Christy Mathewson finally got old, winning more than 20 games for the last time and turning in an ERA of 3.00 for the first time in 14 full seasons. The New York hitters, led by George Burns with a league-high 100 runs and 62 stolen bases, couldn't pick up the slack. Philadelphia's Gavvy Cravath repeated his 19-home run performance of 1913, and a young Brooklyn outfielder named Casey Stengel hit .316 and led the National League in on-base average at .404.
In 1914, a group of wealthy industrialists -- including bakery magnate Robert Ward and, later, oilman Harry Sinclair -- mistakenly chose a slump period in attendance to launch a third major league. The well-heeled Federal League lured such big names as Three Finger Brown, Jack Quinn, and the ever-mercenary Hal Chase, and caused an increase in salaries in the other leagues.
Benny Kauff was the Ty Cobb of the new league, as he spearheaded all hitters in runs with 120, doubles with 44, and batting at .370 for pennant-winning Indianapolis. A legacy of the league is Wrigley Field, originally named for restauranteur Charles Weeghman, who built it for his Chicago Whales.
In the American League, Cobb won the batting title at .368 and Connie Mack's dynasty won its fourth pennant in five years, going 99-53, 8-1/2 games ahead of Boston. The Red Sox had the league's best ERA at 2.35, despite the loss of Smokey Joe Wood, who was limited to 18 games by an arm injury that would end his pitching career by 1916. Back in the majors as a regular outfielder by 1918, Wood retired after the 1922 season with a lifetime .283 batting average. Boston's Ernie Shore had a 10-4 record with an ERA of 1.99 and Dutch Leonard went 19-5 with the lowest-ever season ERA, 0.96. Making his major league debut, 19-year-old lefty Babe Ruth went 2-1 in four appearances.
The underdog Braves swept the 1914 World Series in four games from Philadelphia. Mack, fed up in part with what Federal League competition had done to his payroll, auctioned off his stars, one by one, to the highest bidder. As a result, the Athletics finished last every season for the next seven years.
Check out the events that made headlines during the 1914 baseball season on the next page.
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1914 Baseball Season Headlines
The miraculous performance of the 1914 Boston Braves captured many a headline, but the sale of the Yankees also managed to make news. See a selection of 1914 baseball season headlines here:
Bill James, Dick Rudolph Win 53 Games
The Braves' two mound aces of the 1914 baseball season were 26-game winner Bill James and 27-game winner Dick Rudolph. Both hurlers won a pair of World Series games in 1914. The rest of manager George Stallings's hurlers went 41-42 on the year and only one, Lefty Tyler, was a significant factor.
Sherry Magee Posts Banner Year
A victim of bad timing, Sherry Magee starred for the Phils in 1914, the year the Braves won the pennant. He racked up 171 hits, 103 RBI, a .509 slugging average, and 277 total bases that year, all tops in the National League. Traded to the Braves in 1915, he helplessly watched the Phils cop their first flag. Finally in 1919, his last season, Magee got some of it back, managing to hook on with the World Champion Cincinnati Reds as they took their first league championship.
Benny Kauff Displays Skill in FL
Benny Kauff was just one of several good ballplayers buried in the minor leagues who might have stayed there if the Federal League had not given them a chance to showcase their talents. In 1913, Kauff still was only in Class-B at age 23, playing for Hartford in the Eastern Association. He led the circuit with a .345 batting average. In 1914, Kauff led the Federal League with a .370 average and 75 steals.
Jake Ruppert Buys Yanks
Jake Ruppert was one of the two well-heeled young sportsmen (Captain Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston the other) who were encouraged by John McGraw to buy the New York Yankees from original owners Frank Farrell and Big Bill Devery in 1914. The $460,000 sum paid was astonishingly meager, even for its time.
Joe Tinker's Forte Is Managing
Although nearing the end of his career as a player, Joe Tinker did such a good job as the skipper of the Federal League's Chicago Whales in 1914 (1-1/2 games out of first) and 1915 (first place) that he got a crack at the Cubs' managerial post in 1916. After one year, however, his contract was not renewed. The 1914 Whales featured Claude Hendrix, the loop's best pitcher (a league-leading 29 wins, 49 games, 34 complete games, and a 1.69 ERA), and Dutch Zwilling, its top slugger (a .313 batting average, a .480 slugging average, a league-high 15 home runs, and 95 RBI).
Continue to the next page for more highlights from the 1914 baseball season.
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1914 Baseball Season Highlights
The 1914 baseball season may be best remembered for the "Miracle Braves" comeback triumph, as they won the National League pennant after rising from last place. It's also notable as the debut in the majors of a left-handed kid named Babe Ruth. Below, you'll find highlights of the 1914 baseball season:
- The Federal League debuts as a third major league.
- Joe Tinker is one of many former American League and National League stars who jump to the Federal League because it offers more money.
- Baltimore beats Buffalo on April 13 in the first Federal League game.
- Indianapolis wins the Federal League by 1-1/2 games over the Chicago Whales, who are managed by Tinker.
- Indy's Benny Kauff tops the Federal League in BA (.370) and steals (75), and becomes known as the Ty Cobb of the Federal League.
- The A's win their fourth American League flag in five years.
- The Braves, in last place on July 4, win their first National League flag of the century.
- The Braves sweep the heavily favored A's in the 1914 World Series.
- Catcher Hank Gowdy of Boston hits .545 to lead all World Series hitters.
- Boston co-aces Dick Rudolph and Bill James each win two 1914 World Series games.
- The Braves play their 1914 World Series home games in Fenway Park because it seats more than their home park.
- Johnny Evers, traded to the Braves by the Cubs for Bill Sweeney, wins the 1914 National League Chalmers Award.
- Eddie Collins is an easy Chalmers winner in the American League.
- Brooklyn's Jake Daubert is a repeat National League batting champ (.329).
See still more highlights from the 1914 baseball season on the next page.
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More 1914 Baseball Season Highlights
Many of baseball's existing heroes performed mightily during the 1914 season, but little did they know that a new hero (in the person of Babe Ruth) was in the making. See more 1914 baseball season highlights below:
- Ty Cobb wins the American League bat title at .368.
- Sam Crawford ties the American League record for most triples in a season (26).
- Jake Ruppert and Til Huston buy the New York American League team.
- On June 9, Honus Wagner becomes the first player in Major League history to collect 3,000 hits.
- Pete Alexander leads the National League in CGs (32), innings (355), strikeouts (214), and wins (27).
- Nap Lajoie collects his 3,000th hit.
- Red Sox Babe Ruth makes his major league debut on July 1, pitches seven innings to beat Cleveland.
- Jim Scott of Chicago no-hits Washington on May 14, loses 1-0 in ten innings.
- Joe Benz of Chicago no-hits Cleveland on May 31.
- George Davis of the Braves no-hits the Phils on Sept. 9.
- The New York American League team becomes known universally as the "Yankees."
- Roger Peckinpaugh, age 23, is named Yankees manager, the youngest skipper ever.
- Cardinal Miller Huggins is caught stealing 36 times, an National League record.
- New York's Fritz Maisel leads the American League with 74 steals, setting an Major League record for third basemen.
- A rule is put in giving a runner three bases if a fielder stops a ball with a thrown glove or cap.
- Red Sox Dutch Leonard posts a 20th-century record-low 0.96 ERA.
- Sherry Magee leads the National League in hits (171), RBI (103), SA (.509), and total bases (277).
- Eddie Collins, never a power hitter, tops the American League in runs produced (205) by a substantial margin.
- Weeghman Park, now known as Wrigley Field, opens on April 23 as home of the Federal League Chicago Whales.
- Rube Waddelldies at age 37.
- In addition to his bat crown, Cobb leads the American League in slugging average (.513).
- Tris Speaker tops the junior circuit in hits (193), total bases (287), and doubles (46).
- Brooklyn boasts four of the top five leaders in batting average.
- Cleveland, which lost ace pitcher Cy Falkenberg to the Federal League, falls to the basement in the American League.
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