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-

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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.

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1916 Baseball Season Headlines

Cleveland made a good acquisition with Tris Speaker in 1916, while Pete Alexander posted a record 16 shutouts. Check out all the major headlines from the 1916 baseball season below.

Edd Roush Makes Good in National League

Although many players who first came to maturity in the Federal League later left their marks in either the National or American League, Edd Roush was the Feds' top graduate by a wide margin. He became the property of the Giants after the Federal League folded (hitting .188 in 69 at-bats), only to be dealt to the Reds before the end of the 1916 season, a year in which he hit .287 in 272 at-bats. It was the trade John McGraw lived to regret more than any other, and he strove for the next 11 years to reacquire Roush before he finally succeeded.

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Wally Schang Homers from Both Sides

Wally Schang just might have been the best catcher not in the Hall of Fame. Schang played on six pennant-winners, hit .287 in World Series action and .284 career-wise, and on August 8, 1916, was the first switch-hitter to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. The only thing his career seemed to lack was the recognition clearly due to him. Schang caught for 19 major league seasons.

Dutch Leonard Wins 1916 World Series Finale

An exceptional pitcher early in his career, Dutch Leonard turned into only an average hurler when the lively ball era began. Leonard posted a 0.96 ERA in 1914 (some sources say 1.01) -- still a modern season record -- and had several other seasons in which he was nearly as effective. In 1915, he went 15-7 and won a World Series game. In 1916, he notched 18 victories and bested the Dodgers 6-2 in game four of the 1916 World Series.

Tris Speaker Deal Pays Off

Cleveland's acquisition of Tris Speaker in 1916 was the most sensational trade in history up to that point. It served to make the otherwise lackluster Indians instantly respectable. After the 1915 season, when the Red Sox let him go, Speaker played like a man whose cage had been opened. He came out roaring in 1916, posting a .386 average to beat Ty Cobb by .015 in the race for the batting title. Speaker also led the American League in hits (211), doubles (41), and slugging (.502).

Pete Alexander Posts 16 Shutouts

Pete Alexander blanked every National League opponent he faced at least once in 1916 -- a major league record 16 shutouts. Amazingly, the majority of his shutouts were pitched in his home park, the Baker Bowl -- an Eden for the circuit's hitters even during the dead-ball era.

Zach Wheat Whacks National League Pitching

Like the collars the Tigers sported until 1915, the sartorial flair exemplified by the Brooklyn club's checked home uniform of the 1910s was soon to become extinct in the majors. Zach Wheat, however, would remain with the Dodgers until 1926, setting many team career and season records along the way. In 1916, he posted a .312 batting average (fifth in the league), a circuit-best .461 slugging average, 177 hits (third in the loop), and nine home runs (tied for third). Zach's brother, Mack Wheat, batted just .207 in seven major league seasons.

Find highlights of some of the major events of the 1916 season in the next section.

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1916 Baseball Season Highlights

The 1916 baseball season featured new records by Babe Ruth, Pete Alexander, and Tris Speaker, as well as some surprising trades. For the first time, fans were allowed to keep balls that were hit into the stands, and the Indians started the practice of wearing numbers on their uniforms. Read more highlights of the 1916 baseball season below.

  • Brooklyn becomes the third National League team in succession to cop its first flag since 1901.
  • The Red Sox repeat as American League champs.
  • The Red Sox win the 1916 World Series in five games.
  • Game two is the 1916 World Series highlight, with the Sox winning 2-1 in a World Series record 14 innings.
  • In game two, Boston's Babe Ruth gives up a first-inning run and then hurls 13 scoreless innings.
  • Boston's Larry Gardner has just three hits in the 1916 World Series, but leads all hitters with two homers and six RBIs.
  • Tris Speaker beats out Ty Cobb in BA, .386-.371.
  • Cincinnati's Hal Chase is the surprise, bat crown winner in the National League (.339) and also leads in hits (184).
  • Pete Alexander hurls an incredible 16 shutouts, an all-time major league record.
  • Pete Alexander wins 33 games and tops the National League in CGs (38) and strikeouts (167).
  • Walter Johnson again leads the American League in wins (25), CGs (36), and Ks (228).
  • Babe Ruth wins 23 games and cops the American League ERA title with a 1.75 figure.
  • Tris Speaker is traded to Cleveland for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and $55,000.
  • The Cardinals pirate manager Branch Rickey from the crosstown Browns is hired to run their front office.
  • Joe Jackson tops the majors in triples (21) and total bases (293).
  • Ex-big leaguer John Dodge, now in the Southern Association, is killed by a pitch thrown by Shotgun Rogers.

Find even more highlights of the 1916 baseball season in our final section.

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More 1916 Baseball Season Highlights

Left-hander Edd Roush                                      split his baseball career                                                        among five teams.
Left-hander Edd Roush split his baseball career among five teams.

The summer of 1916 had a series of no-hitters from various teams. Read about this and other 1916 season highlights.

  • Christy Mathewson replaces Buck Herzog as the Reds manager.
  • On August 8, switch-hitter Wally Schang homers from both sides of the plate in the same game.
  • Babe Ruth has nine shutouts, an American League southpaw record.
  • Tom Hughes of the Braves no-hits Pittsburgh on June 16.
  • Rube Foster of the Red Sox no-hits New York on June 21.
  • Joe Bush of the A's no-hits Cleveland on August 26.
  • Dutch Leonard of the Red Sox no-hits the Browns on August 30.
  • Sam Crawford collects his career record 312th and last triple.
  • For one game only, the Indians wear numbers on their sleeves -- the first team this century to do so.
  • Cubs owner Charlie Weeghman adopts the policy of allowing fans to keep balls hit into the stands.
  • On August 13, Ruth beats Johnson 1-0 in 13 innings.
  • Pittsburgh's Bill Hinchman, back in the majors after six years in the minors, leads the National League in triples (16).
  • Tris Speaker tops the American League in SA (.502) and OBP (.470), and ties for top in doubles (41).
  • The Giants win 26 consecutive games but finish only fourth.
  • Washington finishes seventh with a .497 winning pct., by far the highest ever for a seventh-place team.
  • In a specially arranged matchup, Cincy's Mathewson beats Chicago's Three Finger Brown 10-8.
  • The A's lose 117 games, the modern Major League record for a 154-game season.
  • Del Pratt of St. Louis leads the American League in games played (158) for the fourth consecutive season.
  • Charlie Pick of the A's becomes the last Major League regular until 1978 to field below .900.
  • Brooklyn's Zach Wheat leads the National League in SA (.461) and total bases (262).

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