Catalogue

COVID-19: Updates on library services and operations.

More than Merkle : a history of the best and most exciting baseball season in human history /
David W. Anderson.
imprint
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2000.
description
xxvii, 271 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0803210566 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, c2000.
isbn
0803210566 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
3623469
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-253) and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter


Chapter One

Baseball Turned Upside Down

The 1906 World Series

No club that wins a pennant once is an outstanding club. One which bunches two pennants is a good club. But a team which can win three in a row really achieves greatness. --John McGraw

    New York Giants manager John McGraw never forgave the Cubs for what happened in 1906. His 1905 World Champion Giants were one of the strongest teams in baseball history. The '05 club was among McGraw's favorites because it was the first National League team to defeat the despised upstart American League in a World Series. The Giants had refused to play Boston in the 1904 World Series out of contempt, scorn, and outright hatred of the American League and its president, Ban Johnson.

    McGraw's animus toward Johnson was due to their relationship when the Giants manager had been skipper of the American League Baltimore Orioles. The two clashed frequently over McGraw's abuse of umpires and other on-field behavior. While McGraw believed that Johnson arranged to throw him out of the league in 1902, in reality McGraw left for the National League before Johnson could have him removed. In truth, McGraw was happy to leave to manage the Giants. Johnson was equally glad to be rid of a major problem. Both men were capable of holding long-time grudges. They succeeded in maintaining their mutual loathing for the rest of their lives.

    John McGraw wanted nothing more than to win a third straight National League pennant in 1906. In McGraw's mind, only then would the Giants achieve true greatness and assume their place among the immortals. The Giants chalked up ninety-six wins in 1906, enough to do the job in more than a mere handful of seasons. McGraw had cajoled, fought, ordered, and willed the team, overcoming the illness of Christy Mathewson, Mike Donlin's battle with booze and injury, and other assorted injuries and ravages of age to other key performers. But the third straight pennant was not to be.

    It was not to be for a variety of reasons. An important one could have been pride. McGraw was always one to gloat. The Giants' uniforms had "World Champions" emblazoned across the chest and the team rode to the ballpark with "World Champions" embroidered on horse blankets. Neither of these gestures endeared the Giants to their opposition, who could be counted on to give extra effort when New York was in town.

    Also standing in the way of Giants greatness was an emerging dynasty. Frequently ungracious to his opposition, McGraw regarded these up-and-comers as upstarts, barely worthy of respect and quite deserving of scorn. The upstart bushers were the Chicago Cubs, managed by first baseman Frank Chance.

    The 1906 Cubs had a year like no other big league team had ever had, winning 116 games and easily icing the pennant by twenty games over the also-ran Giants. The 1998 Yankees' regular season 114-48 (.703) mark came close to approaching the Cubs record, reminding modern fans of the Cubs' achievement. The Yankees' march through the 1998 play-offs and World Series set a major league record of 125 games won for the year, compared to the 1906 Cubs' regular and post-season mark of 116.

    The enormity of Chicago's achievement has dimmed with the passage of time, but the numbers do not lie. At the end of July, the Cubs were in first with a 61-26 record. They won fifty-five and lost only ten more games the rest of the year, for a final 116-36 (.763) slate for the regular season. This first team of the great Cub dynasty of 1906-10 dominated the National League in nearly every significant statistical category; batting average (.262), slugging percentage (.339), fielding average (.969), shutouts (28), and earned run average (1.76).

     Like all other sports successes, this Cubs dynasty was built over several years and was the result of a combination of luck, determination, money, and patience. It did not hurt to have a front office committed and smart enough to spot talent and to go out and get it. Each of the Cubs' key players was obtained by a trade and/or purchase. Each transaction was calculated to add personnel to fill weaknesses and buttress the assets of the club. Most of the credit for building the team ought to go to one of the most overlooked managers in baseball history, Frank Selee. Credit for execution of Selee's plan went to his successor, player-manager Frank Chance.

    Selee managed the Cubs for three and half years, from 1902 until stepping down in midseason 1905 due to illness. Prior to coming to Chicago, Selee had managed the National League's Boston Beaneaters to five pennants from 1890 to 1901. Selee's overall record as a manager was 1,284-862 (.598). That winning percentage is fourth highest among managers in baseball history. Selee's trademark teams had outstanding offensive and defensive speed with excellent baseball intelligence. It is sad that Selee's achievements have been ignored for almost an entire century. His contribution to baseball was finally recognized in early 1999 when the Old Timers Committee voted him into the Hall of Fame.

    While Selee didn't win any pennants for the Cubs, the core of this dominant team had been acquired by the time he resigned and handed over the reins to Frank Chance. The players Selee acquired or retained who played a key role for the Cubs from 1906 to 1910 were Chance, a converted catcher, at first; second baseman Johnny Evers; Joe Tinker at shortstop; outfielders Jimmy Slagle and Frank "Wildfire" Schulte; catcher Johnny Kling; and pitchers Carl Lundgren, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown, and "Big Ed" Reulbach.

    Chance wound up with all of the managerial glory and with membership in the Hall of Fame. After 1905 Chance reportedly said the club needed a pitcher, an outfielder, and a third baseman. In 1906, the team that terrorized the National League for five years added pitchers Jack Taylor, Jack Pfiester, and Orval Overall; outfielder Jimmy Sheckard; and, to round out the infield, third baseman Harry Steinfeldt, acquired in a trade with Cincinnati. Steinfeldt, overlooked because of his more famous infield mates, was a key part of these fine Cubs teams and anchored an already strong defensive unit. Sheckard added another bat and strong defensive skills to a solid outfield. Taylor, Pfiester, and Overall, each in his own way, contributed significantly to Chicago's success during their five-year run.

    From 1906 through 1910, the Chicago Cubs played 765 regular season games, winning 530 and losing only 235 for a staggering .693 won-lost percentage. That translated into four pennants and a second-place finish during those five seasons. The Cubs' World Series record during the dynasty was a more down-to-earth eleven and nine, winning two World Championships. The so-so World Series record aside, this Cubs dynasty was the best in the game's history in terms of total wins and winning percentage, beating out the great Cardinals teams of the early 1940s and Yankees teams of the thirties, fifties, and sixties (see appendix C).

    Over in the American League, the crosstown White Sox scratched their way to their third American League crown since 1900. The 1906 American League race was close as the New York Highlanders and Cleveland Naps finished off the pace by three and five games respectively. The Sox were paced by a nineteen-game winning streak in August but still needed to fight off a late charge by New York in September to win the pennant.

    The 1906 Sox were affectionately known as the "Hitless Wonders." As with most baseball nicknames, it fit. It could be said that if the Sox fell out of a boat into the ocean, they couldn't hit water, or if they did, they wouldn't hit it hard. The Sox .230 team batting average was last in the league. They ranked dead last in most other offensive categories, reflecting owner Charles Comiskey's philosophy of building a team around pitching and conditioning while utilizing a strategy of squeezing advantage out of every hit, walk, error, stolen base, or lapse by the opposition. Comiskey's philosophy about offensive baseball also applied to his finances. He squeezed every penny out of each dollar as much as his teams treasured each base runner.

    Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers boiled the Hitless Wonders down to this simple declaration: "The team excelled any team ever organized in concentrating every move toward making runs, one at a time, and while nearly weakest in batting, scored the greatest average number of runs per hit of any club in the history of the game."

    Analysis of runs per hit in 1906 does not entirely bear out Evers's statement. The Sox were among the leaders, but not the leader in this obscure category. They scored .50 runs per hit, or a run for every two hits. The Cubs scored .53 runs per hit, the best in the game. The Giants were the only other 1906 team to exceed half a run per hit at .51 runs per hit. Significantly, both the Cubs and Giants clearly had more offense to work with, outhitting the Sox by a wide margin.

    Further analysis of opponents reveals just how good the two Chicago teams were in 1906. Cubs opponents scored .374 runs per hit, while the Sox opposition was just off that pace at .379 runs per hit. This stinginess resulted in an interesting statistic, which gives truth to Evers's declaration about White Sox offensive efficiency. The Hitless Wonders scored 3.77 runs per game and surrendered 3.05, for an average margin of victory of just over half a run. The Cubs scored 4.62 and allowed 2.51 per contest, defeating opponents by over two runs a game.

    Like the Cubs, the White Sox were led by a player-manager. Fielder Jones directed his team's fortunes from center field. Jones was a hardnosed leader, able to get every bit of effort and ability out of his players. He enjoys the distinction of being one of only two White Sox managers ever to win a World Series, and his 426-293 record with the South Siders is among the best won-lost records in the checkered history of the franchise. Jones's .592 managerial winning percentage is best among White Sox skippers, but his achievement has been largely forgotten.

    The White Sox featured a veteran lineup with ex-National League slugger George Davis at shortstop and Frank Isbell at second; they and first baseman John "Jiggs" Donahue were the only starters to hit above .250 in 1906. Defense and pitching were the Sox forte. It was a staff handled by one of the best defensive catchers in the Dead Ball Era, Billy Sullivan. The pitching staff was anchored by twenty-game winners Frank "Yip" Owen and Nick Altrock. Big Ed Walsh and Doc White bolstered the staff. Sox pitchers registered a team-earned run average of 2.13, just over a third of a run higher than that of the Cubs.

    On paper, the White Sox seemed to have little hope of defeating the mighty Cubs. But, as the adage goes, games are played on the field. From October 9 through 14, the city of Chicago stood still as the Cubs and Sox waged a six-day war. Like all contests between nearby rivals, the Sox-Cubs series resembled civil war in some respects.

    It was civil war with an ethnic flavor in a city where ethnicity was, and still is, an important matter. By accident or coincidence, the Cubs lineup was dominated by German surnames--Kling, Sheckard, Steinfeldt, Reulbach, Pfiester, Hofman. As for the South Side White Sox, the lineup looked like a list of voters from the nearby predominantly Irish-American Bridgeport neighborhood--Walsh, Sullivan, Dougherty, Jones. This ethnic division was the source of amusement during a time when much was made of such things without arousing outrage.

    Johnny Evers in Touching Second relates the following anecdote:

When the West Side and the South Side were engaged almost in civil war, there was an Irishman named Faugh, a Ballagh Finnegan, better known as "Fog," who made a small fortune in trade on the West Side, and who, although he never had seen a game, was one of the most loyal supporters of the West Side team. On the day of the first game "Fog," gloriously arrayed, and with much money to wager, was the center of a group of ardent West Siders assembled in one section of the South Side stands. Standing on his seat he defied the White Sox supporters and flaunted his money in their faces.

"Wan hundred to sixty on the Wist Side," he shouted.

"Wan hundred to fifty. Wan hundred to forty."

The South Siders, who were not betting on their team, ignored him. He shouted, challenged, and yelled the praises of the West Side. Presently the umpire brushed off the plate and announced:

"Ladies and Gentlemen--the batteries for today's game will be Reulbach and Kling for the West Side. Walsh and Sullivan for the South Side."

For an instant "Fog" blinked hard, wavering between loyalty to the West Side and love of Ireland. Then, leaping up again, he shouted,

"Walsh and Sullivan -- thim's they byes I meant. Wan hundred to sixty on the South Side."

    While a believable instance of ethnic division coupled with the depiction of the common Dead Ball Era occurrence of gambling in the stands, Evers's story is partly apocryphal. The existence of open gambling in the stands was accurate. But the series opener was played at the Cubs' West Side Grounds and Brown and Altrock started. Walsh and Reulbach locked horns in game five at West Side Grounds, not South Side Park. Evers can be forgiven for embellishing a credible story.

    Chicago in October 1906 was not a place for a Sox fan in Cubs territory or vice versa. Some cooler heads managed to produce two-way buttons showing a dual allegiance, a bear cub wearing white socks! The series was a highly partisan affair, but fortunately, the spirit of sportsmanship prevailed during baseball's first intracity World Series and the last one to feature Chicago's teams. But no matter the outcome, it was a proud moment for Chicagoans.

    Contemporary fans have witnessed some truly terrible Cubs and White Sox teams during the twentieth century. They can be forgiven for believing hell would freeze over before the Sox and Cubs would ever lock horns in a World Series. White Sox and Cubs loyalists would also understand the possibly divine message from the playing conditions of this Windy City World Series. Game one of the 1906 series was played in below-freezing weather with light snow falling. Nick Altrock and Three Finger Brown each allowed four hits. The Sox won 2-1 with a triple by reserve third baseman George Rohe and a single by Isbell providing the winning runs.

    Game two moved to the South Side where Big Ed Reulbach threw a one-hitter, knotting the series at a game each in another game played in nasty cold weather. Cubs hitters rang out ten safeties. A three-run second inning, aided by a Sox throwing error, settled the issue early. Reulbach had a no-hitter going until the seventh inning, when Jiggs Donahue singled. Reulbach's effort, as was sometimes the case, was marred by wildness to the tune of six walks and a hit batsman. The 7-1 score seemed to indicate that the Cubs were back on track and the Sox were in trouble, if only the Cubs would play like they had during the regular season.

    The third game of the series featured a stellar pitching duel between Big Ed Walsh and lefty Jack Pfiester. Walsh struck out twelve hitters and George Rohe, hero of game one, hit a two-out, bases-loaded triple in the sixth inning to give the Sox the 3-0 win. Rohe had appeared in only seventy-five games during the regular season, hitting .258. His 1906 World Series heroics were soon forgotten. He was out of the major leagues by 1908, becoming an early member of the "what have you done for me lately" wing of baseball's archives.

    Game four saw the trend of the home team losing continue. Three Finger Brown threw a two-hit shutout at South Side Park to even the series at two games apiece. Johnny Evers's seventh-inning two-out single drove home Frank Chance for the sole run of the game. Chance had reached base when his fly ball was lost in the sun.

    The Cubs returned home to the West Side Grounds for the pivotal game five. Chance, superstitiously noting that the visitors had won all games, dressed the Cubs in their road uniforms and started game two hero Ed Reulbach. Taking advantage of poor fielding, the Cubs jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but the White Sox roared back behind an uncharacteristic twelve-hit attack that chased both Reulbach and Pfiester for an 8-6 win. The Sox had miraculously overcome six errors, while the Cubs were flawless in the field.

    Game six was no contest. The Sox chased Brown, scoring seven times in the first two innings on the way to an easy 8-3 win. Doc White went the distance to win the World Championship for the White Sox in one of the greatest sports upsets ever. For Cubs fans, the 1906 series represented a huge disappointment. For Sox fans it has provided bragging rights for several generations. Delirious Sox fans crowded the offices of Cubs owner Charles Murphy after the victory, and Murphy delivered a gracious concession speech on behalf of Chicago Cubs baseball.

    Was it a case of complacency, or was it fate? Frank Chance would not let his charges forget the 1906 series. The Cubs were gracious in their public statements, to a point. Chance summed up: "The Sox played grand, game baseball and outclassed us in this Series. But there is one thing that I will never believe, and that is that the White Sox are better than the Cubs."

    The enemy named complacency would be put to ground in 1907. This edition of the Cubs won 107 contests and the pennant by seventeen games over the Pirates. McGraw's Giants were a distant third and would have to rebuild to return to serious pennant competition. The 1907 Cubs team had no .300 hitters, but five pitchers; Orval Overall, Three Finger Brown, Carl Lundgren, Jack Pfiester, and Big Ed Reulbach turned in earned run averages under 1.70. The entire staff threw thirty shutouts, or nearly one for every five games.

    This time the series opponent for the Cubs was Hughie Jennings's Detroit Tigers, who had squeaked by Philadelphia by a game and a half. The Tigers were at the start of a three-consecutive-pennants run. In the series Cubs pitchers smothered the Tigers four games to none after game one resulted in a tie. Cubs pitchers held the Tigers' lineup, which included Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, to a .209 average, posted a 0.75 earned run average, and erased the shame of 1906.

    Going into 1908, the Cubs had won 223 games and lost only eighty-one during the previous two seasons. All key players were returning and it again looked as if the Cubs would be the team to beat in 1908. John McGraw had other plans, and the Pirates were hungry for revenge.

    For the White Sox, 1907 yielded a disappointing third place, five and a half games off the pace. Following the season's end, manager Fielder Jones threatened to retire and join his brother in the lumber business in the Pacific Northwest. It was no secret that acting as an intermediary between disgruntled players and owner Charles Comiskey was wearing Jones down. In late 1907 Comiskey persuaded him to give it another try. Going into 1908, Jones was convinced that the Sox would be the team to beat. The Tigers would have something to say about that. So would Napoleon "Larry" Lajoie's Cleveland club and, surprisingly, the St. Louis Browns. The Browns had loaded up for the campaign by acquiring ace left-hander Rube Waddell from Philadelphia. Waddell's antics and drinking had worn out his welcome and would provide distraction for his new team. The stage was set for one of the most tumultuous, fascinating, controversial, and exciting baseball seasons ever.

Excerpted from More than Merkle by DAVID W. ANDERSON. Copyright © 2000 by University of Nebraska Press. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-07-01:
Fred Merkle was a New York Giants player whose base-running error in a game against the Chicago Cubs in 1908 contributed to his club's loss of the National League pennant race to the champion Cubs. Going beyond the infamous "Merkle Boner," Anderson describes baseball (ballparks, fans, rules, and players) in the "Dead Ball Era" and sets the stage for the unique 1908 season, commenting on the players of each of the eight American League and National League teams and even the umpires who worked that year. Individual chapters cover baseball happenings, team standings, and details of the most important games of the season from April through October, culminating with brief descriptions of the five World Series games (Cubs against Detroit Tigers), which were poorly attended and anticlimactic after the thrilling pennant races in the two leagues. The final chapter describes a supposed attempt to bribe umpires toward the end of the season. Many primary and secondary sources are cited in 258 notes; photographs, 1908 statistics, and a bibliographic essay complement the text. This book will enthrall baseball history buffs. It illuminates the sport as an important element in US popular culture at the beginning of the 20th century. Appropriate for undergraduate and general readers. R. McGehee; Concordia University at Austin
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A fascinating archival account of what baseball and America were like nearly a century ago."--New York Times Book Review
"A fascinating archival account of what baseball and America were like nearly a century ago." New York Times Book Review
"A fascinating archival account of what baseball and America were like nearly a century ago."New York Times Book Review
"Anderson organizes his work neatly: a chapter on how baseball was played in the Deadball Era, a chapter analyzing the majors' 16 teams, a chapter on umpires and then one chapter on each month of the season. Taken together, these place the Merkle play in context and provide more than enough evidence to spread the blame around."-Sporting News
"Anderson organizes his work neatly: a chapter on how baseball was played in the Deadball Era, a chapter analyzing the majors'' 16 teams, a chapter on umpires and then one chapter on each month of the season. Taken together, these place the Merkle play in context and provide more than enough evidence to spread the blame around."Sporting News
"An excellent new entry in the baseball literary canon. . . . The Merkle story is a classic, and Anderson''s telling of it is masterful. But the book is calledMore Than Merklefor good reason: It''s a wonderful portrait of a game that no longer exists. Yes, we have baseball. ButMore Than Merkleis about players as opposed to millionaires, ballparks instead of stadiums, a game and not a business. . . . 1908 has given us a new baseball book that falls just short of a classic. . . . Anderson has scored three runs withMore Than Merkle. He has vindicated Fred Merkle, a player whose respectable career has been overshadowed by one play. He has told a tale worth telling: how the Chicago Cubs edged the Giants in a thriller season. And best, he as brought the Dead Ball Era back to life."--Kansas City Star
"As his title suggests, there was more to this memorable season than an infamous blunder."-Sports Illustrated.
"As his title suggests, there was more to this memorable season than an infamous blunder."Sports Illustrated.
"As his title suggests, there was more to this memorable season than an infamous blunder." Sports Illustrated
"As his title suggests, there was more to this memorable season than an infamous blunder."Sports Illustrated
"Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy this."-Library Journal.
"Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy this."Library Journal.
"Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy this." Library Journal
"Baseball enthusiasts will enjoy this."Library Journal
"David Anderson's book is a winner in its own right. Not only does it enlighten us about a season that might really have been 'the best and most exciting' of all time, it gives us the feeling that we're standing hatless among the overflow crowds of nearly a century ago, rooting for Matty, Rube, the Big Train, the Flying Dutchman, the Georgia Peach, and all the other flannel-clad immortals of days gone by.. Anderson has fashioned as close to a masterpiece of baseball research and analysis as any first-class author has produced in a long time."--David Shiner,HaroldSeymour.com
"David Anderson's book is a winner in its own right. Not only does it enlighten us about a season that might really have been 'the best and most exciting' of all time, it gives us the feeling that we're standing hatless among the overflow crowds of nearly a century ago, rooting for Matty, Rube, the Big Train, the Flying Dutchman, the Georgia Peach, and all the other flannel-clad immortals of days gone by.... Anderson has fashioned as close to a masterpiece of baseball research and analysis as any first-class author has produced in a long time."--David Shiner,HaroldSeymour.com
"David Anderson's book is a winner in its own right. Not only does it enlighten us about a season that might really have been 'the best and most exciting' of all time, it gives us the feeling that we're standing hatless among the overflow crowds of nearly a century ago, rooting for Matty, Rube, the Big Train, the Flying Dutchman, the Georgia Peach, and all the other flannel-clad immortals of days gone by. . . . Anderson has fashioned as close to a masterpiece of baseball research and analysis as any first-class author has produced in a long time."David Shiner, HaroldSeymour.com
"David Anderson's book is a winner in its own right. Not only does it enlighten us about a season that might really have been 'the best and most exciting' of all time, it gives us the feeling that we're standing hatless among the overflow crowds of nearly a century ago, rooting for Matty, Rube, the Big Train, the Flying Dutchman, the Georgia Peach, and all the other flannel-clad immortals of days gone by. . . . Anderson has fashioned as close to a masterpiece of baseball research and analysis as any first-class author has produced in a long time."David Shiner,HaroldSeymour.com
"Going beyond the infamous ''Merkle Boner,'' Anderson describes baseball (ballparks, fans, rules, and players) in the ''Dead Ball Era'' and sets the stage for the unique 1908 season, commenting on the players of each of the eight American League and National League teams and even the umpires who worked that year. . . . This book will enthrall baseball history buffs. It illuminates the sport as an important element in US popular culture at the beginning of the 20th century. Appropriate for undergraduate and general readers."--Choice
"The arrival of a new baseball season serves to rekindle an old question: Which was the most exciting season ever played? In a book calledMore Than Merkle, David W. Anderson comes up with an answer that will startle many fans: the season of 1908. Just to make things perfectly clear, he subtitles his opus ''A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History.'' Of course, the centerpiece is Fred ''Bonehead'' Merkle, whose ''boner'' of not running from first to second base while the winning run was scoring cost the New York Giants a pennant. Both leagues had close races that year, and the author covers them in exuberant detail. He also focuses on such star players as Christy Mathewson, Three-Finger Brown and Johnny Evers, not to mention more obscure figures, such as a pitcher with the fascinating name of Orval Overall, who won two games for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series (their last World Championship). Baseball antiquarians will relish the book."--Parade
"The arrival of a new baseball season serves to rekindle an old question: Which was the most exciting season ever played? In a book called More Than Merkle, David W. Anderson comes up with an answer that will startle many fans: the season of 1908. Just to make things perfectly clear, he subtitles his opus ''A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History.'' Of course, the centerpiece is Fred ''Bonehead'' Merkle, whose ''boner'' of not running from first to second base while the winning run was scoring cost the New York Giants a pennant. Both leagues had close races that year, and the author covers them in exuberant detail. He also focuses on such star players as Christy Mathewson, Three-Finger Brown and Johnny Evers, not to mention more obscure figures, such as a pitcher with the fascinating name of Orval Overall, who won two games for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series (their last World Championship). Baseball antiquarians will relish the book." Parade
"The arrival of a new baseball season serves to rekindle an old question: Which was the most exciting season ever played? In a book calledMore Than Merkle, David W. Anderson comes up with an answer that will startle many fans: the season of 1908. Just to make things perfectly clear, he subtitles his opus ''A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History.'' Of course, the centerpiece is Fred ''Bonehead'' Merkle, whose ''boner'' of not running from first to second base while the winning run was scoring cost the New York Giants a pennant. Both leagues had close races that year, and the author covers them in exuberant detail. He also focuses on such star players as Christy Mathewson, Three-Finger Brown and Johnny Evers, not to mention more obscure figures, such as a pitcher with the fascinating name of Orval Overall, who won two games for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series (their last World Championship). Baseball antiquarians will relish the book."Parade
"Those not acquainted with the dramatics of the 1908 campaign might find Anderson''s hyperbolic title a bit extreme until they read of the many astonishing events that took place that year. To wit: three NL teams finishing within a half game of each other (forcing the first-ever playoff game) and an AL race decided by .004 percentage points. Toss in the exploits of legendary figures Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and other future Hall-of-Famers and the book''s description more resembles an exercise in prosaic restraint."USA Today Baseball Weekly.
"Those not acquainted with the dramatics of the 1908 campaign might find Anderson's hyperbolic title a bit extreme until they read of the many astonishing events that took place that year. To wit: three NL teams finishing within a half game of each other (forcing the first-ever playoff game) and an AL race decided by .004 percentage points. Toss in the exploits of legendary figures Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and other future Hall-of-Famers and the book's description more resembles an exercise in prosaic restraint."-USA Today Baseball Weekly.
"Those not acquainted with the dramatics of the 1908 campaign might find Anderson''s hyperbolic title a bit extreme until they read of the many astonishing events that took place that year. To wit: three NL teams finishing within a half game of each other (forcing the first-ever playoff game) and an AL race decided by .004 percentage points. Toss in the exploits of legendary figures Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and other future Hall-of-Famers and the book''s description more resembles an exercise in prosaic restraint." USA Today Baseball Weekly
"Those not acquainted with the dramatics of the 1908 campaign might find Anderson''s hyperbolic title a bit extreme until they read of the many astonishing events that took place that year. To wit: three NL teams finishing within a half game of each other (forcing the first-ever playoff game) and an AL race decided by .004 percentage points. Toss in the exploits of legendary figures Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and other future Hall-of-Famers and the book''s description more resembles an exercise in prosaic restraint."USA Today Baseball Weekly
"Very well researched and carefully crafted."--TodaysSports.com.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, July 2000
New York Times Book Review, July 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
"I have done a report of some kind on the Fred Merkle story, whether in print, on radio, or on TV, on or about its anniversary, September 23, virtually every year since I was in college. The saga has always seemed to me to be a microcosm not just of baseball, nor of celebrity, but of life. The rules sometimes change while you're playing the game. Those you trust to tell you the changes often don't bother to. That for which history still mocks you, would have gone unnoticed if you had done it a year or a month or a day before. That's who Fred Merkle is. I have often proposed September 23 as a national day of amnesty, in Fred Merkle's memory."Keith Olbermann, from his foreword.
Main Description
"I have done a report of some kind on the Fred Merkle story, whether in print, on radio, or on TV, on or about its anniversary, September 23, virtually every year since I was in college. The saga has always seemed to me to be a microcosm not just of baseball, nor of celebrity, but of life. The rules sometimes change while you're playing the game. Those you trust to tell you the changes often don't bother to. That for which history still mocks you, would have gone unnoticed if you had done it a year or a month or a day before. That's who Fred Merkle is. I have often proposed September 23 as a national day of amnesty, in Fred Merkle's memory."--Keith Olbermann, from his foreword.
Publisher Fact Sheet
Revisits the remarkable baseball events of 1908, including the infamous Merkle Boner & the Cubs' last World Series victory.
Unpaid Annotation
1908 was a great year for baseball. The two events that have reverberated down through the years are the infamous Merkle Boner and the Cubs' last World Series victory, but the season was full of highlights. In the National League, three teams finished within a half game of each other, and the issue was decided in the sport's first playoff game. The pennant race in the American League was almost as tight. The Cubs' Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance triumvirate flourished, and their pitchers were led by Three Finger Brown. The Giants boasted pitching sensation Christy Mathewson, and the Pirates were carried by Honus Wagner. More than Merkle brings this defining season back to life.
Table of Contents
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. xvii
Baseball Turned Upside Down the 1906 World Seriesp. 1
The Game in 1908 Dead Ball Era Baseballp. 10
The Teams of 1908 a Look at the Playersp. 35
The Men in Blue the Umpires of 1908p. 87
April the Best Hopes of Fansp. 105
May the Makings of a Pennant Racep. 115
June the Race is Onp. 127
July Gain the Edgep. 137
August the Storm Clouds Gatherp. 150
September All Hell Breaks Loosep. 164
October Down to the Wirep. 184
Scandals of 1908 Delayed Reckoningp. 210
Appendixes: The Record of 1908p. 225
Notesp. 241
Bibliographic Essayp. 251
Indexp. 255
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem