Sunday, March 21, 2021

1904 Major League Baseball End of Season Review

 The end of the 1904 baseball season is upon us.  While several individual players reached milestones this season, a successful season relies on an entire team playing well.  What two teams were able to take home the pennants this year?  You can find out by reading on.

No World Series in 1904; Series Will Continue In 1905

Coming into the 1904 season, there was doubt that the World Series would be played at the end of the year.  Midway through the season, it was announced by all eight National League owners that they would not allow the NL pennant winner to play in the series in 1904.  Following the announcement, a meeting of all 16 team owners was called.

At the conclusion of the meeting, an agreement was reached to continue play of the World Series starting in 1905.  The American League was forced to concede some of the potential profits from the series, but the owners were willing to do so based on the gain in popularity that would be achieved by the AL representative in the World Series.  While the National League owners are still concerned about their teams being upstaged by the American League, money cures all, and everyone is looking forward to the resumption of the series next year.

Multiple Milestones Reached

As the season began, all eyes were on Frank Motz to see if he would become just the second man to reach 3,000 hits on his career.  On May 11, Motz was able to collect hit number 3,000 against the Washington Senators.  By the end of the season, the St. Louis first baseman would have 3,146 hits.  An outstanding season by Hugh Duffy prevented Motz from gaining any ground on the all time hit king crown, but his focus going into 1905 is to try and catch the seemingly ageless Duffy.

On the pitcher's mound, milestone wins seemed to come almost every other week through the second half of the season.  First, the immortal Matt Kilroy established yet another gold standard for pitchers by earning his 550th career win.  By seasons' end, Kilroy would have 568 wins, and if he is able to continue pitching at this level, 600 career wins may not be out of the question.

Moving down the career wins list, Boston Americans hurler Jim Handiboe earned his 400th career win on September 9th.  He finished the season with a record of 18-17 for the Americans.  Earlier in the season, Boston had another pitcher reach an impressive milestone, as Amos Rusie won his 350th career game.  The duo of Handiboe and Rusie wouldn't be enough for the Americans though, as they finished the season with a 78-76 record, good for 4th in the American League.

To conclude the pitching accomplishments, two men reached 300 wins for their careers.  First, Chicago Cubs pitcher Kid Nichols won his 300th game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then Egyptian Healy of the Philadelphia Phillies would earn his 300th win against Nichols and the Cubs on July 16.  The 38 year old Healy would retire at the end of the season with more career losses than wins.  Such are the perils of playing for a team like the Phillies for most of your career.

Washington Rides Ageless Hugh Duffy, Well-Balanced Pitching to American League Pennant

As the season began, the Washington Senators were seen as one of the top teams in the American League.  By the end of the year, there was no doubt that they were the top team in the AL.  The ageless Hugh Duffy led the league in batting average and hits to pace the offense, and the Senators had outstanding performances from all four starting pitchers throughout the season to earn the pennant.  Three pitchers won over 20 games, while Chris Eastman won "only" 15 games, but led the American League with a 1.53 ERA.

Leading the way on the mound for Washington was Jack Fitzgerald, who won 24 games with a 2.22 ERA.  Jimmy Whalen also had 24 wins against 14 losses and an ERA of 2.91 and Peg Bennis came up with 22 wins and an ERA of 2.49.  Though Duffy is going to be 38 years old at the start of the 1905 season, if Washington can get a similar showing from the pitching staff next year, they could very well represent the American League in the next World Series.

1904 American League standings

1904 American League Champion Washington Senators

Cincinnati Realizes Dream, Wins National League Pennant

The Cincinnati Reds were one of the favorites for the National League pennant before the 1904 season and after the Pittsburgh Pirates stumbled to start the year, the Reds used a dominant pitching performance to claim their first pennant in a decade.

In just his second professional season, Charles "Chief" Bender established himself as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  He finished his season third in the National League with 25 wins to go along with a league leading 199 strikeouts and a 1.93 ERA, which was good for second in the NL.  Behind their young ace, Cincinnati finished three games ahead of both the Pirates and the Boston Beaneaters, who had a very impressive season compared to their 69 win showing just one year prior.

At the plate, the Reds were guided by Danny Green.  The 27 year old outfielder finished the season with a .304 batting average and a league leading 55 stolen bases.  Green has established himself as a leader for the Reds, and many teammates credit his leadership as one of the "unseen" reasons for the Reds winning the pennant.  Cincinnati has a young team that seems to only be getting better, so if this success continues, they should see themselves at the top of the National League for years to come.

1904 National League Standings
1904 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds

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