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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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1907-08 No Series

Posted 02-21-2012 at 08:05 AM by TommyJohn
Updated 12-12-2015 at 11:41 AM by TommyJohn


White Sox 87-64, 3rd, 6 GB

OK, so let's get this straight-the 1906 White Sox lag behind in the second division until early August, hit a hot streak that carries them into first place, then go on to win the pennant and the World Series. The 1907 version spends 114 days in 1st place and winds up finishing in 3rd? Got it.

It is true. Fielder Jones' boys held the top spot for most of the season, but were unable to maintain it. They were as hitless as ever, batting .238 with 5 home runs as a team. The elite pitching staff continued to dazzle, with Doc White, Frank Owen and Ed Walsh leading the way with 27, 24 and 23 wins.

Team Leaders

HR: George Rohe 2
RBI: Jiggs Donahue 68
Avg.: Patsy Dougherty .270

Wins: Doc White 27
ERA: Ed Walsh 1.60
Strikeouts: Ed Walsh 206

Cubs 107-45, 1st, 17 GA

The Cubs continued to slap the rest of the NL around with abandon. They went 107-45 and left the also-rans in the dust, outdistancing the runner-up Giants by 17 games. They didn't quite top their 1906 ledger, but they went one step further than the 06ers by thrashing the Detroit Tigers in the World Series 4 games to 0 with one tie.

Team Leaders

HR: Johnny Evers, Frank "Wildfire" Schulte 2
RBI: Harry Steinfeldt 70
Avg.: Frank Chance .293

Wins: Orval Overall 23
ERA: Jack Pfiester 1.15
Strikeouts: Orval Overall 141


White Sox 88-64, 3rd, 1.5 GB

Ok, remember how I said in a previous entry that there was no season of Chicago baseball quite like 1906? I wasn't lying. But the 1908 season comes pretty darn close. The Cubs and Sox were in emotional gut-wrenching pennant races that came down to the last game of the season for both teams. The Sox would lose on the last day of the season, the Cubs would win it, thanks to a play that has gone down in baseball infamy.

Ed Walsh. That's all you really need to know about the 1908 White Sox. Walsh carried the Sox on his back, pulling off iron man feats that will never be topped, thanks to the way baseball pitching has evolved. Walsh pitched 64 games, 464 innings, started 49 and finished 42. His record for the season was 40-15, making him one of only two 40 game winners in the 20th century (Jack Chesbro of the 1904 New York Highlanders is the other, with a record 41).

The Sox, as usual, lacked hitting. They hit .224 and hit three home runs. Let that sink in for a moment. The team hit only 3 home runs for the entire season, perhaps THE most unbreakable record in baseball. This one will truly stand for all time.

Walsh hooked up with Addie Joss of Cleveland on October 2 in one of the greatest games ever pitched. Walsh struck out 15 Indians, gave up only four hits and allowed one run. Joss would have to be perfect to beat that, and he was, retiring all 27 White Sox to face him in winning 1-0. The last batter, pinch-hitter John Anderson, hit a one strike pitch into the stands, foul by a foot. Given that the Sox hit only three home runs all year, it would have been especially cruel if Joss had lost his perfect game and the lead on a home run. But Lady Luck, Dame Fortune, and the Baseball Gods were smiling upon him, and Joss achieved perfection.

The season boiled down to the final day of the season, October 6. The Sox, .05 games behind Detroit, met the Tigers at the South Side Grounds to decide the pennant (no lost games were to be made up, which is why the Sox were a half-game behind). And this is where the normally brilliant managerial acumen of Fielder Jones, who used it so well against the Cubs in 1906, abandoned him.

Jones had Frank Smith ready to go on three days' rest. But the manager and pitcher feuded throughout the season, and Jones could not set his grudge aside for the good of the team. He opted to start Doc White on only one day of rest. The good doctor gave up three straight hits without retiring a batter, the last being a bases-clearing triple by Ty Cobb. Jones realized White didn't have it and replaced him with equally weary Ed Walsh, pitching on two days' rest. Walsh got pounded and the Sox lost the game 7-0 and the pennant. Charles Comiskey called it the worst disappointment of his career. It would be the last game Jones would manage for the White Sox. He would walk away from the game after this season.

Team Leaders:

HR: Fielder Jones, Frank Isbell, Ed Walsh 1
RBI: Fielder Jones 50
Avg.: Patsy Dougherty .278

Wins: Ed Walsh 40
ERA: Ed Walsh 1.42
Strikeouts: Ed Walsh 269

Cubs 99-55, 1st, 1 GA

The Cubs, meanwhile, found the going a bit rougher this year. They were nip-and-tuck with the New York Giants this year for NL supremacy. This race would culminate in one of the most unforgettable plays in baseball history, one which caused a teenage rookie grief for the rest of his life.

September 23. The Cubs and Giants, in a dead heat tie for first place, met at the Polo Grounds. The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th. The Giants had a runner on 3rd, and rookie first baseman Fred Merkle was on 1st. Giant batter Mike McCormick slapped a basehit, scoring the winning run. Fans poured out onto the field, which was the way they exited the stadium back then.

But stop the presses. Merkle saw the play, ran half way to second, stopped, then headed to the Giant clubhouse. Technically, the play was still alive, as Merkle could be forced off base unless he touched second. He was actually following the protocol of the times-rarely when game-winning hits were struck did runners on base complete their run to the next base. Johnny Evers of the Cubs, however noticed this mistake and wasn't going to let it slide in such a crucial game. He hollered for the ball. Joe Mc Ginnity of the Giants saw what the Cubs were doing, intercepted the ball, and heaved it into the stands. Moments later Evers and Joe Tinker grabbed a ball and touched second while Merkle was running back from the clubhouse in a desperate attempt to touch the base. Umpire Hank O'Day called Merkle out and ordered the game to continue. The uproar of the crowd was such that the game could not be played (they were on the field, after all) so O'Day declared the game a tie.

The next day the Cubs and Giants both protested the game. NL President Hank Pulliam upheld O'Day's decision, much to the rage of Giants owner John Brush and manager John McGraw.

One reason for the controversy was whether or not the Cubs had completed the play with the same ball that had been put into play. Rules specifically stated that plays had to begin and end with the same ball. The Giants claimed the Cubs had retrieved another ball to touch second. Evers and Tinker swore up and down that they found a fan holding the ball in the stands and battled him for it before getting it back and completing the force at second.

Pulliam declared that if the two teams were tied for first at the end of the season, the game would have to be replayed from the beginning.

Lo and behold, the Giants and Cubs ended the season deadlocked for first at 98-55. The make up game was played on October 8 before a packed crowd at the Polo Grounds. Mordecai Brown outdueled his nemesis Christy Mathewson, the Cubs clinched the pennant with a 4-2 win and needed a police escort to get them away from the angry crowd.

Fred Merkle bore the brunt of his error (known as "Merkle's Boner" to a more innocent generation) for the rest of his career and life. The New York press and fans crucified him for it. Merkle became embittered and turned his back on baseball once he was done with the game. John J. McGraw fiercely defended his player, never once blaming him for the loss of the pennant. He blamed O'Day and Pulliam. He also had rings struck for the Giants players which were engraved "The REAL Champs-1908."

Hank Pulliam remained haunted with guilt over his decision to nullify the Giants' victory. On July 28, 1909 he put a single bullet into his head and died one day later.

The Cubs moved on to their third straight Series, again taking on the Detroit Tigers and Ty Cobb. They dominated once again, winning 4 games to 1. The thrashing was so complete that for Game 5, played on October 14 at Detroit's Bennet Park, only 6,210 showed up on a cold, wet, overcast day to watch the Cubs beat the Tigers 2-0 to wrap up the series. It remains the smallest crowd ever to watch a World Series game, and is the last time that the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series.

Team Leaders

HR: Joe Tinker 6
RBI: Joe Tinker 68
Avg.: Johnny Evers .300

Wins: Mordecai Brown 29
ERA: Mordecai Brown 1.47
Strikeouts: Orval Overall 167
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