1908 Pittsburgh Pirates

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1908 Pittsburgh Pirates / Franchise: Pittsburgh Pirates / BR Team Page[edit]

Record: 98-56, Finished 2nd in National League (1908 NL)

Managed by Fred Clarke

Ballpark: Exposition Park

History, Comments, Contributions[edit]

The 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates are the largely forgotten third team in the pennant race that also pitted the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants and went down to the wire. The race featured the infamous Merkle Bonehead Play game between the Giants and Cubs on September 23rd, but the Pirates, who had spent 46 days in first place, could have won the race outright had they defeated the Cubs in their final regularly scheduled game on October 3rd. By losing 5-2 that day, they kept the hopes of the two other contenders alive. As fate would have it, the race was decided on October 8th, when the Cubs won the make-up game tacked on to replace the Merkle game, which had been ruled a tie. As a result, the Bucs finished in second place, one game out and percentage points ahead of the Giants.

Honus Wagner utterly dominated the National League, leading the loop in hits, doubles, triples, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and stolen bases, while finishing second in runs scored and homers. But he was alone as a great hitter on the team: player/manager Fred Clarke had his worst season at age 35, with his lowest batting average and OBP, but he was still the team's second-best hitter. Several Pirates pitchers turned in excellent performances to counterbalance that, however, including Vic Willis who had 23 wins and logged over 300 innings, and Nick Maddox who went 23-8.

Further Reading[edit]

  • G.H. Fleming: The Unforgettable Season, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2006 (originally published in 1981).
  • Cait Murphy: Crazy '08: How a cast of cranks, rogues, boneheads and magnates created the greatest year in baseball history, Smithsonian Books, Washington, DC, 2007.
  • Steve Steinberg: "1908's Forgotten Team: The Pittsburgh Pirates", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 2 (Fall 2018), pp. 103-111.
  • Stew Thornley: "Regular Season Showdowns", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 1 (spring 2018), pp. 85-90.