1914 Cleveland Naps
1914 Cleveland Naps / Franchise: Cleveland Guardians / BR Team Page
Managed by Joe Birmingham
History, Comments, Contributions
The Naps still took their name from star second baseman Napoleon Lajoie, but Nappy was on his last legs by 1914. Now aged 40, the former batting champion hit only .258 with reduced mobility. At least, he was healthy, which was not the case for many of the team's players. SS Ray Chapman suffered a broken leg in spring training and was not back until mid-June. The team's best player, OF Shoeless Joe Jackson hit .338 to finish third in the league but missed three weeks of action with a leg contusion.
Two other key members of the 1913 team did not see any action at all for another reason: pitchers George Kahler and Cy Falkenberg jumped to the newly-founded Federal League, leaving a huge hole in the starting rotation. One of the young pitchers called to replace them, Guy Morton, started his major league career with 13 straight losses, an unenviable record that would stand until 1982 when shattered by the hapless Terry Felton of the Minnesota Twins. Cleveland lost its first eight games and almost succeeded in spending the entire season in the cellar, a feat they missed because of a two-day stay in 7th place. To top things off, they were last in attendance as well.
At the end of the season, six members of the Naps - Jackson, OF Elmer Smith, 1B Doc Johnston, OF Jay Kirke, P Willie Mitchell and P Bill Steen - were signed as "ringers" to play for an independent team based in Crestline, in central Ohio, to take part in a four-team tournament among nearby small towns. In spite of this effort to stack the deck in its favor, Crestline lost to Mansfield, OH, a team that only counted two former major leaguers and a bunch of unheralded minor leaguers, by a 2-1 score on October 6, putting a crowning exclamation mark on a wretched season. After the season, owner Charles Somers decided that it was time for a new beginning and renamed his team the Indians for the 1915 season.
|Boston Red Sox||91||62||.595||8½|
|St. Louis Browns||71||82||.464||28½|
|Chicago White Sox||70||84||.455||30|
|New York Yankees||70||84||.455||30|
- David L. Fleitz: "The Cleveland Naps in Crestline, 1914", in Brad Sullivan, ed.: Batting Four Thousand: Baseball in the Western Reserve, SABR, Cleveland, OH, 2008, pp. 97-98.