The 1908 major league season got off to a soggy start. Seven of the eight
season openers were able to be played on April 14, but Pittsburg's game in St. Louis was
rained out. But on April 15, rain washed out every game except the one in St. Louis and the
Cardinals and Pirates were finally able to start the season. Why "Pittsburg"? Read
It was not a great day for the 7600 spectators at St. Louis's Robison Field
as a cold light rain fell throughout the game. Yet, the teams were able to slog through 10
innings with the Pirates finishing on top 3-1, thanks to six errors by the Cardinals.
Camnitz got the win over Johnny Lush,
both of whom went the distance. Each team scored a run in the ninth and the Pirates pushed across a pair in the tenth for the win.
The Pirates were playing the game without their star shortstop, Honus
Wagner, who was holding out. Wagner would sign the next day and get back into the lineup on
the 19th. In the interim, Pittsburg manager Fred
Clarke used reserve infielder Charlie
Starr. The difference between the two players was striking. Starr would play in just
20 games and bat .186, but he did finish the season with more walks (13) than hits (11).
Wagner had his greatest season, playing in 151 games and leading the league in hits (201),
doubles (39), triples (19), RBI (109), stolen bases (53), batting average (.354), on base
percentage (.415), and slugging (.542). Wagner hit 10 home runs, but that was two
fewer than Brooklyn's Tim Jordan
and Wagner was denied the Triple Crown.
Cardinals manager John McCloskey started Art Hostetter at catcher. In his first two seasons, Hostetter played under his real last name Hoelskoetter, but switched to the easier to pronounce name in 1907. Regardless of how he spelled his name, Hostetter/Hoeslkoetter was out of the majors after the 1908 season.
The Pirates pitching staff finished the season with a 2.12 ERA, which
sounds unbeatable in today's terms, but the NL ERA as a whole in 1908 was 2.35 and the worst
pitching staff, Boston, had an ERA of 2.79.
The 1908 Pirates finished just one game behind the Cubs when the tumultuous
season ended. The Pirates made a late run at the pennant winning eight of their
last nine games, including six against the woeful Cardinals (49-105). But the Pirates lost
an October 4 makeup game in Chicago, 5-2, which set up the fateful October 8 Merkle
makeup game in New York.