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Random Game Callback, August 18, 1904
2006-08-18 03:59
by Bob Timmermann

Joe McGinnity held the defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates to just five hits as the New York Giants won an easy 6-0 shutout at the Polo Grounds.

McGinnity, who had his best season in 1904, was one of two aces that Giants manager John McGraw was able to use. Christy Mathewson, was just the "#2 guy" in 1904. The Pirates, led by player-manager Fred Clarke, started Deacon Phillippe.

The Giants scored twice in the second inning. Shortstop Bill Dahlen led off with an infield single. Third baseman Art Devlin hit a grounder that Pittsburgh shortstop Honus Wagner made an error on to put runners at first and second. Second baseman Billy Gilbert attempted a sacrifice, but that was foiled when the Pirates put on a wheel play and third baseman Tommy Leach threw to Wagner at third for a force. Catcher John Warner blooped one to short left field to score Devlin and Gilbert came around to score when Leach threw away the relay.

Dan McGann got things going for the GIants in the third when he got hit by a pitch with one out. Left fielder Sam Mertes tripled to score McGann. Mertes would score New York's fourth run on an RBI double by Devlin.

McGann scored another run in the fifth when center fielder Ginger Beaumont dropped his fly ball and let it get behind him as McGann circled the bases. The Giants scored their final run in the eighth on an error, a sacrifice, and a scoring fly ball.

The Pirates could manage just five singles and the only time they hit the ball hard was in the first inning when Beaumont lined a ball off of McGinnity, who still managed to pick it up and throw him out. McGinnity struck out two and walked three.

The Giants ran away with the NL pennant in 1904 with a 106-47 record, 13 games ahead of Chicago. The margin could have been bigger had not McGraw started to play more reserves and let off the accelerator. The Pirates finished in fourth place at 87-66.

Although the Pirates had played Boston in a World Series in 1903, the Giants refused to take on the AL champs, again Boston, in 1904. The reasons for this are not exactly clear, but one thing to keep in mind is that in 1904, the AL Highlanders were in a close race with Boston for the pennant and it's very likely that the Giants didn't want to have to face the AL upstarts in a potentially embarrassing postseason series. Other reasons for the Giants refusal to play the World Series were that McGraw and owner John Brush were just jerks and they didn't like AL president Ban Johnson at all. Nevertheless, McGraw would bill the Giants as "World Champions" in 1905.

McGinnity would pitch 408 innings, win 35 games, lose just 8, strike out 144, post 38 complete games, 9 shutouts, and have an ERA of 1.61. Teammate Mathewson was 33-12 with 212 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA. McGinnity, nicknamed "Iron Man" because he worked in a foundry, pitched just 10 seasons in the majors, but played pro ball until he was 54. He didn't make his debut in the majors until he was 28.

Wagner led the NL in batting average at . 349, as well as OBP (.423), slugging (.520), total bases (255), doubles (44), and stolen bases (53).

Sources: New York Times,, Retrosheet

2006-08-18 07:07:16
1.   kegtron
So there is no official 1904 champion. Why couldn't the MLB just force the Giants to forfeit and give the title to the AL Champ.

Check out the standings from that year, it seems like teams were either really good or absolutely horrible, with no in between.

2006-08-18 09:37:55
2.   Bob Timmermann
I guess they needed a salary cap in 1904.

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