2018 starts in a few hours, so to welcome the new year, here’s an installment of baseball in year 8s. From Charlie Comiskey to Chase Utley, baseball has taken a wild ride in year 8s.
The St. Louis Browns held the best record in all of baseball. Atop the American Association at 92-43, the Browns were better than any team in the American Association or National League. Led by player manager Charlie Comiskey, the Browns helped pave the way for decades of great 8 baseball.
Five years before winning the first World Series, the Boston Beaneaters, later named the Red Sox, had the best record in baseball at 102-47. Future Hall of Famers Hugh Duffy and Slidin’ Billy Hamilton led the team to their abundant victories.
1908 was the last time until 2016, 106 years, that the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. In October of that year, not only was the first game between an all-American team and an all-Japanese team played, but singer Billy Murray (eerily similar to the name of the most famous Cubs fan alive, comedic actor Bill Murray) introduced the world to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” and Baseball’s Sad Lexicon led the Cubbies to 4-1 series victory over the Detroit Tigers. The Cubs were led by a trio of infielders: Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance.
The poem about the 3 may happen to be what put them all in the Hall of Fame, however Baseball’s Sad Lexicon did more to cause anguish to the Cubs’ opponents.:
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
The poem describes that if a ball comes anywhere near 1 of these 3 greats, all hopes of getting on base vanished. The smug Tigers thought that they would walk all over Chicago, but the Detroit crowd would be silenced in 5 games. The next year, 1908, would mark the last Cubs World Series victory for 108 until November 2 and 3, 2016.
This may possibly be the most hated season in Boston Red Sox’ history, considering that right after the season ended, BoSox’ owner Harry Frazee traded arguably the greatest baseball player of all-time, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. Beantown took the World Series (their last one until 2004, an 84 year drought called “The Curse of the Great Bambino”) 4 games to 2 over the Cubs led by Ruth.
Taking the Cards down in four, the New York Yankees’ Murderers’ Row easily won the World Series led by Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and the great Bambino. With the best record in all of Major League Baseball at 101-53, the Bronx Bombers were an unstoppable force that continues to dominate baseball to this day. At 68-25, the St. Louis Stars led the Negro National League that same year, with a wide margin over the 49-31 Kansas City Monarchs.
While the fearsome Yankees, now led by rookie Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, swept the North Side Cubbies in the Fall Classic, 1938 was an unusual year for baseball. On June 11, the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees at Crosley Field in Cincy and he made history on June 15 of that same year in Brooklyn when he no-hit the Dodgers, becoming the only man in baseball history ever to pitch two consecutive no-hitters. Not out of the ordinary, the 32-15 Monarchs and 27-10 Homestead Grays led the Negro American and National Leagues, respectively.
One year after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and thankfully forever integrated the MLB, the Cleveland Indians started baseball’s longest active World Series drought. They took the Series 4 games to 2 over the Boston Braves. At 55-21, the Birmingham Black Barons were atop the Negro American League.
The Yankees, led by DiMaggio and catcher Yogi Berra, took a thrilling World Series over the Milwaukee Braves 4 games to 3 to end the season, led by Cy Young Bob Turley. On January 28, however, bad news opened up the year the career of Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher Roy Campanella broke his neck and paralyzed his legs. In addition to the mediocrity of the year, for the first time in eight years, no new members are elected to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Another thrilling World Series, in the midst of a presidential election (which Richard Nixon won over Hubert Humphrey), the 103-59 Tigers beat the 97-65 St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 3. The MVP and the Cy Young winners were the same for both leagues and both represented a World Series team: Denny McLain of Detroit and Bob Gibson of St. Louis. Gibson, a Hall of Famer, also set the record for best single season Earned Run Average at 1.12.
Now split into the East and West, the American and National Leagues boasted the Yankees (AL) and the Dodgers (NL) in the Championship Series. The Yankees took it 4-2, winning their second series in a row. The Boston Red Sox’ Jim Rice was the AL Most Valuable Players and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dave Parker won the award for the NL.
Dennis Eckersley’s Oakland Athletics were heavily favored over the LA Dodgers, but in Game 1 Kirk Gibson hobbled up to the plate. The iconic Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully had the call, “And look who’s coming up!” when the injured outfielder, Gibson, surprised West California and the rest of the world by hitting a walkoff home run to start the Trolley Dodgers’ sweep off of the Hall of Fame closer, Eck, opposite him. The Minnesota Twins’ (AL) Frank Viola and the Dodgers’ (NL) Orel Hershiser, who pitched the longest scoreless streak in baseball history at 59 innings without a run that year, were the Cy Young winners and Gibson of the Dodgers and José Canseco of the A’s were the MVPs.
Led now by Andy Petit, Jorge Posada, the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, and the greatest shortstop, arguably greatest player in history, Derek Jeter, sweeping the San Diego Padres, the Yankees won their 24th World Series Championship. The leagues now had East, West and Central divisions, as well as a Wild Card spot in the postseason. There were four 20 game winners, three of them in the American League: the Toronto Blue Jays’ Roger Clemens (AL), the Yanks’ David Cone (AL), the Texas Rangers’ Rick Helling (AL), and the Atlanta Braves’ Tom Glavine (NL).
Led by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria led Tampa Bay Rays in five games. Hamels was the World Series MVP. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP and the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols won it for the National League.
Right around the corner, tomorrow, January 1, 2018, will start a story just as great as the previous 13 decades mentioned in this article. Already looking exciting, 2018 will feature Giancarlo Stanton apart from his Miami Marlins and now joining the 2017 Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge, in the Yankees’ outfield, Shohei Otani accompanying Mike Trout for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and a red hot Rhys Hoskins leading the reborn Phillies.