Speaker Swings Loud Bat; Alexander Wins the Triple Crown

Tris Speaker played for Boston before moving over to Cleveland.

Tris Speaker played for Boston before moving over to Cleveland.

Look back at the 1916 MLB season.

By Glen Sparks

  • The Cleveland Indians’ Tris Speaker leads the American League with a .386 batting average. Cleveland acquired the centerfielder in an offseason trade with the Boston Americans (the Red Sox). The future Hall of Famer from Hubbard, Texas, nicknamed The Grey Eagle, retires following the 1928 season with a .345 lifetime batting average and 3,515 hits.
  • The New York Yankees’ Wally Pipp smacks a career-high 12 home runs to lead the A.L. The left-handed batter also leads the league in homers the following season, this time with nine. The first baseman plays 15 seasons in the majors and hits 90 round-trippers. He is most famous, though, for the headache that hits him June 2, 1925. Pipp asks Yankees manager Miller Huggins for the day off. Higgins obliges and sends in Lou Gehrig. Pipp never starts another game at first base for New York. The Cincinnati Reds him pick up on waivers in the offseason.
  • The A.L. ERA leader is none other than a Boston lefty named George Herman Ruth Jr. Ruth has an ERA of 1.75 to go with his 23-12 won-loss record. He also leads the league in shutouts with nine and starts with 40. The future slugger (714 career home runs) compiles a 94-46 career pitching record.
  • Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander wins the Triple Crown of pitching for the third straight season as ace of the Philadelphia Phillies. He wins a career-high 33 games, posts a 1.55 ERA and strikes out 167 batters. Pete also tosses a league-leading 16 shutouts and 38 complete games. He wins 373 games over a 20-year career and is inducted into baseball’s first class of Hall of Famers. Ronald Reagan portrays Alexander in the 1952 movie, The Winning Team.
  • Walk this way. The Philadelphia A’s and Detroit Tigers combine for 30 walks in a game on May 9. The Tigers issue 12 free passes, and the A’s give out 18. Despite both teams being on the wild side, the Tigers win the game in lopsided fashion 16-2.
  • The Boston Braves beat the New York Giants 3-1 in exciting fashion on June 22. They pull off a triple steal in the 11th inning to win the game.
  • Chicago Cubs catcher Bill Fischer feels extra tired by the end of the day on June 28. He catches a Major League-record 27 innings of action that day. The second game goes 18 innings. To make things tougher, the Cubs lose both games to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Cubs owner Charles Weeghman decides that fans can keep any ball that is hit into the stands, reportedly the first owner to be so generous. He makes this decision following a fight between fans over a ball earlier in the season. The restaurateur sells the Cubs to chewing-gun tycoon William Wrigley Jr. in 1918. In 1921, Weeghman hosts a Ku Klux Klan rally on his property outside Chicago.
  • St. Louis Browns ironman Del Pratt enjoys a big year. He leads the A.L. with 103 RBI. He also plays in all of his team’s games for the fourth straight season. Pratt plays 13 seasons for the Browns, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers. Pratt, a star running back for the University of Alabama in his college days, smacks 43 career homers and drives in 979 runs. The infielder bats .292 lifetime and steals 247 bases. Pratt makes it into all 154 of the Yankees’ games in 1920.
  • The Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers) finish 94-60 and win their first National League pennant in 16 years. Zack Wheat leads the Brooklyn attack with a .312 average and nine homers. Jeff Pfeffer wins a career-high 25 games. The Red Sox (91-63), behind Ruth on the mound, take the American League pennant and celebrate a World Series championship. Boston needs five games to dispatch the Robins. Ernie Shore wins two games for the Red Sox and posts a 1.53 ERA. Ruth (0.64 ERA) wins a game as does Dutch Leonard (1.00).
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