Sunday, September 6, 2009

The 1909 Championship Race, Week Ending Sept. 4

As the American Association pennant race for 1909 continued along its tenuous course during late August and early September, here’s a look at how things shaped up between the principal contenders. From the above standings from the Sept. 11, 1909 issue of Sporting Life, the Brewers were still holding on to their perch, with the Millers and Colonels close behind. Note that the graphic's top section shows the won/loss record for each team in the league, while the standings are presented below.

The Brewers, winding up the week ending Sept. 4 with a 3.5 game lead over the Millers, were successful in maintaining their late season momentum by winning six, losing two, and outscoring opponents 52-35. Starting out against the Millers at Nicollet Park on Saturday, Aug. 28, Milwaukee took one on the chin, 17-10 (see details below). Then it was on to St. Paul where the Brewers took four of five from the fifth-place Saints in a series which included a four-hit shutout by Frank Schneiberg on Aug. 29. That contest featured three triples by Milwaukee third-baseman Harry “Pep” Clark. The Saints managed to salvage some respect by defeating John McCloskey’s Milwaukeeans 7-3 in the last game of the series. Entertaining Kansas City, the Brew Boys won three more games to end their nine-game week of play. In the second contest of their series with the last-place Blues, the Brewers served notice by blanking the visitors, 8-0, as Brewer ace Stoney McGlynn (age 37), landed his 12th shutout of the season, a four-hitter. Sporting Life reported, “McGlynn was in perfect form and master at all times.” With a 7-2 win against KC the next day, McCloskey's men capped a good week on the upswing by winning seven of nine. The momentum belonged to Milwaukee to start the month of September. Their record stood at 80 wins, 59 losses.

The Millers had an abbreviated schedule during which they won three, lost three. They had a productive offense during their homestand, outscoring their opponents 32-22, but could only win three of six meetings. The week started out with a resounding 17-10 trashing of the visiting Brewers, as the Millers pounded out 15 hits at Nicollet Park on Aug. 28. The game featured successive six-run innings for Minneapolis in frames four and five, sending Tom “Sugar Boy” Dougherty scurrying in the fourth. Reliever Charlie Wacker didn’t fare much better before Frank Schneiberg came on to stop the bleeding. The Millers came away with a win despite five errors; the Brewers committed seven in a wild affair. Manager/third-baseman Jimmy Collins had a perfect day with four singles in four at-bats, while second-sacker Jerry Downs had a 3-for-6 performance, including a double and a stolen base. A home run by Gavvy Cravath punctuated the victory as Irving “Young Cy” Young, the Millers' "Maine Man," came away with the win. Taking on the lowly Blues, the Millers won the first two outings but dropped the final pair to wind up their week, and the month of August. After “Long Tom” Hughes shut out the Blues on five hits, 8-0, in the first game of the set, the Millers were blanked on five hits in the fourth game by “Vinegar Bill” Essick, the second of two contests on Aug. 31 to end the series. Their final game of the week came Sept. 4 against their crosstown rival, the Saints. It resulted in a 4-0 shutout by St. Paul's veteran hurler, Charlie Chech, who allowed four hits while striking out only one. The Millers lost ground to the Brewers that week, and now had a record of 75 wins, 61 losses.

Starting out the week at home, Louisville wrapped up a series with the fourth-place Columbus Senators in a 6-3 loss at Eclipse Park. The Colonels then traveled to Toledo for a four-game set against the Mud Hens in which they took three of four at brand new Swayne Field. Each game at Toledo was decided by one run. In the finale, the Mud Hens shut out the visiting Colonels, 1-0, on a three-hit gem by righty Karl Robinson. Having scored only 12 runs in five games, Louisville finally showed some offense Sept. 2 at Neil Park in Columbus with a 9-6 win, keeping the Colonels within striking distance of the Brewers. A five-run eighth-inning rally highlighted the tilt for the visitors as reliever Frank Decanniere, in for Orville Selby, came away with the victory. Left-fielder Art Fenlon led the hitting attack for Louisville with three hits in five trips. The game featured two rare home runs (two in one game was exceptional), one by Louisville’s spunky catcher Johnny “Runt” Hughes and the other by the Senators left-fielder Josh Clarke. Columbus catcher Lee Fohl had four hits on the day for Bill Clymer’s Senators who remained out of contention with a record of 67-72.
On Sept. 4, the Colonels made it five of seven by defeating Columbus, 3-2, despite Glenn Liebhardt's seven-strikeout performance. The Night Riders, as they were known in Louisville, had outscored their opponents by a slim margin of 24-21 It was the 70th win for Heinie Peitz and the Louisville Colonels, now five games over .500, and they were still in the hunt. Their record stood at 70-65. There was plenty of baseball left for 1909!

That’s the update for the week ending September 4, 1909, one-hundred years ago in the American Association.

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