The 1900 season marked the arrival of not only a new century but of a new era in major league baseball. After absorbing the American Association in December 1891, the National League tottered along for eight years as an unwieldy 12-team circuit. At the close of the 1899 campaign, however, the NL pared down its size by bidding farewell to its four weakest members. The elimination of Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, and Louisville streamlined the NL to eight teams and created a stable composition that would endure until 1953.
The chief beneficiaries of the NL's decision to cut back in size were Brooklyn and Pittsburgh. Both had been under "syndicate" ownership in 1899, a common practice at the time that allowed the same partnership of owners to operate more than one team. As a result, Brooklyn fell heir to most of the cast from the great Baltimore Orioles teams of the mid-1890s, and Barney Dreyfuss, who owned the controlling stock in both the Pittsburgh and Louisville franchises, simply transferred all of the defunct Kentucky club's top players to the Steel City. Among them were pitchers Deacon Phillippe, Jack Chesbro, and Rube Waddell; player-manager Fred Clarke; and the great Honus Wagner.
It was Brooklyn's annexation of three Baltimore pitchers -- Kitty Kitson, Harry Howell, and Iron Man Joe McGinnity -- that spelled the difference in 1900. The trio joined with holdover Brickyard Kennedy for 70 of Brooklyn's 82 wins and lift manager Ned Hanlon's club to its second straight NL pennant by a comfortable 4-1/2 games over Pittsburgh. Philadelphia finished eight lengths back in third place, and Boston rounded out the first division even though the Beantown entry slipped six games under .500.
Because the Louisville contingent needed time to blend with his Pittsburgh holdovers, Dreyfuss's Pirates did not really begin to gel until the season was nearly completed. To settle doubts that he had the superior team, Hanlon accepted Dreyfuss's best-of-five postseason challenge, with all the games to be played in Pittsburgh for a silver cup to be donated by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph. The "Series" opened on October 15 at the Pirates' Exposition Park. Behind McGinnity and Kitson, Hanlon's Superbas took the first two games but then were belted 10-0 in the third contest. The following day McGinnity cruised to a 6-1 triumph and convinced any lingering skeptics that the best team had won in the regular season.
Pittsburgh acquires Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke and Rube Waddell, among others, from the defunct Louisville Colonels.
Honus Wagner leads the NL in BA (.381), SA (.573), doubles (45), triples (22), and total bases (302)'
Philly's Elmer Flick leads the NL in runs produced (205) and RBI (110).
Brooklyn's Willie Keeler tops the NL In hits (204).
The home run crown is won by Boston shortstop Herman Long (12).
Brooklyn's Joe McGinnity leads the NL in wins (29) and innings (347).
Waddell leads the league in ERA (2.37) and Ks (130).
New York third baseman Piano Legs Hickman commits 86 errors.
The Reds trade young pitcher Christy Mathewson to the Giants for aging Amos Rusie.
-- David Nemec & Saul Wisnia
Baseball: More Than 150 Years
NL: Brooklyn Superbas, 82-54 ... Pittsburgh Pirates, 79-60 ... Philadelphia Phillies, 75-63 ... Boston Braves, 66-72 ... St. Louis Cardinals, 65-75 ... Chicago Orphans, 65-75 ... Cincinnati Reds, 62-77 ... New York Giants, 60-78
IMAGE: Brooklyn Superbas 1900 logo.
Baseball: More Than 150 Years, David Nemec & Saul Wisnia
Copyright 1997 by Publications International, Ltd.
Published by Publications International, Ltd. (Lincolnwood, IL), 1997
available at ABEBOOKS