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Here's Hoping A's Honor 1910 Champs

Sometime soon, the A’s will announce their Promotions schedule for the upcoming season, and it is this young man’s wish that the powers-that-be have dedicated a little less time to bobbleheads for players who get traded before the giveaway day takes place (see Giambi, Jason…and yes I know they can’t really control that, which is pretty much my point); rather, I’d love to see a day planned in honor of the 1910 Athletics.

And what’s there to plan, anyway?  It’s not like they’d have to send invitations, since the last living member died in 1963, which also eliminates those embarrassing no-shows like last year when only a handful of the 1989 club made the trip to Oakland.

Anyway, what’s so darn special about this team from 100 years ago?  Well, aside from awesome names like Topsy Hartsel, Paddy Livingston, and Stuffy McGinnis filling out the roster, those A’s just happened to win the first of nine World Champions our storied franchise has claimed.  In the eyes of many, that title kick-started the American League’s very first dynasty, as Connie Mack’s club went on to capture four pennants in five years, including three Series triumphs.

1910Athletics02

(Photo courtesy of thedeadballera.com)

 

The Athletics nestled into first place on May 2, 1910, having beaten the Boston Red Sox to improve their record to 7-4.  It is in that lofty position they stayed for the remainder of the season, thanks in large part to a 13-game winning streak from April 30-May 18.

Boasting a roster that featured four future Hall-of-Famers- Home Run Baker (who was still a year away from being called by that moniker), Chief Bender, Eddie Collins, and Eddie Plank, the A’s steamrolled to the American League flag by 14.5 games over their nearest competition (the New York Highlanders, now called the Yankees).

Collins was the catalyst for that championship club, as he finished in the top four in batting average (.324), hits (188), on-base percentage (.382), and RBI’s (81).  In the first three categories, the same four names emerged, and they made for a pretty decent quartet: Collins, Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie, and Tris Speaker.

Speaking of foursomes, Collins, who led the league in assists and putouts from his position at second base, was a part of Mack’s famed $100,000 infield that included Baker, McGinnis, and Jack Barry.  He also paced the junior circuit with 81 stolen bases, a team record that lasted until some guy named Rickey came along, some 70 years later.

While the Athletics earned all A’s at the bat (first in average, second in runs scored and on-base percentage), their strength was in their staff.  How good?  Try a team ERA of 1.79.  No other American League team has ever been as stingy on the mound for a full season.  While Cooperstown-bound Bender (23-5, 1.58) and Plank (16-10, 2.01) were plenty good, the A’s were led that year by Jack Coombs (31-9, 1.30, a league-high 13 shutouts).

 1910 WS

It was a Bender-and-Coombs combo that catapulted the Athletics to the top of the baseball world.  In that season’s five-game Series against the Chicago Cubs, they were the only two pitchers Mack used. The Chief went the distance in the opener, and tamed the Cubs 4-1 on three singles.  Coombs was awarded the victory in the next two contests, both complete-game efforts, even though he struggled mightily (15 hits, 13 walks).  But the offense- which saw all nine hitters collect at least one hit in Game 2, a first in the Fall Classic- offered 21 runs worth of support (9 and 12, respectively) to push the A’s to within one game of the title. 

After Chicago scored one off Bender in the ninth to tie Game 4, and one in the tenth to extend the Series, Mack turned once more to Coombs, who benefited from yet another offensive outburst in a 7-2 victory that gave the A’s their first World Championship, 100 years ago.

 1910 team