In baseball, the dead-ball era was the period between around 1900 and the emergence of Babe Ruth as a power hitter in 1919. That year, Ruth hit a then-league record 29 home runs, a spectacular feat at that time.
This era was characterized by low-scoring games and a lack of home runs. The lowest league run average in history was in 1908, when teams averaged only 3.4 runs per game.
During the dead-ball era, baseball was much more of a strategy-driven game, using a style of play now known as small ball or inside baseball. It relied much more on stolen bases and hit-and-run types of plays than on home runs. These strategies emphasized speed, perhaps by necessity.
Teams played in spacious ball parks that limited hitting for power, and, compared to modern baseballs, the ball used then was "dead" both by design and from overuse. Low-power hits like the Baltimore Chop, developed in the 1890s by the Baltimore Orioles, were used to get on base. Once on base, a runner would often steal or be bunted over to second base and move to third base or score on a hit-and-run play. In no other era have teams stolen as many bases as in the dead-ball era.
On 13 occasions between 1900 and 1920, the league leader in home runs had fewer than 10 home runs for the season; on just 4 occasions the league leaders had 20 or more homers. Meanwhile, there were 20 instances where the league leader in triples had 20 or more.
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Owen "Chief" Wilson set a record of 36 triples in 1912, a record that is likely one of baseball's unbreakable records, as is that of the 309 career triples of Sam Crawford set during this time.
Despite their speed, teams struggled to score during the dead-ball era. Major league cumulative batting averages ranged between .239 and .279 in the National League and between .239 and .283 in the American League. The lack of power in the game also meant lower slugging averages and on-base percentages, as pitchers could challenge hitters more without the threat of the long ball. The nadir of the dead-ball era was around 1907 and 1908, with a league-wide batting average of .239, slugging average of .306, and ERA under 2.40. In the latter year, the Chicago White Sox hit three home runs for the entire season, yet they finished 88–64, just a couple of games from winning the pennant.
Some players and fans complained about the low-scoring games, and baseball sought to remedy the situation. In 1909, Ben Shibe invented the cork-centered ball, which the Reach Company—official ball supplier to the American League (AL)—began marketing. Spalding, who supplied the National League (NL), followed with its own cork-center ball.
The change in the ball dramatically affected play in both leagues. In 1910, the American League batting average was .243; in 1911, it rose to .273. The National League saw a jump in the league batting average from .256 in 1910 to .272 in 1912. 1911 happened to be the best season of Ty Cobb’s career; Cobb batted .420 with 248 hits. Joe Jackson hit .408 in 1911, and the next year Cobb batted .410. These were the only .400 averages between 1902 and 1919.
In 1913, however, pitchers started to regain control, helped by a serendipitous invention by minor league pitcher Russ Ford. Ford accidentally scuffed a baseball against a concrete wall, and after he threw it, noticed the pitch quickly dived as it reached the batter. The emery pitch was born. Soon pitchers not only had the dominating spitball; they had another pitch in their arsenal to control the batter, aided by the fact that the same ball was used throughout the game and almost never replaced. As play continued, the ball became increasingly scuffed. This made it harder to hit as it moved more during the pitch, and more difficult to see as it became dirtier. By 1914 run scoring was essentially back to the pre-1911 years and remained so until 1919.
Such a lack of power in the game led to one of the more unusual player nicknames in history. Frank Baker, one of the best players of the dead-ball era, earned the nickname of "Home Run" Baker merely for hitting two home runs in the 1911 World Series. Although Baker led the American League in home runs four times (1911–1914), his highest home run season was 1913, when he hit 12 home runs, and he finished with 96 home runs for his career.
The best homerun hitter of the dead-ball era was Philadelphia Phillies outfielder "Cactus" Gavvy Cravath. Cravath led the National League in home runs six times, with a high total of 24 for the pennant-winning Phillies in 1915 and seasons of 19 home runs each in 1913 and 1914. Cravath, however, was aided by batting in the Baker Bowl, a notoriously hitter-friendly park with only a short 280-foot (85 m) distance from the plate to the right field wall.
The following factors contributed to the dramatic decline in runs scored during the dead-ball era:
The foul strike rule was a major rule change that, in just a few years, sent baseball from a high-scoring game to a game where scoring any runs was a struggle. Prior to this rule, foul balls did not count as strikes. Thus, a batter could foul off a countless number of pitches with no strikes counted against him—except for bunt attempts. This gave the batter an enormous advantage. In 1901, the National League adopted the foul strike rule, and the American League followed suit in 1903.
Before 1921, it was common for a baseball to be in play for over 100 pitches. Players used the same ball until it started to unravel. Early baseball leagues were very cost-conscious, so fans had to throw back balls that had been hit into the stands. The longer the ball was in play, the softer it became—and hitting a heavily used, softer ball for distance is much more difficult than hitting a new, harder one. The ball itself was softer to begin with, probably making home runs less likely.
The ball was also hard to hit because pitchers could manipulate it before a pitch. For example, the spitball pitch was permitted in baseball until 1921. Pitchers often marked the ball, scuffed it, spat on it—anything they could to influence the ball's motion. This made the ball "dance" and curve much more than it does now, making it more difficult to hit. Tobacco juice was often added to the ball as well, which discolored it. This made the ball difficult to see, especially since baseball parks did not have lights until the late 1930s. This made both hitting and fielding more difficult.
Many ballparks were large by modern standards, such as the West Side Grounds of the Chicago Cubs, which was 560 feet to the center field fence, and the Huntington Avenue Grounds of the Boston Red Sox, which was 635 feet to the center field fence. The dimensions of Braves Field prompted Ty Cobb to say that no one would ever hit the ball out of it.
The dead-ball era ended suddenly. By 1921, offenses were scoring 40% more runs and hitting four times as many home runs as they had in 1918. The abruptness of this change causes widespread debate among baseball historians, with no consensus on its cause. Six popular theories have been advanced:
The 1903 Washington Senators won 43 games, lost 94, and finished in eighth place in the American League. They were managed by Tom Loftus and played home games at National Park.
Washington had finished in sixth place in each of the previous two seasons (the first two seasons of the American League's existence). However, they fell to eighth and last in 1903. Their only star player, Big Ed Delahanty, got drunk and fell off a bridge into Niagara Falls midway through the season.
The Senators' pitching had always been bad, and indeed, they would allow the most runs in the AL, but without Delahanty the offense sputtered to a halt. Their collective batting average was .231, bad even for the dead-ball era, and no one drove in more than 49 runs.1909 Chicago Cubs season
The 1909 Chicago Cubs season was the 38th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 34th in the National League and the 17th at West Side Park. The Cubs won 104 games but finished second in the National League, 6½ games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs had won the pennant the previous three years and would win it again in 1910. Of their 104 victories, 97 were wins for a Cubs starting pitcher; this was the most wins in a season by the starting staff of any major league team from 1908 to the present day.The legendary infield of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, Frank Chance, and Harry Steinfeldt was still intact, but it was the pitching staff that excelled. The Cubs pitchers had a collective earned run average of 1.75, a microscopic figure even for the dead-ball era. Three Finger Brown was one of the top two pitchers in the league (with Christy Mathewson) again, going 27–9 with a 1.31 ERA.1977 NFL season
The 1977 NFL season was the 58th regular season of the National Football League. The Seattle Seahawks were placed in the AFC West while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were slotted into the NFC Central.
Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Miami Dolphins at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This would be only the second season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday. It marked the last time that the Cowboys did not play on Thanksgiving.
This was the last NFL regular season with 14 games. The regular season was expanded to 16 games in 1978, with the preseason reduced from six games to four. It was also the final season of the eight-team playoff field in the NFL, before going to ten the following season.
The 1977 season is considered the last season of the “Dead Ball Era” of professional football (1970 to 1977). The 17.2 average points scored per team per game was the lowest since 1942. For 1978, the league made significant changes to allow greater offensive production.The season ended with Super Bowl XII when the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos.Baker Bowl
Baker Bowl is the best-known popular name of a baseball park that formerly stood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Its formal name, painted on its outer wall, was National League Park. It was also initially known as Philadelphia Park or Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds / Park.
Baker Bowl was located on a small city block bounded by N. Broad St., W. Huntingdon St., N. 15th St. and W. Lehigh Avenue.
The ballpark was initially built in 1887. It was constructed by Phillies owners AJ Reach and John Rogers. The ballpark cost $80,000 and had a capacity of 12,500. At that time the media praised it as state-of-the-art. In the dead-ball era, the outfield was enclosed by a relatively low wall all around. Center field was fairly close, with the railroad tracks running behind it. Later, the tracks were lowered and the field was extended over top of them. Bleachers were built in left field, and over time various extensions were added to the originally low right field wall, resulting in the famous 60-foot (18 m) fence.
The ballpark's second incarnation opened in 1895. It was notable for having the first cantilevered upper deck in a sports stadium, and was the first ballpark to use steel and brick for the majority of its construction. It also took the rule book literally, as the sweeping curve behind the plate was about 60 feet (18 m), and instead of angling back toward the foul lines, the 60-foot (18 m) wide foul ground extended all the way to the wall in right, and well down the left field line also. The spacious foul ground, while not fan-friendly, would have resulted in more foul-fly outs than in most parks, and thus was probably the park's one saving grace in the minds of otherwise-frustrated pitchers.Bill McKechnie
William Boyd McKechnie (August 7, 1886 – October 29, 1965) was an American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a third baseman during the dead-ball era. McKechnie was the first manager to win World Series titles with two teams (1925 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1940 Cincinnati Reds), and remains one of only two managers to win pennants with three teams, also capturing the National League title in 1928 with the St. Louis Cardinals. His 1,892 career victories ranked fourth in major league history when he ended his managing career in 1946, and trailed only John McGraw's NL total of 2,669 in league history. He was nicknamed "Deacon" because he sang in his church choir and generally lived a quiet life.Cy Barger
Eros Bolivar "Cy" Barger (May 18, 1885 – September 23, 1964) was a right-handed starting pitcher and left-handed batter who played in the American League for the New York Highlanders (1906–07); in the National League with the Brooklyn teams Superbas (1910) and Dodgers (1911–12), and for the Pittsburgh Rebels (1914–15) in the Federal League.
A native of Jamestown, Kentucky, Barger was a dead-ball era pitcher who also played first base and shortstop as well as the outfield. He went to college at Transylvania University and debuted in the majors on August 30, 1906. With the Highlanders, he had a 0–0 record in 11 innings pitched over parts of two seasons.
In 1909, Barger led Rochester to the Eastern League title with 23 wins and minuscule 1.00 earned run average. Again in the majors with the 1910 Superbas, Barger enjoyed a career year with 15 victories and a 2.88 ERA, winning 11 games the following season. With the Rebels, he won 19 games from 1914 to 1915.Cy Williams
Frederick "Cy" Williams (December 21, 1887 – April 23, 1974) was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs (1912–17) and Philadelphia Phillies (1918–30). As Major League Baseball emerged from the dead-ball era, Williams became one of the most prominent home run hitters in the National League.Gavvy Cravath
Clifford Carlton "Gavvy" Cravath (March 23, 1881 – May 23, 1963), also nicknamed "Cactus", was an American right fielder and right-handed batter in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the Philadelphia Phillies. One of the sport's most prolific power hitters of the dead-ball era, in the seven years from 1913 to 1920 he led the National League in home runs six times, in runs batted in, total bases and slugging percentage twice each, and in hits, runs and walks once each. He led the NL in several offensive categories in 1915 as the Phillies won the first pennant in the team's 33-year history, and he held the team's career home run record from 1917 to 1924. However, he played his home games at Baker Bowl, a park that was notoriously favorable to batting statistics. Cravath hit 92 career homers at Baker Bowl while he had 25 homers in all his games away from home.Golden age of baseball
The Golden Age of Baseball, or Baseball's Golden Era, is the period from about 1920 to 1960. The golden era is the time period immediately following the dead-ball era (before World War I) but prior to what is now called the modern era. There is no exact timeframe in any of these eras. MLB considers the post World War II era to be the beginning of the modern age, which places the golden era between the end of World War I and the end of World War II.
Much of baseball's golden age was captured in black and white film, adding to the mystique and folklore of the game. The first baseball game broadcast in color was in August 11, 1951, and by the mid-1960s all baseball games were broadcast in color, which could be viewed as the end of the golden age.Jesse Tannehill
Jesse Niles Tannehill (July 14, 1874 – September 22, 1956) was a dead-ball era left-handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Highlanders, Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Senators. Tannehill was among the best pitchers of his era and was one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time. In fact, Tannehill was such a good hitter that he was used in the outfield 87 times in his career.Leo Meyer (baseball)
Leo Meyer (March 29, 1888, in Iowa City, Iowa – September 2, 1968, in Smyrna, Delaware), was a Major League Baseball player who played shortstop for the Brooklyn Superbas in 1909.
After his year with the Superbas, he played several more years in the minor leagues. His best year in the minor leagues was with the Trenton Tigers of the Tri-State League. That year he had a .273 average 431 at bats. He also hit four home runs that year in the "dead ball" era. His last year in the minor leagues was with the Nashville Volunteers of the Southern Association in 1919.List of Major League Baseball career stolen bases leaders
In baseball statistics, a stolen base is credited to a baserunner when he successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is throwing the ball to home plate. Under Rule 7.01 of Major League Baseball's (MLB) Official Rules, a runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. Stolen bases were more common in baseball's dead-ball era, when teams relied more on stolen bases and hit and run plays than on home runs.As of September 2018, Rickey Henderson holds the MLB career stolen base record with 1,406. He is the only MLB player to have reached the 1,000 stolen bases milestone in his career. Following Henderson is Lou Brock with 938 stolen bases; Billy Hamilton is third on the all-time steals listing. His number of career steals varies with different sources, but all sources hold his career steals placing him in third on the list before Ty Cobb (897), Tim Raines (808), Vince Coleman (752), Arlie Latham (742), Eddie Collins (741), Max Carey (738), and Honus Wagner (723), who are the only other players to have stolen at least 700 bases. Coleman is the leader for retired players that are not members of the Hall of Fame. Hugh Nicol is the leader for the most stolen bases in one season, with 138 stolen bases in 1887.Brock held the all-time career stolen bases before being surpassed by Henderson in 1991. Brock had held the record from 1977 to 1991. Before Brock, Hamilton held the record for eighty-one years, from 1897 to 1977. Before that, Latham held the record from 1887 to 1896. Latham was also the first player to collect 300 career stolen bases. With Kenny Lofton's retirement in 2007, 2008 was the first season since 1967 in which no active player had more than 500 career stolen bases. Between 2008 and 2010, no active player had more than 500 stolen bases until Juan Pierre collected his 500th stolen base on August 5, 2010. He was the leader in stolen bases for active players until his retirement at the end of the 2013 season. José Reyes is the current active leader in stolen bases with 517 career.Live-ball era
The live-ball era, also referred to as the lively ball era, is the period in Major League Baseball beginning in 1920 (and continuing to the present day), contrasting with the pre-1920 period known as the "dead-ball era". The name "live-ball era" comes from the dramatic rise in offensive statistics, a direct result of a series of rule changes (introduced in 1920) that were colloquially said to have made the ball more "lively". The live-ball era was the era in which baseball regained relevance and exploded in popularity.Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, and the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901, respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.
Baseball's first openly all-professional team was founded in Cincinnati in 1869. (There had been teams in the past that paid some players, and some that had paid all players but under the table.) The first few decades of professional baseball were characterized by rivalries between leagues and by players who often jumped from one team or league to another.
The period before 1920 in baseball is known as the dead-ball era; players rarely hit home runs during this time. Baseball survived a conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series, which came to be known as the Black Sox Scandal. The sport rose in popularity in the 1920s, and survived potential downturns during the Great Depression and World War II. Shortly after the war, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.
The 1950s and 1960s were a time of expansion for the AL and NL, then new stadiums and artificial turf surfaces began to change the game in the 1970s and 1980s. Home runs dominated the game during the 1990s, and media reports began to discuss the use of anabolic steroids among Major League players in the mid-2000s. In 2006, an investigation produced the Mitchell Report, which implicated many players in the use of performance-enhancing substances, including at least one player from each team.
Today, MLB is composed of 30 teams: 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada. Teams play 162 games each season and five teams in each league advance to a four-round postseason tournament that culminates in the World Series, a best-of-seven championship series between the two league champions that dates to 1903. Baseball broadcasts are aired on television, radio, and the Internet throughout North America and in several other countries throughout the world. MLB has the highest season attendance of any sports league in the world with more than 69.6 million spectators in 2018.Mordecai Brown
Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown (October 19, 1876 – February 14, 1948), nicknamed Three Finger or Miner, was an American Major League Baseball pitcher and manager during the first two decades of the 20th century (known as the "dead-ball era"). Due to a farm-machinery accident in his youth (April 17, 1888), Brown lost parts of two fingers on his right hand, and in the process gained a colorful nickname. He turned this handicap into an advantage by learning how to grip a baseball in a way that resulted in an exceptional curveball, which broke radically before reaching the plate. With this technique he became one of the elite pitchers of his era.
Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.Ray Morgan
Raymond Caryll Morgan (June 14, 1889 – February 15, 1940) was an infielder in Major League Baseball, playing mainly as a second baseman for the Washington Senators from 1911 through 1918. Listed at 5' 8", 155 lb., Morgan batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland.During the dead-ball era, second baseman Ray Morgan was part of a stellar double play combo along with shortstop George McBride for the Washington Senators in a span of eight years.
Basically a slap-hitter, Morgan compiled a .254 batting average and a .348 on-base percentage in 741 career games. His most productive season came in 1913, when he posted career-highs in average (.272), hits (131), runs (58), RBI (57) and walks (68), while turning 61 double plays in 134 games.From 1913 to 1914 Morgan ranked fourth in the American League for the most assists by a second baseman, while collecting a .398 OBP in 1916, good for a fourth place behind Tris Speaker (.470), Ty Cobb (.452) and Eddie Collins (.405).Following his major league stint Morgan finished his career with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. He hit a .293 average in 168 Minor league games in parts of three seasons (1910-'11, 1920).Morgan died in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 50, after complications related to pneumonia and heart failure.Batting statisticsRuss Ford
Russell William Ford (April 25, 1883 – January 24, 1960) was a Major League Baseball pitcher during the dead-ball era of the early 1900s.Scoring position
In the sport of baseball, a baserunner is said to be in scoring position when they are on second or third base. The distinction between being on first base and second or third base is that a runner on first can usually only score if the batter hits an extra-base hit, while a runner on second or third can score on a single. This is also known as "ducks on the pond". Runners left in scoring position refers to the number of runners on second or third at the end of an inning and is an inverse measure of a team's offensive efficiency.
Many of baseball's "small ball" or "one run" tactics center on attempts to move a runner on base into scoring position. Such tactics were dominant in the 1890s and the dead-ball era, when extra-base hits were relatively rare.Triple (baseball)
In baseball, a triple is the act of a batter safely reaching third base after hitting the ball, with neither the benefit of a fielder's misplay (see error) nor another runner being put out on a fielder's choice. A triple is sometimes called a "three-bagger" or "three-base hit". For statistical and scorekeeping purposes it is denoted by 3B.Triples have become somewhat rare in Major League Baseball. It often requires a ball hit to a distant part of the field, or the ball taking an unusual bounce in the outfield. It also usually requires that the batter hit the ball solidly, and be a speedy runner. It also often requires that the batter's team have a good strategic reason for wanting the batter on third base, as a double will already put the batter in scoring position and there will often be little strategic advantage to taking the risk of trying to stretch a double into a triple. (The inside-the-park home run is much rarer than a triple). The trend for modern ballparks is to have smaller outfields (often increasing the number of home runs); it has ensured that the career and season triples leaders mostly consist of those who played early in Major League Baseball history, generally in the dead-ball era.
A walk-off triple (one that ends a game) occurs very infrequently. For example, the 2016 MLB season saw only three walk-off triples, excluding one play that was actually a triple plus an error.