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Timeline of American and National League Baseball for the Year In Review section. Project expanded to include the National League (1900-1876), Federal League (1915-1914), Players League (1890), Union Association (1884) and American Association (1891-1882).

MLB Timeline by Michael Aubrecht
Written for's Year In Review section.
Sources: Baseball-Almanac, The Baseball Timeline, The Baseball Library, The Baseball Chronicle,,

(1900's continued)

Off the field…

The United States military intervened to aid in the removal of President Jose Santos Zelaya from Nicaragua. Since 1893, Zelaya had been trying to create a union of Central American countries by intervening actively in their affairs. After he began executing those who opposed him (including two Americans) the U.S. took over the rebel faction and ousted him promptly.

In the American League…

On April 27th, the Chicago White Sox won their 3rd 1-0 game over the St. Louis Browns in 3 days, setting an early American League record for consecutive 1-0 wins. Hits in all three games (by both teams combined) totaled a meager 18.

The Chicago White Sox also set a modern major league record on July 2nd after stealing 12 bases (3 of home) during a 15-3 massacre over the St. Louis Browns at South Side Park III.

Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb clinched the American League home run title after hitting nine, inside-the-park round-trippers. In doing so, he became the only player of the century to lead a league in home runs without ever actually hitting one "out of the park".

In the National League…

The National League deprived umpires the ability to levy fines and declared that all relief pitchers must retire at least one batter before being relieved themselves.

Pittsburgh Pirate Honus Wagner stole his way around the bases in the first inning of a May 2nd nightcap against the Chicago Cubs. In doing so, Wagner set a National League record as the first player ever to pull off the feat three times. Amazingly, he would duplicate the effort again the following day.

On July 3rd, the St. Louis Cardinals tied an unwanted major league mark after committing 17 individual errors during a doubleheader loss to the Cincinnati Reds, (10-2 and 13-7).

Around the league…

Play-By-Play, broadcasting came one step closer as the first use of wireless technology to transmit baseball results was conducted at the Columbia University Wireless Club. The proceedings of the game between the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia were relayed from the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia to New York's Waldorf Astoria, where Columbia students received the messages.

National League President John Heydler called an emergency meeting with the league's officials to propose a new two-umpire system for preventing fights with the players.

In June, Benjamin Shibe, of Bala, Pennsylvania, obtained a patent for a new cork-centered baseball. Spalding Sporting Goods later licensed the idea and began manufacturing it for distribution in both the major and minor leagues.

Off the field…

President Theodore Roosevelt held the "White House Conservation Conference", which later led to the establishment of the National Conservation Commission. The main purpose of the Commission was to implement new regulations for conserving the earth's natural resources by protecting its capacity for self-renewal. Particularly complex were the problems of nonrenewable energy resources such as oil and coal and other minerals that are still in great demand today.

In the American League…

On April 14th, Boston played their first game under the new nickname, the "Red Sox" and christened it with a 3-1 win over the Washington Senators at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.

The Detroit Tigers set a unique major league record on June 7th after turning a triple play against the Boston Red Sox for the 2nd day in a row.

The Washington Senators set an unwanted American League record after losing 29 games by shutouts.

In the National League…

In March, Honus Wagner announced his retirement from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 34. Despite the intention, he went on to play in 151 games (more than in any of the past 10 years) and led the league in hitting (for the 6th time), hits, total bases, doubles, triples, RBIs, and stolen bases.

On May 23rd, New York Giants third baseman Art Devlin tied a major league record by handling 13 total chances during a 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Around the league…

In 1908, the original sacrifice fly rule was adopted. It stated: No "time at bat" was charged - if a run scored after the catch of a fly ball. The rule was later repealed in 1931 and went through several variations before permanent acceptance in 1954.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (after a 2-year investigation by the Mills Committee) National League president A.G. Mills declared that Abner Doubleday had indeed, invented the sport of baseball at Cooperstown, New York in 1839.

Henry Chadwick, a leading reporter, commentator, scorer, and promoter of the game, died in Brooklyn at the tender age of 85. Chadwick was known as "The Father of Baseball" and is credited with developing the initial scoring and statistical systems for the game.

Singing sensation Billy Murray hit the charts with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".

Off the field…

In November, Oklahoma became the 46th state admitted to the union. Originally set aside as Indian Territory in 1834, the region was later divided into both the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory in 1890. Known primarily as an oil rich state, Oklahoma's vast plains produce bumper yields of wheat, as well as large crops of hay, cotton, and peanuts. Livestock products also contribute more than half of Oklahoma's annual farm receipts.

In the American League…

Popular Boston Pilgrims outfielder/manager Chick Stahl committed suicide while traveling with the team in West Baden Springs, Indiana. A note left behind stated: "Boys, I just couldn't help it. You drove me to it." Cy Young reluctantly agreed to start the season as an interim replacement manager and was followed by 2 other skippers during the year, George Huff and Bob Unglaub.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Ed Walsh tallied 11 assists and 2 putouts during a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Browns on April 19th. His total of 13 chances tied the franchise mark set by Nick Altrock during the 1904 season. Later in July, Walsh set another major-league record for fielding chances for pitchers, handling 12 assists and three putouts in a 13-inning game.

On June 28th, the last place Washington Nationals stole a major league record 13 bases off of injured New York Yankees catcher Branch Rickey. An injury to starter Red Kleinow forced Rickey into premature service and he was unable to throw accurately to his baseman.

In the National League…

A riot broke out during a July 8th, Chicago Cubs - Brooklyn Dodgers game after Cubs manager Frank Chance, who was being pelted with empty bottles, threw one back into the crowd hitting a young boy. After losing 5-0, the angry New York crowd rushed from the stands forcing Chance to escape Washington Park III in an armored car with a police escort.

At the West Side Grounds on September 14th, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds collected 29-combined hits, ALL of which were singles.

On September 22nd, Philadelphia Phillies rookie George McQuillan tossed a 6-inning, 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in his debut. The victory started a record string of 25 consecutive shutout innings at the beginning of his major league career. McQuillan went on to finish the season 4-0 (with 3 shut outs), and went on to win 23 games the following season.

Around the league…

The Cleveland Indians became the first team to institute team wide insurance policies after taking out $100,000 of coverage to insure its players against possible injury in railroad accidents.

Cincinnati Reds' manager Ned Hanlon, one of the originals whose managing days began in 1889 at Pittsburgh, announced his retirement ending a career that boasted five major league pennants (4 Baltimore, 1 Brooklyn).

The Washington Post reported that St. Louis Browns shortstop Bobby Wallace was the highest paid major league player with a yearly salary of $6,500.

Off the field…

More than 500 people were killed during the great San Francisco earthquake, which struck the "City by the Bay" on the morning of April 18 at 5:15 AM. Modern analysis estimated the tremors to register at an 8.25 on the Richter scale (By comparison, the quake that hit San Francisco on October 17, 1989 registered 6.7). The greatest destruction came from the fires that were ignited and the ensuing inferno ravaged the city for three days before burning out. In the end, the maelstrom destroyed 490 city blocks, a total of 25,000 buildings and rendered over 250,000 residents homeless. Damage estimates topped $350,000,000.

In the American League…

The New York ban on Sunday baseball was temporarily lifted on April 29th as the Highlanders and Philadelphia Athletics played a benefit game for the victims of the San Francisco earthquake, raising $5,600.

St. Louis Browns first baseman Tom Jones recorded an American League record 22 putouts on May 11th against the Boston Red Sox. New York Highlander Hal Chase tied the record 4 months later (September 21), but would not be matched himself until Yankee captain Don Mattingly duplicated the effort during a 7-1 win over the Minnesota Twins in June of 1987.

In May, the Boston Red Sox set an unwanted major league record after suffering four straight shutout losses (15-0, 8-0, 1-0 and 5-0).

In the National League…

On April 12th, Boston Braves outfielder Johnny Bates became the first modern player to hit a homerun in his first major league at bat. The inaugural round tripper came courtesy of Dodger Harry McIntire who lost 20 games or more in three seasons with Brooklyn's miserable turn-of-the-century teams.

New York Giants pitcher Hooks Wilste became the first pitcher of the modern era to strike out four batters in a single inning (after a 3rd-strike error) en route to a 12K, 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He also fanned the side in the 4th inning for a total of seven batters struck out in just 2 innings for the first and only time in major league history.

On October 4th, the Cubs recorded their 116th victory of the year. The 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates gave Chicago a 60-15-road record with a .800 percentage mark that has never been equaled. They also became the first team to finish with fewer than 200 errors and their pitching staff combined for a league-leading 1.76 ERA.

Around the league…

In an effort to curb accusations and/or suspicions of tampering, a new rule was set putting the umpire in sole charge of all game balls. (The home team manager previously had some say as to when a new ball was introduced).

Harry Pulliam was unanimously re-elected president of the National League with an increased salary of $10,000. The American League increased Ban Johnson's salary to $15,000 for the remaining four years of his contract.

Hank O'Day, a National League umpire unsuccessfully proposed that the batter's box be outlined with white rubber strips (rather than chalk) to prevent batters from erasing them with their spikes.

Off the field…

The "Industrial Workers of the World" was founded in Chicago with the hopes of giving more control to unions. The aim of the IWW was to unite in one body all skilled and unskilled workers for the purpose of overthrowing capitalism by using direct action, propaganda, the boycott, and the strike. The IWW was also opposed the use of sabotage, arbitration, collective bargaining, and political affiliation. Unfortunately, recurring controversy during both World Wars along with accusations of treason caused dissention in the ranks from the top-down. From a probable strength of at least 30,000 in 1912, the membership later fell to less than 10,000 in 1930 and in the mid-1990s remained at less than 1,000.

In the American League…

A committee of Washington writers voted for "Nationals" as the new American League team nickname, but the "Senators" continued as the majority fan favorite.

New York Highlanders first baseman Hal Chase set a major league record on August 5th with 38 putouts during a doubleheader sweep (3-1, 6-5) versus the visiting St. Louis Browns.

In the National League…

On April 26th, Chicago Cubs outfielder Jack McCarthy tied a major league record after starting 3 double plays to preserve a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jackson Nelson had originally set the DP record in 1887.

Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Phil Lewis earned his paycheck and tied a National League record on July 20th, after having 18 chances for 7 assists, 6 putouts and 5 errors en route to a 2-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Dave Brain became the first player in National League history to hit three triples in a single game - twice in one season. (Vs. St. Louis and Boston)

Boston Braves first baseman Fred Tenney completed the season with a National League record 152 assists. The mark stood until 1986, when Sid Bream of the Pittsburgh Pirates topped it with 166.

Around the league…

New York Giants owner John T. Brush, who refused to play the American League pennant winners in 1904, proposed a new set of rules governing future World Series. Later known as the "Brush Rules," these guidelines relating to the on-field play and off-field finances of the Series are still used to this day.

The National League Board of Directors acquitted St. Louis Cardinal right-hander Jack Taylor on the charges of throwing games. Despite the verdict, Taylor was still fined $300 for using poor judgment and practicing bad conduct.

On May 30th, both leagues posted record attendance figures for the Memorial Day holiday. Due to several doubleheaders, 80,963 attended eight American League games and 67,806 witnessed seven National League events.

Off the field…

The first section of the New York Subway system was opened between City Hall and 145th Street. The original system consisted of 28 stations along 9.1 miles of track with the IRT extending to the Bronx in 1905, Brooklyn in 1908 and Queens in 1915. Since then, it has expanded to over 230 miles of routes and over 400 miles of single track.

In the American League…

On May 11th, Sam Crawford of the Detroit Tigers broke Boston Red Sox ace Cy Young's consecutive streak of no-hit innings at 24 1/3 (76 batters without a hit) after managing a one-out single en route to a 1-0 victory.

Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox) shortstop Bill O'Neill set an unwanted major league record and became the only player in the 20th century to record six errors during a 13-inning, 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Browns.

After pitching a record setting season with 41 wins and 454 innings in 55 games, New York Highlanders (Yankees) ace Jack Chesbro "crashed and burned" after losing control of a spitball that sailed over his catcher's head and allowed the AL pennant losing run to score from third.

In the National League…

New York Giants' Dan McGann stole five bases on May 27th during 3-1 win over the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers. The record stood for 70 years until Davey Lopes of the Los Angeles Dodgers matched the mark in August of 1974. Atlanta Braves outfielder Otis Nixon eventually topped the feat with 6 steals (against the Montreal Expos) in 1991.

Frank Chance of the Chicago Cubs set a painful major league mark after being hit 4 times in one day during a May 30th double header against the Cincinnati Reds. In the first game, "The Peerless Leader " actually lost consciousness after being tagged in the head by Jack Harper.

In October, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Taylor tossed his 39th consecutive complete game of the season setting a modern major league record. The streak started on April 15th and finished with an astounding 352 innings pitched.

Around the league…

John T. Brush, president of the National League champion New York Giants, refused to play the returning American League champion Boston Pilgrims. He was quoted as stating that he refused to compete with a "representative of the inferior American League". Surprisingly, Brush regretted the decision and later that year proposed to continue with the series as originally conceived. His about-face spawned the "Brush Rules," a set of guidelines relating to the on-field play and off-field finances of the World Series, which exists to this day.

Off the field…

Automobile pioneer Henry Ford organized the Ford Motor Company. By cutting the costs of production and by adapting the conveyor belt and assembly line to automobile production, Ford was soon able to outdistance all his competitors to become the largest car manufacturer in the world. In 1908 he designed the infamous "Model T" and nearly 17 million cars were produced worldwide before the model was discontinued in 1928. Later a new design called the "Model A" was created to meet growing competition.

In the American League…

On May 6th, the Chicago White Stockings committed 12 errors, and the Detroit Tigers answered back with 6 of their own. The combined "18-E debacle" set a modern major-league record for the most errors (by two teams) in a single game.

Cleveland Indians rookie Jesse Stovall threw an 11-inning shutout in his first major league start to defeat the Detroit Tigers 1-0. The feat still remains as the longest shutout ever for a ML pitching debut.

At a post-season American League meeting, Ban Johnson was unanimously re-elected president and given a raise of $10,000. The AL owners also voted to allow base-running coaches at first and third at all times and to institute the "foul strike" rule in which a foul would be counted as a strike unless there are already two on the batter.

In the National League…

Boston Brave Wiley Pratt became the only pitcher in the 20th-century to lose two complete games in one day. Piatt allowed 14 hits, while striking out 12, en route to 1-0 and 5-3 Pittsburgh Pirates victories.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Tommy Corcoran set a major league record after totaling 14 assists in a 4-2 regulation win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Lave Cross, of the Philadelphia Athletics, had originally racked up 15 assists during a 12-inning game in 1897.

The National League-leading Pittsburgh Pirates set an uncharacteristic NL mark for inept fielding after making six errors in the first inning of a 13-7 New York Giants victory on August 20th.

Around the league…

In Cincinnati, peace talks between both rival leagues continued as the Nationals proposed a consolidated 12-team league, which the Americans promptly rejected. Eventually an agreement was reached to coexist peacefully with the AL promising to stay out of Pittsburgh.

Baseball rules committee chairman Tom Loftus announced that the pitcher's box would not be more than 15 inches higher than the baselines or home plate.

The inaugural World Series of 1903 was a resounding success and represented the first step in healing the bruised egos of both the veteran National and fledgling American Leagues. Pittsburgh and Boston went head-to-head for eight games proving that great baseball between the two leagues was possible and that a merger would benefit the growth of the sport. Unfortunately, some owners still disagreed with the concept and in 1904 it was prematurely cancelled.

Off the field…

The National Bureau of the Census was established and later became part of the Department of Commerce, a federal executive department that was charged with promoting U.S. economic development and technological advancement. Among its tasks was the taking of censuses, promotion of American business at home and abroad, establishing standard weights and measures, and issuing patents and registering trademarks.

In the American League…

The Cleveland Indians became the first American League team to hit three consecutive home runs in one inning as Nap Lajoie, Legs Hickman, and Bill Bradley all connected off St. Louis Browns pitcher Jack Harper (in the 6th) on the way to a 17-2 victory.

In July, the Baltimore Orioles were forced to forfeit a game to St. Louis and their team to the league. With only five players available for the line-up, the AL's front office borrowed back-up players from several other teams and maintained the franchise for the remainder of the season.

In the National League…

In Chicago, the Cincinnati Reds Cy Seymour set a major-league record by hitting four sacrifice flies in a 6-1 win over the Colts (Cubs).

Pittsburgh Pirate Honus Wagner committed "Grand Larceny" after stealing 2nd, 3rd and home during the second game of an August 13th doubleheader against the Boston Braves. Amazingly, it wasn't the first time as Wagner had originally accomplished the feat in 1899.

Around the league…

Former editor of the Louisville Commercial, Harry Pulliam was elected as the President of the NL. His reputation for honesty and businesslike approach to baseball helped forge a peace between the American and National Leagues that resulted in the "National Agreement" that governed baseball through 1920. In February of 1909 Pulliam began showing signs of mental illness and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown. Later that year he committed suicide by shooting himself in his room at the New York Athletic Club.

Off the field…

As President William McKinley began his second term, he was fatally shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz stated that the President was "an enemy of good working people" and was later judged to be sane and executed. The chief event of McKinley's administration was the war with Spain, which resulted in the United States' acquisition of the Philippines and other islands. Theodore Roosevelt was promptly sworn in as his successor and embarked on a wide-ranging program of governmental reform and conservation of natural resources.

In the American League…

On April 28th, Cleveland Indians rookie pitcher Charles Baker surrendered an American League record 23 singles in a 13-1 loss to the Chicago White Stockings.

In May, White Stockings Herm McFarland and Dummy Hoy set one of the first American League records (most homeruns in a game) with 2 grand slams during Chicago's 19-9 win over the Detroit Tigers. Detroit also set a major league mark of their own with 12 errors (10 by the infield) that was amazingly matched by the White Stockings in 1903 - against the Tigers.

With two outs in the 9th, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Bill Reidy set a major league record after surrendering 10 consecutive hits for a 13-2 loss to the Boston Somersets on June 2nd.

In the National League…

Cincinnati Reds ace Noodles Hahn struck out 16 Boston Brave batters on May 22nd for a 4-3 victory and a record that would stand until Jim Maloney matched it in 1963.

On June 20th, Honus Wagner became the first 20th-century player to steal home twice in a single game, as the Pittsburgh Pirates blanked the New York Giants, 7-0.

The Brooklyn Dodgers tied their highest score of the century (May 20, 1896) after beating the Cincinnati Reds 25-6 in a September 23rd outing at League Park II.

Around the league…

The American League formally organized with the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Somersets, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago White Stockings. Three of the leagues original clubs in Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Buffalo were dropped. The player limit was set at 14 per team, and the inaugural schedule was set at 140 games.

The National League Rules Committee decreed that all foul balls are to count as strikes, except after two, catchers must play within 10 feet of the batter, a ball will be called if the pitcher does not throw to a ready and waiting batter within 20 seconds, and that the umpire will remove all players using indecent language.

At the December league meeting, the Milwaukee Brewers franchise was officially dropped from the American League and replaced by the St. Louis Browns.

Off the field…

On September 8th, a huge hurricane slammed into the coast of Galveston, Texas killing an estimated 6,000-8,000 people. Although storm-warning signals were posted along Louisiana and north Texas coast from the 4th to the 6th, no one in the Weather Bureau office associated these conditions to the approach of the storm, which had raked the Florida Keys. Since Galveston was a town on an island that amounted to little more than an unprotected sandbar, the city was completely devastated. The "Galveston Hurricane" tragedy is still considered the worst in U.S. history and was responsible for more American deaths than the legendary Johnstown Flood, the San Francisco Earthquake, the 1938 New England Hurricane and the Great Chicago Fire combined.

In the National League…

Chicago Colts (Cubs) Jimmy Ryan led a 4-3 victory over Cincinnati Reds pitcher Noodles Hahn with the 20th leadoff homerun of his career.

The National League rules committee stated that: a single umpire (not 2) would work each game, a balk rule would allow only a base runner to advance (not the batter), and a change in the shape of home plate to 5-sided would be instituted to eliminate the corners of the old one-foot by one-foot plate.

On July 7th, Boston Braves hurler Kid Nichols tossed his 300th career victory, beating the Chicago Colts (Cubs) 11-4. The pinnacle victory came two months before his 31st birthday, making him the youngest pitcher ever to reach win number 300.

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