1908 Pittsburgh Pirates season

1908 Pittsburgh Pirates
Major League affiliations
Other information
Owner(s) Barney Dreyfuss
Manager(s) Fred Clarke
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The 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 27th season for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise.[2] The team finished tied for second place in the National League with the New York Giants, one game behind the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates spent 46 days in first place, and were on top on October 3. However, they lost their last game to the Cubs, which set up a replay of the infamous "Merkle" game between the Cubs and the Giants. The Cubs took it to win the pennant. Pittsburgh finished tied for second place with the Giants, just one game back. It was one of the closest races in baseball history.

Shortstop Honus Wagner had one of the most dominating hitting performances of all-time. The "Flying Dutchman" led the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs batted in, and stolen bases. He missed the triple crown by two home runs. For his efforts, Wagner was paid $5,000, possibly the most on the team.

Regular season

Season summary

The Pirates opened the season by winning three straight games in St. Louis. On Opening Day, the Pirates committed four errors while the Cardinals committed six.[3] Fans were concerned because Honus Wagner—who in 1907 led the National League in hitting, slugging, and stolen bases—was not at the game, and there were concerns that he was taking the year off. On April 17, Charlie Starr, who was Wagner's replacement, committed two errors. Afterwards, Wagner would sign with the Pirates. The home opener for the Pirates was a 5–1 victory for the Pirates over the Cardinals. From April 26 to May 9, the Pirates played only 3 games due to poor weather.[4]

On June 30, the Pirates took first place, as the Chicago Cubs lost to the Cincinnati Reds.[5] Starting on July 2, the Pirates started a critical five game series against the Cubs. In the first game, Three Finger Brown threw a six hit, no walk shutout, winning the game 3–0.[6] The Pirates scheduled a doubleheader on the Fourth of July and more than 30,000 fans showed up. The Cubs won the first game 2–0 as Three Finger Brown only allowed two hits.[7]

Season standings

National League W L Pct. GB Home Road
Chicago Cubs 9955 0.643 47–30 52–25
New York Giants 9856 0.636 1 52–25 46–31
Pittsburgh Pirates 9856 0.636 1 42–35 56–21
Philadelphia Phillies 8371 0.539 16 43–34 40–37
Cincinnati Reds 7381 0.474 26 40–37 33–44
Boston Doves 6391 0.409 36 35–42 28–49
Brooklyn Superbas 53101 0.344 46 27–50 26–51
St. Louis Cardinals 49105 0.318 50 28–49 21–56

Record vs. opponents

1908 National League Records

Boston 12–106–16–28–146–1610–127–1514–8
Brooklyn 10–124–186–166–165–179–1313–9
Chicago 16–6–218–416–611–11–19–13–110–1219–3
Cincinnati 14–816–66–168–14–110–128–1411–11
New York 16–616–611–11–114–8–116–611–11–114–8
Philadelphia 12–1017–513–9–112–106–169–1314–8
Pittsburgh 15–713–912–1014–811–11–113–920–2
St. Louis 8–149–133–1911–118–148–142–20


1908 Pittsburgh Pirates
Pitchers Catchers



Other batters


Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
CGeorge Gibson143486111.228245
1BHarry Swacina5317638.216013
2BEd Abbaticchio146500125.250161
SSHonus Wagner151568201.35410109
3BTommy Leach152583151.259541
LFFred Clarke151551146.265235
CFRoy Thomas10238699.256124
RFChief Wilson144529120.227343

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Jim Kane5514535.241022
Charlie Starr205911.18608
John Sullivan110.00000


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Howie Camnitz38236.21691.56118
Lefty Leifield34218.215142.1087

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Sam Leever38192.21572.1028
Chick Brandom317100.538
Tom McCarthy26000.001

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Homer Hillebrand10000.001

Awards and honors

League top five finishers

Howie Camnitz

  • #4 in NL in ERA (1.56)

Fred Clarke

  • #4 in NL in runs scored (83)

Tommy Leach

  • #3 in NL in runs scored (93)

Honus Wagner

  • MLB leader in batting average (.354)
  • MLB leader in RBI (109)
  • MLB leader in stolen bases (53)
  • MLB leader in on-base percentage (.415)
  • MLB leader in slugging percentage (.542)
  • #2 in NL in home runs (10)
  • #2 in NL in runs scored (100)


  1. From 1882-1906, the team played in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, which became annexed by Pittsburgh as the North Shore in 1907.
  2. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the name of Pittsburgh was often spelled without the 'h'.
  3. Crazy '08: How a cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads and Magnates created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, p. 68, by Cait Murphy, Smithsonian Books, a Division of Harper Collins, 2007, ISBN 978-0-06-088937-1
  4. Crazy '08, p. 69
  5. Crazy '08, p. 95
  6. Crazy '08, p. 99
  7. Crazy '08, p. 101


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