More Than Merkle: A History of the Best and Most Exciting Baseball Season in Human History

By David W. Anderson | Go to book overview
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10 September All Hell Breaks Loose

If baseball fans believed August play was exciting, they had not seen anything yet. September 1908 was one of the most exciting, tumultuous, and controversial months in the history of major league baseball. The season was coming down to a situation where every game was life and death. The same pressure was on the contenders' front offices as they urgently sought help on the diamond.

For the Giants and Cubs, off-field maneuvering had profound impact on the eventual outcome of the pennant races. Desperate to shore up pitching staffs depleted by injury and by the rigors of a long season, both clubs were seeking help. In mid-August, Sporting Life reported that the Giants were close to acquiring Andy Coakley from the Reds, but a planned trade fell through. This was more significant than it seemed at the time.

Coakley was acquired by the Cubs on September 2 and won two crucial games during the stretch drive. The Giants settled for signing and bringing up rookie pitcher Rube Marquard. His contract was bought August 3 for eleven thousand dollars after scouts saw him pitch a perfect game in Indianapolis. Marquard started only one game in 1908. In that game the future Hall of Famer was bombed in one of the most horrific debuts any Hall member endured.

In the American League there was off-field news as well. Citing Ban

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