This book is a study of the 1908 major league baseball season, using contemporary accounts as primary sources with other descriptions of the season as secondary references. My intent is to develop a comprehensive history of this controversial and important year and to augment another study of this season, The Unforgettable Season by G. H. Fleming ( New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981). Anyone studying 1908 or the Dead Ball Era will find Fleming's book must reading. It is also an outstanding reference work for the study of sports journalism of the day.
But Fleming's work was not a comprehensive study of the entire year. He tells the New York Giants' story and barely mentions the equally exciting American League pennant race. In More than Merkle I address what Fleming did not intend to address: the American League race and other events during this most significant year in baseball history.
For pitchers and pitching there was no better year than 1908. The only other season that has come close was 1968. Pennant races in both leagues were decided on the last day of play, with visiting teams emerging victorious. For the owners, the game's popularity reached a historic high in 1908. Their confidence in the future stimulated the construction of steel and concrete ballparks, two of which opened in 1909. The year was nearly stained by scandal. An attempted bribe of umpires had no impact on the field, but the resulting investigation raised more questions than it answered. The gambling issue was not raised seriously again until 1920, in the wake of the Black Sox scandal.
This study details play during each month of the season, featuring the contending teams in each league. Each chapter about the season concludes with an afterword examining an issue or subject of interest that impacted the game during this season of all seasons. Individual chapters are devoted to the players and umpires who took part in the regular-season action, the 1908 World Series, as well as the post-season scandals involving ticket scalping and an attempted bribe of umpires by the New York Giants' team physician.
I would be remiss not to thank the staff at the University of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library and the curator of the Joyce Sports Research Collection, George Rugg, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. His insights and ability to find arcane facts deserve sev