I’m excited to begin a new series of articles that will cover an All-Decade team starting from the 1900s to the 2010s. First up: the good ol’ 1900s for the Detroit Tigers!
C: Boss Schmidt — Schmidt only played six years in the Majors, all with the Detroit Tigers from 1906-1911. He was the team’s starting catcher for the Tigers’ three consecutive pennant run from 1907-1909. He was on the wrong side of history when he committed five errors and sixteen stolen bases during the 1908 World Series, both of which still stand as records today.
1B: Claude Rossman — Rossman only played three seasons as a Detroit Tiger, but all three were when the Tigers won the pennant. Rossman batted .474 in the 1907 World Series, but two of their best hitters–Crawford and Cobb–couldn’t come through for the Tigers. His best season came a year later when he was among the league leaders in doubles, RBIs, total bases, and more. His last season of his career came in 1909 which he spent with the Tigers up until August before Detroit traded him to the St. Louis Browns.
2B: Germany Schaefer — Schaefer was mainly a utility player for the Tigers in his time in Detroit. He was the backup to then-starting second baseman Red Downs, before Downs was convicted of first-degree robbery, ending his playing career. Schaefer was known more for his antics off the field and even during the game than his actual statistics.
3B: Bill Coughlin — The starting third-baseman from 1904 to 1908, Coughlin was the Detroit Tigers’ team captain from 1907-1908. He became one of the few players to steal second, third, and home in a single game in 1906. He was known for his defense at the hot corner, his speed on the base paths, and his leadership in the clubhouse which prompted the Tigers to make him captain in their first two pennant-winning seasons.
SS: Charley O’Leary — O’Leary was the starting shortstop for the Tigers between 1904-1907. He spent a total of nine seasons with the Tigers. O’Leary was never an offensive machine, but he could play a various number of positions that made him valuable to the Tigers after his starting shortstop days. Alongside his teammate Schaefer, O’Leary was part of an entertainment act is said to have inspired 1949 film “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
LF: Davy Jones — Jones had his best season of his career with the Tigers in 1907. He was among the leagues leaders in OBP, stolen bases, runs, and walks. And unlike some of the Tigers big stars, Jones showed up in the 1907 World Series defeat to the Cubs where he batted .357.
CF: Sam Crawford — Along with Cobb, he led the Tigers to three straight pennants. Crawford began his Tigers tenure in 1903, and he led the league in home runs in 1908. In 1957, Sam Crawford was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
RF: Ty Cobb — Leading the Tigers to three straight AL pennants from 1907-1909, Cobb was a 3x batting champ, 3x RBI champ, 1909 HR champ, 2x stolen base champ during the 1900-1909 decade. He became the first Triple Crown winner, which included a league-leading 9 HRs which were all inside-the-park, becoming the first Triple Crown winner to never hit a ball over the fence. He was eventually elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
SP 1: Bill Donovan — Donovan became the ace of the Tigers’ staff when he joined Detroit in 1903 and for the the Tigers playoff runs. He played with Detroit until 1912 and once again in 1918. He went 25-4 at an .862 win percentage in 1907 which still stands as the Tigers’ all-time record.
SP 2: George Mullin — Mullin spent 12 seasons with Detroit, and he was part of the Tigers’ lights-out 1-2 punch with Bill Donovan in the rotation. He still holds the franchise record for innings pitched and for the second most wins in Tigers’ history. He had a league-leading 29 wins in 1909 when the Tigers advanced to the World Series. In the Tigers’ pennant years, he threw over 100 complete games, including throwing a complete game in all six games he appeared in the World Series.
SP 3: Ed Killian — Spending seven years with the Tigers, Killian career ERA of 2.38 is in the top-25 in major league history. In his first season as a Tiger, Killian threw 34 complete games and had a 2.44 ERA, but the sluggish Tigers offense contributed to him recording 20 losses. 1907, the first year the Tigers won the pennant, was Killian’s best season in his career. He went 25-13 and had an ERA of 1.78 atop a three-headed monster of a rotation that the Tigers featured that year.
Overall, the Detroit Tigers had a very successful 1900-1909 decade. They went to the playoffs in three straight years, losing the World Series all three times to the Cubs twice and once to the Pirates. This would be the last time the Tigers would go to the World Series for another 25 years. The 1900s Tigers featured two of the best players in Tigers history in Hall of Famers Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb.
Agree with my selections? Disagree? Feel free to comment!