August 22, 2002

THE LEAGUE'S PENNANT RACE OF 1888. 04

The championship campaign of the League for 1888 began on April 20, with
the customary home games between the eight clubs, each in its respective
section, the New York team opening the season at Washington, and the
Bostons at Philadelphia; while in the West Detroit opened at Pittsburg,
and the Chicagos at Indianapolis, the winning clubs being New York,
Boston, Pittsburg and Chicago. By the end of the first week of the
campaign, Boston was in the van without a defeat being charged to them,
while every other club had suffered at least one defeat, Boston leading in
the race, followed by Chicago, New York, Pittsburg, Detroit, Indianapolis,
Washington and Philadelphia, the latter suffering from the great drawback
of the death of their best player Ferguson, a loss which handicapped them
all through the season. By the end of the first week in May the contest
had assumed quite an interesting phase in one respect, and that was the
remarkable success of the Boston team, which, up to May 2 had won every
championship game they had played, the record on May 4 leaving them in the
van. By May 5, however, Chicago pulled up even with them, the two teams
standing with a record of 11 victories and 2 defeats each, and a
percentage of .862 at the close of the third week of the spring campaign.
In the meantime Philadelphia had rallied and had pulled up to seventh
place, and Detroit had overhauled Pittsburg, Indianapolis falling into the
last ditch. By the end of May quite a change had been made in the relative
position of the eight clubs, Chicago having gone to the front and Boston
to second position, while Detroit had moved up to third place, and New
York had fallen back to fourth; while Philadelphia had worked up well and
had got into fifth position, Pittsburg having made a bad tumble to sixth
place, leaving Indianapolis and Washington to bring up the rear.

The month of June saw more changes in the positions of all of the eight
clubs except Chicago and Philadelphia, the former having tenaciously held
on to first place since the last week in April; while Philadelphia
steadily remained a good fifth. Boston, however, fell off badly in the
running, the second week in June seeing, them down to fourth place; while
by June 9 Detroit had got into second place, and was running Chicago a
close race. During the last of May New York had got down to fourth
position; but in the first week of June they had rallied and resumed third
place; but the next week saw them fall back again, while Boston rallied
back to third position. By the end of June the eight clubs occupied the
following relative positions in the race Chicago held the lead, with
Detroit second, Boston third, New York fourth, Philadelphia fifth,
Pittsburg sixth, with Indianapolis and Washington as the two tail enders.

July proved to be the most important month of the season's race, as it
was in this month that the New York team as effectually rallied under the
personal influence of Mr. John B. Day, who from that time out took
personal cognizance of the doings of the "Giants." The first week in July
saw the New York team drive Boston out of third place, while Pittsburg,
for the time being, was forced to occupy seventh position, Indianapolis
leading them for a week in July. During the last week in July, Chicago --
which club had held the lead consecutively from May 5 to July 23--took a
bad tumble, and fell back to third position, while New York and Detroit
stood tied for a few days for first place, until Chicago rallied, and then
the Detroits were driven back; the end of July leaving New York in the
van, with Detroit second, Chicago third, Boston and Philadelphia close
together in fourth and fifth positions, while Pittsburg, Indianapolis, and
Washington occupied the rear positions. It was now that the race began to
be intensely interesting. The steady play of the New York team gave a new
feature to the contest, and it now began to be a nip and tuck fight
between the "Giants" and the Chicagos for first place, with Detroit close
to them as a good third. August saw the steadiest running of the season in
the race, but few changes being made in the relative positions of the
contestants, the last week of the month seeing New York in the van,
Chicago second, Detroit third, Boston fourth, Philadelphia fifth, and
Pittsburg, Washington and Indianapolis in the rear.

The promise for an exciting close of the campaign loomed up very bright
in September, and during that month, while New York and Chicago still
retained their leading positions, Boston temporarily rallied, and got into
third place for a week; but Detroit pushed them back, while Philadelphia
began to rally for a closing dash for one of the three leading positions.
At the close of September the record left New York in the van, with the
assurance of a successful termination of the campaign for the "Giants,"
while the struggle for second place between Chicago, Boston, Detroit and
Philadelphia greatly added to the excitement of the closing month of the
campaign. Chicago held on to second place, and Philadelphia, which club on
September 29 stood in fifth place rallied brilliantly in October, and
drove Boston to fourth place and Detroit to fifth, Boston having occupied
fifth place on the 6th of October, Pittsburg, Indianapolis and Washington
finally bringing up the rear.

A feature of the campaign was the fact that at no time after May was it
doubtful in regard to the position of Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and
Washington as the three tail-enders of the race. But for this the campaign
would have been the most brilliant on record. As it was, however, the
contest for the three leading positions by the other five clubs made it
exceedingly interesting throughout, New York's final success giving a new
impetus to the succeeding campaign of 1889.