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Do the 1907-08-09 Tigers get their due?

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They were the American League's first dynasty, but very little is written about the 1907-08-09 Detroit Tigers. Obviously, they didn't win any of those World Series, but I wonder if they get enough credit for what they did accomplish, which is to survive three tough pennant races, one of which was the tightest in history.

Another managerial move that doesn't get much credit: After winning two straight pennants, Hughie Jennings totally revamped his infield. Usually, if it ain't broke, managers don't try to fix it. But Hughie should get credit for replacing Rossman, Shaefer, O'Leary and Coughlin with Jones, Delahanty, Bush, and Moriarty.

I'm not suggesting the 07-09 Tigers should be mentioned in the same breath as the '27 Yankees. But I wonder if the AL's first dynasty has been overlooked by baseball historians? Certainly a lot more attention is paid to the 1911-13 Giants, who also lost three straight World Series.

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Frankly, relatively little is written about the American League's 2nd dynasty, the 1910-1914 A's, and they accomplished more than the Tigers did.

My opinion or guess is that the likelihood that a book is written about a team from 100 years ago is tied to how well the general public knows about the team. That version of the Tigers rarely were built up as a great team or historic team in books or publications 25+ years after the fact - perhaps because the A's were even more dominant so soon after the Tigers' success. So the general public really doesn't know about them, and I fear a new book about Detroit Tigers old timey baseball would just get lost in the shuffle among all the other old timey baseball books covering the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, or Giants.

Throw on the pile that Cobb is likely to be the centerpiece of the book, or at least be featured very prominantly, and many people find him distateful, makes that another marketing challenge.

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Good points, Biggs. I had actually started putting together a book proposal about the 1907-09 Tigers, but started working on another book and got sidetracked. Now that I'm finished with that project I may pick it up again. (And even if I don't, I have amassed a ton of clippings from August-October 1907 that make for fascinating reading).

I don't know if there would be interest, but I'm fascinated by the team of Cobb, Crawford, Jennings, etc. That team had great characters and subplots: Cobb vs. the rest of the team; Germany Shaefer's antics; Jennings' inventing the two-fingered whistle because Ban Johnson forbade him to bring a tin whistle on the coaching lines.

There have been a zillion books written about the NL '08 pennant race, but only one book I've seen so far ("More than Merkle") also included significant info about the AL race that season. Usually, it's included in the books about the Merkle incident as an afterthought.

And the '07 race was nothing to sneeze at, either. It included that great tie game at Philly that ended in a riot, Walter Johnson's ML debut, and a feud between Lajoie and his first baseman, who hit his manager over the head with an oak chair!!!

I do realize that there isn't likely to be a huge market for such a book, but maybe one of the smaller publishers might pick it up.

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I'd love such a book. And the pennant chases then generally were good and had crazy twists and turns.

That written, I suspect I am in the minority with regards to what I find interesting in baseball.

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If you have never listened to the original tape recordings that Larry Ritter did with the old-time players that he used to write "Glory of Their Times," I highly recommend the 4-disc set.

It is available new on Amazon for $19.77.

The two Tigers from that era included in the CD interviews are Davy Jones and Sam Crawford. Both are among the longest interviews included and both are excellent.

Ritter, in fact, notes at the beginning how difficult it was to track Crawford down, which he did in about 1964. Once they did meet, Ritter says Crawford became of the best friends that he had in his life. Crawford died in 1968, the Year of the Tiger.

Jones is particularly interesting because he is a guy who was fabulously successful with finances off the field. We have all heard about Cobb's wealth -- with his early investments in GM and Coke -- but Jones owned five pharmacy/drug stores at once -- and died a very wealthy man, despite explaining in the interview that he lost nearly $1 million in the Wall Street crash of 1929.

In regard to his years with the Tigers, Jones talks a lot about Cobb, but makes it very clear that he had absolutely no use for Hughie Jennings. Jones claims Jennings was constantly drunk in the dugout during games and kept his job for as long as he did because the team won three straight pennants out of the chute for him, so the Tigers could hardly get rid of him.

At the time of the interview with Ritter, Jones was in his early 80s. Crawford was 84. Both were very lucid and tell great stories.

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Good points, Biggs. I had actually started putting together a book proposal about the 1907-09 Tigers, but started working on another book and got sidetracked. Now that I'm finished with that project I may pick it up again. (And even if I don't, I have amassed a ton of clippings from August-October 1907 that make for fascinating reading).

I don't know if there would be interest, but I'm fascinated by the team of Cobb, Crawford, Jennings, etc. That team had great characters and subplots: Cobb vs. the rest of the team; Germany Shaefer's antics; Jennings' inventing the two-fingered whistle because Ban Johnson forbade him to bring a tin whistle on the coaching lines.

There have been a zillion books written about the NL '08 pennant race, but only one book I've seen so far ("More than Merkle") also included significant info about the AL race that season. Usually, it's included in the books about the Merkle incident as an afterthought.

And the '07 race was nothing to sneeze at, either. It included that great tie game at Philly that ended in a riot, Walter Johnson's ML debut, and a feud between Lajoie and his first baseman, who hit his manager over the head with an oak chair!!!

I do realize that there isn't likely to be a huge market for such a book, but maybe one of the smaller publishers might pick it up.

A couple of sources (besides the Lieb book, which has some nice coverage) to check out in your potential research:

Ee-Yah (Hughie Jennings bio) by Jack Smiles

MelCat: http://elibrary.mel.org/search~S15?/asmiles/asmiles/1%2C17%2C124%2CB/frameset&FF=asmiles+jack+1947&1%2C1%2C

Has a good amount of coverage of the pennant seasons.

Also,

Sporting Life is digitized for 1907-8 at the LA84 site.

http://www.la84foundation.org/index/SportingLife.htm

BTW, have you read Cait Murphy's Crazy '08?

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If you have never listened to the original tape recordings that Larry Ritter did with the old-time players that he used to write "Glory of Their Times," I highly recommend the 4-disc set.

I second that recommendation. I have the discs on a constant loop in my car, and I listen to 'em to and from work every day.

I never tire of hearing the stories -- many of which didn't make the book. My favorite is Davy Jones telling how he once chased Hughie Jennings out of the locker room, buck naked.

Davy tells another great story of Cobb and Moriarty going at it: Cobb showed up late one day for practice and Moriarty said, "Jeez, it's great to be a star and not have to come to practice." The two fiery Tigers went at it and Davy tried to break it up -- and got punched in the head for his troubles.

Buying that disc set is probably the best $20 I've ever spent in my life.

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BTW, have you read Cait Murphy's Crazy '08?

Thanks for the links. And, yes, I've read that book (just finished it for the second time). It's great, although the way she fluxuates from past-tense to present-tense can be difficult to follow.

When I finally understood that the present-tense is used to describe 1908 events, it made for a bit easier reading, but all in all I wish she'd have stuck with one or the other.

Other than that, it's a wonderful book. I love the interludes, especially the one about the Chicago madames, and the lady who killed her husbands and buried them. They had little to do with base ball, but perfectly set the scene.

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That is exactly what I have done with the discs -- play them over and over so now that I even know the inflections in the voices of these long-dead players. Smoky Joe Woods lived the longest of the men interviewed. He died in 1985, a couple months short of age 96.

My 10-year-old son is getting hooked on the discs, as a result. He always picks the Davy Jones interview first.

I think my favorite non-Tiger interview is with Fred Snodgrass of the Giants. In 1912, he dropped a fly ball in the World Series against the Red Sox that has become famous in Series lore, but probably wasn't even the Giants' biggest gaffe of the inning!

The story Snodgrass tells of the pennant race against the Braves in 1914 when his dropped fly ball from 1912 plays a small role again is just tremendous.

Another favorite is Jimmy Austin, the Highlanders third baseman who is getting knocked in the air by Ty Cobb in that famous photo of Cobb sliding into third. Austin was born in Wales in 1879, and my great-grandfather -- whom I knew -- was born on the eastern coast of Ireland the same year. That makes Austin's story even more cool to me, for some reason.

Have fun if you buy the set. You will soon be hooked!

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