1908 New York Yankees (Highlanders)

1908 New York Yankees (Highlanders) team picture.

Table of Contents

The final standing8th in AL (Did not qualify for World Series)
Regular season record51-103 (.331)
Post-season record(Not played)
AL rank8th
World Series record and opponent(Not played)
ManagerClark Griffith, Kid Elberfeld
CaptainWillie Keeler
Top batterHome runs: Harry Niles (4), Jake Stahl (2)
BA: Charlie Hemphill (.297), Willie Keeler (.263), Hal Chase (.257)
Runs: Charlie Hemphill (62), Hal Chase (50), Wild Conroy (44) 
RBI: Charlie Hemphill (44), Jake Stahl (42), Wild Conroy (39)
Top pitcher/ (W-L, ERA)Rube Manning: 13-16, 2.94
Attendance record305,500 (7th of 8)

1908 New York Yankees season: A brief summary

The 1908 New York Yankees season, then known as the Highlanders, is a significant chapter in the team’s early history, reflecting a period of struggle and controversy that shaped its future evolution. This review delves into the team’s performance, key events, and the impact of these on the franchise.

The Highlanders concluded the 1908 season in a dismal eighth place within the American League, compiling a record of 51 wins and 103 losses. This 1908 New York Yankees marked one of the lowest points in the team’s history, placing them a staggering 17 games away from seventh place, and only exacerbating the disappointment felt by fans and players alike. The season’s struggles were further magnified by the departure of starting first baseman Hal Chase in September, amidst allegations of game-throwing, casting a shadow over the integrity of the team and its competitiveness.

1908 New York Yankees
The Bowery Boys

The managerial shift from Clark Griffith to Kid Elberfeld did little to arrest the team’s downward spiral. Under Elberfeld’s stewardship, the 1908 New York Yankees lost 70 of their final 98 games, a testament to the tumultuous and challenging environment within the clubhouse and on the field. This period of instability undoubtedly contributed to the team’s lackluster performance throughout the season.

However, the 1908 New York Yankees season was not without its noteworthy moments. On June 30, Cy Young of the Boston Red Sox pitched a no-hitter against the Highlanders, a game in which he remarkably contributed three hits and four RBIs. This event highlighted the competitive spirit and talent prevalent in the league, offering a stark contrast to the Highlanders’ struggles. The season also witnessed the growing use of the nickname “Yankees” to refer to the Highlanders, a moniker that would eventually become official and synonymous with the team’s identity.

Another significant event was Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators shutting out the Highlanders in three consecutive games on September 4, 5, and 7. Johnson’s dominance on the mound was a clear indicator of the quality of pitching that the Highlanders were up against, further emphasizing the challenges they faced throughout the season.

The 1908 New York Yankees season was undeniably a period of adversity, marked by poor performances, managerial changes, and controversies. Yet, it also served as a critical juncture in the team’s history, laying the groundwork for future improvements and successes. Despite the hardships, the emergence of the “Yankees” nickname signaled the beginning of a new era, one that would eventually lead to the team becoming one of the most storied and successful franchises in baseball history.

1908 New York Yankees: A peculiar doubleheader that shaped the pennant race

In the tapestry of pre-Babe Ruth New York Highlanders (later known as the Yankees) history, moments of glory and triumph are sparse and often overshadowed by seasons of missed opportunities and middling performances. Yet, amidst this backdrop of unfulfilled potential, a singular incident during the 1908 season stands out, not just for its immediate impact but for its lasting imprint on the narrative of early 20th-century baseball. This incident, occurring on July 11, 1908, during a doubleheader against the Cleveland Naps, encapsulates the unpredictable and often amusing nature of baseball, while also inadvertently shaping the course of the American League pennant race.

The stage was set on a day meant to make up for a rained-out game from May. Bill Hogg and Glenn Liebhardt took the mound for their respective teams, embarking on what would become a pitchers’ duel for the ages, at least through the first eight innings. The game remained scoreless, with both pitchers masterfully navigating through opposing lineups, until a series of misfortunes and a peculiar play unfolded in the ninth inning that would seal the game’s fate.

The Highlanders, trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, mounted a comeback that was as improbable as it was dramatic. The inning began with a pinch-hit infield single, followed by another single and a bunt attempt that turned into an error, loading the bases with no outs. What followed was a sequence of events that seemed to defy logic and strategy. A soft foul pop-up caught for an out, a single that tied the game, and then a strikeout that set the stage for an extraordinary and chaotic play involving Charlie Hemphill and a confused Cleveland defense, allowed the winning run to score in a manner so bizarre it could only be believed because it was documented.

1908 New York Yankees
Getty

This moment was not just a highlight in a season otherwise marked by disappointment; it was a testament to the unpredictable joy that baseball can provide, a reminder that any team can rise to the occasion, regardless of their standing. The Highlanders’ sweep of the Naps that day did more than just add two wins to their tally; it arguably derailed Cleveland’s season. The losses on July 11 contributed to a slide that saw Cleveland fall from pennant contention, only to narrowly miss reclaiming the lead late in the season. The Naps’ eventual shortfall by a mere half-game in the pennant race underscored the significance of every game, especially those lost in the most unusual ways.

Reflecting on this incident, it’s clear that the 1908 season for the New York Highlanders, though largely forgettable for its standings, is memorable for showcasing the unpredictability and charm of baseball. This game against the Cleveland Naps serves as a poignant reminder of how a single day, a single game, and even a single play can resonate through history, influencing pennant races and defining the legacy of teams and players alike. In a season filled with more downs than ups, July 11, 1908, remains a bright spot, a moment of levity and triumph in the face of adversity, and a story worth retelling in the annals of baseball history.

Postseason result

(Did not qualify – Eliminated in regular season)

1908 New York Yankees roster

NameAgeBTHtWtDoBYrsGGSWAR
Neal Ball27RR5′ 7″145Apr 22, 188121331270.1
Harry Billiard24RR6′ 0″190Nov 11, 18831st60-0.7
Walter Blair24RR6′ 0″185Oct 13, 188327760-1.1
Hal Chase25RL6′ 0″175Feb 13, 188341061050.5
Jack Chesbro HOF34RR5′ 9″180Jun 5, 18741045312.2
Wid Conroy31RR5′ 9″158Apr 5, 187781411411.1
Birdie Cree25RR5′ 6″150Oct 23, 18821st21210.3
Frank Delahanty25RR5′ 9″160Dec 29, 1882437360.3
Mike Donovan26RR5′ 8″155Oct 18, 18812550.1
Slow Joe Doyle26RR5′ 8″150Sep 15, 188131240.3
Kid Elberfeld33RR5′ 7″158Apr 13, 18751020170.2
Earle Gardner24RR5′ 11″160Jan 24, 18841st2020-0.5
Fred Glade32RR5′ 10″175Jan 25, 1876655-0.5
Charlie Hemphill32LL5′ 9″160Apr 20, 187681421423.8
Bill Hogg26RR6′ 0″200Sep 11, 188142421-1.3
Willie Keeler HOF36LL5′ 4″140Mar 3, 18721791870.8
Red Kleinow30RR5′ 10″165Jul 20, 1877596890.4
Joe Lake27RR6′ 0″185Jan 6, 18811st4527-1.7
Frank LaPorte28RR5′ 8″175Feb 6, 1880441390.3
Rube Manning25RR6′ 0″180Apr 29, 1883245261.9
Irish McIlveen27LL5′ 11″180Jul 27, 188024444-0.1
George Moriarty22RR6′ 0″185Jul 7, 18855110940.3
Doc Newton30LL6′ 0″185Oct 26, 187772313-0.5
Harry Niles27RR5′ 8″175Sep 10, 1880395900.9
Andy O’Connor23RR6′ 0″160Sep 14, 18841st11-0.4
Jimmy O’Rourke24RR5′ 7″150Dec 26, 18831st3428-0.2
Al Orth35LR6′ 0″200Sep 5, 18721439172
Jake Stahl29RR6′ 2″195Apr 13, 1879575741.3
Ed Sweeney19RR6′ 1″200Jul 19, 18881st3221-1.1
Hippo Vaughn20BL6′ 4″215Apr 9, 18881st200
Jack Warhop23RR5′ 9″168Jul 4, 18841st64-0.3
Pete Wilson23L5′ 10″150Oct 9, 18841st760.5

1908 New York Yankees player additions, transactions, and trades

November 5, 1907

  • Traded Hobe Ferris, Danny Hoffman, and Jimmy Williams to the St. Louis Browns, receiving Fred Glade, Charlie Hemphill, and Harry Niles.
  • Purchased Hobe Ferris from the Boston Americans.

December 12, 1907

  • Ira Thomas’s player rights were sold to the Detroit Tigers.

January 1908

  • Purchased Mike Donovan from the Cleveland Naps.

May 26, 1908

  • Purchased Hippo Vaughn from Hot Springs (Arkansas State).

June 1908

  • Released John Neuer. (The exact date is uncertain.)

July 9, 1908

  • Signed Frank Delahanty as a free agent.

July 10, 1908

  • Jake Stahl’s player rights were sold to the Boston Red Sox.

August 1908

  • Purchased Ray Demmitt and Clyde Engle from Newark (Eastern).
  • On August 13, purchased Irish McIlveen from Newark (Eastern).

August 17, 1908

  • Traded Harry Niles to the Boston Red Sox, receiving Frank LaPorte.

August 20, 1908

  • Purchased John Knight from Baltimore (International).

September 1908

  • Drafted several players in the 1908 rule 5 draft, including Russ Ford from Atlanta (Southern Association), Jimmy Austin from Omaha (Western), Earle Gardner from Hartford (Connecticut State), Jack Quinn from Richmond (Virginia), Charles Schmidt from Baltimore (Eastern), and Pete Wilson from Hartford (Connecticut State).

1908 New York Yankees player debuts

  • Harry Billiard – 07-31-1908 – 24 years old
  • Birdie Cree – 09-17-1908 – 25 years old
  • Earle Gardner – 09-18-1908 – 24 years old
  • Joe Lake – 04-21-1908 – 27 years old
  • Andy O’Connor – 10-06-1908 – 24 years old
  • Jimmy O’Rourke – 08-15-1908 – 24 years old
  • Ed Sweeney – 05-16-1908 – 19 years old
  • Hippo Vaughn – 06-19-1908 – 20 years old
  • Jack Warhop – 09-19-1908 – 24 years old
  • Pete Wilson – 09-15-1908 – 22 years old

1908 New York Yankees team stats (batting)

PosNameAgeGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBA
CRed Kleinow3096312279164732113522310.168
1BHal Chase25106430405501041131362715340.257
2BHarry Niles279540036143901464241825290.249
SSNeal Ball27132492446351101620383221910.247
3BWid Conroy31141572531441262231392314540.237
OFWillie Keeler36913803233885311141431100.263
OFJake Stahl297530227434701852421711430.255
OFCharlie Hemphill32142586505621501290444259430.297
CIGeorge Moriarty2210139834825821210272211480.236
CWalter Blair247623421194051113411310.19
OFIrish McIlveen274418816917363308614140.213
2BFrank LaPorte28391621457383411538120.262
OFFrank Delahanty2537137125123212010910130.256
UTJimmy O’Rourke2434117108525100344160.231
CEd Sweeney19328982412200205140.146
OFBirdie Cree25218878521020417120.269
2BEarle Gardner2420807571620040160.213
SSKid Elberfeld33197056111130051630.196
3BMike Donovan26519192510020060.263
PJoe Lake2745114112621411821260.188
PJack Chesbro3445106102818210600230.176
PRube Manning25449591717220413220.187
PAl Orth3538736942012040270.29
PBill Hogg2624454314000301150.093
PDoc Newton3023302534100202120.16
PSlow Joe Doyle261218141300000250.214
PPete Wilson23717143100000250.071
PJack Warhop23616160100020050.063
PFred Glade32510100000000050
PHarry Billiard246660100000030.167
PAndy O’Connor231330000000000
PHippo Vaughn202110000000010
Team Totals28.215555905046459119014250133722312886390.236
Rank in 8 AL teams6856661865
Non-Pitcher Totals28.215550564540426110013244123432282755100.242
Pitcher Totals2915553450633901061293131290.178

1908 New York Yankees team stats (pitching)

PosNameAgeWLW-L%ERAGGSGFCGSHOSVIPHRER
SPJack Chesbro3414200.4122.934531132031288.227613494
SPJoe Lake279220.293.173827111920269.125215795
SPRube Manning2513160.4482.94412615192124522811480
SPBill Hogg264160.23.0124213600152.11558951
SPAl Orth352130.1333.4221173810139.11346253
SPDoc Newton30450.4442.952313761188.1785229
RPSlow Joe Doyle26110.52.63124521048422414
RPHarry Billiard24002.656060001715155
Pete Wilson23330.53.4666041039271615
Jack Warhop23120.3334.4654130036.1401918
Fred Glade320404.2255020032301815
Andy O’Connor2301010.13110100815119
Hippo Vaughn20003.862010002.1111
Hal Chase250001000000.1000
Team Totals28.8511030.3313.16155155659011313661293712479
Rank in 8 AL teams8188888788

1908 New York Yankees record vs. opponents/ Team splits

Opponent (Games)WonLostWP
Boston Red Sox (22)10120.455
Chicago White Sox (22)6160.273
Cleveland Naps (22)6160.273
Detroit Tigers (22)7150.318
Philadelphia Athletics (23)8140.364
St. Louis Browns (22)5170.227
Washington Senators (22)9130.409

1908 New York Yankees (Highlanders) monthly record

Month (Games)WonLostWP
April (13)850.615
May (21)11100.524
June (29)7210.250
July (30)6240.200
August (25)6190.240
September (28)10180.357
October (9)360.333

How do you rate the 1908 New York Yankees?

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