Misery Loves Company: 1914 Team Lost 24 in a Month Too
By Vince Guerrieri
To paraphrase fictional Indians announcer Harry Doyle, you can close the book on August. Thank God.
The Indians went a miserable 5-24 in the month, the first time the team lost 24 games in a month since July 1914.
Then, the team was called the Naps, named in honor of player-manager Napoleon Lajoie. In addition to Lajoie, a hall of fame second baseman, the team had Joe Jackson, an outfielder given up by the Athletics in 1910. In his first three full years with the Naps, Shoeless Joe finished second every year in batting average in the American League – including a .408 average in 1911.
The year started inauspiciously for the Naps, as they lost their first eight games before getting a win, beating the White Sox at League Park on April 22.
On May 12, the Naps beat the Athletics 12-4 at League Park. It was the third win in a row for Cleveland, making them 8-14. It was the closest they’d get to .500 that year. The Naps then went on a seven-game skid.
The Naps put together a four-game winning streak in June – what would turn out to be their longest win streak of the year. They went 6-24 in July, and as the season ended, they were 53 games under .500 before putting together a three-game win streak to end the year at 51-102, finishing 48 games behind the American League pennant-winning Athletics.
Jackson’s batting average slipped – SLIPPED – to .338 that year, and the following August, he was shipped to the White Sox for Ed Klepfer, Braggo Roth and $31,500. Larry Chappell was the player to be named later. Shoeless Joe went on to infamy with the 1919 Black Sox.
To add insult to injury, the Naps watched the Boston Braves vault from dead last in the National League in July to the National League pennant. The Braves – playing in a new stadium, Fenway Park – would meet the Athletics, the defending World Champions. The Athletics had beaten the New York Giants in the previous year’s World Series, and still had the $100,000 infield of Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry and Frank “Home Run” Baker. The A’s also had a starting rotation that included Chief Bender, Eddie Plank and Bullet Joe Bush. But the Braves, with a team of relative nobodies, shut down the Athletics for the first sweep in World Series history. The A’s then engaged in a fire sale the following year, dealing away everyone on the way to the worst winning percentage in the modern era, going 36-117 in 1916.
After the 1914 season, Lajoie was sold – to the Athletics, ironically enough. The team could no longer be named for him – and quite frankly, they probably wanted to get away from what stood until 1991 as the worst record in team history. Local newspapers – Cleveland was a three-paper town at the time, with the News, the Press and the Plain Dealer – solicited public suggestions to name the team.
The winner was Indians.