Manager: Tom Loftus 8th Season (2nd with Washington 104-169-5)
43 W 94 L 3 T 437 RS 694 RA 8th AL 47.5 GB (Boston Americans 91-47-3)
3.12 RPG (AL AVG = 4.10) 3.82 ERA (AL = 2.96)
.671 DER (7th AL)
Franchise (1901-1903) 165-241-10
In January of 1903, 28-year-old pitcher Win Murcer, one of the original members of the AL Washington franchise, committed suicide by inhaling gas. He was set to be the player-manager for Detroit.
Tragedy Times Two
Ed Delahanty became a member of the Washington club in 1902, a season in which he led the AL in a number of offensive categories. The 35 year-old was set to return to Washington for another season, and was on his way to another outstanding year by the time June rolled around.
Ed had an alcohol habit, and it is likely that got the best of him when he was excused from the team in late June. The official story was that he was ill and needed to return home to get well, but it is more likely that the leave of absence was the result of training rules violations. On the train home from Detroit is where one of baseball’s most clouded mysteries begins.
The most commonly told story is that Delahanty was kicked off the train for rowdy behavior, probably a brawl of some kind, and was dropped off near Niagra Falls. Drunk and alone in the dark, he slipped and fell through a drawbridge to his death in the river. His body was found two days later.
Ed Delahanty from baseballhalloffame.org
Misery on the Field
On the surface, it may seem as though the team’s dismal performance in 1903 was due to the off-the-field tragedy the team endured, particularly losing their offensive star mid-season. While that may be part of the story, the fact is that Washington was already comfortably in the AL cellar before Delahanty even left the team.
After a 5-5 start, the team rattled off three losing streaks of seven plus games, and had only won 14 games by the end of June.
In 1902, Washington relied on several veterans who had career years, including Delahanty, Scoops Carey, Jimmy Ryan, and Jack Doyle. The story of the 1903 team was a group of veterans whose numbers regressed to the mean in some cases, and dropped below in several instances.
American League Park Moves
Following the 1903 season, the Washington Ballpark, American League Park I, moved down the street to its new home. The grandstand from the old park was moved a few blocks down Florida Ave to a new site. The new field was named creatively: American League Park II. The first park housed the Washington AL Franchise for three seasons. It was famous for its pond in left field, and was the home of baseball’s first public address announcer, E. Lawrence Phillips.
American League Park I from ballparks.com
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1903
C Malachi Kittridge .214/.252/.245 0 HR -1.5 BFW 2 WS
Kittridge came to the team in June when his contract was purchased from the NL Boston club. The 33 year old took the catching duties from Boileryard Clark, who moved to first base when when Kittridge arrived.
1B Boileryard Clarke .239/.273/.308 2 HR -2.9 BFW 5 WS
An old face in a new position, Clarke managed the worst offensive season of his career, and it will be all downhill from here for the 34 year old.
2B Barry McCormick .215/.255/.279 0 HR -0.2 BFW 2 WS
2B Rabbit Robinson .212/.279/.290 1 HR -1.0 BFW 6 WS
A mid-season trade brought McCormick from the St. Louis Browns. From that point on, Robinson served as a utility man, mostly playing SS.
SS Charles Moran .225/.297/.298 1 HR 0.0 BFW 8 WS
Just days before the trade that brought McCormick from St. Louis, Moran was sent to the Browns for two players who did not play for Washington in 1903.
3B Bill Coughlin .245/.267/.302 1 HR -1.2 BFW 9 WS
Coughlin is another player who had his worst offensive season so far in 1903.
LF Kip Selbach .251/.305/.356 3 HR -1.2 BFW 11 WS
Selbach played for Baltimore in 1902. Selbach was known primarily for his speed and his good eye at the plate.
CF Jimmy Ryan .249/.290/.373 7 HR -0.5 BFW 9 WS
Ryan may have overperformed in 1902, but he made up for it with a poor season at the plate in his final season.
RF/P Watty Lee .208/.265/.277 0 HR -0.6 BFW
8-12 3.08 ERA 1.25 WHIP 0.0 PW 13 WS
Lee was more valuable on the mound than he was at the plate. He would play with Pittsburgh in 1904.
OF Ed Delahanty .333/.388/.436 1 HR 0.9 BFW 6 WS
Prior to his untimely death in June, Delahanty was still the best hitter on the team.
P Case Patten (L) 11-22 3.60 ERA 1.31 WHIP -2.2 PW 15 WS
If nothing else, he was able to eat innings in his third season, finishing the season with 300 even.
P Al Orth 10-22 4.34 ERA 1.39 WHIP -2.4 PW 15 WS
The curveless wonder lost the most games he had ever lost in one season.
P Highball Wilson 7-18 3.31 ERA 1.29 WHIP -0.5 PW 15 WS
Given name: Howard Paul. He pitched more innings in 1903 than he pitched in the rest of his career seasons combined.
P Happy Townsend 2-11 4.76 ERA 1.52 WHIP -2.2 PW 1 WS
Townsend had more high loss, high ERA seasons to go.