1905 Washington Nationals
Manager: Jake Stahl 1st Season (1st with Washington 64-87-3)
64 W 87 L 3 T 559 RS 623 RA 7th AL 29.5 GB (Philadlephia 92-56-4)
3.63 RPG (AL AVG = 3.69) 2.87 ERA (AL = 2.65)
.700 DER (7th AL)
Franchise (1901-1905) 267-441-19
Don’t Call Us “Senators”
Though the team never had an official nickname, fans and media had taken to referring to them as the Senators. The new ownership group ran a contest among the fans to select a new nickname for the team. Over 3,000 letters with more than 1,100 unique name suggestions were sent to a panel that was to decide the name of the club.
Frank L. McKenna was the first to send in the name “Nationals,” and homage Washington teams of the mid-to-late 1800’s. The Washington Post noted that:
For years Washington was strongly represented in various leagues by teams called the Nationals, and since that name gave way to the Senators there has been nothing but disappointment and failure for the clubs.
Old habits die hard, however, and despite the fact that the new uniforms had “Nationals” lettered across the front, folks continued to call the team “Senators”.
1905 Nationals’ Uniforms from Baseballhalloffame.org online exhibit
Disappointment and Failure Despite New Name
Perhaps part of the reason the name didn’t catch on like the team had hoped was the fact that the team’s new name did not change the results. The team saw a big improvement from 1904’s 113-loss campaign, but that is not saying much. Washington still finished in the second division and was never a factor in the pennant chase. 1905 was the fifth straight losing season for the franchise.
Washington’s fifth manager in as many years was promoted from the rank of player. 26-year-old Jake Stahl was in only his third season of major league baseball. He spent his first year in Boston, and was purchesed by Washington in the offseason prior to 1904. Stahl was unique among ballplayers in that he was college educated, and quickly saw the fruits of his education when he was promoted to manager in his third season. Stahl continued to play first base every day while he managed the team.
Around the League
1905 represented a new low for AL batting. Since the league began play in 1901, batting numbers have steadily declined.
What’s more, league runs per game dipped below 4.0 for the second straight season, and league ERA was only 2.65. The AL Champion Athletics scored 4.1 runs per game, and led the league batting .255/.305/.338 as a team. The deadball era was well underway.
John McGraw’s New York Giants defeated Philadelphia 4 games to 1. In keeping with the theme of the season, each World Series game was a shut out, with Christy Mathewson earning three of them.
Bold = player new to Washington in 1905
C Mike Heydon .192/.261/.265 1 HR 0.9 BFW 7 WS
C Malachi Kittridge .164/.213/.197 0 HR -0.5 BFW 4 WS
Mike Heydon had been around baseball for a few years, but 1905 was his first full season in the majors. His most recent experience was four games with the Chicago White Sox in 1904. Kittridge, on the other hand, was in the latter stages of a long career in the majors, spanning back to 1890.
1B Jake Stahl .250/.311/.371 5 HR 1.1 BFW 21 WS
In his first year as manager, Stahl put up numbers very similar to his 1904 season.
2B Charlie Hickman .311/.332/.447 2 HR 2.8 BFW 16 WS
Hickman was purchased from Detroit on July 7 to replace Jim Mullin as the everyday second baseman. The 29 year old was clearly the offensive MVP for Washington even though he joined the team late in the summer.
SS Joe Cassidy .215/.250/.262 1 HR 1.7 BFW 10 WS
Though Cassidy’s numbers slipped from his rookie season, he was still considered a bright prospect at short stop. Sadly, 1905 was his last season; he died of malaria in the spring of 1906 at the age of 23.
3B Hunter Hill .209/.278/.254 1 HR -1.0 BFW 5 WS
1905 was Hunter Hill’s last season in the major leagues as well. He went on to have a long career managing and umpiring in the Texas league.
LF Frank Huelsman .271/.333/.397 3 HR 0.4 BFW 18 WS
After traveling from team to team for most of 1904, Huelsman finally setteled in to a regular spot in Washington’s outfield. After the season, Huelsman was sent back to the minors, where he had made his name from 1898-1903. He must have been more comfortable in the minor leagues because he won five batting titles and six RBI titles while playing nearly 20 seasons.
CF Charlie Jones .208/.254/.267 2 HR -1.5 BFW 9 WS
The 29 year old Jones got his first chance to play everyday center field in 1905. He would hold that spot for three years, improving offensively each season.
RF John Anderson .290/.330/.380 1 HR 0.7 BFW 17 WS
A veteran, Anderson was claimed off of waivers by the Nationals on May 30. He was a switch hitter, known as a good switch-hitting bat but a horrible fielder.
Case Patten, who had a remarkable run of losing seasons in Washington
P Case Patten (L) 14-22 3.14 ERA 1.25 WHIP -1.8 PW 13 WS
This ended Patten’s run of 20+ loss seasons.
P Tom Hughes 17-20 2.35 ERA 1.09 WHIP 1.3 PW 22 WS
Hughes was a mid-season acquisition in 1904, and the team’s best pitcher in 1905. Hughes claim to fame was that he was a 20 game winner for the first World Series Championship team in 1903.
P Happy Townsend 7-16 2.63 ERA 1.26 WHIP -0.2 PW 14 WS
While Townsend was flat out bad in 1904, his ERA in 1905 was actually right at the league average. He was traded at the end of the season.
P Barney Wolfe 9-13 2.57 ERA 1.09 WHIP -0.2 PW 11 WS
Wolfe was acquired in the middle of the 1904 season in a trade with the Highlanders. He would only pitch four games for Washington the following season before his baseball career was over.