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Will the Indians Challenge the Record for Longest Winning Streak in Baseball History?
“I think the club is in many respects the greatest baseball team I have managed in my 14 years.” –John McGraw, speaking of his 1916 Giants.
As we find today that the Cleveland Indians have now won 17 games in a row, I’m wondering if they’ll challenge the longest streak in baseball history. One hundred and one years ago this week, September 7, 1916, John McGraw’s New York Giants started on a record 26-game winning streak.
In the featured photo above, we see a beautiful colorization by Chris Whitehouse of John McGraw with Buck Herzog and the great Christy Mathewson sporting the unsightly checkered uniforms that fortunately lasted only one season.
Click on the link to see a photo gallery tribute to the 1916 Giants: http://wp.me/p7a04E-37B
I guess you could say there’s an asterisk attached to this record: The streak actually covered 27 games, as it included one tie. So it went into the record books with the cumbersome description: “The longest winning streak with a tie.” Another way to put it is that the Giants went 27 games without a loss. The record for “most wins without a tie” is actually held by the Cubs, who won 21 in a row in September of 1935. Confusing, but since we’re all baseball fans, we can somehow actually make sense of it all!
The streak began innocently enough with Ferdie Schupp’s 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins at the Polo Grounds. Who would have guessed the Giants wouldn’t lose another game until September 30, a 5-3 loss to the Boston Braves in the second game of a doubleheader? What’s even more surprising is that the Giants actually had another streak earlier in the season of 17 straight wins. In spite of all this, the Giants finished at 86-66, good for only fourth place, seven games behind the Brooklyn Robins.
The streak itself was remarkable, with eight doubleheader sweeps and 10 shutouts. So how does a team with winning streaks of 17 and 26 games finish fourth? Take away the 43 wins from the two streaks and the Giants went 43–66 for the rest of the season.
The 1916 New York Giants were a solid team with a nice blend of power and speed. Dave Robertson led the league with 12 home runs, to go with his .307 batting average. Benny Kauff and George Burns were proven base stealers. The infield had experienced veterans at all positions: Bill McKechnie at third, Art Fletcher at short, Larry Doyle at second, and Fred Merkle at first. Bill Rariden was one of the best defensive catchers in the game.
The pitching staff featured aces Rube Benton (16-8) and Pol Perritt (18-11). Jeff Tesreau was good (18-14), but was not the same pitcher who had won 26 two years ago. The club’s weakness was a reliable fourth starter, the void filled by a young Ferdie Schupp, (9-3) who posted a 0.90 ERA in 140 innings. Christy Mathewson was on his career downside and went 3-4. By the time the streak began, he was gone, having been traded to Cincinnati on July 20.
Even though the team fell short of winning the pennant, McGraw had plenty of praise for his team: “Naturally, I am very pleased in establishing a new record, but the boys deserve all the glory they will get out of it.”
Good luck to the Tribe! Maybe they can threaten the record for “most games without a loss,” currently held by the 1916 Giants!
Photo Credits: All from Google search; Colorization by Chris Whitehouse
Information: Excerpts edited from the 1916 Giants Wikipedia page; and from article on the 1916 Giants by Scott Ferkovich: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/1916-new-york-giants-26-game-win-streak