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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2003

Some of baseball's worst teams

BY CHIP TOWNS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

1899 Cleveland Spiders

(20-134, .130)

They almost have to be in a category by themselves. Frank Robison, the team's owner, bought the St. Louis Browns before the 1899 season and transferred all of Cleveland's good players to St. Louis and replaced them with minor leaguers and semi-pro players. (His strategy didn't work: St. Louis finished fifth.) ... Managed by Lave Cross (8-30, .211) and Joe Quinn (12-104, .103) ... player-manager Cross, a Toledoan, was transferred to St. Louis when that team needed a third baseman ... Finished 84 games out of first place and 35 games out of 11th place ... outscored 1,252-529 ... the Spiders were so bad and drew so few fans to home games that they played the second half of the season entirely on the road ... lost 40 of their last 41 games ... lost 24 games in a row and had six streaks of at least 11 losses ... won two games in a row only once ... had a team ERA of 6.37 and yielded 8.13 runs per game (388 errors leading to many unearned runs) ... pitching staff included Jim Hughey (4-30), Charlie Knepper (4-22), Frank Bates (1-18), Crazy Schmit (2-17) and Harry Colliflower (1-11) ... the Spiders were one of four teams eliminated when the National League contracted from 12 to eight teams before the 1900 season.

1904 Washington Senators

(38-113, .252)

Finished 55 1/2 games out of first place ... scored 473 runs and yielded 743 ... made 313 errors ... had three 20-game losers, including Happy Towsend (5-26), who was probably happier when the season was over ... went 0-10 in April and 15-61 (.197) on the road.

1916 Philadelphia A's

(36-117, .235)

Managed by Hall of Famer Connie Mack ... went 11-14 in May, but only 3-19 in June and 2-28 in July ... were 13-64 (.169) on the road ... scored 447 runs and allowed 776 - 174 more than the next-worst team in the American League that year ... finished 541/2 games out of first place, and a remarkable 40 games out of seventh place ... longest win streak was two games ... made 312 errors, 64 more than the next-worst team ... Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie played second base, but he was 41 years old and hit .246 with 35 RBIs. Had three 20-game losers, including Jack Nabors, who was 1-20 with a 3.47 ERA ... team's average age was just 23.3 years ... From 1910-1914, the Athletics won four AL titles and three World Series, but co-owner Mack decided he wasn't willing to pay the going rate for all-stars and sold all of the team's good players.

1935 Boston Braves

(38-115.,248)

Managed by Bill McKechnie ... outscored 852-575 ... went just 13-65 (.167) on the road ... were a combined 9-45 in May and September ... outfielder Wally Berger hit .295 and led NL with 34 HRs and 130 RBIs ... 40-year-old Babe Ruth, in his final season, hit .181 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 72 at-bats ... Ben Cantwell had the best ERA among the starting pitchers (4.61) but finished with a 4-25 record.

1939 St. Louis Browns

(43-111, .279)

Managed by Fred Haney ... 641/2 games out of first place ... longest win streak was two games ... drew just 109,159 fans to home games ... best player was first baseman George McQuinn (.316, 20 home runs, 94 RBIs) ... second baseman Johnny Berardino, in his first year, hit .256 with 58 RBIs (see 1952 Pirates).

1952 Pittsburgh Pirates

(42-112, .273)

Managed by Billy Meyer ... were outscored 793-515 ... longest win streak was two games ... went 4-18 (.182) in September ... finished 541/2 games out of first and 221/2 games out of seventh in an eight-team league ... Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner (.244, 37 HRs, 87 RBIs) was in left field ... Joe Garagiola was the catcher, and had his best season (.273, 8 HRs, 54 RBIs) ... Murray Dickson had a respectable 3.57 ERA, but still went 14-21 ... Johnny Berardino, in his final season, was a backup infielder (see 1939 Browns). He became an actor (under the name Beradino) and starred as Dr. Steve Hardy on General Hospital for more than 25 years.

1962 New York Mets

(40-120, .250)

Managed by Casey Stengel ... outscored 948-617 ... the Chicago Cubs had 103 losses that year, and the Mets still managed to finish 18 games behind them ... longest win streak was three games; longest losing streak was 17 ... Frank Thomas hit .266 with 34 home runs and 94 RBIs ... also had some past-their-prime all-stars such as Richie Ashburn, Gil Hodges and Gus Bell ... Don Zimmer was Opening Day third baseman, but was traded to Reds early in season ... Roger Craig (pitching coach of 1984 World Champion Tigers) went 10-24 with a 4.51 ERA ... Al Jackson was 8-20, 4.40 ERA ... Jay Hook was 8-19, Craig Anderson 3-17 and one of the two Bob Millers on the team went 1-12.

1979 Blue Jays

(53-109, .327)

Managed by Roy Hartsfield ... third-year franchise had lost 107 and 102 games in its first two years ... finished 501/2 games behind in AL East and 28.5 games behind the next-worst team ... were outscored 862-613 ... shortstop Alfredo Griffin (.287, 31 RBIs, 21 stolen bases) was AL rookie of the year ... his double-play mate was 20-year-old Danny Ainge (.237, 19 RBIs in 308 at-bats), who gave up baseball to play in the NBA ... 21-year-old Dave Stieb went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA.

1988 Baltimore Orioles

(54-107, .335)

Managed by Cal Ripken Sr. and Frank Robinson ... lost first 21 games and played at a .386 clip after that, including 14-15 in August ... scored 550 runs and allowed 789 ... had future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. (.264, 23 HRs, 81 RBIs) and Eddie Murray (.284, 28, 84) in infield ... 21-year-old Curt Schilling went 0-3 with a 9.82 ERA.

1996 Tigers

(53-109, .327)

Managed by Buddy Bell ... 39 games behind in AL East ... scored 783 runs and yielded 1,103 - the most of any American League team since 1900 ... went 12-14 in July and 14-15 in August, but just 4-23 in May and 4-22 in September ... won six in a row July 28-Aug. 3 ... got good years from 3B Travis Fryman (.268, 22 HRs, 100 RBIs) and LF Bobby Higginson (.320, 26, 81) ... starting rotation consisted of Felipe Lira, Omar Olivares, Greg Gohr, Justin Thompson and Brian Williams.

(Sources: mlb.com, baseball-reference.com)



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