Even though they finished in fourth place and traded away two future Hall of Fame stars, a club that played over a hundred years ago has been in the headlines all this week. Thanks to the historical winning streak of this year’s Cleveland Indians, the 1916 New York Giants have been brought back into the news over a century since they made history.
It is the 26 game winning streak of those Giants that the 2017 Indians are hoping to match or surpass, so a long overdue reflection on that club seems appropriate. Managed by John McGraw, the club had as its best asset speed on the bases with two-time steals champ George Burns and future Hall of Fame third baseman Bill McKechnie.
That speed helps account for a remarkable fact, beyond the mark Cleveland is currently chasing, about the 1916 Giants. Several months earlier they had enjoyed a s win streak of sixteen games, going unbeaten from May 9 through May 29.
Then they began a 26 game winning run on September 7, a 4-1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins. The Giants would not lose again until the second game of a double header on the last day of September, an 8-3 defeat at the hands of the Boston Braves.
The record 26 game mark did include a one to one tie against Pittsburgh on September 18, when future Hall of Fame legend Honus Wagner drove in the only run for the Pirates. Another player who would one day join Wagner is Cooperstown had been on the Giants for the first streak, only to be traded a month before the September run.
Center Fielder Edd Roush, who seldom played because of the crowded New York lineup, was dealt to Cincinnati in a transaction that also saw Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Matthewson go to the Reds. Roush of course would be a key element of the 1919 Cincinnati team that upset the heavily favored White Sox in the World Series, one that was marred by allegations of eight Chicago players being paid by gamblers to throw several games.
Ironically enough, the White Sox had defeated the Giants in the World Series just two years prior to that scandal, only one season after New York had its remarkable 26 game run. Unfortunately, however, the Giants team that pulled off the streak came up well short of reaching the World Series in 2016.
In spite of the two impressive streaks New York finished fourth in the National League standings with just 88 wins, meaning that nearly half of their victories came during those consecutive runs. Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston all finished ahead of the Giants, with the Robins winning the pennant only to fall to the Boston Red Sox four games to one in the World Series.
The 2017 Cleveland club, on the other hand, has used their current winning streak to push them to the verge of clinching the American League Central Division championship. Not only that, but it has also rewarded the Indians with the best overall record in the league, which would thereby give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.