1899 Cleveland Spiders season
|1899 Cleveland Spiders|
|Major League affiliations|
|Manager(s)||Lave Cross, Joe Quinn|
|< Previous season|
In 1899, the owners of the Spiders, the Robison brothers, Frank and Stanley, bought the St. Louis Browns baseball club from Chris von der Ahe, renaming it the Perfectos. However, they continued to retain ownership of the Cleveland club, an obvious conflict of interest that was later outlawed.
Stanley Robison publicly announced his intention to run the Spiders "as a sideshow", and fans apparently took him at his word. After the first 16 home games, Cleveland's total attendance was 3,179 for a trifling average of 199 people per game. As a result, other NL teams refused to travel to Cleveland's League Park, as their cut of the ticket revenue would not come close to covering their travel and hotel expenses. The Spiders only played 26 more home games for the rest of the season, including only eight after July 1. In so doing, they set a number of negative records, including one, 101 road losses, that is unbreakable under MLB's current schedule. Sportswriters of the day began referring to the team as the "Exiles" and "Wanderers." Their final record for the season was 20–134 for a win ratio of .130, the worst in Major League Baseball history.
- 1 Offseason
- 2 Regular season
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Player stats
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Robisons decided that a good team in St. Louis would draw more fans, so they transferred most of the Cleveland stars, including future Hall of Famers Cy Young, Jesse Burkett and Bobby Wallace, as well as manager Patsy Tebeau, to St. Louis. Most of the players Cleveland received were non-entities. Jack Clements (known to history as one of MLB's few left-handed throwing catchers) and Joe Quinn were at the end of successful careers, and player-manager Lave Cross was traded back to St. Louis after the Spiders got off to an 8–30 start.
According to various individual pages at Baseball-Reference.com, most of this activity took place on March 29, 1899, just 17 days before the beginning of the new season:
- Frank Bates, Nig Cuppy, Cowboy Jones, Pete McBride, Jack Powell, Zeke Wilson, Cy Young to St. Louis
- Kid Carsey, Jim Hughey, Harry Maupin, Willie Sudhoff to Cleveland
- Jimmy Burke, Cupid Childs, Ed McKean, Ossee Schreckengost, Bobby Wallace to St. Louis
- Patsy Tebeau to St. Louis (to be manager)
- Joe Quinn, Suter Sullivan, Tommy Tucker to Cleveland
- Lave Cross to Cleveland (to be player-manager)
- Harry Blake, Jesse Burkett, Emmet Heidrick to St. Louis
- Tommy Dowd, Dick Harley to Cleveland
They also transferred numerous home games to the road—including the original Opening Day game to St. Louis. As a result, the Spiders did not play their first home game until May 1.
With a decimated roster, it was apparent almost from the start that the Spiders would make a wretched showing. In their first game, they were beaten by the Perfectos 10–1. The next day, The Plain Dealer contained what proved to be a prescient headline--"THE FARCE HAS BEGUN."
Ultimately, the club finished 20–134 (.130) and lost 40 of their last 41 games of the season. By season's end, they trailed the pennant-winning Brooklyn Superbas by 84 games. Cleveland was 35 games behind the next-to-last (11th) place Washington Senators. For comparison, this would project to 21–141 under the current schedule, and Pythagorean expectation based on the Spiders' results and the current 162 game schedule would translate to a record of 25–137.
The 1899 Spiders were 11–101 (.098) on the road and 9–33 (.214) at home. The 101 road losses is far and away the most in major-league history, and will never be threatened, since under current scheduling practices a team does not typically play more than 81 road games (barring tie-breaking playoffs, which are counted as regular season games). The team's longest winning streak of the season was two games, which they accomplished once: on May 20 against the Phillies and May 21 against Louisville. The Spiders were winless against two teams: Brooklyn and Cincinnati. Spiders opponents scored ten or more runs 49 times in 154 games. Pitchers Jim Hughey (4–30) and Charlie Knepper (4–22) tied for the team lead in wins. The pitching staff allowed a record 1,252 runs in 154 games. The Spiders batters combined to hit 12 home runs, matching former Spiders star Bobby Wallace, who hit 12 home runs for St. Louis. Just 6,088 fans paid for Spiders home games in 1899, an average attendance figure of 145 people per game. (By comparison, St. Louis drew 373,909 fans for their season, and 15,000 for one game—their home opener against the Spiders.) In the last 57 games of the season, the Spiders only won three games.
Somewhat ironically, the 1899 Spiders did lead the league in one notable statistic - games played. Cleveland was the only team in the league to finish all of its games in the then-154 game schedule of the 1899 season, a rather unusual occurrence in that era.
The dismal 1899 season was the end for the Spiders and for National League baseball in Cleveland. The Spiders were disbanded, along with franchises in Baltimore, Louisville, and Washington, as the National League contracted from 12 teams to 8. The departure of baseball from Cleveland left an opening for the upstart American League, which opened for business in 1901 as a second major league and included among its charter members a new team, the Cleveland Blues. The Blues still exist today as the Cleveland Indians. As of 2018[update], the 1962 New York Mets (120 losses) and 2003 Detroit Tigers (119) have the post-1900 NL and AL records for most losses in a season, respectively.
|St. Louis Perfectos||84||67||0.556||18½||50–33||34–34|
|New York Giants||60||90||0.400||42||35–38||25–52|
Record vs. opponents
1899 National League Records
Sources:            
Opening Day lineup
- June 5, 1899: Some of the March 29 activity was undone. Willie Sudhoff and Lave Cross were sent by the Spiders back to the Perfectos, with Frank Bates and Ossee Schreckengost coming back to Cleveland.
|1899 Cleveland Spiders|
Starters by position
Note: Pos = position; G = Games played; AB = At Bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting Average; HR = Home Runs; RBI = Runs Batted In
"1899 Cleveland Spiders Statistics". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.