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The story of the Yankees' disastrous 1913 season

The Yankees came into 1913 looking up. That changed rather quickly.

Library of Congress

In 1913, the Yankees looked to be headed in an upward direction. The 1913 season was the first year they would be known as the "Yankees" instead of the "Highlanders." After several years in Hilltop Park, the team would move into the Polo Grounds. They had even managed to hire two-time World Series winning manager Frank Chance from the Cubs.

The Yankees also opted to have spring training in Bermuda, the first time a team had held camp outside of the United States. On the way back, many of the players became seasick. Chance, who had been a player-manager with the Cubs and was expected to play first base for the Yankees, got hurt. Predictably with these circumstances, the season did not get off to the best of starts.

After losing their first two games, the Yankees won their third. They would then win just one of their next 14 games. The 1913 Yankees started the season 2-15, averaging 2.7 runs a game.

The Yankees' best player in 1913 was Hal Chase. "Prince Hal", as he was nicknamed, had served as player-manager from 1910-11. Despite have a reputation as a great defensive first baseman, Chase made 402 career errors at first base. Later in his life, it was alleged that Chase had thrown games, probably explaining the errors.

Chase was also known for cheating his teammates at poker and sawing their bats in half for fun. As the Yankees struggled, he would often stand behind Chance, who was deaf in one ear, and mock his manager's instructions. After one particularly bad loss to the Athletics, Chance went to the media about his star.

"Did you see what went on there today?" he asked. "Chase let those throws go right through him. He's been doing that to me every day, throwing down me and the club."

Soon after, the Yankees decided to stop putting up with Chase and traded him to the White Sox on June 1. By then the Yankees were just 9-28 and had still yet to win a home game at their new stadium. Trading away Chase didn't have much impact on the field as they lost their next six games after the trade.

They finally won their first home game on June 7, beating Chase and his new team, the White Sox. The Yankees' longest winning streak of the season began on June 18 when they beat the St. Louis Browns. They then won two straight against the Browns and another two against the Washington Senators.

The Yankees didn't perform quite as badly down the stretch as they did prior to the trade. That still didn't equate to a very good record however. From June on, the Yankees went 48-66. A win on the final day of the season actually took the Yankees out of last place and put them into 7th, a game ahead of the Browns.

Frank Chance managed the Yankees again in 1914, but resigned after the season. Hal Chase played seven more major league seasons, and was later alleged to have been the middleman in the Black Sox Scandal.

The Yankees have gotten off to a pretty bad start in 2016, but they probably won't be as much of a mess as the 1913 team was.


All date courtesy of the Baseball-Reference Play Index