From August 12th to August 22nd, the Yankees lost nine consecutive games, fully tanking out of Wild Card contention and embarrassing fans around the world. The last time the team had dropped that many in a row was in 1982, the first year of a playoff drought that extended all the way to 1995.
New York was able to stop the bleeding on Wednesday, though, ending the streak at nine. It was, however, one of the worst stretches of play in franchise history. It makes us wonder about the truly worst streaks across time, as while there had been several other nine-gamers before 1982, a double-digit Yankees skid hasn’t occurred since the year before World War I began.
Since the 2023 club safely avoided tying those unfortunate pre-Babe Ruth teams, let’s review the Yankees’ longest losing streaks in franchise history.
3. 11 games (1911-1912)
Boy, were the early-1900s Yankees (or, shall we say, Highlanders) bad. In 1911, they started what would be the third-highest losing streak in their rich history on October 3rd against the Boston Red Sox.
New York would drop five games in a row to close out the 1911 campaign with a 76-76-1 record — yes, that “1” was a tie, which was a common occurrence during those days and will play a major role in one of the Yanks’ streaks as we will see later — enough for sixth in the American League. Then, to open the 1912 campaign, New York would go on to lose six in a row and the streak reached 11. It lasted from October 3, 1911 until April 20, 1912. Of the 11 contests, they lost seven against the Red Sox, two against the Philadelphia Athletics, and two versus the Washington Senators.
This streak isn’t exactly the same as the others because it spanned across two different seasons with rosters that weren’t exactly identical. But neither infamous skipper Hal Chase in 1911 nor replacement Harry Wolverton in 1912 were really capable of getting this moribund team off the rails. The 1912 club ultimately set a record for worst winning percentage in franchise history at .329 (50-102-1).
2. 12 games (1908)
The 1908 Highlanders were awful. Just awful. They finished with a team-record 103 losses and a 51-103-1 record, dead last in the Junior Circuit and 39.5 games behind the leaders, the Detroit Tigers. It was a catastrophic fall for a team that had actually finished second and just three games behind the World Series champion White Sox in 1906. But they fell to sub-.500 the next year and by 1908, they went completely off the rails.
Original Highlanders skipper Clark Griffith had bailed by midsummer, and from July 23rd to August 6th, they team did nothing but lose under Kid Elberfeld. It all started with a defeat against the Chicago White Sox, and the final loss was versus the St. Louis Browns. They lost two against the White Sox, three against the Tigers, four against the Cleveland Naps (including a 16-3 laugher) and three to the Browns. Bill Hogg and former 41-game winner Jack Chesbro had three losses each.
They finally (and mercilessly) ended their streak with a 4-1 victory against the White Sox on August 8th. Oh, and because the 1908 Highlanders were nothing else but horrid, they promptly dropped another seven games in a row after the win. Bravo.
1. 13 games (1913)
Here is where things get a little controversial. In the 1913 season (the first one under the “Yankees” name), the team lost two straight games against the Browns from May 21st-22nd. Since ballparks had no lights back then, darkness usually caused games to be halted, and if they were tied, they ended that way. That happened on May 24th, and the game with the Red Sox ended 3-3. After that, the Yankees lost 11 straight games: one versus the Red Sox, four against the Athletics, two more against Boston, and four versus the Naps. They broke the ugly streak on Saturday, June 7th against the White Sox. (Check out Matt’s article from last year for more on this dreadful team.)
The 1913 Yankees, managed by Frank Chance, finished with 57 wins, 94 losses, and two ties. If you ignore the tie, then New York lost 13 consecutive games — another way to put it is that they were winless in 14 contests. Considering that MLB still acknowledges the longest winning streak in history to be the 1916 New York Giants’ 26 in a row despite a tie in the middle, this 13-game skid counts as the Yankees’ worst losing streak.
In a span of six seasons, the Yankees had the three worst losing streaks in franchise history. Before entering play on Wednesday, they were at risk of dropping 10 straight for the first time since 1913. In the end, it didn’t happen, but it goes to show how historically bad they have been as of late.