It’s fairly easy to recall most of the years the Detroit Tigers have won 100 games or more because most times the feat included a memorable post season. However, there are two seasons in which the Tigers won at least 100 games and finished in second place.
One year is still relatively fresh in Tigers fans’ minds. In 1961, the Tigs won an impressive 101 games and finished eight games behind the New York Yankees.
The other year is one most fans overlook. It was the magical season of 1915. That year, the Tigers won exactly 100 games in a 154 game season and finished second to Babe Ruth’s Boston Red Sox.
Ty Cobb led the Tigers with a .369 average and orchestrated an incredible offensive attack. He stole 96 bases (including home six times), scored 144 runs, had 99 RBI, and boasted a .486 on-base percentage.
In reality, 1915 may have been Cobb’s best hope of being a World Series champion. In 1907, 1908, and 1909, the Tigers were very young and outmatched by both the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. If Detroit had won the American League pennant in 1915, they would have faced the Philadelphia Phillies — a team the Red Sox knocked out 4 games to 1 in the World Series.
More importantly, in 1915, Cobb, 28, was a seasoned veteran and had Sam Crawford and Bobby Veach in his outfield. The Detroit trio is still regarded today as one of the greatest outfields of all-time.
Unfortunately for Cobb and the Tigers, Ruth’s first full season was also 1915 and his pitching and hitting abilities proved to be the difference.
The baseball magic in Detroit must have been overwhelming that year. Navin Field was only four years old, the Tigers drew nearly a half million fans, and the American automobile industry was really starting to blossom. Detroit was in its heyday and the Tigers were the center of its entertainment world.
1915 may not resonate with Tigers fans today, but it is unquestionably one of the greatest seasons in the team’s 117 year history.