1910 Chalmers Award

From BR Bullpen

Before the 1910 baseball season, Hugh Chalmers of the Chalmers Automobile Company announced a promotion in which a Chalmers Model 30 automobile would be given to the batting champions for Major League Baseball's American League and National League.


At the start of the final day of the 1910 season, Ty Cobb held a small lead in the race for the the American League batting title. He was just a few percentage points ahead of the Cleveland Indians' Nap Lajoie. While Cobb did not play in the Tigers final two games of the season,[1] Lajoie played in two successive games on the last day of the season for the Indians.

Because Cobb did not have a plate appearance, his batting average did not change. However, Lajoie hit safely eight times in the Indians' doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. With eight hits in nine at-bats, Lajoie finished the season with a .384095 batting average (227 hits in 591 At bats).


Browns' manager Jack O'Connor had ordered third baseman Red Corriden to play on the outfield grass. This all but conceded a hit for any ball Lajoie bunted. Another hit came on a wild throw to first base, and should have been scored an error.[2] After news broke of the scandal, a writer for the St. Louis Post claimed: "All St. Louis is up in arms over the deplorable spectacle, conceived in stupidity and executed in jealousy." The issue was brought to American League president Ban Johnson. He declared all batting averages official, and Cobb the champion (.38507 to .384095). The Chalmers people, however, awarded automobiles to both Cobb and Lajoie. Cobb ultimately won the 1911 Chalmers Award, avenging what happened in 1910.

Modern revision[edit]

In 1989, The Sporting News discovered a discrepancy in Cobb's career hit total. [3] Initially recorded at 4,191 (still the total on MLB.com), researchers say that a Detroit Tigers box score was mistakenly counted twice in the season-ending calculations. The statisticians gave Cobb an extra 2-for-3. Not only did this credit Cobb with two non-existent hits, it also raised his 1910 batting average from .383 to .385. As Lajoie is credited with a .384 average for the 1910 season, the revised figure would have cost Cobb one of his 12 batting titles and reduced his career average to .366.

St. Louis's manager Jack O'Connor was fired for his role in the affair. [4] The ensuing mathematical mess was described by one writer as follows: "It could be said that 1910 produced two bogus leading batting averages, and one questionable champion." [5]


  1. name=BaseballLibrary>Ty Cobb. BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved on 2007-01-30.
  2. name=BaseballLibrary
  3. name=BaseballLibrary
  4. Deane, Bill, Thorn, John (ed.), and Palmer, Pete (ed.) (1993). "Awards and Honors." In Total Baseball (3rd ed.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-273189-0.
  5. name=BaseballDigestVass>Template:Cite journal

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rick Huhn: The Chalmers Race: Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2014. ISBN 978-0-8032-7182-1

See also[edit]