Saturday, June 03, 2006

July 9 1903 Western League Rosters

July 9, 1903 Western League Rosters

Special to the Sporting News:
Omaha, July 9— With all the clubs of the Western League represented except at St. Joseph at the meeting, the magnates decided by unanimous vote to reduce each club’s roster to 13 players.

I would assume that the Western League only reduced the roster by one player, though two is a possibility.  The Coast League had a 15 or 16 player roster limit at that time. But let’s look at what a 13-player roster would mean in the 1903 Western League: Eight position players, a change catcher, a utility player of some sort, the infielder-outfielder type, which would leave a pitching staff of only three pitchers.  I suppose your reserve could also be a catcher-infielder-outfielder to get to a four-pitcher staff.  And, of course, the pitchers who were not pitching that day would be inserted as need in outfield positions.  A good hitting pitcher often would play the outfield on off days, so that would be another solution to a 13-man roster.

The clubs in the Western League played between 126 and 131 games that season.  They would have played more but the season was terminated early because of horrible storms that swept the Midwest that September.  The league threw in the towel on a Thursday (September 17), rather than tough it out until Sunday, September 20, which would have been a normal occurrence.  Teams always tried to bank that Sunday money before going belly up.

The Western League that season was not some lower classification circuit.  It stood at the pinnacle of minor league ball, being one of the four league classified at the highest Class A leagues.  The Coast League was an Outlaw League in 1903.


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