1899 Louisville Colonels
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1899 Louisville Colonels / Franchise: Louisville Colonels / BR Team Page
Managed by Fred Clarke
History, Comments, Contributions
Honus Wagner dominated the offense during the last year of the 1899 Louisville Colonels. He split his time between third base and the outfield, hitting .341 with 45 doubles, 13 triples and 3 homers, scoring 100 runs and driving in 114. Two other players also scored over 100 runs - OF Fred Clarke with 122 and OF Dummy Hoy with .117. Clarke also hit .340 with 206 hits and 49 stolen bases.
The Colonels had a roller coaster season. They started well enough, playing .500 ball in the early going, when they were 8-8 on May 5th. They then went into a tailspin and by June 18th, they were 22 games below .500, at 15-37. They never fell to last place in the National League however, as the historically awful Cleveland Spiders were also in the league, and on their way to establishing a record for seasonal futility. After that low point, Louisville began a remarkable turnaround that saw them climb back towards the .500 level, finally reaching it on October 3rd when a 10-2 win over the Chicago Orphans improved their record to 72-72. For all their hard work, they were still in 7th place in the 12-team league and 25 1/2 games off the pace. They then went 3-5 over their last 8 games to finish at 75-77, in 9th place. Still, the return to .500 from 22 games below has never been matched since; closest have been the 2006 Florida Marlins, who came back from 20 below, and two Tampa Bay teams, the 2004 Devil Rays and 2014 Rays, who both came back from 18 games below par.
After the season, the National League decided to contract from 12 to 8 teams. The Colonels were among the losers, as they were wound down, with the Pittsburgh Pirates receiving most of their best players, including Wagner and Clarke. There has not been a major league team in Louisville, KY since.