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Old 03-11-2012, 01:10 AM   #191 (permalink)
joefromchicago
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1920 FINAL

Four teams battled for the crown in the Empire League. Camberwell, perched precariously atop the standings at the all-star break, featured a potent offense headed by Greg Helton (.368, 7 HR, 85 RBI) and Bill Riley (.309, 2 HR, 75 RBI) that ranked second in the EL with a .289 team batting average. George Bell (20-14, 3.77 ERA) helmed the staff while winning twenty games for the third consecutive season, and William Renshaw (8-4, 15 SV, 3.21 ERA) made fifty-four trips in from the bullpen, helping the Whitecaps to a 29-15 mark in one-run contests. Camberwell started out slowly in the second half, playing .500 ball and dropping out of first place until finally turning things around with a 10-4 stretch in the second half of August. Birmingham split a four-game set with the Whitecaps in the immediate aftermath of the midsummer hiatus and then went on a 9-3 tear that put them at the head of the League table. Bob Groulx (.327, 3 HR, 82 RBI) and Bob Normore (.310, 2 HR, 35 RBI) ignited the Blue Sox attack, while Shamus Scanlan (26-12, 2.69 ERA) had a career year on the mound, leading the EL in wins and WHIP, while George "Pepper" Moberley (19-8, 2.76 ERA) rebounded from an early-season elbow injury to go 11-5 in the second half. Liverpool made a run at the lead in August, winning five of seven games from Camberwell and vying with Birmingham for the top spot. The reigning pennant winners showcased a strong lineup, with shortstop Tom Inkster (.340, 8 HR, 78 RBI) and first baseman Christopher Armstrong (.328, 4 HR, 78 RBI) leading the way. When Inkster went down with a severely strained hamstring in late August, however, the team slumped, and the pitching leaders Ken Drummond (18-18, 2.89 ERA) and Nick Fernyhough (18-14, 3.37 ERA) fell off their performances from 1919. Newcastle picked up the pace in September just as Liverpool was dropping in the standings. Evan Drinkwater (.359, 6 HR, 78 RBI), splitting his time between first and second bases, was at the forefront of an offense that featured three regulars hitting over .300 and that combined for a .286 average. The Greys' main strength, however, was their pitching staff, which led the BA with a 2.93 ERA. Sophomore hurler Michael Playne (18-15, 2.98 ERA) topped the rotation, while James Murchie (16-13, 3.03 ERA), claimed off waivers from Dublin in June, went 14-8 for his new team. Camberwell dropped three games of a four-game set at Birmingham in the second week of September, but recovered to finish 12-8 while the Blue Sox only managed to go 9-9 the rest of the way. The Whitecaps then fought off the surging Greys to clinch their first pennant on the final weekend of the regular season, although they will be going into the Cup Finals Series without their regular center fielder, Paul Watson (.272, 0 HR, 62 RBI), who broke his kneecap on the first day of October. Westminster, vexed by injuries all year, played well in the second half behind sophomore infielder Tim Savill (.328, 8 HR, 91 RBI), while Lenny "Razzle Dazzle" Toll (23-17, 3.08 ERA) took over the top spot in the rotation in the absence of Aidan "Tido" Mabley (1-4, 5.62 ERA), who made a late-season appearance after spending most of the year on the DL. London boasted seven regulars hitting over .300, including team leader Matthew Atholl (.338, 9 HR, 98 RBI), and topped the League with a .292 team batting average, but the team had trouble scoring runs, and the pitching staff, aside from ace Arthur Nancekevell (22-11, 2.55 ERA) was unable to compensate.

It was a three-way contest in the DA, as Sheffield, Glasgow, and Belfast wrestled for the premier position. Belfast, behind an Association-leading pitching staff that featured Gerald "Monk" Longworth (17-14, 3.09 ERA) and Jon Jonson (13-7, 2.49 ERA), swept a four-game series from Islington at the start of the second half, knocking the Owls out of first place and putting the Unions squarely in the middle of the pennant chase. Outfielder Edmund Jowett (.325, 4 HR, 62 RBI) led the attack, but Joseph Smith (.357, 0 HR, 35 RBI) had two extended stays on the DL, which severely limited his effectiveness. Sheffield had trouble getting started again after the all-star break, but then began an eleven-game winning streak at the end of July that put them in the Association's driver's seat. John "Hush" Findlay (25-7, 2.03 ERA) defied the Alliance-wide trend toward more offense by leading the majors in ERA. John D'Aeth (18-11, 3.77 ERA) performed well in the number two slot in the rotation until he suffered a broken elbow at the end of August that ended his season. At the plate, Zeke Duff (.355, 11 HR, 97 RBI) captured the DA batting crown, while switch-hitting catcher Pat Clough (.303, 6 HR, 83 RBI) helped to boost the team's average to .281, fourth in the circuit. Glasgow, looking to win back-to-back pennants for the first time, ranked first in team batting average and second in runs scored. Second-year right fielder Curran Newmarch (.353, 10 HR, 69 RBI) led the attack despite missing all of May with a strained arm, while shortstop Joseph Roskilly (.340, 4 HR, 102 RBI), hitting in the fifth spot, led the Gaelics in RBI. On the hill, Eric "Scissors" Morris (23-14, 3.06 ERA) helmed the staff, while Callum Gray (4-3, 19 SV, 1.97 ERA) was nearly unhittable out of the bullpen. Sheffield pulled away from the pack in August by virtue of their 21-6 record in the month, but when D'Aeth went on the DL the Steelers' momentum stalled, and Belfast again challenged the leaders, even though they had lost their own number two hurler, Jonson, in early August to a torn muscle. The two teams met for a three-game series in mid-September, with Sheffield dropping two games while also learning that starting second baseman Robert Bartelot (.295, 4 HR, 48 RBI) would miss the rest of the season with a broken finger. Sheffield, however, bravely fought back from adversity, winning five of their remaining nine games while Belfast went 4-8, including a four-game sweep by Hull at home that clinched the pennant for Sheffield. With the title in hand, however, Sheffield suffered a major setback when Findlay, in his final start before the post-season, injured his elbow and will likely miss the Cup Finals Series. Lambeth managed to do a lot with a little, as their offense and pitching were both in the lower half of the Association lists, but a solid defense and strong performances from Fallon Eade (20-15, 3.19 ERA) on the hill and Griff Sproston (.307, 7 HR, 75 RBI) at the plate lifted the Lambs to fourth place, their best finish since 1914. Islington plunged all the way to fifth place after leading the DA in the first half. A rash of injuries devastated the club, although John Bell (.337, 3 HR, 66 RBI) and Sean Bryson (.312, 7 HR, 63 RBI) gave Owl fans hope for 1921.

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1920 CUP FINALS SERIES: CAMBERWELL v. SHEFFIELD

Although the pennant winners looked evenly matched on paper, Sheffield went into the post-season without their two best pitchers, which gave Camberwell the edge in the eyes of the punters. Sean Alker (17-17, 3.19 ERA) was left to handle the pitching duties for the Steelers, and the Whitecaps greeted him with two runs in the opening frame of the opening contest. The home team was leading 4-1 when Sheffield staged a two-run rally in the fifth keyed by the first of Dave Mask's (.262, 0 HR, 31 RBI) two triples on the day. George Bell still held a one-run lead until the eighth, when Daniel Wonnacott (.298, 5 HR, 64 RBI) led off the inning with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. The score stayed deadlocked at four apiece until the tenth inning, when relief pitcher William Renshaw led off the inning with a double, moved to third on an error, and then scored when Steeler reliever George Barse (7-3, 10 SV, 2.54 ERA) made an ill-advised pickoff throw to first that sailed into the grandstand. Greg Helton had three hits and an RBI for the winners. Camberwell's Michael Hastings (12-5, 2.17 ERA) and Sheffield's Athelney Musselwhite (2-4, 3.97 ERA) faced off in game two, but Musselwhite left the game in the third with a strained shoulder. Whitecap second baseman Eric Wilfred (.313, 0 HR, 47 RBI) broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh with an RBI-single, and Quinlan Innes (6-5, 6 SV, 2.12 ERA) held the Steelers scoreless the rest of the way to preserve a 2-1 victory. Zeke Duff had three base hits and scored a run in a losing cause. A battered Sheffield team returned home for game three and received a much-needed pitching performance from Michael "Foghorn" Martin (3-3, 3.91 ERA), who gave up five runs but left the game in the eighth still leading 8-5, courtesy of Andrew Limbrick's (.250, 4 HR, 37 RBI) two-run homer in the second and Dave Anderson's (.284, 3 HR, 64 RBI) three hits. This time Barse wrapped up the game, giving up only a harmless run in the ninth to save the 8-6 victory. Bell and Alker were locked in a tight contest in game four, with the teams tied at 2-2 in the ninth. In the top of the stanza, Henry Stockill (.299, 2 HR, 65 RBI) came up with the bases loaded and one out. He hit a grounder through the middle of the diamond, and two runs crossed the plate. That was enough for Innes, who pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the save as the Whitecaps won 4-2. Musselwhite returned for Sheffield to start game five against Hastings. It was 3-3 in the top of the ninth when Barse came in to pitch for the Steelers. The Whitecaps scored twice on a Wilfred RBI-single and a throwing error by right fielder Duff. Camberwell added another tally in the ninth, and Renshaw came on with men at the corners and two outs. Charlie Gare (.260, 4 HR, 66 RBI) lofted a fly ball to deep right-center that center fielder Bohannon Craufurd (.391, 0 HR, 1 RBI) snagged at the wall for the final out, and Camberwell lifted the BA Cup for the first time. Right fielder Josh MacBrayne (.284, 1 HR, 31 RBI) finished with a .429 batting average and a .667 slugging percentage to take home the MVP trophy.

THE MINORS

The West Bromwich Oaks captured their first Southern Conference championship since 1892, and the Dublin youngsters went on to defeat the Bolton Rovers, repeat winners of the Northern Conference from the Belfast system, in a three-game sweep for the Second Tier title.

Dublin's AA farm club, the Cork Green Sox, also captured their conference crown, but they had less luck in the finals, losing in four games to Westminster's affiliate, the Hackney Mudlarks, in the Second Tier championship series.

ALLIANCE LEADERS

Empire League
Hitting
BA: .389 Robert Butlin, Portsmouth
HR: 13 Robert Ducker, Bradford
RBI: 106 Robert Ducker, Bradford
R: 109 Murtagh Chedgey, Dublin
SB: 45 Murtagh Chedgey, Dublin
Pitching
W: 26 Shamus Scanlan, Birmingham
L: 21 Billy Dutton, Nottingham; Alastair Moorhouse, Edinburgh
K: 148 Carl "Beans" Kidner, Birmingham
ERA: 2.55 Arthur Nancekevell, London
SV: 15 William Renshaw, Camberwell

Butlin missed over eight weeks of the season with injuries, but still had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Ducker's 106 was the most RBI in the EL since Robin Broughton's 108 for Liverpool in 1902.

Dominion Association
Hitting
BA: .355 Zeke Duff, Sheffield
HR: 11 Zeke Duff, Sheffield
RBI: 107 Nicky Voyce, Leicester
R: 111 Zeke Duff, Sheffield
SB: 47 Paul Harber, Kensington
Pitching
W: 25 John "Hush" Findlay, Sheffield
L: 22 Bill "Ace" Redding, Islington
K: 152 Allan "Big Stick" Milborn, Stoke
ERA: 2.03 John "Hush" Findlay, Sheffield
SV: 19 Callum Gray, Glasgow

Duff missed the triple crown by ten RBI and finished behind both Voyce and Joseph Roskilly of Glasgow, who accumulated 102. Voyce and Roskilly were the first DA hitters to break the century mark in RBI since Stephen "Jerky" Benstead did it in 1912.
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