1914 Houston Buffs: Texas League Co-Champs.

I especially love doing a baseball story on Super Bowl Sunday morning!

The 1914 Buffs at Union Station. Today they would be standing on the 3rd base line of Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, Texas.

The 1914 Houston Buffaloes won 102 and lost 50, good enough to tie the Waco Navigators as the almost endlessly arguable co-champions of the Texas League after s series of post-game protests between the two clubs left them knotted in a first place tie with the same regular season record. Unfortunately, in the middle of all the legalese, ego, and other technical in-fighting, a playoff suggestion to settle the matter never broke out. As a result, the two were left to swarm on a tie that would be debated back and forth forever. Here’s the best summary I can provide you from the bit of fuzzy explanation left to us by the leaague’s erstwhile historian Willam Ruggles in “The History of the Texas League” from 1950.

Waco had been trying all summer to have one Houston win thrown out on a technicality. In a June 26th first game of a doubleheader at Houston, Austin trailed 9-1 at the end of seven innings. The visitors agreed to call the game then for the sake of saving daylight for the second contest, even though Texas League rules at the time dictated tat all first games of a DH must go nine frames to be official. The game was protested by Waco and, on September 7th, Texas League President W.R. Davidson threw the game out as a win for Houston, but he did not provide for any replay of the contest as prescribed by the rules at that time. Had the win not been taken away, Houston could have tied Waco with the same record.

Never fear. Houston got that tie, but they did it in the same way that Waco put a hole in Houston’s pennant hopes. They protested and won a verdict against Waco for using a new player too late in the season, as described by the Texas League roster rules for 1914. The win stripped Waco of a win and left them tied with Houston for the Texas League pennant. Perhaps the idea of a playoff between Houston and Waco was thwarted by the fear of further protests over whatever might have happened in an additional game.

The books closed on 1914 with Houston and Waco both finishing at 102 wins and 50 losses.

1914 was another quirky year in the Texas League. Last place Austin’s ownership was chastised early in the summer for not trying hard enough to win and for the frivolous firing of good players who may have been making too much money to please Austin owner Quebodeaux. The roster had a revolving door that almost spun its way out of control. “We tell ’em hello in the morning,” said Austin pitcher Ross Helms, “and we kiss ’em goodbye at night,” he added.

At one point, Austin lost 31 games in a row, a figure that also turned out to be their season win. The Capitol City boys finished last in the Texas League in 1914 with a record of 31 wins and 114 losses.

The only common ground that this article shares with the Super Bowl is this one: If someone wants to know who won the Texas League pennant in 1914, the only safe answer is this one:

Who dat?

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