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The Chalmers Race

Ty Cobb, Napoleon Lajoie, and the Controversial 1910 Batting Title That Became a National Obsession

Rick Huhn

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 04/2014
Pages: 328
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9780803273764


In 1910 auto magnate Hugh Chalmers offered an automobile to the baseball player with the highest batting average that season. What followed was a batting race unlike any before or since, between the greatest but most despised hitter, Detroit’s Ty Cobb, and the American League’s first superstar, Cleveland’s popular Napoleon Lajoie. The Chalmers Race captures the excitement of this strange contest—one that has yet to be resolved.   The race came down to the last game of the season, igniting more interest among fans than the World Series and becoming a national obsession. Rick Huhn re-creates the drama that ensued when Cobb, thinking the prize safely his, skipped the last two games, and Lajoie suspiciously had eight hits in a doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns. Although initial counts favored Lajoie, American League president Ban Johnson, the sport’s last word, announced Cobb the winner, and amid the controversy both players received cars. The Chalmers Race details a story of dubious scorekeeping and statistical systems, of performances and personalities in conflict, of accurate results coming in seventy years too late, and of a contest settled not by play on the field but by human foibles.    


Rick Huhn is the author of The Sizzler: George Sisler, Baseball’s Forgotten Great and Eddie Collins: A Baseball Biography. Charles C. Alexander is the author of several baseball books, including Ty Cobb.


"This is the kind of baseball history we need more of—a book grounded in a great story, shaped by intelligent assessments of the evidence, committed to accuracy and truth-telling, and presented in vigorous prose."—Reed Browning, author of Cy Young: A Baseball Life

"With graceful writing and exhaustive research, Huhn gives life to one of baseball's great untold stories."—Jon Wertheim, senior writer for Sports Illustrated

"It took more than a century, but we've finally got the book we deserve about baseball's most infamous batting race. Thanks to Rick Huhn, it was worth the wait."—Rob Neyer, national baseball editor of the website Baseball