Cy Seymour: Battle for Batting Crown

Cy Seymour

Cy Seymour. Have you ever heard of him? Seriously, do you know what Cy Seymour did in baseball history? Let’s take a look at Cy Seymour.

Cy Seymour Early Life and Career

He was born James Bentley Seymour on December 9, 1872 in Albany, NY. Seymour hated the nickname Cy which stood for Cyclone. He wanted to be known as James Bentley Seymour.  He played semi-pro baseball in Plattsburgh, NY, where he received $1000 per month salary. It was while with this club that he was signed in 1896 to play minor league baseball for the Springfield Ponies of the Class A Eastern League and the New York Metropolitans of the Class A Atlantic League.

Cy Seymour Major Leagues

On April of 1896, Seymour signed with the New York Giants as a pitcher and made his debut on April 22nd. He made 11 appearances that season and won 2 and lost 4 games. The New York Times described Cy Seymour as a pitcher with a $10,000 arm and a $0,0000 head. He got much better in 1897 and had a 18-14 record with more pitch control.  Occasionally, he played other positions and always hit the ball hard.

He played with the Giants through 1900 and then moved to Baltimore where he played 1901 and 1902. He was a strikeout pitcher with a devastating curve ball and showed plenty of skill. From 1887-1989 he lead the league in strikeout and walks. and pitched over 300 innings per season.

In 1900 he continued to throw the screwball and before the season began he developed a “dead arm” and was not allowed to start a game until the eighth game of he season and he got shellacked by allowing four runs in two innings and everyone knew something was wrong withe the lefties arm.

As a side note here, it was Cincinnati pitcher Ted Breitenstein that suggested to Seymour to abandon the pitch before the season began  or “your arm will be as dead as a mummy in a museum” . He proved correct. It was suggested that Seymour play more outfield but certainly not on a full time basis. Only until his arm improved. However, he never pitched another game.

Cy Seymour

Cy Seymour-the Outfielder

In 1901 and 1902, he began playing for the Baltimore Orioles in the new American League under successful manager John McGraw. On July 17, 1902, due to financial issues, the team was sold to Andrew Freedman, owner of the NY Giants and John T. Brush who was owner of the Cincinnati Reds. The top players were released from their contracts on that same day and the two owners poached them for their respective teams. Seymour signed  with the Cincinnati Reds and was given a $100 per month raise and he now had a salary of nearly $2800 a year.

In 1903, Seymour had a fantastic offensive season as he was in the top five in hits, triples, home runs and batting average. He continue to bat .300 or more each year through 1905.

Cy Seymour-The Battle for a Crown

The 1905 season in baseball was one of excitement and fans began flocking to ball parks all over the country. In fact, 5,855,062 was the total attendance for the season. The Deadball Era as it was known had created now what is baseball historians  called America’s National Pastime. People began using a rather new invention called the automobile to get out and around and the place to be seen was at …the ball game.

April 14, 1905 Opening Day in Cincinnati

The Reds will open the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates and two rim batting champion Honus Wagner.  With over 15,000 fans in attendance the game didn’t feature the top bat for either team as Cy Seymour went  0-for-4 and Wagner also ended the game 0-for-4. No batting race on this day. The Pirates won 9-4 over the Reds. In fact, Pittsburgh took three of four from the Reds to open he season. BoxScore for the game.

The Race in April

At the end of the month, Cy Seymour strung together a six-game hitting streak to have a .347 bating average. Wagner ended the month with a .346 batting average. A battle for a batting crown is on. As a team the Reds were 6-6 and the Pirates were at 8-4, only a half game behind the New York Giants.

May Baseball

The  month opened with a split of the Cubs at home with one being a victory over their ace Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. Seymour went 0-for-3 against the star pitcher. From there they  traveled to Pittsburgh to face Wagner and Company.

They had trouble beating them as they did in the season opener. Seymour made a throwing error to put his team in the hole by throwing to the wrong base. At the plate he made up for his miscue with two singles an a double. He stole third once in the game  but his team lost 4-2.

From May 11 to May 24, Cy Seymour produced a 10-game hitting streak. In that streak he had to face Christy Mathewson, one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. He did squeak out hit against the future 30 game winner. At the end of the month, they faced the Pirates at home and Wagner got three hits. and Seymour got one lone single. Game two was a different story as the Reds won easily 12-3 but Cy  only had one hit and Wagner garnered two hits.

At the end of May, Seymour was hitting.327  and Wagner was hitting .321 on the season.

June Baseball 1905

Both Honus Wagner and Cy Seymour heated up with the weather and Wagner hit in 23 of 25  games while his counterpart hit in 22 of 25 games.Seymour had an 18 game hitting streak.At the end of the month Seymour was hitting .351 while Wagner clocked in at .377 and leading the league a he was familiar in doing. He now had a comfortable lead in the batting race.

July 1905

As if was a Hollywood script, the Pirates and Reds faced each other in four game set. The first two game saw neither player get a hit. Then Seymour got scorching hot and had a 21 game hit streak from July 2 to July 23. Wagner turned somewhat cold with the bat in July. As the month finished, they were separate by 5 points.

The Final Battle

In August and September, Seymour stayed hot and Wagner was ordinary. Now it turned to October and Cincinnati was home for their final eight games which included a season ending doubleheader with the Pirates. there was much anticipation from the fans. Seymour went 5-for 8. Wagner couldn’t catch him. Jame Bentley “Cy” Seymour was the 1905 batting champion with a .377 batting average and Wagner had dipped to .363. This was a Herculean feat as Honus Wagner owned this decade of baseball with seven betting titles.

Cy Seymour Later Years

The Reds sold Seymour to the Giants in 1906 for the price of an unheard of $12,000. He was a very good player in the Giants uniform from 1906-1910 but wasn’t a top of the line performer the Giants had paid a kingly price to get. The end came quickly and without fanfare as a series of injuries and a bout of alcohol abuse along with his quick temper led to several suspensions  which grew into playing no more.

He tried to resurrect his career with a few minor league years and he sent notes to owners telling them he was a changed man and wanted to mange but none hired him. He was deemed “unfit” to serve during World War I and went to work in the shipyards of New York. It was during this time that he contracted tuberculosis. He died at his home on September 20, 1919 at the age of 46.

He has been spurned by the Hall of Fame as his metrics don’t match up because of his years as a pitcher. He has been inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Cy Seymour Stats

Seymour had 1,724 hits, a lifetime batting average of .303 and a 61-56 record as a pitcher. Babe Ruth was the only player with more hits and more wins as a pitcher. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the family plot at Albany Rural Cemetery. His plot is next to his wife Agnes.

About Tom Knuppel 92 Articles
I am a lover of ALL sports- big or small- some even obscure. I am a retired High School English teacher/coach that loves to write. and do book reviews of many sports. I want to write a book. Some around here call me “Dad” I am a St.Louis Cardinals fan from birth.Check out my History of Cardinals do com site Advice: Remember to always have a solid plan!

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