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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Today in Baseball History: A new car and a batting title scandal

On March 25, 1910, the Chalmers Auto Company of Detroit came up with a cool idea: it offered to award a new car to the batting champion of each league. After some consideration, the National and American Leagues would accept the offer.

I don’t care about the award as such, but it did lead to a pretty tasty baseball scandal I want to talk about. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, a little background.

What would become the Chalmers Auto Company started as the E.R. Thomas Company of Detroit. It was one of many late 19th-early 20th century companies trying to make a go of it in the auto business, but it was making a pretty poor go of it. In 1908 Thomas hired a bright young cash register salesman from Dayton named Hugh Chalmers to boost its fortunes. Chalmers was named president. Later that year he bought out Thomas completely and changed the name of the company, creating the Chalmers Auto Company of Detroit.

Chalmers had a knack for promotion and did a lot to increase the company’s visibility. He hired professional drivers and arranged for them to enter Chalmers cars in road races, endurance events and other sorts of contests and exhibitions. Via partnerships he got involved in the nascent Hudson Motor Company, but eventually sold off his interest there, leaving Hudson to produce smaller, more economical cars, while Chalmers increasingly focused on building larger, more luxurious cars. His crown jewel: the Chalmers Model 30 Roadster. It was a pretty sweet ride. It was also the model of car that Chalmers would award the batting champ of each league.

Or, why offering prizes for statistical performance can backfire in a hurry…..

 

QLE Posted: March 26, 2020 at 12:50 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, cars, chalmers, history, nap lajoie, tigers, ty cobb

 

 

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