Smiles: 1914 Elmira Colonels’ title was comeback for the ages

From SABR member Jack Smiles at the Elmira Star-Gazette on June 21, 2014:

Elmira needed a boost 100 years ago this summer when the impact of a national economic recession forced the city’s lifeblood, the Morrow plant of Willys-Overland Motors, to lay off 345 men. A winning baseball team helped ease the misery.

Like the country and the Morrow plant would do, the 1914 Elmira Colonels made a roaring comeback.

And who better than first-year player/manager Wid Conroy to score the run that finished off the comeback that brought Elmira its first professional baseball pennant with the 1914 championship of the country’s second-oldest minor league, the Class B (AA today) New York State League. That clinching run came in the second game of a doubleheader sweep in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Sept. 10.

The Wilkes-Barre Barons were the preseason favorite and lived up to it. On June 30 they were in first place with a 38-16 record and the Colonels were fourth at 28-28, 11 games behind. From that point the Barons went 41-39, but they were buried by a furious onslaught from the Colonels, who went 62-21 in July, August and September. The Colonels dominated the Barons head-to-head, winning 14 of 20 and 11 of the last 13.

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Originally published: June 23, 2014. Last Updated: June 23, 2014.