First World Series of the Century
hoopla and accomplishments of the Yankees-Braves 1999 World Series - the
last World Series of the century - now belongs to the history books along
with the first one that took place in 1903. The world, baseball and the
World Series were very different then.
Back in the
1880s for a period of seven years there had been play-offs between the
winners in the National League and the American Association. Once the
play-offs went to 15 games - 1887 between St. Louis and Detroit.
Pittsburgh won its third straight National League pennant in 1903. Boston
won the brand new American League title by 14 l/2 games over the
Philadelphia Athletics. The Pirates bragged about Honus Wagner whose .355
average earned him the batting title. Their swashbuckling manager Fred
Clarke was runner-up with a .351 average. Boston boasted about two 20-game
winners in Deacon Phillippe and Sam Leever.
modern World Series came about at the suggestion of Boston owner Henry J.
Killilea and Pittsburgh's owner Barney Dreyfuss. It was called
"Championship of the United States" and it was a five of nine
games affair. The first game was October l, 1903 at Boston's Huntington
Avenue Grounds before 16,242. Deacon Phillippe pitched Pittsburgh to a 7-3
win over Boston's Cy Young.
game and the series Boston's rabid fans serenaded Pittsburgh players with
a popular song of the day, "Tessie," but they substituted their
own vulgar words for the regular lyrics. The routine definitely had a
negative impact on the Pittsburgh players. "It was that damn song
that caused us problems," grumbled Buc player Tommy Leach afterwards.
Phillippe won three of the first four games of the series for Pittsburgh
but then faltered. Boston then swept the next four games. Bill Dinneen and
Cy Young won all five games for Boston in the series On October 13, only
7,455 showed up - the smallest crowd of the series. Phillippe pitched his
fifth complete game of the series but lost, 3-0 to Dinneen and Boston had
the game ended players from both clubs lined up for a combination team
photo. It was a remarkable display of good sportsmanship considering the
bitterness that had existed between the junior American League and senior
An oddity of
the World Series was that the losing players received more money that than
the winners. Owner Dreyfuss put his club's share of the gate receipts into
the players' pool. Each Pittsburgh player netted $1,316 while each Boston
player netted $1,182.
Phillippe - heroic in his efforts in the series with five decisions and 44
innings pitched, still World Series records, was given a bonus and 10
shares of stock in the Pirates.
There was no
World Series played in 1904. Boston was ready, willing able. But the
National League pennant winning New York Giants were not. Their manager
John J. McGraw snarled: "We are the champions of the only major
league." In 1905, the World Series resumed, fitted itself into its
best of seven format and has been with us ever since.
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and
is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd
on Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US
on the Web: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer
Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch.
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
Other Frommer sports related articles can be
Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
This Article is Copyright
© 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.
All rights reserved worldwide.