With the 2011 World Series still upon us and all the hype and hoopla in
the air, a flashback to an earlier and more innocent time in national
pastime history seems in order.
Back in the
1880s for a period of seven years there had been play-offs between
National League and American Association champs. Once the play-offs went
to 15 games - 1887 between St. Louis and Detroit.
Pittsburgh won its third straight National League pennant in 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 bragged about its
two 20-game winners 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," a five of nine games affair. The
matchup was a voluntary agreement between the two clubs not the leagues.
On October l,
1903 the first game was played at Boston's Huntington Avenue Baseball
Grounds before 16,242, quite a turnout underscoring the appeal of the
“first World Series.” Each team provided one umpire. Hank O'Day
represented the National League while Tommy Connolly was the American
Deacon Phillippe,31, winner of 25 game in 1903, matched up against
Boston's Cy Young, who had won 28 games that season and was in the 14th
season of a legendary 22 year career.
jumped all over Young in the first inning. After their first two
hitters, Ginger Beaumont and Clarke, made easy outs, Tommy Leach
tripled. Then the great Honus Wagner singled him in for the first run in
World Series history. An error by Boston second baseman Hobe Ferris on
Kitty Bransfield's ground ball prolonged the inning. The all hell broke
loose. Boston catcher Lou Criger would commit two more errors; the
Pirates would steal three bases. And by the time pitcher Phillippe
struck out ending the inning, the American Leaguers were in a 4-0 hole.
Pittsburgh won the game, 7-3 victor.
the game and the series Boston's rabid fans serenaded Pittsburgh players
with a popular song of the day, "Tessie." Moreover, they substituted
their own vulgar words for the regular lyrics. "It was that damn song
that caused us problems," grumbled Buc player Tommy Leach.
Phillippe won three of the first four games of the series for Pittsburgh
but then faltered. Boston then swept the last four games. Bill Dinneen
and Cy Young accounted for all five Boston victories.
13, only 7,455 showed up - the smallest crowd of that first “Fall
Classic.” Phillippe pitched his fifth complete game of the series but
lost, 3-0 to Dinneen. Boston had the championship.
the game ended players from both clubs lined up for a combination team
photo. That surprised many and was a remarkable display of good
sportsmanship considering the bitterness that had existed between the
junior American League and the senior National League.
Phillippe made out very well. He was heroic in his efforts in the series
with five decisions in 44 innings pitched, still World Series records.
His reward - - a bonus and 10 shares of stock in the Pirates.
An oddity of
the World Series was that the losing players received more money that
than the winners. Buc 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.
Fall Classic was a far cry from the way the competition has evolved.
Nevertheless, it triggered all that has taken place through the decades.
# # #
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,
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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