first world series

Wayback Wednesday: World Series 1903

Posted on

1903 World Series Wikipedia Image
Image Credit: Wikipedia/Wikimedia

The 1903 World Series was the first modern World Series to be played in Major League Baseball. It matched the American League champion Boston [Americans] against the National League champion [Pittsburg Pirates] (spelled without an “H” from 1891 to 1911) in a best-of-nine series, with Boston prevailing five games to three, winning the last four. The first three games were played in Boston, the next four in Allegheny (home of the Pirates), and the eighth (last) game in Boston.

Pittsburgh pitcher Sam Leever injured his shoulder while trap-shooting, so his teammate Deacon Phillippe pitched five complete games. Phillippe won three of his games but, it was not enough to overcome the club from the new American League. Boston pitchers Bill Dinneen and Cy Young led Boston to victory. In Game #1, Phillippe struck out ten Boston batters. The next day, Dinneen bettered that mark, striking out 11 Pittsburgh batters in Game #2.

Honus Wagner [was] bothered by injuries […] and committed six errors. The shortstop was deeply distraught by his performance. The following spring, Wagner […] refused to send his portrait to a “Hall of Fame” for batting champion:

“I was too bum last year. I was a joke in that Boston-Pittsburgh Series. What does it profit a man to hammer along and make a few hits, when they are not needed, only to fall down when it comes to a pinch? I would be ashamed to have my picture up now.”

Due to overflow crowds at the Exposition Park games in Allegheny City, if a batted ball rolled under a rope in the outfield that held spectators back, a “ground-rule triple” would be scored. [Seventeen] ground-rule triples were hit in the four games played at the stadium.

In the series, Boston came back from a three-games-to-one deficit, winning the final four games (on October 13) to capture the title…(118 years ago). Such a large comeback would not happen again until the Pirates came back to defeat the Washington Senators in the 1925 World Series […]. […] Much was made of the influence of Boston’s Royal Rooters, who traveled to Exposition Park and sang their theme song Tessie to distract the opposing players […]. Boston wound up winning three out of four games in Allegheny City.

Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss added his share of the gate receipts to the players’ share, so the losing team’s players actually finished with a larger individual share than the winning team’s.

The Series brought the new American League prestige and proved its best could beat the best of the National League, thus strengthening the demand for future World Series competitions.

Wikipedia Summary

Additional:
Baffling Baseball Trivia
(Dom Forker/Wayne Stewart/Michael J. Pellowski/2004/Sterling Publishing Company/Web Archive)
Baseball Almanac (World Series History/The Official Baseball History Site)
Honus Wagner: A Biography (Dennis DeValeria/Jeanne Burke DeValeria/1996/1998/GoodReads)
Retro Sheet (Pre-1984 Baseball Analysis)
The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics of 1903 (Roger L. Abrams/2003/Northeastern University Press/Web Archive)