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Edited from Wikipedia by Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
The 1903 World Series was
the first modern World Series to be played in Major League Baseball. It matched
the Boston Americans of the American League against the Pittsburgh Pirates of
the National League in a best-of-nine series, with Boston prevailing five games
to three, winning the last four.
Pittsburgh pitcher Sam Leeverinjured his shoulder while trap-shooting, so his teammate Deacon Phillippepitched five complete games for Pittsburgh. 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.
Due to overflow crowds at the Exposition
Park games, 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 Exposition Park.
In Game1, Phillippe set a
World Series record by striking out ten Boston batters. That record lasted
barely one day, as Dinneen struck out eleven Pittsburgh batters in Game2.
Honus Wagner, bothered by
injuries, batted only 6 for 27 (.222) in the Series and committed six errors.
The shortstop was deeply distraught by his performance. The following spring,
Wagner (who led the league in 1903 in batting average) refused to send his
portrait to a "Hall of Fame" for batting champions. "I was too
bum last year," he wrote. "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."
In this World Series, the Boston
Americans came back from a three games to one deficit, winning the final four
games (in a best-of-nine Series rather than the now standard best-of-seven).
Such a comeback would not happen again until the Pirates came back to defeat
the Washington Senators in the 1925 World Series, and has happened only ten
times in baseball history. The Pirates repeated this feat in 1979 against the Baltimore
Much was made of the influence of
Boston's "Royal Rooters”, who traveled to Pittsburgh and sang their theme
song "Tessie" to distract the opposing players (especially Honus
Wagner). Boston would end up winning three out of the four games at Pittsburgh.
The 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
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.
The teams were generally thought
to be evenly matched, with the Americans credited with stronger pitching and
the Pirates with superior offense and fielding. The outcome, many believed,
hinged on Wagner's health. "If Wagner does not play, bet your money at two
to one on Boston," said the Sporting News "but if he does play, place
your money at two to one on Pittsburgh."