Honoring the Pastime: A Look at Baseball's Inaugural 1903 World Series

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Honoring the Pastime: A Look at Baseball's Inaugural 1903 World Series
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Background Info

Prior to the 1903 season, the National League held its own championship series, as did the “junior circuits”―one of which was the supposedly subpar American League.

The common domestic thought across America was that any champion of the American League was inferior to that of the National League.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates, the National League champs, challenged the Boston Americans of the American League to a series to determine who the best team was in the newly founded Major League Baseball, Boston accepted, and the modern World Series was born.

Pittsburgh, though heavily favored to win, was plagued by a series of injuries to ace Sam Leever, who claimed the league’s highest win percentage (.781) and best earned run average (2.06), and the fourth-most wins (25), pitcher Ed Doheny, and shortstop Honus Wagner. Though Wagner and Leever made appearances, neither of the two stars made large contributions to the Pirates due to their injuries.

The Americans seemed to have the advantage in the rubber match for the inaugural World Series. Workhorse Cy Young led the American League with 28 wins, 341.2 innings pitched, and 34 complete games. Backing up the future all-time wins leader in the rotation were 20-game winners Bill Dinneen and Tom Hughes. The Americans featured at least one player in all major hitting categories except for two-baggers.

 

 

Starting Lineup

PIRATES               AMERICANS

Beaumont CF         Dougherty LF

Clarke LF               Collins 3B

Leach 3B               Stahl CF

Wagner SS             Freeman RF

Bransfield 1B         Parent SS

Ritchey 2B             LaChance 1B

Sebring RF             Ferris 2B

Phelps C                Criger C

 

Series Summary

Game One

Game One of the eight-game series was held in Boston at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, but the visitors from Pittsburgh started off the game with a bang. The Pirates hitters went raking in the first, scratching Young up for four runs. Outfielder Jimmy Sebring hit an inside-the-park homer off Young in the seventh to seal the deal as Pittsburgh went on to win 7-3.

Team                               R H E

Pittsburgh     4 01   100  100       7 12 2

Boston              000   000  201        3  6  4 

 

WP: Deacon Phillippe (1-0)      LP: Cy Young (0-1)

HRs: Jimmy Sebring (1)

 

 

Game Two

Game Two featured pitchers Sam Leever and Bill Dinneen for Pittsburgh and Boston, respectively. Dinneen only allowed three hits in a shutout effort as Patsy Dougherty, the 1903 American League hits and runs leader, homered twice, with one of the two dingers leaving the park. Dinneen faced only two over the minimum as 9,415 watched on, nearly 7,000 less than Game One.

Team                                  R H E 

Pittsburgh        000  000   000       0  3  2                                                   

Boston              200  001   00x        3  9  0

                                                                                                                                           

WP: Bill Dinneen (1-0)    LP: Sam Leever (0-1)

 HRs: Phil Dougherty 2(2)

 

 

Game Three

Pittsburgh sent out Deacon Phillippe once again, this time on one day’s rest, to face the Americans, and he continued to dominate Boston hitters, winning for the second time in the series by going the distance and only allowing four hits and two runs. Phillippe would go on to make five starts for Pittsburgh in the series.

The breaking point in the low-scoring game may have been when Cy Young came on to relieve Tom Hughes for the Americans with no outs and runners on the corners and the Pirates leading 2-0.

After hitting Honus Wagner and loading the bases, Young retired the next two hitters and appeared to get out of the inning by inducing Sebring into a ground ball to shortstop Freddy Parent, but he missed the ball and allowed another run to score, snapping any aspiration Boston had at a possible comeback in the game.

 

Team                                           R H  E       

Pittsburgh        012  000  010        4  7  0                               

Boston                  000  100  010        2  4  2                                                

 

WP: Deacon Phillippe   (2-0)   LP: Tom Hughes (0-1)

 

    

Game Four

After a travel day to Pittsburgh and a rain-delayed game, Phillippe started against Dinneen, a matchup of two pitchers that had dominated the series. Tommy Leach led the slugging attack for Pittsburgh by being involved in all of the Pirates’ runs, going 2-for-4 with one run scored, three RBI, and a triple.

Leading 5-1 entering the top of the ninth, Phillippe surrendered three runs but stranded the go-ahead run on first as Pittsburgh ended up as the victors, 5-4, and needed only one more win in order to clinch the first World Series title.

Team                                  R H  E       

Boston               000  010  003        4  9  1

Pittsburgh       100  010  30x        5 12 1       

 

WP: Deacon Phillippe   (3-0)   LP: Bill Dinneen (1-1)  

 

 

Game Five

Down three games to one in the series, the Americans started Cy Young against Brickyard Kennedy, a 5’11”, 160-lb. pitcher who only appeared in 24 games over the two prior campaigns with the New York Giants and the Pirates.

The game was close until the top half of the sixth inning, when the Americans scored six runs off Kennedy to put the game out of reach for Pittsburgh. Young helped his cause greatly with a two-run triple as part of the sixth-inning massacre that included three costly errors.

**The Boston Americans hit five ground-rule triples into an overflow crowd in Game Five.

 

Team                                 R H  E       

Boston               000  006 410        11  14 2

Pittsburgh      000  000  320        2 6 4       

 

WP: Cy Young   (1-1)   LP: Brickyard Kennedy (0-1)  

 

 

Game Six

Dinneen once again bested Leever, holding Pittsburgh scoreless through six-and-a-third frames and held the Pirates to eight scoreless innings as the Americans rolled to a 6-3 victory to even up the series at three games apiece.

 

 

Team                                   R H E

Boston               003  020  100        6 10 1

Pittsburgh        000  000  300        3 10 3

 

WP: Bill Dinneen (2-1)  LP: Sam Leever (0-2)

           

 

Game Seven

In a Game Seven that was pivotal to either team’s chances at winning the first World Series, 17,038 spectators crammed into Exposition Park in Pittsburgh to watch seemingly unstoppable Deacon Phillippe and red-hot outfielder Ginger Beaumont take on the all-time wins leader (he broke the previous record earlier in the season) Cy Young.

Once again, the hits were nearly even, but the Americans only stranded four runners to the Pirates’ nine. Young threw another complete game, allowing three runs as Boston finally defeated Phillippe to take a four-to-three series lead.

 

Team                                  R H E        

Boston             200  202  010        7 11 4

Pittsburgh        000  101  001        3 10 3

WP: Cy Young (2-1)    LP: Deacon Phillippe (3-1)

 

Game Eight

Facing elimination, Deacon Phillippe once again took the ball and threw well, only allowing three runs on eight hits in eight innings, but the series hero for Boston, Bill Dinneen, shut out the Pirates for the second time in the series as the Americans brought the first ever World Series title to Boston and the “inferior” American League.

Hobe Ferris provided the offensive pyrotechnics, going 2-for-4 and driving in all three Boston runs.

 

Team                                 R H E        

Pittsburgh       000  000  000        0 4 3

Boston             000  201  00x        3 8 0         


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