Boston Defeats Pittsburgh in Baseball’s First World Series

On this day in 1903, the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 to win Major League Baseball’s first “World’s Championship Series.”

Photo: Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston, 1903 World Series, 13 October 1903
Photo: Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston, 1903 World Series, 13 October 1903. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The contest between the Pirates, champions of the established National League, and the Americans, champions of the upstart American League, was a best-of-nine series.

Photo: a program from the 1903 World Series
Photo: a program from the 1903 World Series. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Even though the favored Pirates won three of the first four games, the Americans came storming back, winning the last four games in a row to take the championship five games to three.

Photo: an overflow crowd at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston prior to Game 3 of the 1903 World Series
Photo: an overflow crowd at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston prior to Game 3 of the 1903 World Series. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Pittsburgh had a formidable team, led by future Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and player-manager Fred Clarke. Boston, in turn, was led by future Hall of Famers Cy Young and player-manager Jimmy Collins.

The championship was joyfully celebrated in Boston, and the victory proved the American League teams could compete with the National League. The Boston Americans’ victory was splashed across the front page of the Boston Journal.

An article about the 1903 World Series, baseball's first, Boston Journal newspaper article 14 October 1903
Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 14 October 1903, page 1

Here is a transcription of this article:

Boston Americans Are Now the Champions of the World

Crowd Frantic in Its Expression of Joy

Brilliant Game Closed Famous Series on Home Grounds

Dineen Pitched to Win

Deciding Contest Taken 3 to 0, Same Score as Oct. 2

By W.S. Barnes, Jr.

All hail to the Boston Americans, champion ball players of the world!

This title was clinched at the Huntington avenue grounds yesterday afternoon by a brilliant victory over the fast Pittsburg team, champions of the National League, by a score of 3 to 0, the identical score by which Dineen beat Pittsburg here Oct. 2.

It was the climax of a most notable series of four straight victories, after the Pittsburgs had won three games to their one, and like its predecessors was stubbornly and valiantly fought.

It was a contest of pitchers, and Dineen with his terrific speed and mystical curves was pitted against the wonderful Phillippe, than whom no pitcher in the game today can mix them up with more consummate skill. Both pitchers were at their best, but Dineen’s great speed gave him an advantage over his Gallic rival, for it was a dark day and consequently he had the batsmen at a disadvantage. Still, so effective was the Boston pitcher, that it is doubtful if even on a light day the Pittsburg batsmen would have had much better luck. We do not remember to have seen this great artist show at a better advantage or to have better curves and speed at his command.

All the more credit is due to Dineen for his great work in the box, when one considers that he pitched most of the game with the index finger raw as a piece of meat. His fellow players were fearful that he would not be able to pitch the game out and consequently from the fourth inning “Cy” Young was warming up behind the grandstand with Charley Farrell. If Dineen let up one iota during the whole game we did not note it and certainly he rounded out an afternoon’s grand pitching when he struck out Wagner and closed the game, with as good an exhibition of his skill as he showed at any time during the afternoon.

…A pleasing incident was enacted in the Boston players’ dressing room after the game yesterday when Senator M.J. Sullivan, himself an old ball player, presented to Capt. James J. Collins on behalf of Business Manager Joseph Smart and the players of the team a costly gold watch and a handsome locket, in which was set a brilliant diamond. Senator Sullivan complimented Capt. Collins on his leadership and the magnificent work of his team, and said that the token from the players was in appreciation of his personal attitude toward them which was at all times kindly and considerate. The presentation address was loudly applauded by the players.

Capt. Collins was completely taken back and nearly broke down. He finally said “I thank you very much fellows and I hope each and every one of you will have a very pleasant winter.”

Inscribed on the inner case of the watch was the following:

James J. Collins
Presented by the members of the Boston American Baseball Club of 03
Oct. 13, 1903

Note: An online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors – the old newspaper articles also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers. Did any of your ancestors play in or observe the 1903 World Series? Please share your stories with us in the comments section.

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