1903 World Series: Game One

The 1903 Pittsburgh Pirates finished up their season schedule on September 26th winning the National League pennant by 6.5 games with a 91-49 record. The Boston Americans were busy winning the American League title by 14.5 games, going 91-47 and wrapping up their schedule on September 28th. The two teams agreed to meet in a post-season series which is now known as the first modern World Series. The clubs matched up well based on season stats but the Pirates were hurting in the pitching department going into the series. They lost Ed Doheny and Sam Leever was suffering from a tired arm.

On Thursday October 1st at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, home of the Boston Americans the two teams faced off in game one of the series. A crowd of 16,242 packed the park that day to watch their own 28 game winner, Cy Young, take the hill squaring off against him mound opponent, Deacon Phillippe, who himself won 25 games in 1903. The lineups were as follows:

Pittsburgh Pirates
Ginger Beaumont CF
Fred Clarke LF
Tommy Leach 3B
Honus Wagner SS
Kitty Bransfield 1B
Claude Ritchey 2B
Jimmy Sebring RF
Ed Phelps C
Deacon Phillippe P

Boston Americans
Patsy Dougherty LF
Jimmy Collins 3B
Chick Stahl CF
Buck Freeman RF
Freddy Parent SS
Candy LaChance 1B
Hobe Ferris 2B
Lou Criger C
Cy Young P

Young started the first inning off by retiring the first two batters he faced before Tommy Leach got the first World Series hit, a triple to deep right field. Leach would score the first ever courtesy of the next batter, as one future Hall of Famer, Honus Wagner, got the best of another. Wagner singled to LF making it 1-0 Pirates.

Honus would steal 2B and move to 3B on a groundball that Hobe Ferris booted for an error, allowing Kitty Bransfield to get on base. Kitty would then attempt to steal 2B and the throw by Criger went into the outfield allowing him to go to 3B and letting Wagner score the second run of the game. After a Claude Ritchey walk and stolen base, Jimmy Sebring brought both runners home with a single to make it 4-0, all the base runners coming with two outs.

Phillippe took the mound in the bottom of the inning and struck out the first two batters he faced, which included another future Hall of Famer in Jimmy Collins, the Boston manager. Deacon allowed a two out single but got out of the inning with no further damage. Young had a lot less trouble in the 2nd inning with a little help from Fred Clarke, who was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. He faced the minimum despite the hit.

Phillippe was obviously strong coming into this game and the 2nd inning was even better than the first as he struck out the side giving him five K’s in the first two innings.

After retiring Wagner to lead off the 3rd, Young gave up another triple to RF, this time to Bransfield. The 21 year old rookie,Sebring, continued his nice start off the all-time wins leader. He drove in Bransfield with a single to RF to make it 5-0 where it stayed through the end of three innings.

It was apparent that Cy Young didn’t have his best stuff this day but he wasn’t getting much help from his fielders. In the 4th inning the Pirates added another run with Beaumont reaching on an error and scoring after back-to-back singles from Clarke and Leach.

The game remained 6-0 after six innings, Phillippe had allowed just two singles to this point and faced just three over the minimum. Young was still in the game despite getting hit pretty well early but he looked like he settled down, throwing two straight scoreless innings. In the 7th he retired the leadoff batter with a groundout to SS which brought Jimmy Sebring up to the plate. With two hits and 3 RBI’s already, Sebring would’ve been having a career day no matter what he did after that. It just so happens that he hit an inside the park home run, the first homer in World Series history.

Jimmy Sebring was the unexpected hero of game one

Up 7-0 at this point, Phillippe finally started to show some signs of weakness. Buck Freeman and Freddy Parent hit back-to-back triples and Parent scored on a sacrifice fly by Candy LaChance making it 7-2 where it would stay after 7 innings. The Pirates added the 5th triple of the game in the 8th, Tommy Leach hit his 2nd one of the day but he was thrown out trying to steal home plate after a Honus Wagner walk.

Cy Young finished up the game for the Americans, retiring the side in order in the 9th. He allowed 7 runs (three earned) on 12 hits and 3 walks. Phillippe attempted to finish the game for the Pirates in the bottom of the inning but ran into some trouble. Freeman reached on an error by Honus Wagner, and Freddy Parent added his second hit putting runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Candy LaChance drove home the 3rd run with his 2nd sacrifice fly of the game.

Hobe Ferris hit a single, now putting two men on base with a 7-3 score and just one out. The Americans went to their bench for the first time, bringing up Jack O’Brien who was once Pirates property back in 1898 but never played for them in the majors. Phillippe struck out O’Brien and again the Americans went to their bench, this time pinch hitting for Young with another former Pirates player. Duke Farrell was one of the oldest players in the game at that point at age 37. He originally played for the Pirates way back in 1892. In 1903 he had batted .404 in very limited time(52 AB’s).

The last pitch of the first game of the World Series resulted in a comebacker right to Phillippe, who threw to Bransfield to retire Farrell. The visiting Pirates took game one by a 7-3 score. The game lasted just one hour and 55 minutes and Phillippe struck out ten batters. Game two was on the schedule for Friday October 2nd, Sam Leever taking the mound against Bill Dinneen, who went 21-13 in the regular season. The best of nine series had two more games left in Boston before the city of Pittsburgh could see their first post-season game ever. Next week we will see how the Pirates did in those two games and what kind of shape they were in coming back home for as many as four games before the series would return to Boston.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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