The Pittsburgh Pirates had won their third consecutive National League pennant, finishing six and one-half games ahead of the New York Giants, but this time, there was more baseball left to play.
The Pirates would face the Boston Americans (Red Sox) in the first post season series to determine the World Champion.
Two of the players who participated in the 1903 World Series are legends.
Honus Wagner, the greatest shortstop of all time, led the National League with a .355 batting average.
Cy Young, Boston’s ace, led the American League with 28 wins, 341 and two-thirds innings pitched and 34 complete games.
The Pirates and the Americans could score. Pittsburgh averaged 5.62 runs a game while Boston averaged 5.02 runs a game. The 2011 Red Sox are averaging 5.40 runs a game.
Teams can score runs without hitting home runs or extra base hits.
The Pirates made a valiant effort in the first World Series despite having to play at less than full strength.
Pitcher Sam Leever injured his shoulder while trap shooting. Otto Krueger, who was the Pirates only reserve, was beaned late in the season. Sixteen game winner Ed Doheny left the team and was committed to an insane asylum.
The first World Series was a best of nine. On Thursday, Oct. 1, 1903, it all began at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston.
The Pirates sent 25-game winner Deacon Phillippe to the mound. Boston countered with Cy Young. Both pitched complete games, but the Pirates jumped on Young in the first inning, scoring four times on their way to a 7-3 win.
In the seventh inning of that game, with the Pirates leading 6-0, Jimmy Sebring hit the first home run in World Series history. It was an inside the park home run that eluded center fielder Chick Stahl.
Sebring hit four home runs during the season. He had six for his career.
It was a World Series that was amazing when compared to the way the game is played today.
Phillippe started the third game on one’s day’s rest and won, 4-2. Cy Young took over for Boston starter Long Tom Hughes in the third inning and pitched seven innings, also on one day’s rest.
There were two days off until the fourth game was played. Guess who started for the Pirates. It was Phillippe, who was probably well rested because he worked with two days of rest.
He won his third game of the World Series but then lost his next two starts. Phillippe started five games. He completed them all. Shades of James Shields.
The Pirates had won three of the first four games, but the Americans started their tradition of clutch post-season performances (see the 2004 playoffs) by winning the next four games to become baseball’s first World Champions.
A fact that many fans don’t know or don’t remember is that Boston was a dominating team for most of the dead ball era. They were the New York Yankees of their time.