Sixth in our series to appear on the first Friday of each month: Boston Firsts Fridays. #BostonFirsts
First Realty Management Corp. was founded in Boston over 50 years ago. We are proud to call this wonderful city our home, and call focus to some of the events & innovations that happened FIRST in Boston.
BF#06 First World Series
Fall is wonderful in Boston. For everything lost, something is gained. The air chills but the leaves burst into an array of fiery colors. There’s frost on the grass but pumpkin in all the food.
And as the Red Sox pack up the bats for the long winter, we are already comfortably into the Patriots season; the Bruins opened last night and the Celtics are soon to begin.
But some fine years, such as this one, the baseball equipment stays out a little longer in Boston. The Red Sox are in the midst of an exciting if unexpected playoff run, beginning the American League Division Series this afternoon at Fenway, and so it’s fitting that we turn our thoughts to another Boston First: The First World Series.
The early years of baseball were a largely ungoverned affair; leagues competed for supremacy, but not on the field. The senior National League was challenged by an upstart American League for the support of the fans and their dollars. The leagues raided each others rosters for players in an effort to become the premier league.
After lots of ill will and bad blood (some literal), the leagues were finally persuaded to come together to compete in a “World’s Championship Series” to take place between the preeminent teams of each league.
In 1903, the National League was dominated by the Pittsburgh Pirates and shortstop Honus Wagner. Boston topped the junior circuit American League, led by ace pitcher Cy Young.
On October 1, 1903, the Boston Americans played host to Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the first World Series at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston.
The Boston team (generally referred to as the Americans to distinguish them from the Boston Braves of the National League) had made their home at the grounds at 400 Huntington Avenue since 1901 and would continue to play there through 1911, when the team now called the Red Sox would move into Fenway Park, taking the grass with them.
Boston won the best of 9 series 5 games to 3, the first of their seven (and counting) World Series titles. Pittsburgh would have to wait until 1909 for their first title, but they added four more over the next seventy years before dropping off the postseason map for the past twenty-one years. There is a nice symmetry in both Boston & Pittsburgh being in the playoffs this year, and we can hope that 110 years later, they finally get to meet up again in the World Series.
Northeastern University now stands on the Huntington Avenue Grounds site. There is a plaque commemorating the location of the left field foul pole on the side of the Cabot Physical Education Center on 400 Huntington Avenue, and a statue of Cy Young stands in a quad on World Series Way, the former location of the pitcher’s mound.
Fun fact: Despite being commemorated with the statue, Cy Young was the losing pitcher in Game 1.
Fun fact #2: many articles and resources will indicate that the Boston team at the time was known as the Pilgrims; don’t believe it. The indefatigable Bill Nowlin sets the record straight: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/boston_pilgrims_story.shtml
For more on the 1903 World Series:
For more on the Huntington Avenue Grounds: