The First Modern World Series Championship

August 18, 2011
Pittsburgh Pirates
by David Watson

Major League Baseball played its first modern World Series in 1903.  The two top competing teams were the Boston Americans against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a best-of-nine series.  Boston, from the new American League, beat Pittsburgh five games to three outdoing the best of the National League and intensifying demand for future World Series competitions.

Before 1903 the winners of the National League and American Association had played in post-season games from 1884 to 1891.  It was called “The Championship of the United States” and “World’s Championship Series” until the demise of the American Association in 1891.  At that time matchups were disorganized compared to the modern World Series, and championships were awarded to the team with the best record at the end of the season.  There were no post-season games and the overall champion was determined by the matchup between the National League and American Association in a series of games after the season ended.

After the collapse of the American Association, the National League became the only major league.  In 1901 the American League was formed by Ban Johnson, president of a minor league organization.  Johnson and fellow owners began to sign star players like future hall of fame pitcher, Cy Young, from the National League.  Young had played in the American Association with the Cleveland Spiders before moving to the National League.

Thanks to a powerful line-up, the Pittsburgh Pirates had won their third straight pennant in 1903.  Despite dominating their league for the previous three years, the team was plagued with injuries and problems going into the World Series.  The Pirates had the superior offense and fielding but Boston was known for its strong pitching.  Although the teams were generally thought to be evenly matched, Boston was considered the underdog of the Series.

Game 1 took place on October 1, 1903 at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Pirates came on strong scoring six runs in the first four innings.  The first home run in World Series history was made by Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Sebring in the seventh inning.  Boston tried to make a comeback but lost the opener by a score of 7-3.

In Game 2 the Pirates shut down offensively getting only three hit singles.  Boston won the game 3-0 with help from Patsy Dougherty’s two home runs and pitcher Bill Dinneen who pitched a complete game and struck out eleven.  The Pirates came back in Game 3 as pitcher Deacon Phillippe put Pittsburgh up two games to one.

Game 4 of the Series was played at Exposition Park (III) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Once again Deacon Phillippe did his magic against Boston pitcher Bill Dinneen as the Pirates took a 3-1 series lead.  Boston did rally at the top of the ninth to bring the game to within one run, but lost 5-4.  Game 5 would see a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings as Boston’s Cy Young and Pittburgh’s Brickyard Kennedy did not give up any runs.  The Americans managed to score six runs in the top of the sixth inning as Young kept the Pirates to only two runs at the bottom of the eighth.  Boston went on to win the game 11-2.

Boston tied the series at three games apiece with their 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 6.  Pitcher Cy Young held the Pirates to only three runs in Game 7 as Boston defeated the Pirates 7-3 in the final game in Pittsburgh.  The final game of the inaugural World Series was played in Massachusetts as Boston pitcher Bill Dinneen outpitched Deacon Phillippe to shutout the Pirates with a 3-0 victory to end the Series.

The Boston Americans came back from a 3-1 game deficit and won the final four games to win the first modern World Series in Major League Baseball.  The game would not see another comeback like that until the 1925 World Series when the Pirates came back to defeat the Washington Senators. is a Pro Sports website that connects visitors to top-name sport retailers, information, news, and videos.  Get live-time sport news, save money on season tickets, and shop for your favorite professional sports teams all in one place:

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From three consecutive last-place finishes to contention in the National League East and an all-time attendance record, the 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates were one of Baseball’s most dramatic and exciting stories. Recapture every exciting moment – from Opening Night and the first regular season sellout ever at Three Rivers Stadium… to a summer long pennant race with the New York Mets… to the dramatic season finale. Thrill once again to the heroics of Andy Van Slyke and Bobby Bonilla… of Barry Bonds and Jim Gott… of Doug Drabek and Jose Lind… and to the excitement of the 1865713 reasons why the Pittsburgh Pirates are… Proud Again! Narrated by Lanny Frattare Producer/Editor: Richard L. Sutphen Director/Writer: Greg Brown Associate Producer: Mike Gordon Production Assistant: Regis Killiany Executive Producer: Rick Cerrone Official 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates highlight tape. Produced in association with KDKA-TV. Copyright 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates.
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