History repeats itself

Hall of Fame ready to document World Series; Cooperstown collection already includes medal from 1903 Fall Classic

October 27, 2010
This prize was given to the Boston players for winning the 1903 World Series. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – As history is made at the 2010 World Series, the Hall of Fame will be there to document every moment. It's a tradition that dates back to the beginning of the Fall Classic at the turn of the 20th Century.

During the winter of 1902-03, the National Commission was formed in agreement with the upstart American League and the established National League to preside over organized baseball.

This set the stage for the 1903 World Series, the first modern championship series to take place in Major League Baseball. A very unique artifact from this landmark event now resides at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Encouraged by their league presidents, the owners of the two pennant winning teams – Henry J. Killilea of the Boston Americans and Hall of Famer Barney Dreyfuss of the Pittsburgh Pirates – met in September and agreed to a best-of-nine series.

The games began on Oct. 1 and the Boston Americans quickly found themselves down three games to one.

After fighting back to even the series, the following telegram was delivered to the Americans in Pittsburgh from the editor of the Boston Globe:

Boston, Oct 9, 1903

To James J. Collins, manager and captain of the Boston baseball team, Pittsburg, Penn:

The Boston Globe, believing that victory is within the grasp of you and your comrades, offers to present to each player of the Boston team of the American league, if it brings to Boston the world's championship, a valuable gold medal, which can be worn as a watch charm, and be treasured as a reminder of the most notable achievement upon the diamond.

CHAS. H. TAYLOR, Editor.

Hoping to motivate the players and mark the special occasion of the first World Series, the prize put a little more pressure and attention on the team, raising the stakes of what was already a hugely popular set of games.

"It is pleasing to get such recognition, and such loyal and liberal support," said Collins. "The boys will do everything in their power to win the honor for Boston, which has given us the best treatment, even when we were not having the best of luck."

The Americans needed to win two of the next three games to earn the Series win and once again would face Pirates starting pitcher Deacon Phillippe, who had already thrown three complete game wins, in Game 7.

With the Pirates pitching staff hurt by illness and injury, Phillippe couldn't carry the load and got knocked around for seven runs – five earned – in his first loss of the Series. That didn't stop him from taking the mound again three days later for Game 8 – during which he threw his fifth complete game in 13 days.

But Americans pitcher Bill Dinneen, who himself threw four complete games in the Series, bested Phillippe in a 3-0 pitcher's duel – and the Americans took home the title and their gold medals as promised from the Boston Globe.

The Baseball Hall of Fame received a donation of the medal awarded to Americans shortstop Fred Parent. Parent played in all eight games, recording three triples and a .281 batting average. Parent was the only player who was bound to Boston for more than one season following the World Series.

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum