#Shortstops: Ticket to History

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Dani Dadig

On a crisp October evening in 1903, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans buttoned their uniform shirts and laced up their cleats for the first modern World Series game.

However, the path to that day was not an easy one. Since the American League’s debut in 1901, the two leagues had battled for players and the public’s interest. But after two years of war, both sides were ready to negotiate a settlement.

The two leagues met in Cincinnati in 1903 on a brisk January morning for peace negotiations.

What came out of the meeting was an agreement between the National League and the American League to play in a best-of-nine championship series.

The two teams to play in the first World Series would be the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were the National League 1903 pennant winners, and the Boston Americans, who were the American League 1903 pennant winners. The first game of the series was set to be played on Oct. 1.

The Pirates were favored to win the series. However, some of the key players, including Honus Wagner, were injured. Wagner, who struggled throughout the series because of his injuries, batted only .222 (6-for-27) and committed six errors.

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The Pirates had only one strong pitcher, Deacon Phillippe, who went on to pitch five complete games throughout the World Series, while the Boston Americans had both Cy Young and Bill Dinneen, who were star pitchers. The Americans went on to win the first World Series in eight games.

The fans loved the idea of the World Series so much that when the games were played at Exposition Park in Pittsburgh, there was an overflow crowd of 16,000. If a batted ball rolled under a rope in the outfield that held spectators back, the umpires would rule it a “ground-rule triple.” There were 17 ground-rule triples in the four games played at Exposition Park. One of those 16,000 fans would likely have had a ticket similar to the one that is now a part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection.

The World Series brought prestige to the American League and proved that they could beat the best of the National League, which strengthened demand for future series.

After a one-year hiatus in 1904, the World Series returned in 1905 and has been scheduled for every year since.


Dani Dadig was a 2018 membership intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series