As Boston Herald sportswriter Burton Whitman saw the preseason matchup, “It was the first time in 18 years that Boston teams engaged in Civil War.”
However, as Boston Globe sportswriter James C. O’Leary averred, “It will be the first time these two clubs have come together since the days of Old Cy Young and Young Cy Young, the latter having been with the National League club when it was playing at the Walpole St. grounds.”
For the record, postseason City Championship Series took place in October of both 1905 and 1907 between the American and National League franchises of Boston.
In the 1905 game, Denton True “Cy” Young pitched one of his best games, striking out 15 batters while allowing only two hits, both singles, in a 3-1 victory over Irv “Little Cy” Young of the Nationals. The 15 strikeouts were the most that the future Hall of Famer ever had in one game throughout his long career.
The 1907 series ran from October 7 to October 12 and the Boston Americans clinched the championship series with a doubleheader sweep to take the series, four games to none. Cy Young won two games, while Irv Young suffered a complete-game loss for the Nationals.
Altogether, the two Boston teams had played 14 games from the 1905 and 1907 series with the Boston Americans winning 12, losing one and tying one against the Nationals.
Needless to say, the resumption of the city series was something that Boston baseball enthusiasts looked upon with great delight.
From a fan’s perspective, the exhibition opener of the home-and-home series at Braves Field between Boston’s two professional baseball teams was a purist’s delight rather than a battle for bragging rights.
The home-team Braves came back from a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the seventh to win the exhibition game over their crosstown rival Red Sox, 4-3.
“It was a new sensation for the fans who refused to take the rivalry too seriously. They tell us that the divided fans of Chicago are willing to do bodily harm to each other when the Cubs and the White Sox engage in diamond warfare,” wrote Whitman, “but the splendid crowd yesterday merely seemed anxious to see the new men on each team, wanted to pay tribute to their old favorites, and did not seem to give too much attention to the outcome of the contest.”
Braves manager Dave Bancroft approached the game like the baseball exhibition it was meant to be.
“We will certainly try to win that game Saturday, because it will make us feel good and add to our confidence,” he said. “I do not want to belittle the Sox’s two-game series, but the championship games come first.”
The Red Sox had just returned from a Southern swing through Louisville, while the Braves had made a Florida spring-training trip in St. Petersburg.
A bipartisan crowd of perhaps more than 18,000 turned out for the exhibition game that saw both teams combine for a whopping total of 23 hits but not many runs. However, most were on hand to see the new players who were making their debuts for both teams.
Chief among the newcomers was left fielder Bernie Neis, who had been acquired by the Braves in a trade sending Cotton Tierney to the Brooklyn Robins. In addition, rookie Jimmy Walsh and Dave Harris also comprised the new Braves outfield.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox had rookie Bill Rogell at second base and, while he went on to play 15 seasons in the major leagues, it was his seventh-inning error that proved costly and led to the Braves’ win.
Braves reliever Joe Genewich came on in the top of the fifth and the first batter he faced, Val Picinich, reached when his fly ball was misjudged by Walsh for a two-base error. The center fielder lost the ball in the tough sun and never saw it until it dropped at his feet.
It appeared that the Braves might get out of further trouble, though, when Jack Quinn lined to shortstop Dave Bancroft and Picinich was doubled up off second.
The Red Sox added a run in the top of the seventh when Flagstead singled to center with two out and scored on Prothro’s double to deep left. Bernie Neis, who had made a one-handed catch earlier in the game, tried to do the same on Prothro’s gap shot, but failed.
In their half of the seventh, the Braves took the lead for good when Johnny Cooney reached on the error by second baseman Rogell. Neis singled to center, sending Cooney to third, and Bancroft lined a double past first baseman Joe Harris, scoring Cooney.
The inning continued when Walsh beat out a bunt and Dick Burrus drove in Harris with a single, his third hit of the afternoon.
There were a few highlights in the game, perhaps the most spectacular being the one-handed catch by Neis on a ball hit by Flagstead. Neis turned his back on the ball two or three times while it was still high in the air and after some short sprints snared it close to the fence in left-center field.
“The fans were fair in their treatment for players on both teams and they stayed until the finish,” the Boston Post reported. “Both clubs showed plenty of pep, considering the weather. The grounds were heavy after the rain which made fast base running impossible.”
“They’re close friends and wished each other all kinds of luck. That is, after Monday next when the clubs meet at Fenway Park in the second game of the series. Both were particular to qualify their felicitations in that regard after Monday.”
As it turned out, that second game, scheduled for April 13, was canceled because of cold weather.
A decade later Quinn reversed his roles and in 1936 replaced Fuchs as the principal owner and president of the Braves, renaming the Boston ball club the Bees and Braves Field National League Baseball Field.
This article appeared in “Braves Field: Memorable Moments at Boston’s Lost Diamond” (SABR, 2015), edited by Bill Nowlin and Bob Brady. To read more articles from this book, click here.
Boston Globe, April 11 and 12, 1925.
Boston Herald, April 10-12, 1925.
Boston Post, April 11 and 12, 1925.
Williams, Frank J. The Battle for Baseball Supremacy in Boston: A Chronicle of the Annual City “Championship Series” Between the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves (Boston Braves Historical Association Press, 1998).
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