George Winter (Trading Card DB)

April 20, 1903: Boston Americans open season at 10:30 in the morning

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

George Winter (Trading Card DB)One constant in the Boston Red Sox schedule each year is the Patriots Day home game. A Massachusetts state holiday since 1894, Patriots Day honors the first battles of the American Revolution in Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Since 1969 the holiday has been celebrated on the third Monday in April.1

The Boston Marathon has been run on Patriots Day since 1897. Boston’s National League team, the Beaneaters, lost their 1897 home opener that day to the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5, but went on to win the pennant. The now-traditional 11:10 A.M. game is timed to end just about the time the Boston Marathon runners race through Kenmore Square, two blocks away from Fenway Park, (and about one mile from the finish line).

One of the earliest times either Boston team played a home game was on Monday, April 20, 1903, when Huntington Avenue Grounds hosted two games on a combined Opening Day/Patriots Day separate-admission doubleheader between the Boston Americans and Philadelphia Athletics. This 10:30 A.M. start was one of the rare twentieth-century games to start before 11 A.M.2

Some 8,376 up-and-at-’em fans saw George Winter and the Americans beat Philadelphia’s Rube Waddell, 9-4. The umpires were future Hall of Famer Tommy Connolly, working the plate, and James Hassett, whose 93 games in 1903 were the only ones he worked in the majors. The crowd spilled onto the field, held behind ropes in left, center, and right field, including a significant number of women, according to the Boston Journal.3

There were four major-league games played in Boston on April 20. The NL Beaneaters hosted the Phillies for a doubleheader at their home South End Grounds.4 The American League was only in its third year, the two leagues were still feuding, and neither Boston team was yet willing to accommodate the other in scheduling.

The morning game between the Americans and Athletics featured right-hander Winter pitching in his third season for Boston, managed by Jimmy Collins, who also played third base. Winter had a 11-9 record and a 2.99 earned-run average for the 1902 Americans, whose 77-60-1 record left them in third place behind the pennant-winning Athletics and second-place St. Louis Browns.

Connie Mack’s Athletics went with left-hander Waddell. The 26-year-old Waddell had finished 24-7 with a 2.05 ERA in 1902, leading the AL with 210 strikeouts, his first of six consecutive strikeout crowns.

Neither team scored in the first two innings, and Waddell struck out the first four batters he faced. The Athletics got the first run of the game in the top of the third. With one out, catcher Ossee Schrecongost walked. Waddell grounded to second baseman Hobe Ferris, who attempted to start a 4-6-3 double play, but shortstop Freddy Parent threw wildly to first base, and “Schreck” scored. In the fourth, the A’s added a run when 36-year-old third baseman Lave Cross – whose big-league career dated to the 1887 Louisville Colonels of the American Association – singled and somehow managed to score when the next batter, right fielder Socks Seybold, also singled.5   

Boston then scored five runs – all it needed, as it turned out – in the bottom of the fourth. Center fielder Chick Stahl got a base on balls. Buck Freeman, the right fielder, singled. Parent sacrificed, advancing them both. First baseman Candy LaChance doubled, driving in two and tying the score. Ferris singled in LaChance. Catcher Duke Farrell walked. Winter hit the ball into the crowd, a double, driving in Ferris and Farrell.

Philadelphia closed the gap to 5-4 with two runs in the top of the sixth. Boston responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. The Americans added single insurance runs in the seventh and eighth. The Athletics never scored again, and the game ended 9-4 with Boston on top.

Winter got the win; Bill Dinneen pitched three innings of one-hit relief.6 Waddell pitched the whole game – the first of 34 complete games in his 38 starts that season. (He then refereed a 10-round boxing match that evening between Joe Walcott and Jack O’Brien at Boston’s Health and Physical Culture Club. The match ended in a draw.7)

Catcher Farrell was perhaps the defensive star of the game; he threw out every one of the five Athletics who tried to steal second base.8 Shortstop Parent had eight assists and five putouts. The Athletics outhit Boston 12-10 but committed six errors to Boston’s one.

In the second game of the doubleheader, 36-year-old Cy Young started for Boston, squaring off against Eddie Plank. The A’s Plank was relieved after three innings by Chief Bender, who worked the final six innings and got the 10-7 win. Though his teammates had staked him to a 6-0 lead, and he had a no-hitter going, Young was jumped on for six runs in the top of the seventh. He was succeeded by Long Tom Hughes, who gave up one run in the eighth and three in the ninth and bore the defeat.

In the competition between the American and National Leagues, the Americans won the battle of the turnstiles, drawing more than four times as many fans as the Beaneaters for their two games. The 3:00 P.M. game drew “a mighty throng” of 19,282.9 The crowd spilled onto the field, contained behind outfield ropes during play. The Boston Herald declared it as “undoubtedly the biggest ever at a ball game in this city.”10

The Boston Americans won the American League pennant in 1903, finishing 14½ games ahead of second-place Philadelphia. They went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in the so-called modern era.


Author’s Note

More than 100 years later, fans in Boston who wanted to watch the Red Sox play the March 25, 2008, Opening Day game had to turn on their televisions at 6:07 A.M. to see the first pitch of the game against another Athletics team – from Oakland – at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The game started three minutes late, but they were watching, live, a game played at 7:10 P.M. that evening, Tokyo time.



This article was fact-checked by Laura Peebles and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and



1 On April 19, 1895, the National League’s Boston Beaneaters played the first professional ballgame on Patriots Day in Boston.

2 On April 20, 1953, and April 19, 1954, the Sox had 10:15 A.M. starts, again for the annual Patriots Day game. For more detail on Patriots Day games, see Bill Nowlin, Red Sox Threads (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008). A typical Patriots Day weekend series in Red Sox baseball sees each of three consecutive games start less than 24 hours after the preceding game – Friday night is normally 7:10 P.M. or thereabouts, Saturday at 4:10, Sunday at 1:35, and Monday at 11:10 A.M.   

3 W.S. Barnes Jr., “Record Crowd Greets Boston Americans,” Boston Journal, April 21, 1903: 8.

4 The Beaneaters had opened the season in Philadelphia, winning on April 17 and losing on April 18. On April 20 they won the first game, 4-3, but the Phillies won the second game, 10-7. Starting in 1904, the two Boston teams worked out a schedule more or less alternating games from year to year with the Americans in town on the even-numbered years.

5 Details of the scoring came initially from T.H. Murnane, “Same Fortune,” Boston Globe, April 21, 1903: 8.

6 Just two days later, Dinneen started against the Athletics in Philadelphia and lost, 6-1. He won each of his next five games against the Athletics in 1903. Dinneen finished the season 21-13, the second of three consecutive years in which he won 21 or more games.

7 “Rube Waddell Referees O’Brien-Walcott Fight,” Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Times, April 21, 1903: 2. See also “In Loving Embrace,” Boston Herald, April 21, 1903: 11, which called it “sorry boxing” and a “tame affair” and said that 2,000 customers hissed and threw their tickets in the ring with many as many as half of them leaving in midbout.

8 W.S. Barnes Jr., “Waddell Met Defeat in Morning Game,” Boston Journal, April 21, 1903: 8.

9 W.S. Barnes Jr., “Record Crowd Greets Boston Americans.” The Beaneaters drew 1,827 and 3,867 respectively.

10 “Attendance, 27,658,” Boston Herald, April 21, 1930: 9. 

Additional Stats

Boston Americans 9
Philadelphia Athletics 4
Game 1, DH

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds
Boston, MA


Box Score + PBP:

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