Two calculations contributed to the hosts calling for a day off on October 9 and playing Game Seven on October 10 – a Saturday game would probably draw more patrons, and they could turn to Deacon Phillippe again. He was 3-0, and the only pitcher the Pirates had who had engendered real confidence. The weather cooperated and the Friday game was postponed.
The first calculation paid off. Game Seven in the best-of-nine series drew 17,038, almost 5,000 more than any of the three earlier games in Pittsburgh.
But the second calculation did not: Phillippe proved mortal.
After Game Six, Boston manager Jimmy Collins had said, “I will confess that I was a bit nervous and anxious when things were breaking so badly, but I am not now, and am positive that we will win the series. I felt sure from the start that we had the best team in the country, but defeat will come to the best of clubs. We have done just what Pittsburg did – taken two games out of three in the opposing camp, and we will take the rubber game. … Phillippe will go up against us just once too often.”1
Phillippe may have done just that – started one time too often. This was his fourth start in seven Series games. It was the first one he lost. The Boston Americans started Cy Young, who appeared for the fourth time in the World Series.
Both sets of fans had hired bands for the occasion, which added to the festive air competing for attention. The song the Boston rooters had adopted – “Tessie” – was played every inning as the Americans came to bat, sung very loudly by the 125 or so amped-up Royal Rooters in their part of the park.
For the third game in a row, Boston jumped out to an early lead. It was, as has been written, “another game of triples – five by Boston and two by the Pirates.”2 All told, Boston had 11 base hits and Pittsburgh had 10. This was balanced by Boston fielders committing four errors to three by Pittsburghers.
But in runs scored, Boston tallied twice in the top of the first inning and twice more in the fourth to build an insurmountable lead. Indeed, of Boston’s 11 hits, “only three failed to count in the run-getting.”3 And of the errors, “not one of the Bostons’ figured in the run-getting, while every one of Pittsburg’s was disastrous.”4
Ground rules, once again, determined that a ball hit into the crowd that overflowed onto the field would be ruled a triple. After leadoff batter and left fielder Patsy Dougherty grounded out to start the first inning, Boston put together back-to-back triples. Jimmy Collins tripled over the crowd to left field and Chick Stahl tripled to right-center field, likewise a long drive that went over the crowd on the field.5 Stahl’s three-bagger scored Collins for a 1-0 Boston lead.
Stahl then scored on a fielder’s choice and the first of Pittsburgh’s errors. Buck Freeman grounded to second baseman Claude Ritchey, who threw home hoping to get Stahl. Stahl collided with catcher Ed Phelps and was safe when Phelps dropped the ball. Freeman then tried to steal second but was caught stealing. Freddy Parent grounded out to his counterpart at shortstop, Honus Wagner, to end the inning, but Boston had staked Young to an early 2-0 advantage.
Ginger Beaumont led off the first inning for Pittsburgh with an infield single, and the Pirates had runners on first and second after Fred Clarke reached on Boston’s first error, a misplay by first baseman Candy LaChance. But a double play and a strikeout ended the Pirates’ threat. It was Honus Wagner who struck out. The Pittsburg Post was tough on him: “Wagner struck out like an old woman and never got anything that looked like a hit.”6
Boston second baseman Hobe Ferris singled in the second, but all three other batters grounded out.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Pittsburgh right fielder Jimmy Sebring singled, but he was caught stealing for the third out.
Phillippe put down Boston one-two-three in the third.
Phillippe himself singled in the Pittsburgh third inning, He moved up to second base on an infield grounder, and to third on Jimmy Collins’ errant throw to first base, but Cy Young struck out Tommy Leach to end the threat.
Boston added two more runs in the fourth. As in the first inning, two triples made a difference. In both cases, a triple set up the run. Leadoff batter Buck Freeman tripled to center, again a ball driven hard and over Beaumont’s head in center field. He scored on Parent’s grounder to shortstop.
LaChance struck out for the second out, but Ferris tripled toward the flagpole in left-center and once again Boston had a man on third base. Phillippe was being hit hard. Catcher Lou Criger dropped a Texas Leaguer into right field and Ferris scored. Cy Young flied out to center, but the Americans now led 4-0.
It was a Pirates triple that set up their first score. With one out in the bottom of the fourth, Kitty Bransfield tripled to left. He scored when Ritchey grounded out third to first.
Dougherty led off the Boston fifth by bunting for a single, back to the pitcher, safe on a slide. Three straight groundouts followed; the last was a grounder to the first baseman, with Phillippe taking the throw at first.
Phelps reached base on Parent’s error to lead off the Pittsburgh fifth. Local Pittsburgh fans came armed with cowbells and during the fifth inning kept them going the whole time the Pirates were at bat. But the noise did not rattle Young: There followed back-to-back force outs at second base, and then – with Clarke at bat – Young picked Beaumont off first base.
The Americans bumped their lead up to 6-1 in the sixth. Parent reached on a slow-rolling infield single to third baseman Leach. LaChance laid down a bunt that was mishandled by Phillippe, and Candy reached safely. Ferris bunted and pushed the runners to second and third. Criger singled to right field and drove them both in. Young then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Clarke tripled as the first man up in the bottom of the sixth. The cowbell chorus came alive again. Young struck out Leach, just as he had in the third inning with a runner on third. Despite being down by five runs, Wagner chose to bunt, to aim for one run. He got it, Clarke scoring on the sacrifice. Bransfield singled, but Ritchey hit into a force play at second base for the third out.
Neither team scored in the seventh. The Pittsburgh crowd did get tired of hearing “Tessie.” The Pittsburgh Gazette declared, “There is such a thing as working a good thing to death, and after it had been played about two dozen times it was greeted with jeers instead of cheers.”7
Boston added a seventh run in the eighth. Again, the run was set up by a triple – Parent’s – into the crowd in right field. He scored thanks to a wild pitch uncorked by Phillippe.
The Pirates put two on in the eighth, on an error and a two-out single. A line-drive out to left field ended the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, down by five runs, the first three Pirates singled, one after the other – Sebring, Phelps, and an RBI single to center field by Phillippe, batting for himself rather than giving way to a pinch-hitter. The tying run was at the plate, but Young was again up to the task. A pop fly to shortstop and a fly ball to left field produced two outs. Leach grounded out, 6-4, forcing Phillippe at second base to end Boston’s third win in a row on Pittsburgh’s home field.
The Washington Times concluded, “The locals were outplayed in every department of the game, and Boston won because it deserved to.”8 The game lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Pittsburgh manager Clarke said of Phillippe, “It was expecting too much of him to ask him to pitch, but we have no one else to depend on. When a pitcher faces a team four times in less than two weeks, it is natural for them to become accustomed to the ball he pitches. … If Leever is in condition, I will ask him to pitch the game at Boston on Monday.”9
A special train left for Boston at 7:00 P.M. It was nearly a 24-hour train ride, scheduled to arrive in Boston at 5:30 Sunday afternoon.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and a number of other sources, including the following:
Abrams, Roger L. The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics of 1903 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003).
Dabilis, Andy, and Nick Tsiotos. The 1903 World Series (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2004).
Masur, Louis P. Autumn Glory (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003).
Ryan, Bob. When Boston Won the World Series (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003).
1 “The Pirates Are Captured,” Boston Herald, October 9, 1903: 1.
2 Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime, The Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008), 18.
3 W.S. Barnes Jr., “Thee Straight and Series Four to Three,” Boston Journal, October 11, 1903: 1. The three hits that were not involved in setting up or producing a run were a single in the second, one in the fifth, and one in the seventh.
4 Ralph S. Davis, “Champs Beaten Easily,” Pittsburg Press, October 11, 1903: 1.
5 Some databases say that Collins’ hit was to right field, but the Pittsburg Gazette, Pittsburg Post, Boston Journal, and Boston Globe all say the ball was hit to left.
6 Ralph S. Davis.
7 “Boston Leads World’s Series,” Pittsburg Gazette, October 11, 1903: 18.
8 “Boston Again Downs Champion Pirates,” Washington Times, October 11, 1903: 10.
9 “Series Ends in Hubtown,” Pittsburg Press, October 11, 1903: 20.