October 3, 1903: ‘Police unable to control crowd,’ but Pirates prevail in Game 3

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

PhillippeDeaconThe headline ran in the Boston Globe: “Swarm on the Field; Police Unable to Control Crowd at Baseball Game; About 30,000 There; Very Limited Space for Play, Throng Being Close to Diamond.” The front page of the Globe had a photograph of police using a rubber hose to hold back what was obviously a rather aggressive crowd. A sports-page cartoon depicted the same scene on Page 4. Police first used the hose to try to soak the crowd, but after someone cut the water supply, the hose served, in lieu of a rope, to cordon off the overflow of spectators.1

The police used their clubs and were even issued baseball bats to push back the Saturday afternoon crowd—which had come to within three feet of first base—and ultimately keep the outfield crowd from encroaching. It was a “surging, struggling, frantic crowd” per the Boston Post, and it took the combined efforts of the augmented police contingent and a number of the players to push back the crowd: “Forty feet was gained in 20 minutes.”2

The official attendance was 18,801. Newspaper coverage suggested there were another few thousand more. It was, all agreed, the “biggest throng ever at a game in this city.”3

Ed Doheny, the pitcher Pittsburgh manager Fred Clarke would have preferred to start Game Three, was not available. Doheny, 16-8 with a 3.19 ERA, hadn’t pitched since September 7 and was, we now know, suffering from a mental breakdown. He was institutionalized on October 10 (as it happens, the date Game Seven was played) but had been placed under daily medical care since September 22, and was on a leave of absence from the team.4

On just one day’s rest, Deacon Phillippe returned to the mound. He pitched another superb game, allowing the Bostons just four base hits and two runs and outdueling Tom Hughes and Cy Young. Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory improved Phillippe’s World Series record to 2-0.

The ballpark was packed to twice its listed capacity. As many as 10,000 more may have been turned away.5 Pleased to take revenue from as many patrons as possible, even Cy Young was pressed into service as a ticket taker and box-office worker. Word was sent to police headquarters for another 100 men to supplement the initial force.6

One look back at the game said, “As many as 1,000 fans scaled the fence in left after tickets had sold out. … (T)he masses encroached as close as 30 yards to the infield, Ironically, the enthusiastic Boston fans may have cost Boston the ballgame.”7 A Globe subhead observed “Big Crowd a Handicap.”8 The Pittsburg Post reported that the police were “vigorously” able to push the crowd back to clear a space of “200 feet around the diamond.”9

In Game One, it had been agreed that a ball hit into the crowd roped off in the outfield was a ground-rule triple. In Game Three, it was a double. Three such ground-rule doubles for the Pirates in the second and third innings were key to Pittsburgh’s win.

Boston’s starting pitcher was Long Tom Hughes. He had been a 20-game winner in 1903 (20-7, with an ERA of 2.57 and five shutouts), but he didn’t last long in Game Three. The first inning went well; Hughes induced three infield groundouts. The first two Pirates grounded out in the second inning, too, but then second baseman Claude Ritchey hit a “weak fly that [left fielder Patsy] Dougherty stood waiting for only to see it drop in to the crowd a few yards away” for a ground-rule double.10

Jimmy Sebring walked. Catcher Ed Phelps then hit another ground-rule double, into the center-field fans, as Chick Stahl was “standing close by to see the ball drop.”11 Phillippe grounded out, but Pittsburgh had a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second, Boston first baseman Candy LaChance hit a ball that under normal circumstances would have been a home run, but because it was swallowed up the crowd, he was held to two bases. It had been driven “far over the crowd, between centre and left, a legitimate home run, but for the ground rules that held him at second.”12

At numerous times in the Globe’s account of the game, it was reiterated that the crowd having impinged so significantly on the outfield space affected the game. The paper concluded that “four of the five two-base hits made by Pittsburg were on weak flies into the crowd that the Boston outfielders could have taken behind their backs.”13

In the top of the third, Hughes lasted three batters. He walked Ginger Beaumont on four pitches. Fred Clarke hit another ground-rule double, into the left-field crowd. Tommy Leach singled to left, scoring Beaumont.

Cy Young was brought in to relieve Hughes, who—conferring with player-manager Jimmy Collins—“seemed willing to get out.”14

Young hit the first batter he faced—Honus Wagner—but then got a couple of outs. Sebring hit the ball to shortstop, but reached on Freddy Parent’s error and another run scored, pushing Pittsburgh’s advantage to 3-0. Wagner tried to score from second base but was caught in a rundown and tagged out.

Hughes was clearly not at his best, and veteran sportswriter Tim Murnane seemed not to think it was just a disappointing outing, writing, “(T)he club cannot depend on him for a winner.”15

Phillippe retired the Bostons in order in the third.

Phelps led off the fourth with yet another ground-rule double, but Young secured outs from the next three batters.

At this point, police “managed to move the outfield crowd back another thirty feet.”16 This arguably hindered the Americans a bit. Boston scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth inning, without benefit of any balls hit into the fans. Jimmy Collins singled to center. Chick Stahl walked. Buck Freeman grounded back to Phillippe, but his only play was to first base. The runners moved up, and Collins scored the Americans’ first run when the next batter, Parent, flied out to right field. Parent’s drive would have gone for a double, into the masses, but the police had just been “very busy pushing the crowd back in right field so that Parent’s fine drive fell into Sebring’s hands on the edge of the crowd.”17

Only one man reached base in the fifth, sixth, and seventh—Buck Freeman drew a walk.

In the top of the eighth, Pittsburgh built up its lead to 4-1, adding a run after a one-out drive to right field by Honus Wagner that struck a spectator on the leg and was thus a double, a sacrifice that propelled Wagner to third base, and an infield single that Ritchey hit to Collins at third base, but which Collins could not field cleanly.

The Americans scored their only other run in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Jimmy Collins doubled to right field. Stahl singled to left, driving Collins home.

Neither team got a ball out of the infield in the ninth inning. The game was over, a 4-2 victory for the Pirates, who had taken a Series lead of two games to one. Phillippe had pitched another fine game, while Cy Young had allowed only “one clean hit” in the seven innings he worked.18

Despite the need for extraordinary crowd control efforts, the game started only 15 minutes late. It ran 1 hour and 50 minutes.

The World Series shifted to Pittsburgh, with Game Four scheduled for three days later on October 6. And some 125 of Boston’s more dedicated fans—the Royal Rooters—planned to take the train to Pittsburgh to support their team and see more World Series baseball.

This was a game that Boston lost, but it was more due to circumstances than to any issues with the quality of play by either team. Tim Murnane summarized that it “was not a game where Boston was outplayed, although beaten.” Had patrons not overflowed so much onto the field, he believed, the score would have been in Boston’s favor. The Boston Herald agreed: “It was the general verdict that the throng defeated the locals. … (B)alls went for two-base hits that would have been easy out under ordinary circumstances.”19 One needs to credit Deacon Phillippe, however. Hughes allowed several balls to be hit into that crowd, but Phillippe did not.



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).

Ryan, Bob. When Boston Won the World Series (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2003).





1 Jacob C. Morse, “Throng Defied Police,” Pittsburg Press, October 4, 1903: 1. Two subheads read: “Heads Cracked by Excited Officers” and “Water Hose Failed to Clear Field—Women in Danger of Death Rescued by Diamond Stars.” The story said that Boston center fielder Chick Stahl and a policeman were able to extract two women from the crowd and bring them to safety under the grandstand.

2 Louis P. Masur, Autumn Glory (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003), 73-74.

3 So read a subhead on the front page of the Boston Herald. “Blocked by Crowd,” Boston Herald, October 4, 1903: 1. The article also lamented that there had been no training of personnel in how to handle such a crowd. On page 12 the Herald ran a photograph showing the crowd also pressing in alone the first-base line.

4 Doheny never returned. See his biography on SABR.org: Seamus Kearney and Tom Simon, “Ed Doheny,” SABR BioProject, SABR.org, at sabr.org/bioproj/person/ed-doheny/.

5 John H. Gruber, “Pirates Capture the Third Game,” Pittsburg Post, October 4, 1903: 14.

6 Gruber.

7 Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime, The Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008), 7.

8 Boston Globe, October 4, 1903: 1.

9 Gruber.

10 T.H. Murnane, “We Lose Again to the Pirates,” Boston Globe, October 4, 1903: 4.

11 Murnane.

12 Murnane.

13 Murnane.

14 Gruber.

15 Murnane.

16 Masur, 79.

17 Murnane.

18 Murnane.

19 “Blocked by Crowd.” A separate story on page 12 was headlined “Bad Move by Crowd,” with a subhead reading “After Game Was Over They Saw Their Mistake in Crowding on Diamond and Spoiling Plays.” Boston Herald, October 4, 1903: 12.

Additional Stats

Pittsburgh Pirates 4
Boston Americans 2
Game 3, WS

Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds
Boston, MA


Box Score + PBP:

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