October 7, 1903: Boston breaks open Game 5 with back-to-back big innings
Roaring Bill Kennedy took the mound for the Pirates in Game Five of the 1903 World Series. Deacon Phillippe had the day off. Right-handed William Park Kennedy had pitched in the major leagues since 1892, mostly for Brooklyn, and had been a four-time 20-game winner, though he’d pitched for the New York Giants in 1902 and been 9-6 (with a 3.45 ERA) for the Pirates in 1903. He had 187 wins to his credit. It was his birthday; he was 36 years old on October 7.
Cy Young was Boston’s pitcher. Young debuted with the Cleveland Spiders in 1890 and was coming off 13 consecutive 20-win seasons. He already had 379 regular-season wins through 1903. After losing in Game One and allowing just one run in seven innings of long relief in Game Three, Young pitched the whole of Game Five without giving up an earned run.
Kennedy, who was occasionally also called Brickyard Kennedy, survived a rough first inning. The second man up, with one out, Jimmy Collins tripled down the right-field line and into the roped-off crowd. Chick Stahl grounded to Honus Wagner at shortstop, and Wagner threw out Collins at the plate. Kennedy was careful pitching to Buck Freeman, and Boston’s biggest home-run threat walked, after Stahl had stolen second. Freddy Parent singled to third base and Boston had three men on, but first baseman George “Candy” LaChance popped up to third base to end the inning.
Pirates third baseman Tommy Leach singled off Young with two outs in the bottom of the first. Claude Ritchey singled in the second. Neither runner got past second base. Kennedy had meanwhile retired Boston in order in the second inning and allowed only Collins’s single in the third.
Kennedy himself doubled off Young to lead off the bottom of the third, but there he remained.
In the fourth, both pitchers faced three batters and got all three out.
Cy Young reached first base – and then second – in the top of the fifth, on third baseman Leach’s throwing error. He advanced to third on the following play but was stranded there. In the bottom of the fifth, Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Sebring also reached third on an error and a sacrifice but remained there on Kennedy’s groundout back to Young and another groundout that followed.
In the sixth, Boston broke through, big. It started with an error by captain Fred Clarke in left field. Chick Stahl lifted a ball to shallow center – “just back of shortstop” per the Pittsburg Post – and Clarke, appearing to fear a collision with shortstop Wagner, dropped the ball.1 Stahl reached first on the play, then moved up 90 feet when Freeman singled to left. Parent tried to push them both forward with a bunt, but Wagner, covering third base, simply dropped the ball thrown to him by Leach. The bases were loaded with no one out.
On a 3-and-2 count, Kennedy walked LaChance, producing the first run of the game. Two more runs scored when the Pirates committed their third error of the inning – the second by Wagner, who flipped the ball to Leach at third base, only to learn that Leach was not there.2 The ball rolled away, two runs scored, and there was still nobody out.
The 100 Royal Rooters seated in Section J were demonstrative throughout the game. At this point in the action, the Boston Post declared them as “like escaped patients from an insane asylum.”3
Catcher Lou Criger then bunted to move up the runners on first and second and almost reached safely on a very close play at first. It might have seemed unusual to bunt with the pitcher coming up next, but Cy Young tripled into the crowd down the line in left field and made the score 5-0. Young, as it happens, was coming off his best season as a batter, having hit .321 in 146 plate appearances.4
Patsy Dougherty tripled, too, to the same place Young had. The score was 6-0. Dougherty died at third base, when Collins popped up to first base and Stahl grounded out, short to first. None of Boston’s three ground-rule triples were cheap hits; the overflow crowd was gathered fairly far back in Exposition Park’s large outfield.
Young set down Clarke, Leach, and Wagner in order in the bottom of the sixth.
Without exploiting any errors, continuing to play “with dash and determination,” Boston scored four more runs in the top of the seventh, boosting its lead to 10-0.5 The Royal Rooters cut loose with another rendition of “Tessie” and together chanted numbers one through 10 “while executing all kinds of dances.”6
Freeman singled to Claude Ritchey at second base, a hard-hit ball that got away from Ritchey and was scored a base hit. Parent singled to left. LaChance grounded out, forcing Parent at second base, with Freeman taking third – whence he scored on a single through the box by Hobe Ferris.
Criger walked to load the bases. Young picked up his third run batted in of the game with a groundout to second base to drive in LaChance. Patsy Dougherty then tripled to center field, scoring Ferris and Criger. Collins grounded out, Wagner to first baseman Kitty Bransfield.
It was three-up, three-down for the Pirates in their half of the seventh.
Boston scored once more, off reliever Gus Thompson in the top of the eighth.7 Chick Stahl led off with a triple into the crowd in right field. Freeman grounded to second base and Stahl scored.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Ginger Beaumont reached first base on what umpire Hank O’Day ruled an infield single to Ferris. Sportswriter Tim Murnane differed, calling it “the cleanest kind of an out.”8 Clarke reached on an error by Parent. Leach tripled to right field, driving in both of his Pirates colleagues. Wagner grounded out, short to first.
Jimmy Sebring singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the sixth hit Young had surrendered in the game, but catcher Ed Phelps grounded out to end Boston’s 11-2 win. Save for Parent’s error, Young likely would have had a shutout. The Boston Post suggested, too, that Young many have “let up” a bit once the Americans built a comfortable lead, being “anxious to save himself” for a later game.9
The Pittsburgh Gazette absolved Kennedy with a seven-column headline: “Kennedy Not to Blame for the Boston’s Victory.” The subhead read “Poor Playing Brought Defeat.”10 The paper explained that “Clarke’s crew went to pieces at the most critical part of the contest.”
The errors really had done in Kennedy. “The team went to pieces behind him,” reported a Wilkes-Barre paper. “When he went to the club house he cried like a child. He wanted to win so badly.”11 The errors, though, were generously described by the Boston Journal’s W.S. Barnes as “due to taking long chances on clever plays, rather than to really bad baseball.”12
The Boston Americans had seen Phillippe win three games but had won twice against Pittsburgh’s other pitchers. It is perhaps of note that their own pitcher Tom Hughes “was apparently in the doghouse; observers noted that he didn’t dress for the game.”13
The game drew 12,322, some behind ropes in the outfield, and lasted an even two hours.
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 “Boston Champions Down the Pirates,” Pittsburgh Post, October 8, 1903: 8.
2 The Boston Post said that Wagner, “trying for a circus play,” threw the ball 10 feet over Leach’s head. “Pittsburg Meets Her Waterloo,” Boston Post, October 8, 1903: 1. 7.
3 “Pittsburg Meets Her Waterloo”: 7.
4 Young hit .210 over the course of his long career.
5 The phrase was T.H. Murnane’s. See “Boston Team Strikes Its Gait and Wins, 11 to 2,” Boston Globe, October 8, 1903: 1.
6 “Boston Champions Down the Pirates.”
Boston Team Strikes Its Gait and Wins, 11 to 2.”
7 Game Five was the only World Series game in which Thompson pitched. He had been 2-2 in the regular season, his first in the majors. He returned to the big leagues once more, in 1906, and was 2-11 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
8 T.H. Murnane.
9 “Pittsburg Meets Her Waterloo,” 1.
10 “Kennedy Not to Blame for the Boston’s Victory,” Pittsburg Gazette, October 8, 1903: 9.
11 “Kennedy Wept When Beaten,” Wilkes-Barre Times, October 8, 1903: 3.
12 W.S. Barnes Jr., “Bostons Got a Start Then Clinched the Game,” Boston Journal, October 8, 1903: 1, 4.
13 Bill Nowlin and Jim Prime, The Red Sox World Series Encyclopedia (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008), 14. The Long Tom Hughes biography on the SABR website said that Jimmy Collins traded Hughes in 1904 because he “had some trouble in holding Tom in the straight path.” See John Stahl, “Tom Hughes,” at sabr.org/bioproj/person/tom-hughes/.
Boston Americans 11
Pittsburgh Pirates 2
Game 5, WS
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