Nowlin: The kind of year that could have killed baseball in Boston

From SABR member Bill Nowlin at The National Pastime Museum on February 7, 2018:

Boston has always been one of the better cities for baseball, and from 1901 through 1952 it was (with Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Louis) a city that hosted two Major League teams.

The National League team, which began as the Boston Red Stockings and became the Beaneaters and the Braves, were frequent champions, finishing first in the league 12 times in the 27 years from 1872 through 1898. As the twentieth century opened, though, it was a different story altogether.

The then-new century saw the American League debut in 1901, and the Boston Americans (later, the Red Sox) promptly claimed a solid following, often outdrawing the Nationals. They finished second in 1901, then they won the pennant (and the first World Series) in 1903 and 1904 (when the New York Giants declined to go up against them in a Series).

So both teams had been riding high. In 1905, however, the Beaneaters finished next to last, 54½ games out of first place. The Americans finished fourth, 16 games out.

But it was 1906 when both teams suffered the sort of seasons that could have killed baseball in Boston.

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Originally published: February 7, 2018. Last Updated: February 7, 2018.