In Boston on October 1, 1903, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Americans, 7-3, in the first professional baseball World Series game. Pirates right fielder Jimmy Sebring hits the first World Series home run—an inside-the-park shot to deep center field off Americans ace Cy Young—in the seventh inning to extend the Pirates’ lead to 7-0. Sebring is the game’s star, driving in four runs.
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Pittsburgh’s Game 1 win came as a bit of a surprise to some because of the opponent, Young, whom the Pittsburgh Press described as the pitcher “admitted by all to be the best twirler in the American League.” Even though Young reportedly had “tremendous speed” and a fast delivery that day, the Pirates had 12 hits against him. Third basemen Tommy Leach led the Pirates with four hits.
Pittsburgh starting pitcher Deacon Phillippe was impressive, striking out 10 and giving up only two earned runs. Before the game, Phillippe, described as a player who would rarely boast about himself, told teammate and left fielder Fred Clarke, “I think I have my curve working in pretty good shape. You don’t need to worry about this game.”
The National League (formed in 1876) and the American League (formed in 1901) used to operate as separate professional baseball leagues. Therefore, this inaugural World Series, a best-of-nine format, was quite the sports spectacle. It was the only time Pittsburgh star shortstop Honus Wagner, a Hall of Famer, and Young, also a Hall of Famer, played against each other. Wagner had a hit and an RBI in Game 1.
The Americans’ won the series, 5 games to 3. In Game 8, Boston clinched the series with a 3-0 win.
In 1904, the World Series was not played because the New York Giants refused to play the Americans. The World Series resumed in 1905 when the Philadelphia A’s lost to the Giants in five games.
Since 1903, the World Series has been a best-of-seven format except for 1919-21.
The Americans officially became the Red Sox in 1908.
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