The dust has finally settled on the 1903 baseball regular season, and we have the participants for the first ever World Series. The race in the American League came down to the final few games, while the National League pennant seemed to be under control almost from the start of the season. Which two teams will be squaring off for the right to be crowned baseball's first "Worlds Champion?" You can find the regular season standings below.
White Sox Defy Experts; Survive Late Season Swoon to Take AL Pennant
Coming into the 1903 season, most experts of the American League believed that the pennant and championship opportunity was Cleveland's for the taking. While the Boston Americans and Chicago White Sox were seen as respectable teams, no one else could match the mixture of pitching and batting prowess that the Naps brought to the stadium. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they found out very quickly that baseball seasons are not played on paper, but rather on the field. As the Naps struggled to start the year, both the White Sox and defending AL champion Americans started strong. At the midway point of the season, Cleveland had made up some ground, and the race for the pennant was a four team sprint between Chicago, Boston, Cleveland and the surprising Washington Senators.
Bolstered by a resurgent Hughie Jennings and young Harry Steinfeldt at the plate, and Win Kellum on the mound, the White Sox started to break away from the American League pack. With a month to play in the season, the pennant was theirs to lose, and they almost did just that. The offense stopped hitting, and even Kellum lost some zip on his pitches at the worst time. While Chicago was struggling, Boston took advantage and jumped to within a game and a half of the White Sox with a week to play.
Chicago didn't look impressive at the end of the season, but they did just enough to keep the Americans from stealing the pennant away. The White Sox won their last two games of the season to clinch the pennant and earn their trip to the World Series. Whether or not the poor September performance factors into their championship effort remains to be seen. Chicago is fortunate that Win Kellum seemed to find his pitches again in his last start, and the American League leader in wins and ERA is sure to make a tremendous impact in the postseason.
|1903 American League Final Standings|
Pittsburgh Runs Away With NL Pennant; World Series Next?
The theatrics and drama of the American League pennant race did not exist in the National League, as the Pittsburgh Pirates came out playing like the best team in baseball, and they did not stop all season. Matt Kilroy, the ageless wonder of Pittsburgh, won another 28 games to pace the National League and add to his already amazing mark of career victories. With 542 wins on the mound, it doesn't appear that anyone will ever forget Kilroy's name.
At the plate, Pittsburgh struck fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers all season long. Young catcher Bill Byers, at the age of 25, emerged as a new offensive threat for the Pirates. Byers finished the season with a .367 batting average and 90 runs batted in, amazing numbers for a young man just getting used to the rigors of batting in the National League. Outside of Byers, Max Carey batted .321 and led Pittsburgh with 98 RBI and 38 stolen bases. Pittsburgh's offense was the most potent in baseball all season long, and if Chicago has a chance to win the World Series, they will have to find a way to solve a puzzle that no team has solved all season.
Outside of Pittsburgh, the Cincinnati Reds showed that they are ready to make a step in 1904. Young pitcher Chief Bender won 21 games for the Reds at just 19 years old, while 21 year old Jimmy Sebring hit four home runs and drove in 97 runs. The Brooklyn Superbas have a young pitching prospect of their own in 23 year old Addie Joss, and their combination of Honus Wagner and young Sam Crawford is enough to give any pitching staff pause. The Boston Beaneaters also had a reason to celebrate, as Tuck Turner batted .400 for the season, marking the second time in three years that the outfielder had reached the impressive .400 mark for batting in a regular season.
|1903 National League Final Standings|