Monday, October 12, 2020

1903 World Series

 For the first time in professional baseball history, the pennant winners of the American and National Leagues were set to compete to determine which team was the best in the world.  The Pittsburgh Pirates were seen by almost everyone as the favorites to defeat the "lesser" Chicago White Sox, but fans of the Sox were certainly unwilling to give up without a fight. Only one thing was certain as fans entered South Side Park before the first game; history was going to be made.

  Game 1

Pittsburgh's choice of pitcher for Game One of the World Series was easy.  They selected the winningest pitcher in baseball history in Matt Kilroy.  The 37 year old paced the National League in wins with 28, and was ready to get the Pirates off to a good start in the World Series.  The White Sox countered with Win Kellum, who led the American League in wins during the regular season with 26.

The Pirates jumped on Kellum early, scoring two runs in the second inning, and from there they were able to rely on Kilroy to carry the burden.  Kilroy scattered six hits over nine innings of work and allowed just a single run in the fifth inning.  Pittsburgh would add two insurance runs in the top of the eighth, and Kilroy closed the door in the ninth to give the Pirates the first win in World Series history.

W: Matt Kilroy  L: Win Kellum

Game 2

With momentum on their side, the Pirates attacked Chicago starter Mike Smith early in Game Two.  Shad Berry and Scoops Carey drove in first inning runs and gave starter Buttons Briggs a quick lead to work with.  Briggs was unable to match the performance of Matt Kilroy though, and allowed a run in the bottom of the first and another in the fourth inning that tied the game.

The game would remain tied until the top of the sixth, when Smith loaded the bases.  A walk to Kid Elberfeld gave Pittsburgh the lead again, and they would add another run on a ground out from Steve Bodie.  Chicago attempted a late rally, but they were only able to cut the lead to 4-3.  For the second day in a row, the Pirates had defeated their American League foes and moved even closer to a championship.

W: Buttons Briggs  L: Mike Smith

Game 3

Pittsburgh starter Bobby Wallace added a third straight solid outing by a Pirates pitcher, and Scoops Carey drove in all three runs for the Pirates in a 3-2 Game Three win over the White Sox.  Carey helped Pittsburgh by driving in two early runs in the first inning off of White Sox starter Rip Ragan.  He would drive in another run in the top of the third to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead, and that would be just enough for Bobby Wallace,

Wallace would allow a Chicago run in the bottom of the third inning, but would shut the White Sox down for the next five innings.  The Pittsburgh starter scattered 11 hits, and didn't run into trouble again until the bottom of the ninth.  The first two Chicago batters reached base, giving them runners on first and third with no outs.  However, Wallace induced a double play ball from Hughie Jennings.  Even though a run scored on the play, Chicago was down to their last out, and Wallace was able to finalize a third straight Pittsburgh win.

W: Bobby Wallace  L: Rip Ragan

Game 4

The series moved to Pittsburgh for the next four games, and with Matt Kilroy back on the mound, the Pirates were looking to take an overwhelming 4-0 lead in the World Series.  However, the White Sox were not willing to go down without a fight and shocked the Pittsburgh ace with a powerful offensive output.

Hughie Jennings and Harry Steinfeldt led the way for Chicago with seven hits, three runs batted in and four runs scored between the two.  The duo gave Chicago a first inning lead, and then put the White Sox ahead for good by leading a six run fourth inning.  With Matt Kilroy shaken on the mound, the Pirates were unable to steady him at the plate against Win Kellum.  The Pirates could manage only two runs, and the White Sox were happy to have their first win of the series against the best pitcher in baseball.

W: Win Kellum  L: Matt Kilroy

Game 5:

For the second game in a row, Chicago's offense jumped on Pittsburgh's pitching early as they scored four runs in the first two innings against Buttons Briggs.  The Pirates, still reeling after the Game Four defeat, attacked Chicago starter Mike Smith for two runs in the first inning, and tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to an error by Chicago first baseman Candy LaChance.

The tie wouldn't last long, as the White Sox scored three runs in the top of the sixth.  Ossee Schreckengost gave Chicago the lead with an RBI double and would come around to score on a double by Harry Steinfeldt.  Hughie Jennings would add a third run on a ground out, and the Pirates wouldn't threaten again for the rest of the day.  Fans in Pittsburgh, who had been expecting to see a coronation by now, were starting to feel nervous after seeing back to back poor showings by their National League champions.

W: Mike Smith  L: Buttons Briggs

Game 6:

What was once a comfortable series lead for the Pirates turned into a tied series following a dominant performance from Rip Ragan and the White Sox.  Ragan pitched the first shutout in World Series history, allowing just two hits as Chicago won Game Six by a score of 7-0.

The White Sox took an early 2-0 lead off of Pittsburgh starter Happy Townsend in the second inning.  A three run double by Harry Steinfeldt in the fourth increased the lead to 5-0, and Chicago never looked back.  They would add insurance runs in the sixth and ninth innings to close out the scoring and tie the series.  With three straight wins by the White Sox, the World Series had become a best of three affair moving forward.

W: Rip Ragan  L: Happy Townsend

Game 7

Game Seven of the World Series started as a pitcher's duel, and ended up as an offensive slugfest that included the first home run in World Series history.  Matt Kilroy made his third start of the series for Pittsburgh, and looked to have fixed his issues from Game Four, as he held the White Sox scoreless for the first five innings of Game Seven.  However, the White Sox found the answer to Kilroy in the sixth inning, as they scored three times in the frame and had another runner thrown out at the plate.

Fortunately for the Pirates, their offense finally broke out of its three game slump with a five run bottom of the sixth.  Kid Elberfeld tied the game with a three run double and scored the go ahead run on a single by Steve Brodie.  Brodie would come around to score on a single by Tom McCreery, and it seemed as if Pittsburgh had finally shaken off Chicago and was back to their winning ways.

The good feeling would last all of one half inning.  Matt Kilroy was unable to hold the Pittsburgh lead, as he allowed an RBI single by Harry Steinfeldt and a sacrifice fly from Bill Lange that tied the game once again.  The score would remain tied at five until the top of the ninth inning.  Chicago pitcher Pete Dowling started the inning with a single that snuck through the infield, and the White Sox called Tom Parrot off the bench to pinch hit.  Parrot's assignment was to bunt Dowling to second base, but after two failed bunt attempts, he was told to swing away.

The next pitch was sent high over the head of left fielder Steve Brodie.  When Brodie realized how hard the ball was hit, he tried to race after the ball, but slipped as it landed behind him.  By the time he was able to send the ball back into the infield, Parrot was crossing home for the first home run in World Series history.  The Pirates were shocked, and went down without a fight in the bottom of the ninth.  The series was headed back to Chicago, and for the first time, the White Sox had the lead.

W: Pete Dowling  L: Matt Kilroy

Game 8

Chicago had given Win Kellum an extra day of rest by sitting him for Game Seven of the World Series.  They believed that having Kellum at full strength would give them their best chance in Game Eight, and they were proven correct.  Kellum shut down the Pittsburgh offense, and the White Sox scored four runs off of Buttons Briggs to complete an incredible comeback to claim the first World Series title.

In what became a theme for the later games of the series, Chicago was able to take momentum with an early inning run.  A single from Bill Lange scored Jiggs Donahue in the first inning and from there, the White Sox seemed content to let Win Kellum carry the load.  He was up to the task, keeping the Pirates from scoring through the first six innings.  In the bottom of the sixth, the White Sox added three more runs on a sacrifice fly from Suter Sullivan and a double by Ossee Schreckengost.

The Pirates would finally score in the seventh inning, and they would add another run in the eighth, but they had run out of time.  Win Kellum set Pittsburgh down in order in the ninth inning in front of a jubilant South Side Park crowd and the Chicago White Sox had won the first World Series.  For Pittsburgh, who believed that winning the series was a simple rite of passage, all they could do was take the train back home in stunned silence.

W: Win Kellum  L: Buttons Briggs

1903 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox

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