THE ANATOMY OF A RIVALRY…..THE FIRST STANZA
As I have revitalized this blog, I have spent some time looking through all the “stats”, that’s right blogs have stats. Anyway, what the stats tell me is that among the widest read pieces I have posted here in three years, the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry is among the most popular. So I thought I would repost them!
So here you go, the first in a multi part series! This first appeared on March 13, 2012.
One thing I have learned in my 101 posts on this blog is that you who read it, help create it. I read something interesting and get an idea, I research and write about it and then I get a comment or an email and another article takes shape. So today, I give you The Anatomy of a Rivalry.
The unflappable Mr. Webster states that a rival is “one who attempts to equal or surpass another or who pursues the same object as another,” and a rivalry is “the act of competing or emulating”,”the state or condition of being a rival.”
THE FIRST STANZA 1901-1919
The Red Sox and Yankees were both born in 1901 with the inception of the American League. In their first incarnation, the Red Sox were known as the Boston Americans while the Yankees were birthed in Baltimore as the Baltimore Orioles. They moved to New York in 1903 and from then until 1913, they were known as the New York Highlanders, because they played at Hilltop Park, in the Highland section of the city.
Hilltop Park, home of the New York Highlanders from 1903 through 1912.
The Huntington Avenue Grounds, home of the Boston Americans (Red Sox), 1901 through 1911.
In 1913 the Highlanders moved to the Polo Grounds and called themselves the New York Yankees.
In 1907, Boston Americans owner John I Taylor began to call his team the Red Sox and in 1912 they moved into a brand new Fenway Park.
In the first two decades of the American League the Red Sox were the dominating force. They won the American League pennant in 1903, ’04’, ’12’, ’15’, ’16’ and ’18’ and the only year they were not World Series Champs was 1904. There was no World Series in 1904 because Giant manager John McGraw refused to let his team play against the “upstart” league.
The 1904 American League Champs.
To go along with their six pennants, the Bostonians finished in the first division 15 times. Oh, by the way, a first division finish was a term that was used pre playoffs when the post season consisted of just the World Series. From 1901-1960 it meant finishing first, second, third or fourth in the two eight team leagues; the leagues changed to 10 teams each in the 1960s, adding a fifth place finish to the mix. The Division Play-Offs began in 1969.
Led by the pitching of Cy Young
and Bill Dinneen,
the Boston entry of the American League dominated the first five seasons. When Fenway Park opened her doors in 1912, it was the likes of:
“Smokey” Joe Wood
and Babe Ruth
who led the Red Sox to four World Championship in Fenway’s first six years! From 1901-1919 the Red Sox were the best team in baseball, they won 1548-1258 .552, they had only four losing seasons in that span and they clearly were the class of the league.
The Orioles/Highlanders/Yankees on the other hand were a mediocre lot. They mustered only seven winning seasons, had only six first division finishes, never won a pennant and hit the 100 loss mark twice. Their overall record was 1339-1452 .480.
The Boston team even got the best of the first ever transaction between the two clubs. In December of 1903 they swapped pitchers, Boston sent right-hander,
to the Highlanders for southpaw,
Tannehill pitched five years in Boston going 62-38 including back to back 20 win seasons in 1904 and ’05’. A key figure in the Boston rotation, he was one of three 20 game winners in their 1904 rotation. Hughes, on the other hand, was 7-11 with New York and in July of 1904 he was traded to Washington.
The Americans/Red Sox and the Orioles/Highlanders/Yankees were rivals in the nacent years of the American League only in the sense that they “pursued the same object”. In head to head competition the Boston entity held a distinct advantage going 216-180 .545. Then in January of 1920, the teams announced they had made a trade and everything was was about to change!
to be continued…..
And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, 1901-1919.