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The Boston Globe Story of the Red Sox
More Than a Century of Championships, Challenges, and Characters
By Chad Finn
Foreword by Dennis Eckersley
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Experience the illustrious and passionate history of the Boston Red Sox, one of the most storied franchises in baseball, as it happened through the articles, features, and lens of their hometown and national news outlet, The Boston Globe.
The Boston Red Sox are the most winning baseball team in the 21st century with four World Series titles, and they're not slowing down any time soon. Two of the most prominent organizations in Boston, The Boston Globe and the Boston Red Sox, combine to share a tour de force history of the heralded baseball franchise from the very beginning in 1901, when they were known as the Boston Americans.
The Boston Globe Story of the Red Sox includes more than 300 articles chronicling the team's rich history as told through the best sports writing and coverage from the beloved Globe reporters, led by veteran sports columnist and an EPPY Award finalist Chad Finn. Relive some of the biggest moments in franchise history, such as their first baseball title ever in 1901, Carlton Fisk's wave home run in 1975, David Ortiz's postseason heroics, and the most dominant Red Sox team ever in 2018.
With a foreword from beloved former Sox pitcher and broadcaster, Dennis Eckersley, and Illustrated throughout with hundreds of photographs through every era, and updated through 2022, this beautiful archive celebrates two beloved organizations, and shares the hometown story of one of the world's most popular baseball teams.
Red Sox fans are crazy, man. They’re wild. I mean that lovingly, because I’m one of them now.
I’ll be honest, though. I wasn’t sure what to make of Boston at first. When I got traded to the Red Sox in March 1978, I was 23 years old. I’d spent the first three seasons of my career in Cleveland, which was a different experience entirely. I was a cocky kid who hadn’t seen nearly as much as he thought he had. I had no idea what was ahead.
I’d interact with fans, sign autographs or whatever in those early days with the Red Sox, and I remember thinking, “Man, they talk funny.” And they were intense. There was just kind of a weird vibe compared to what I was used to. A uniquely strange place, I thought. At first, if I gave up a three-run shot or blew a game, if I went to the gas station, I’d be looking over my shoulder, like someone was going to say, “Aw, nice game, Eck, you bum.” And sometimes they did. You don’t get that honesty in, say, California.
Little did I know then how much Boston would come to mean to me and how important the Red Sox would become in my life. And for decades! I never could have known then. But I’ll tell you, I did start to figure this place out in that first season. I won 20 games in ’78. As everyone knows, that season ended in heartbreak with the one-game playoff loss to the Yankees. It got away from us. But somewhere along the way that year, for all that we went through, I realized that this is what the big leagues are supposed to be like. Forget that mellow stuff. Red Sox fans expect a lot, but if you’re successful here and show that you care, they’ll love you. And they’ll take care of you here. It was incredible to find out what it was like to have everyone on your side at Fenway Park.
You have to understand, I grew up in the Bay Area as a San Francisco Giants fan. Juan Marichal and Willie Mays, those were my heroes. I was a National League kid. I only knew Fenway from the national game of the week, with Curt Gowdy broadcasting, and it seemed a world away. And then Yaz’s monster season in ’67, when I was 13, I remember thinking, “Who is this guy? He never makes an out.” That was the extent of what I knew about the Red Sox.
A lot of players—pitchers, anyway—will tell you that the first thing they notice about Fenway is how the Green Monster seems to loom over you. But when I pitched here for the first time as a rookie kid with Cleveland in 1975, all I thought at first was that left-handed hitters were going to have to hit it a long way to get one out of here off me. I was always worried about left-handers. I remember I punched out Freddie Lynn early in the season before he went on to win MVP and rookie of the year. A couple years later, he hit two homers off me in the same game, and I’d swear he hit the same seat with both of them. I can still look out there and see exactly where he hit them. You can always see the ghosts at Fenway.
I am a little jealous of those who got to win a championship here. I know how precious it is. I played 24 years and got one, with the Oakland A’s in ’89, and almost didn’t get that. If the World Series had been shut down after the Loma Prieta earthquake struck at the start of game 3 we would have been out of luck.
I have no doubt in my mind—none—that we had the team to do it here in the late ’70s, before the Curse of the Bambino was even a thing. But Haywood Sullivan, who was running the team, got rid of Lynn, Carlton Fisk, and Rick Burleson—those three, boom, boom, boom, and that was that. Back then when we were players, maybe Dewey [Dwight Evans] was worried about what the front office was doing, but that was about it. It’s a different world now. The GMs are so important, and everyone pays attention to what they’re doing. They take all the heat and all the credit.
My first stay with the Red Sox ended in 1984 when I was traded to the Cubs for Bill Buckner. I was struggling, fans were letting me hear it, and it was just time. When I came back in ’98 for my last season, I knew I didn’t have much left, and I pitched terribly; but looking back, it was all meant to be. If I hadn’t come back for that last season, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in the broadcast booth. It was serendipity.
I retired from broadcasting and my role at NESN after the 2022 season so I could move back to the Bay Area and spend time with my grandchildren. Life is precious, and you don’t get unlimited time, and you have to be there for the people you care about. And 20 years as a broadcaster? That was a nice, round number to go out on.
I never forgot for a moment how lucky I was to be around this, to see the Red Sox win four championships—imagine that, four!—in my time as an analyst. Fenway was a pretty good office, you know?
And to be able to chirp up there in the booth, what a special thing. It was kind of surreal sometimes, like an out-of-body experience, where you were just sort of doing your thing, talking about the game, and you suddenly think, “I’m chirping about the Boston Red Sox, just letting it fly, and I get to come to this beautiful place every day.”
How lucky am I? This has been a special life, being involved with the Red Sox. And I still will be. You’ll see me at Fenway from time to time, waving my butt off in the Legends Suite and stuff. You can never quit that place. Yeah, I might live in California now, but in my heart I’m a Bostonian. Even if I never quite did learn how to talk like Bostonians do.
THE BIRTH OF A BALLCLUB
Perhaps this should come as no surprise given that ancient trees have deep roots, but it turns out that Boston baseball fans were skeptical, with cynicism probably waiting in the on-deck circle, before the first official pitch of the ball club’s first home game had been delivered.
The headline on the Globe’s May 9, 1901, account of the Boston Americans’ debut—a 12-4 victory over Philadelphia—at Huntington Avenue Grounds provides the requisite optimism that should come with the debut of a franchise: “AMERICAN LEAGUE MEN GIVEN ROYAL WELCOME BY 11,500 ROOTERS.” But within the story is an amusing anecdote describing the pregame scene and the already established attitude of Boston fans.
“At the close of a waltz melody three Boston players in white uniforms emerged from the players’ dressing rooms and spread out for a little triangle practice. They were the first players to appear, but were not recognized by the crowd and were given but a weak sendoff.… These boys will be treated with more warmth when they show their real mettle, as the Boston fan is rather slow to warm up to a new man.”
Ah, so that’s where it comes from. Turns out our baseball-fan ancestors required some convincing, too, before they believed in the team and its players. While that prove-it-to-us attitude was hardened for later generations by recurring heartbreak and championship droughts, those initial fans did not have to wait long to enjoy sweet success. The Americans—the Boston team’s nickname for its first seven seasons—were born in 1900 when Ban Johnson, president of the minor-league Western League, announced that it would become the American League and compete with the National League, then the lone Major League, and one Johnson believed had become too rowdy and unsportsmanlike.
Boston and Philadelphia were among the cities to which Johnson assigned franchises. Both cities already were home to National League clubs, with the Americans competing with the National League’s Boston Braves. Charles Somers, a coal industry executive from Cleveland, was awarded the Boston franchise. The new league and its clubs began pilfering established stars from the National League, and the Red Sox added two of the greatest for the inaugural 1901 season, pitcher Cy Young and third baseman Jimmy Collins, who served double duty as the manager.
Young, at age 34, won 33 games in his first season in Boston, while Collins batted .332 and led the Americans to a second-place finish. The club took one step back in 1902, finishing third, but breathtaking success was theirs in 1903, even after Somers sold the team to Henry Killilea that January. Led by Young, who became the winningest pitcher in baseball history that season (he finished with 511 victories, as unassailable a record as there is in the sport), the Americans went 91-47-3 in their third season, winning the American League pennant by 14.5 games over the Philadelphia Athletics.
Soon, they would become something grander: baseball’s first World Series champion. In September, Killilea met with Barney Dreyfuss, owner of the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates, to reach an agreement for the victors of each league to play. Dreyfuss had issued a challenge for the two league winners to meet. The Americans met the challenge, winning the best-of-nine series, 5-3, in eight games. The Americans, boosted by the rallying cries of their boisterous Royal Rooters fan club, prevailed by winning four straight games after falling behind, 3-1. Three seasons into its existence, Boston was a champion.
The Americans, now owned by John I. Taylor, the son of Globe publisher Charles H. Taylor, might have repeated in the 1904 season after winning 95 games and another pennant—sweeping a doubleheader from the Highlanders, later to become the Yankees, to clinch on the season’s final day. But the Giants refused to play a World Series on the grounds that the American League provided inferior opposition. Backlash to their refusal led to the official drafting of World Series rules in February 1905.
The next two seasons brought tribulations and tragedy. The 1906 Red Sox collapsed to a 49-105-1 record, losing 20 in a row over 21 days in May. In August, Jimmy Collins resigned as manager, replaced by teammate Chick Stahl, who did not fare better, guiding the Americans to just 14 wins in 40 games. The next March, while the Americans were in West Baden Springs, Indiana, to play a spring game, an unfathomable act staggered the franchise. Stahl committed suicide by drinking four ounces of carbolic acid. Collins, his close friend who had remained as a player, was in his presence.
Understandably, the 1907 season was an unsettled one for the Americans. They went through five managers, including Cy Young for six games, and Collins was traded to the Athletics in June. But it also brought signs of better days to come. In September, Tris Speaker, who would blossom into one of the premier players in history, made his debut. In ensuing seasons, he would be joined by Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper to form perhaps the finest outfield in franchise lore.
Fans would fast warm up to these new men, and yet their arrivals, as well as that of young fireballer “Smoky” Joe Wood, were not the franchise’s most significant change. In December 1907, John I. Taylor took advantage of the Boston Braves’ sartorial decision to switch their main color from red to blue, deciding that the Americans would now wear red, most notably on their stockings while playing at Huntington Avenue Grounds. With the new duds came a new nickname: the Red Sox. It would stick.
TWO BALL TEAMS
Boston Will Have Her Share of National Game.
American League and National Association After Charles River Park.
January 4, 1901 ♦ by T. H. Murnane
BOSTON WILL HAVE BALL teams in two leading organizations next season, unless all present plans fail.
The grounds have been selected, and ample backing is ready. The question is in what league will the new club play ball—the American league, handled by Pres. Ban Johnson, or the proposed new National association, now well underway. Both organizations are anxious to get a foothold in this vicinity, and would prefer Charles River Park, now owned by Arthur Irwin and J. B. Hart, both of whom were prime movers in the two clubs that passed a couple of years at the Congress St. grounds.
Messrs. Irwin and Hart are bound to remain in the game, if possible. After taking an option on Charles River Park about a month ago, Irwin went to Philadelphia to try and induce Ban Johnson to give Boston a place in his American League, but Irwin was turned down. At the same time Johnson sent his close friend, Charles Somers of Cleveland, to Boston to see the owners of Charles River Park about leasing the plant. The western man offered big money for the park, as he was anxious to put a club from Boston in Johnson’s league. Pres. Hyde had given his word to Irwin and Hart that they could have first choice at a certain figure, and as they were ready to fulfil their agreement, Mr. Somers went back to Johnson with a story of Irwin’s strength.
Charles Somers of Cleveland appeared on the scene again yesterday. He has a habit of stopping at Young’s hotel under an assumed name, and not being well known to the baseball men of Boston managed to escape notice for two days. His mission here is to show the men back of Irwin how strong is the American League and what a winner they could make of Boston. Mr. Somers is perfectly willing to back the team from here, and being a man of means could no doubt make good. He has worked hard, but has failed to convince the Boston people that the American association is as strong as the proposed National association.
Finding that he couldn’t get a place for Boston in the American League, Irwin set about to see what could be done in reviving the National association, and found more life in the defunct organization than he expected. Last Sunday a meeting was held at Chicago. Irwin, Richter and delegates from Washington, Milwaukee and other cities were present.
No doubt Ban Johnson was tipped off to the opposition’s strength, and hurried his friend Somers on to Boston again to get in some good work for his organization, for National association success would mean a death blow to Johnson’s league. As the case now stands in Boston the American League must take Irwin if they care to locate a club at Charles River Park. The severest blow that could befall the National association would be the loss of Boston to the rival American League, so that Irwin has a full hand in either case.
Mr. Somers is one of the owners of the Cleveland club. Speaking of the American League’s plans, he said: “I can say positively that the American League will have clubs in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and we would like Boston to fill out our eastern half of the circuit.” This would mean the dropping out of Buffalo. Mr. Somers said the idea of the National League snubbing the American League was nonsense, that they were going to do business without any regard for the league, who have no copyright on baseball.
Pres. Hyde of the Charles River land association says that he is confident that 25-cent ball will be a big go in Boston. He is very much pleased with Mr. Somers, the Cleveland magnate, and may bring Irwin around if he has not agreed to stick to the Milwaukee syndicate.
How Players Look at It
It is interesting to note what stand the players will take toward the league that succeeds in making good, for it’s out of the question for both the American League and National association to live for a season in a fight against the powerful old National League.
Hugh Jennings was in Baltimore yesterday. He is one of the committee chosen by the players to present their case to the magnates. Here is what he said on the subject:
“I’d much rather sign for $1,200 with the American League and give it a chance to build up than to accept $2,000 from the National League and be a slave in every sense of the word. If a break to the American League is necessary I hope the ballplayers will look at things the way I do. If the National League insists on ignoring us we have got to do something.
“A baseball war is preferable to playing further under the conditions that have made the protective association a necessity. We know that the American League is backed by men of brains, fairness and considerable money. If they were sure of our support and could bank on getting the best playing talent in the country, they would probably be able to interest many other influential men who would provide money enough to make things warm for the magnates. Of course I am only talking provisionally, you know. I would rather see the National League grant us our demands and have next season begin harmoniously, but I have it on the best of authority that the league men never had any idea of granting what we ask and will not give us another hearing.
“It would be foolish for the protective association to make a hot-headed move now. It is better to look the situation over carefully, and after getting the sentiment of all of our men, then take some effective means to show these arrogant club owners that we are not to be trifled with. The instructions we have already sent out to the players include an order not to sign a National League contract for next year until Pres. Zimmer, Griffith, Taylor and myself give the word. If the league still refuses to give in by the time it is ready to open the season, there will be no ball, that’s all. We are prepared to make a fight, even without the help of the American League, should that body suddenly conclude to make peace with the National League.
“If a fight comes, we wish the public to understand that the league magnate brought it on by their bull-headedness and double dealing.”
Wants Boston Badly
The American League will make their fight for Boston, hoping to show that with Boston and St. Louis in their organization nothing can beat it out.
A special from Baltimore says that Johnny McGraw has in his possession letters, the contents of which would make the National League magnates walk the floor at night. These letters are from a great many of the most famous stars of the diamond, and it is plain from their trend that the writers would hail with joy a chance to jump the older organization and thus rid themselves from what they consider their bondage.
There is no intention on the part of the American leaguers to grab the players of the National League, but they are working so that if it should come to a game of grab the American League would be in a position to do the most business.
When asked last evening what he thought of the move to have a rival club in this city, Arthur Soden smiled and said, “We will try and do business just the same, and hope the game will be benefited. The Boston club has no jurisdiction over the territory as long as the new club is outside the National agreement. It costs big money to run a ball club, especially when clubs have to take long trips west where the gate receipts are light.”
The fans are rooting for a lot of good baseball here next season. ♦
GETS A FOOTING
American League Leases Baseball Grounds.
Secures “Shoot the Chutes” Space From Elevated Railway Company.
January 18, 1901 ♦ by T. H. Murnane
THE AMERICAN LEAGUE HAS taken one more step in an effort to place a club in this city.
Yesterday Charles Somers of Cleveland closed a five years’ lease with the Boston elevated railway company for the grounds on Huntington Ave., formerly used by a “shoot the chute” concern. Connie Mack has been here for several days as the agent of Pres. Ban Johnson and Somers, and with the assistance of attorney Michael J. Moore of 27 School St., closed the deal yesterday afternoon.
Lawyer Moore said that the railway people were anxious to let the property for baseball purposes, as it meant funds for their road. He would not say what were the conditions of the lease, but said that the American League people were pleased with the rent agreed upon as they were anxious to give Boston some lively ball for 25 cents admission.
Connie Mack had only a few moments before taking a train for Philadelphia. He seemed to be much pleased with the idea of having Boston in the American circuit, and intimated that Hugh Jennings would be sought to come here and take charge of the team. Jennings has now signed a contract with Cornell to remain with that institution for three years, but it is thought that he can make a deal to get away after he has coached his team.
If the American League carries out its promise to locate in Boston it will mean a circuit composed of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston in the east, in the west Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland. With the exception of Milwaukee all are familiar names in league baseball.
The Huntington Ave. grounds are fully as handy of access from the business part of the city as the South End grounds, and considerably larger.
The grounds will need filling in and require much work before being in condition for baseball. The idea of the new club will be to secure young players, as they will make no attempt to compete with the National League in the way of big salaries, claiming to have all the players they can use from last year’s teams. ♦
SOMERS’ TEAM IN BOSTON
Collins, Stahl, Freeman and Dineen Named.
March 6, 1901 ♦ by T. H. Murnane
THERE IS NOW LITTLE doubt but that the American League club of this city will contain several men who drew salaries last season from the Boston National League club.
While Jimmy Collins positively refuses to say whether or not he has signed an American League contract, a telegram from Pres. Charles Somers, dated yesterday, says that Collins has positively signed a contract to play and manage the Boston club of the American League. This should dispose of all doubt, as Somers would not make a false statement under the circumstances.
Pres. Somers’s idea of a team for his American League is to pick up several stars and fill in with clever minor league players, in this way keeping his salary limit down to reasonable figures.
Somers would like to get pitcher Jay Hughes of last year’s Brooklyn team. Jack Chesbro, the Pittsburgh pitcher, who lives in Adams, this state, is also wanted by the local team.
An effort is also being made to secure Bill Bernhard, the Philadelphia pitcher.
While the above makeup is likely to be changed slightly, it is practically the team that Somers will present to the Boston public for their approval.
Lou Criger was brought out by Patsy Tebeau in Cleveland four years ago, and when in shape is one of the most valuable catchers in the country today. He was with St. Louis last season, and was one of the players called down by Wilbert Robinson for shirking his work during the season, although he caught more games than Robinson. Ossee Schreckengost is from the same club. He had a fair record with the Clevelands.
Bill Dineen is down for the star work of the team, and will prove a good one. The other pitchers will have to be good ones to keep up the team average.
Buck Freeman and Collins need no introduction. Collins is king of his corner of the diamond, while Freeman will make a fairly good first baseman. The youngsters, Freddy Parent and Hobe Ferris, who are booked for second and short, were shining lights in the minor league and should do fairly well in fast company.
Beside “Chick” Stahl in the outfield, the team will have “Cozy” Dolan, the old Boston league pitcher, who developed into a lively outfielder with the Springfield club. Charlie Hemphill is the other outfielder. The team as a whole is a good one for the American League and should more than hold their own. ♦
“CY” YOUNG SOLID
Reiterates His Loyalty to American League.
Pays Respects to Men Jumping Back Into National
March 29, 1901
CLEVELAND—Vice Pres. Charles Somers of the American League and owner of the Boston club today received the following letter from “Old Cy” Young, the great pitcher:
“Please pay no attention to any reports about my jumping contract. I have signed with the Boston American League club for 1901, and I will play in that city or nowhere. I have no respect for a contract jumper. When I have given my word to a man or to a club the deal is closed.
“I am pleased to see that the press and the public are practically solid for the American. I can’t understand how a man with any sense of honor can sign with the new league and then jump back into the National, where he claims to have been only a slave.”
The office of Vice Pres. Somers was the mecca today of several prominent baseball players. There were present James Collins, manager of the Boston club, Hugh Duffy, manager of the Milwaukee club, and “Chick” Stahl, who will play on the Boston American League club.
Mr. Somers is now negotiating for a star pitcher for his Boston club and hopes to land him within the next few days. ♦
TAKES THE CROWD
American League Opens With Boom in Baltimore.
April 27, 1901 ♦ by T. H. Murnane
BALTIMORE—The Baltimore baseball public welcomed the American League here today in no uncertain fashion. Never has Baltimore shown more interest in the national game, and 10,000 people, the finest people in this city, went to the new ballpark to see the Orioles polish off Jimmy Collins’s Boston team by a 10-6 count.
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