World Series Program Scores Home Run

World Series Program Scores Home Run  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Hunt Auctions. 

It was the first modern World Series baseball game played between the American League Boston Americans and the National League Pittsburgh Pirates.  Cy Young’s Americans and Honus Wagner’s Pirates were eager to do battle in 1903. Team owners Barney Dreyfuss and Henry Killylea agreed to get the teams together for a best of a nine game series.

What does it profit a man to hammer along and make a few hits when they are not needed only to fall down when it comes to a pinch?  I would be ashamed to have my picture up now.
— Honus Wagner

Boston started pitcher Young in Game one of the Series.  As the winningest pitcher in baseball, Young had won his 361st game and helped lead his team in dominating the league by more than 14 games.

Honus Wagner was a legend in his own right.  He joined the Pirate club in 1900 and led the team to NL Championships in 1901, 1902 and 1903.

The Pirates won the first gamein the World Series 7-3.  Boston came back in Game 2 and dominated 3-0.

More than 19,000 fans packed the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston for Game 3 which the Pirates captured 4-2.  The park’s centerfield was the deepest one in the major leagues at the time measuring 635 feet.  Game 4 was played at a rainy Exposition Park in Pittsburgh and the Pirates won again 5-4.  After Game 6 the series was tied at three games apiece.

The teams traveled to Boston and Boston wrapped up the Series with consecutive wins and a three-hit shutout.  The American League Boston Americans were world champions.

Boston's "Royal Rooters" helped.  The fans traveled to Pittsburgh, cheered their team and sang the theme song "Tessie" to distract opposing players (especially Honus Wagner).  It seemed to work.

Wagner was bothered by injuries in the Series and batted only 6 for 27 (.222) and also had six errors.  The shortstop was disappointed with his performance.  The following spring, Wagner (who led the league in 1903 in batting average) refused to send his portrait to a "Hall of Fame" for batting champions.

"I was too bum last year," he wrote.  "I was a joke in that Boston-Pittsburgh Series.  What does it profit a man to hammer along and make a few hits when they are not needed only to fall down when it comes to a pinch?  I would be ashamed to have my picture up now,” he said.

Pirate owner Dreyfuss added his share of the gate receipts to the players' share.  The Pirate team ended up finishing with a larger individual share than the winning teams.

The original 1903 World Series program for the games played at Pittsburgh’s Exposition Park sold for 5 cents in Pittsburgh.  Only one other 1903 Series program is known to exist, and that’s in Cooperstown at the Hall of Fame.  Programs are virtually non-existent.

On Nov. 12, Hunt Auctions featured the program described for sale in its Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory auction held in Louisville, Ky.  The rare piece of ephemera sold for $241,500.

Baseball Programs

Souvenir Program; original; Yankee Stadium Opening Day; game between Yankees and Red Sox; April 18, 1923; $10,350.

World Series Program; original; game played at Fenway Park, Boston; 1918;  $10,350.

World Series Program; original; game played at Chicago’s South Side Park; 1906;  $11,500.

World Series Program; original issued for game played at the West Side Grounds in Chicago; game two; 1908;  $32,200.

World Series Program; original; for game played in Exposition Park in Pittsburgh between Pirates and Americans; well preserved; todate the one and only time an example has been offered publicly; 1903;  $241,500.


Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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