City Series by Frederick Ivor-Campbell: Unsanctioned 20th Century series

Article reprinted with permission from Total Baseball, First Edition, copyright Sport Media Enterprises Inc.

You can click on the series title to see a summary of the games with the line scores, pitchers of record, and home runs when known. These are based on boxscores in the book The Forgotten Championships by Jerry Lansche, published in 1989 by McFFarland & Company. (It may be available from or Alibris.) Due to the difficulty of obtaining consistent and reliable information about these games, the accuracy of the data shown in the series summary pages cannot be guaranteed.

At first the National League spurned the upstart American League, but in 1903, along with the first modern World Series between the AL's Boston and the NL's Pittsburgh, city series were played in Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, and an Ohio series featured Cincinnati and Cleveland. Not since 1886 had so many teams squared off for local and regional postseason play. And, amazingly, the 28-year-old NL was unable to win any of the five inter-league series from the 3-year-old AL.

1903 Chicago: Cubs (NL), 7; White Sox (AL), 7

Chicago's series between the NL's third-place Cubs and the seventh-place White Sox of the AL was far and away the most ambitious city series ever. Fourteen games were scheduled—seven at each team's park—with a fifteenth to be played, if needed to break a tie, at a neutral site. The series would end whenever one team won eight games.

No one expected the series to go the distance, especially when the powerful Cubs won the first three games with a total of twenty-two runs to the White Sox' one. But the Sox came back to win Game Four by a convincing 10-2, and through the long series managed to win often enough to prevent the Cubs from feeling overconfident. The Cubs won Game Twelve to take a 7-5 edge in the series. With at least two chances to clinch the championship, the Cubs lost Games Thirteen and Fourteen by identical 2-0 scores—blanked on five hits by the Sox' Frank Owen one day, and on four hits by Nick Altrock the next, October 15. A deciding game should have been played, but a day had been lost because of rain; the Cubs' contracts expired on the fifteenth, and when they refused all inducements to play one more day, the series ended in a 7-7 draw. Never again was a city series scheduled for more than nine games.

1903 Ohio: Cleveland Blues (AL), 6; Cincinnati Reds (NL), 3

Cleveland's Blues (AL) and the Cincinnati Reds finished their seasons with similar winning records, and their nine-game series for the Ohio championship began as a close contest, with the teams splitting the first four games. But Cleveland, after winning Game Four, also took the next three, clinching the title with two games left to play. Cincinnati, though, refused to yield, and in Game Eight fought back from a. 2-6 deficit with four runs in the eighth inning to tie the score, and a seventh run in the ninth to win their third game. In the finale later the same afternoon, their pitcher Rip Reagan held the Blues scoreless through seven innings, preserving a 1-0 lead. At the end of the seventh inning, the Cincinnati fans swarmed onto the field to try to persuade the umpire to call the game for darkness. He refused, and in the gloom of the eighth and ninth innings Cleveland scored three runs for a sixth win.

1903 Philadelphia: Athletics (AL), 4; Phillies (NL), 3

Philadelphia's Athletics finished second in the AL while the NL Phillies finished 39-1/2 games back in seventh place. But the Phillies had won a preseason series from the A's, giving the A's some catching up to do if they were to win the overall city championship. Ten games were scheduled, and the A's won four of the first five handily—two of them on shutouts by rookies Weldon Henley and Chief Bender. But the Phillies drove Henley out of Game Six in the first inning on their way to a 14-2 win, and the next day rocked Bender (who pitched the whole game) 13-3. The final three games were rained out. So although the A’s captured the fall series 4-3, the Phillies, because they had won four of the five spring games for an overall 7-5 record, were regarded as the city champions.

1903 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 5; Cardinals (NL), 2

In St. Louis it was a series between two losing teams, the last-place Cardinals of the NL and the sixth-place AL Browns. The Browns won the city title easily, clinching the championship with four wins (by an aggregate score of 35-7) before the Cards won a game. But the Cardinals revived to take two of the final three—one of them by the series' most lopsided score, 12-1.

1904 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 3; Cardinals (NL), 3

The volcano of enthusiasm for city and state championship series subsided as quickly as it had erupted. Never again would there be more than three city series in a single year, and in 1904, although the AL's Cleveland played a series against the NL's Pittsburgh, only in St. Louis were teams pitted against each other in city series play. Both the Browns and Cardinals had finished about 30 games behind their league pennant-winners, and they proved evenly matched. In Game One of their series, neither team was able to score more than one run until the top of the tenth, when a-two-run homer by Cardinal catcher Mike Grady gave the first win to the National Leaguers.

The Browns snapped back to take the next three games—two of them by a margin of just one run—and come within a game of clinching the series. But in Games Five and Six the Cardinal bats came alive to overwhelm the Browns 8-2 and (with a nine-run third inning) 10-6. With the series tied at three-all, a seventh game was called for. Because the players' contracts expired on October 15, the day of the sixth game, the club owners agreed to pay their players half of the seventh-game proceeds. This was fine with the Browns, but the Cardinals—already upset with their owners about another money matter—refused to play the seventh game unless the players were paid all the gate receipts. So Game Seven was not played, and the St. Louis championship remained undecided.

1905 St. Louis: Browns (AL). 4; Cardinals (NL), 3; one tie

Both St. Louis clubs finished even farther behind their league leaders in 1905, with the Browns dropping into the AL cellar. But they did manage to complete their city series, although a doubleheader was needed on the final day to beat the contract deadline. In Game One, the Cardinals scored four runs after two men had been retired in the seventh to win 4-1, and carried a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning of Game Two before the Browns finally erupted with eight runs in the eighth and ninth to even the series. The Cards retaliated 9-1 the next day as Cardinal ace Jack Taylor won his second game of the series. Then pitchers Chappie McFarland of the Cardinals and the Browns' Jack Powell cooled the bats of both teams, neither allowing an earned run over ten innings as their clubs struggled to a 1-1 tie.

The remaining games were closely contested: a 2-1 Browns victory (with Taylor the losing pitcher) evened the series at 2-2, and a 1-0 Cardinal win for rookie hurler Buster Brown put the Cards back on top. The Cards could win the series with victory the next day, and they carried a 6-2 lead into the eighth inning. But the Browns erupted for five runs in the eighth and held on for a narrow 7-6 series-tying win. An eighth game was therefore needed, and as it was October 15 already (the tie game had set the series back a day), this final game was begun immediately after the completion of Game Seven. Pitchers Harry Howell of the Browns and Jack Taylor—both of whom had relieved in the sixth inning of the earlier game—took the mound again for the finale. Each gave up just four hits in the six innings played before darkness descended, but two Brown doubles surrounding a pair of devastating Cardinal muffs scored three Browns in the fifth with the game's only scoring, giving the American Leaguers the championship.

1905 Boston: Pilgrims (AL), 6; Beaneaters (NL), 1

Also in 1905, the two Boston clubs for the first time faced each other in the postseason. The Pilgrims (later to be dubbed the Red Sox) were one of the better AL teams, while the Beaneaters (later called the Doves and, eventually, the Braves) dwelt among the dregs of the NL. In the series opener, though, the Beaneaters' Vic Willis (a 29-game loser during the season) held the Pilgrims to seven hits while his teammates took an early lead and built on it throughout the game for a 5-2 win.

But the Pilgrims rebounded in Game Two and never looked back. Veteran hurler Cy Young held the National Leaguers to two hits and fanned fifteen for a 3-1 victory over the Beaneaters' top winner, rookie Iry "Young Cy" Young (not a relative), and the first of six straight Pilgrim wins. Only in the finale, the second game of an October 14 doubleheader, did the Beaneaters threaten to win a second game. They drove out "Old Cy" Young with three runs in the first two innings and maintained their lead until the Pilgrims tied the game in the sixth. The Pilgrims scored a go-ahead run in the eighth, and when rookie Joe Harris (who had relieved Young) completed his seventh inning of shutout relief, the series was over.

1906 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 4; Cardinals (NL), 1; three ties

In 1906 both Chicago clubs won pennants, so their "city series" was the World Series. (The White Sox surprised everyone and beat the Cubs—one of the game's greatest teams ever, with 116 season victories—in six games.) Both Boston clubs, by way of contrast, finished in the cellar and took a year off from postseason competition. Only in St. Louis was there a regular city series in 1906. Although the Browns (who had also won a spring series with the Cardinals) remained champions of St. Louis with four wins and only one loss, the 1906 St. Louis fall series was the tightest city series ever contested. No fewer than three games ended tied, and of the five others, only one was decided by more than one run.

In the opener the Browns, down 1-3, scored twice in the sixth inning to tie the game, and scored their game-winning fourth run in the last of the eighth. The Cardinals took a quick lead with four runs in the first inning of Game Two, but the Browns tied the game over the next two innings. There the score remained through the ninth inning, when the game was called because of the cold, raw weather. After a day off because of the bad weather, the Browns won another close one with two unearned runs in the fourth inning. The Cards scored one futile run on a single and triple in the eighth—half of the four hits permitted by Brown hurler Jack Powell.

The score in Game Four was tied at 3-3, with two out in the last of the eleventh inning, before the Browns managed to send across a fourth run to take their third series win. The final four games were played in two successive doubleheaders. In the first, the Browns clinched the city crown with the series' only "blowout," a 3-1 three-hitter by Harry Howell. Darkness ended the second game of the day after five innings of scoreless play.

Finally, after four losses and two ties, the Cardinals won a game in the opener of the second doubleheader the next day. Their one run in the top of the first was their only scoring, but it was enough, as rookie Stoney McGlynn shut down the Browns on five hits. Later that afternoon the series ended quietly as darkness closed in to establish the second five-inning scoreless tie in two days.

1907 St. Louis: Cardinals (NL), 5; Browns (AL), 2

In 1907 the Cardinals won their spring series with the Browns, and although they finished their season in the NL cellar, more than twice as many games from first place as the Browns, who finished sixth in the AL, they defeated the Browns again in the fall series to claim for the first time in twenty-one years the championship of their city. (As the AA Browns in the 1880s, the franchise that was now the Cardinals had twice beaten the NL Maroons for the title.)

The Cards traded wins with the Browns through the first four games, but then won the next two by convincing scores of 7-2 and 9-2 to clinch the title. The fifth game was close until the Cardinals exploded for four runs in the eighth inning to put it away, but the sixth game was no contest after the second inning, by which time the Cards had leaped to a 7-0 lead. For good measure the National Leaguers also won the meaningless seventh game, 3-1.

1907 Boston: Pilgrims (AL), 6; Doves (NL), 0; one tie

The only other city series of 1907 saw the Boston clubs face off for a second time. They appeared evenly matched: both had finished seventh in their leagues with nearly identical won-lost records. But although several of the seven games were closely contested, the Doves failed to win a single one. Forty-year-old Cy Young hurled a four-hit 4-1 win for the Pilgrims in the opener. The Doves tied the second game at 2-2 with a run in the last of the ninth, but lost the game when the American Leaguers scored twice in the eleventh.

The Doves lost two more close ones in a doubleheader the next day. Iry "Young Cy" Young allowed the. Pilgrims only four hits in the first game, but Pilgrim runs in the first and seventh innings defeated him 2-1. In the nightcap, "Old Cy" was given a four-run cushion in the Pilgrim half of the third inning, but lost it as the Doves scored twice each in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game. But Young shut the Doves out over the final four innings while his Pilgrims scored a run in the top of the ninth for their fourth—and title-clinching victory.

Although they had no hope of winning the series, the Doves persevered through the final three games. In Game Five they rallied for two runs in the last of the ninth before falling 6-4. And in Game Six (the first of another doubleheader), they carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth, only to lose as a walk and four hits produced four Pilgrim runs. In the nightcap the Doves finally prevented a Pilgrim victory. The Pilgrims took an early three-run lead, but the Doves caught up in the middle innings as "Young Cy" settled down to what would become eight innings of shutout ball. But the Doves also failed to score after the fifth inning off Pilgrim rookie Tex Pruiett, and darkness ended the game after ten innings in a 3-3 tie. In the forty-six years before the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the Boston teams never again concluded their season with a city championship series.

1911 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 4; Cardinals (NL), 3; one tie

After three years without postseason play, the St. Louis clubs also resumed their city series in 1911. In the spring the Cardinals had defeated the Browns seven straight times, and during the season had placed fifth in the NL while the Browns ended up in the AL cellar. But their fall series showed the two clubs to be evenly matched, with darkness ending the opener after nine innings in a scoreless tie. In the second game the Cardinals broke a 2-2 tie with a run in the sixth, and held on for a narrow victory.

The Browns erupted in the third game, though, for ten runs and an easy win, and followed it up the next day by capturing both ends of a doubleheader, 6-2 and (with three runs in the last inning of the darkness-shortened nightcap) 10-8. The Cardinals won easily in Game Six, 9-5, leading all the way. But in a concluding doubleheader the next day the Browns broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the final two innings of the first game to clinch the city title. The second game was played anyway, and the Cards reversed the score with an easy 5-1 win to tighten the overall fall series record to 4-3-1.

1912 Philadelphia: Athletics (AL), 4; Phillies (NL), 1

In 1912 Philadelphia's Phillies and Athletics returned to the city series circuit after an absence of eight years. The mighty A's (who had finished third after winning pennants the two previous seasons) were heavy favorites to defeat the NL fifth-place Phillies, but the Phillies surprised them in Game One, breaking a tie with four runs in the final two innings for an 8-4 victory. It was an auspicious start, but it was also their last hurrah, for the A's then made short work of the series with four straight wins. They never trailed in Games Two and Three, winning 6-1 and 4-0 (on a three-hitter by rookie Byron Houck).

Game Four was tighter, and the Phillies even took a brief 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the third inning. But the A's came right back with two in the fourth and held on for a 4-3 win. The Phillies scored in the first inning of the final game, were tied in the second and passed in the third, but regained a tie at 2-2 in the fifth. But in the sixth inning the A’s rallied for three runs against Phillie reliever George Chalmers. A's starter, Boardwalk Brown, who had been ineffective in two previous appearances, held the Phillies scoreless over the final four innings, and the Athletics were champions of Philadelphia.

The A’s won the pennant the next two years, and the Phillies won their first ever in 1915. But although neither club played in a World Series for many years after that, they never again challenged each other in the fall for the city crown.

1912 St. Louis: Cardinals (NL), 4; Browns (AL), 3; one tie

St. Louis hosted a city series again in 1912. As usual, its clubs had endured losing seasons, but also as usual, the battle for the city championship was hotly contested. The Cardinals, moved out to a two-game advantage with a pair of close wins. Behind 3-6 in the opener, they scored three runs in the eighth inning to tie the score, and won the game in the tenth when Browns' reliever Mack Allison issued a walk with the bases loaded. In Game Two, another bases-full walk in the fifth and a Brown error at first base three innings later gave the Cards two of their runs in a 3-2 victory.

The Browns threw rookie lefthander Carl Weilman (2-4 during the season) against the Cardinals in Game Three, and he shut them out on one hit—a double that many in the stands thought landed foul. The Browns hoped to even the series the next day, and they received fine seven-hit pitching from young Earl Hamilton. But the Cardinals' Big Bill Steele pitched even better, yielding only three hits. Errors on both sides led to two early runs for both clubs, and the score remained 2-2 until darkness halted play after ten innings.

The Cardinals overwhelmed the Browns 10-4 in Game. Five to take a 3-1 series advantage, but the Browns fought back to win both ends of a doubleheader the next day, tying the series as Weilman hurled his second shutout in the nightcap: But in the finale a day later, with Steele and Hamilton again facing each other, Steele emerged the victor, 6-1, with a masterly four-hitter, and his Cardinals were kings of St. Louis.

1913 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 3; Cardinals (NL), 3; two ties

The St. Louis series of 1913 was—as it had been before—a contest between cellar dwellers. And, as in previous series, the clubs found themselves evenly matched. The game scores were not all as close as they had been in the series of 1906, but the overall result was closer—a series tie, with each team posting three wins and sharing two ties.

Four of the eight games were closely contested, including the opener. Although the Browns' Carl Weilman gave up only one hit, he also gave up the game's only run when in the second inning he walked the first man up and saw him take third on his own throwing error and score on a double play. The winner of this beneficence was Cardinal ace Slim Sallee, who permitted only four hits himself in his shutout. The Cards pushed to a 2-0 series advantage the next day with a 4-1 victory in a game that was shortened by darkness to seven innings.

The final six games of the series were bunched into three doubleheaders on successive days. The Browns took the opener of the first pair of games, 8-5, and scored twice in the sixth inning of the nightcap to tie the game just before darkness ended it. In the opener of the second doubleheader, the Browns rallied in the final two innings from a 3-6 deficit to even the series with a 7-6 win, then went on to take the series lead with an easy 6-2 win in another darkness-shortened nightcap. The Cards brought the series even once again with an easy 5-2 win in the opener the next day. Brown first baseman Del Pratt was ejected from the game after an argument with the umpires and a fight with an opposing player, and when the umpires refused to let him play the second game, the Browns argued until the umpires left the field. They later returned, but the delay caused the series finale to be called for darkness after only five innings, with the score tied 1-1 and the series still even. Another game was expected, but because of the bitterness that Pratt's fight had engendered between the teams, the club officials declared the series ended, "leaving [as Sporting Life commented] the question of which is the worst team in the two major leagues still in doubt"

1914 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 4; Cardinals (NL), 1; one tie

Both St. Louis clubs bounded out of the cellar in 1914. But while the Browns rose to fifth place, the Cardinals leaped all the way to third. In the series for the St. Louis title, though, the Browns emerged the victors, winning the first three games before the Cards could put their foot in the door. The Browns scored first and led throughout all three games, with Big Bill James providing the top pitching performance: a four-hit 2-0 shutout in Game Three, the first game of a doubleheader. Darkness ended the nightcap after five innings, but it remained light just long enough for the Cards to score a pair of runs for a 2-0 win of their own.

But they won no more. The first game of another doubleheader the next day featured the series' third consecutive 2-0 contest; the seldom-used Harry Hoch (who pitched eight innings) and George Baumgardner combined to hold the Cardinals to one hit as the Browns clinched the city championship. With the series decided, the nightcap was played "as an exhibition," ending after seven innings in a 2-2 tie.

1915 St. Louis: Browns (AL), 4; Cardinals (NL), 1; one tie

The Browns in 1915 won their second successive St. Louis crown by the same combination of four wins, one loss, and a tie that had brought them victory the year before. Once again, also, they built up a 3-0 edge before allowing the Cardinals their token win. Although they won the first game by just one run, the Browns never trailed, whereas in the second game they never led—although three times they came from behind to tie the game. Their second run came on a two-out single in the last of the ninth and sent the game into extra innings. The Cardinals scored their third run in the top of the twelfth, but in the bottom of the inning another Brown single with two away locked the score again. Darkness prevented a thirteenth inning.

After rain washed out two days of play, the Browns took both ends of a doubleheader by a margin of four runs apiece, 5-1 and 6-2, to reach the threshold of victory. But the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the second inning of the first game the next day and widened it to 7-2 by game's end. In the nightcap, though, the Browns scored five times before darkness halted play, while rookie hurler Tim McCabe held the Cardinals scoreless to conclude the series.

1916 St. Louis Browns (AL), 4; Cardinals (NL), 1

For the third year in a row the Browns' margin of victory over the Cardinals for the championship of St. Louis was four games to one. The only difference in 1916 was that no game ended in a tie. The Browns won the first two. In the opener they built up a 5-0 lead over the first six innings; the Cardinals rallied for two in the seventh and another run in the eighth, but ran out of steam in the ninth. In the second game, the Cards scored first with a pair of third-inning runs. But by the end of the fourth inning the Browns had taken a 3-2 lead, which they held to the 4-3 conclusion.

The Cardinals posted their only win in Game Three, countering a Browns two-run rally in the ninth with a final run of their own in the bottom of the inning for a narrow 5-4 win. [Webmaster's note: The boxscore in the Lansche book and in The Sporting News show that happening in the eighth.] The Browns' third victory, in the first game of a doubleheader the next day, was, if anything, even tighter. In the third and seventh innings they matched Cardinal go-ahead runs with their own game-tying tallies, and struggled against the tie until the last of the tenth when, with two men out, they pushed across a third run. They triumphed more easily in the darkness-shortened clincher later that afternoon, with the series' widest margin of victory, 4-1.

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