Beginning with 1905, the year of the creation of the rules governing the conduct of the World Series, through 1942, Major League Baseball conducted several inter-league postseason series with games played under these same rules. Although largely forgotten, these regional series games were in fact official postseason contests and constitute a significant additional group of records and accomplishments that should be considered by the baseball community. This article, with the associated listing of the line scores and available play-by-play accounts being made available by Retrosheet, is meant to cast a brighter light on those games and fill in what have been only sketchy references in a very few books and web sites. The goal being to place them in an appropriate context as real games with associated statistics to go with them.
I. The pre-Commission days
In the last quarter of the 19th Century, during the occasional times of peace between the National League and the American Association, the franchises would, after the season, engage in exhibition series of inter-league play. These were largely regional in nature, and often billed as either a city or state professional championship. Of course there were also general exhibitions in barnstorming tours against other inter-league teams, or minor teams, or local teams, or just pick up games against local all-stars. No one took these too seriously and they have largely passed into deserved obscurity.
There was no sanctioning body of Major League Baseball and the only actions that the leagues themselves took was to say yes or no to such postseason play. This also includes the 19th Century forerunners of the World Series with the leagues prohibiting such encounters—in 1882 it was stopped after two games—or allowing it as in 1884-90. With the death by merger of the American Association in 1892, there no longer was another league to challenge and the teams post season consisted of just plain old barnstorming or such frivolities as the Temple Cup, Chronicle-Telegraph Cup, and the split season 1892 playoff. By definition none of the above was inter-league, since there was only one league. The 1892 Series was sanctioned and for the championship; the Temple Cup was sanctioned, but regarded as a separate entity—a Cup—a concept still in vogue in European lands today; and the 1900 Chronicle-Telegraph Cup was also a separate entity, but merely permitted and not mandated.
With the coming of the American League in 1900, there was now another “major” league, but there was also war. With the peace of 1903, not only was there a championship series of the best of 9 games; there was now a plethora of postseason series that sprung up. The city of St. Louis and the state of Ohio scheduled 7 and 9 game series (not best of anything, just a series of games). These were preceded by 2 game exhibition series between the Reds and Browns, and the Naps and Cardinals—both swept by the Ohio teams. Other postseason ventures that year were in Philadelphia for 7 games and in Chicago where a whopping 14 game set was played. All of these affairs were arrangements between the clubs and the league had nothing to do with them except give the okay to play. The AL won the above series except in Chicago where the 14 game set ended in a 7-7 tie and the Cubs refused to play a tie-breaker because Joe Tinker was leaving to get married. The Cubs owner sincerely, and probably with good cause, believed the games were not on the level and vowed never to play another without a sanctioning body overseeing things. There was also the problem that the players had to play until their contracts expired on October 15, but wouldn’t play after that.
The above games were a bit haphazard with no check on rosters or umpires, frequent fights, no discipline for the umps to enforce, and no real official scorer. They existed, they were taken somewhat seriously by the day’s newspapers, but had no real structure as we know it. In 1904, the peace became less easy. The Giants, fearing a match up with the Highlanders refused in advance any championship series and stuck to it when Boston won the AL flag. However, there actually was a postseason—of sorts. The St. Louis teams played 6 games, ending in a tie and the Cards refused the tie breaker since the home team got the gate receipts and that was supposed to be the Browns. Even odder, the Pittsburgh owner, Barney Dreyfus, who cordially despised Giants owner John Brush, stated that not only were the champions supposed to play, but the other 14 teams were supposed to pair off, and that by golly, he was going to play the Naps—both teams having come in 4th. He was regarded as a true sportsman for this. The result was a 5 game set with 2 ties and Cleveland coming out 1 game up. Again, there was no league supervision or involvement with these games, although a side note shows that the lone umpire was Bill Klem who did not join the majors until the next season.
II. The National Commission
Having felt the public’s fury over his failure to compete, John Brush went the other way 1905 and took the lead in promulgating rules that established the first totally sanctioned World Series. The newly created National Commission would now supervise these games under a set of rules that they adopted for such games. These have come down through history as the Brush Rules. What is little remembered is Sec. 23 of these rules, which stated:
The operative ingredients are the words “may apply,” the mandatory cut for the Commission if they do apply, the allowance for the teams to decide themselves how to divvy things up, and the solution to the October 15 expiration problem. The Commission would supply the umps, have a supervisor, approve the rosters, and a scorer, and basically treat this as a mini World Series. From this point (1905) on, there were two types of postseason games—those that were sanctioned and those that were entirely in the hands of the locals. This article and the data presented are concerned with the sanctioned games only. These are usually referred to in the publications of the times as “being played under the auspices of the National Commission” or just by listing gate receipts with the Commission’s share.
III. The unsanctioned games
As noted, these are beyond the scope of this article and the more detailed data shown. I list them here for the sake of completeness. There are two publications that list them in more detail; (1) a brief synopsis can be found in the very first edition of Total Baseball (1989) in an article in the appendix by Frederick Ivor-Campbell which was deleted from following editions—this lists most of the post seasons and has a little synopsis of the result; [This article can be reached from the list of regional series page.] (2) a book also published in 1989 (McFarland) by Jerry Lansche called The Forgotten Championships. [It may be available from Amazon.com or Alibris.] The latter contains not only synopses, but also box scores of all games except for the non inter-city or non inter-state games of 1903, 1904, 1909, and 1913. It has been an indispensable volume for the research here and is clearly the major work in this field.
With the games noted above, the following series of games took place from 1903 to 1916;
1903 CIN 2 SL(A) 0; CLE 2 SL(N) 0; CLE 6 CIN 3; CHI (A) 7 CHI(N) 7; PHI(A) 4 PHI(N) 3; SL(A) 5 SL (N) 2 1904 SL(A) 3 SL(N) 3 and CLE 2 PIT 1, 2 ties 1905 BOS(A) 6 BOS(N) 1 and SL(A) 4 SL(N) 3, 1 tie 1906 SL(A) 4 SL(N) 1, 3 ties 1907 BOS(A) 6 BOS(N) 0, 1 tie and SL(A) 5 SL(N) 2 1911 SL (A) 4 SL(N) 3, 1 tie 1912 PHI(A) 4 PHI(N) 1 and SL(N) 4 SL(A) 3, 1 tie 1913 SL(A) 3 SL(N) 3, 2 ties 1914 SL(A) 4 SL(N) 1, 1 tie 1915 SL (A) 4 SL (N) 1, 1 tie 1916 SL (A) 4 SL(N) 1In 1917 St. Louis' teams finally agreed not to cut the Commission out and played it “under the auspices.” It was also the last time they played post season. Both St. Louis and Philadelphia staged pre-season spring series for several years, but these again were exhibitions and beyond the scope of this article. Additional research turned up a few scattered inter-league one game exhibitions with the Giants and Yankees playing in 1912 and 1915, the Dodgers and Senators in 1913 in Hartford (the only postseason inter league appearances of any kind for these two teams), the Cards and Browns in 1922; the Cards and Indians in 1925; and the Phils and As in 1927. There were also military benefit games in 1917 with the World Series and Ohio Series teams participating at or near military bases after the conclusion of the best of 7 games. The only team never to appear in any inter league postseason games of any kind is the Detroit Tigers—strange to think a lifetime Detroiter is writing this.
Before dismissing all of these games entirely, I should point out that a case can be made for inclusion of the Philly Series of 1912 and the St. Louis Series of 1915 and 1916, as these were actually played as the best of 7, not just a series of games. However, they were not governed by the official rules and the financial failure of them, particularly in Philadelphia, was largely attributed to the lack of an official presence.
IV. The Official Games and Why They Should Count
This leaves the other 32 series with 190 games that were played under formal rules, supervised by a representative of the Commission and later the Commissioner of Baseball, staffed by umpires and official scorers selected by the governing bodies, and played with rosters with the limits and rules of the day. They are in every sense of the word official games. Yet, they are forgotten, dismissed as exhibitions even where remembered. The purpose of this article is to bring them back to at least the light they merit.
What is an official game? I submit that a game sanctioned and supervised by the governing body of Major League Baseball under the rules in place as here, is such an official game. Clearly, they are not the equal to the regular season, or the postseason as we now know it. While, the games were played under supervision and defined national rules, there were instances of laxity. However, even those instances demonstrate the reasons these should be accepted.
In 1909 the Red Sox and Giants decided to play such a series. When a rainout of the third game caused a schedule change, the teams announced that all remaining games would be in Boston eliminating New York as host for game 5 The Commission refused to allow this and sent them back to New York where a throng of 789 witnessed the final game, played in a cold drizzle. The Commission governed although in later series they did modify their stance for the economic well being of all.
In the following year, the Giants and Yankees (or Hilltoppers or Highlanders) met in a Manhattan Series—no Bronx Bombers yet. After game 4 on the Hilltop ended in a tie, the parties moved back to the Polo Grounds for Game 5. Oops, you shouldn’t have done that, ruled the Commission, but allowed the result to stand since there was nothing they could do about it except chastise the teams.
In 1911, the Ohio Series opened in Cincinnati. However, the ownership wanted to commence and finish remodeling the park before winter. So, with Commission consent, the remainder of the games were played in Cleveland.
In the Ohio Series in 1910 and 1911, and the one sanctioned St. Louis Series of 1917, double headers were allowed to hype the gate. It had limited success, but all other rules applied.
When the World Series rules allowed for 4 umpires instead of two in 1912, the sanctioned games followed suit while the others did not. Although, this did not occur in 1917’s two series.
In 1917 in St. Louis the parties agreed to Commission sanctions—a piece of the gate—but as the rules allowed, split the receipts the way they wanted after the Commission got its share. The same year the Reds and Indians wanted to play an additional game for the troops who were about to embark on WWI. The Commission gave its okay, but expressed that it would not be sanctioned, and they would have nothing to do with it. It had to be played in Newark, Ohio and clearly set off from the rest of the series. Whoever, won the best of 7 was the winner. This was a separate exhibition. As noted above the Giants and White Sox did the same after the conclusion of the World Series.
In the early 1920s, when the World Series was expanded to 5 of 9, the Chicago Series, made the same move, and when it returned to 4 of 7 in 1922, so did the Chicagoans.
Contrast these with the 1903 Chicago Series--stopped because of contract disputes and a wedding; the 1903 Philly Series stopped by cold weather (this actually stopped the 1890 World Series as well as poor attendance and bitter cold induced Brooklyn and Louisville to cancel games with the Series tied at three); the 1904 SL Series was stopped by a dispute over gate receipts; the 1913 St. Louis Series ended by mutual consent after fights kept breaking out; and you see that there is a difference, and this was acknowledged at the time. At the time, the games played “under the auspices” of the Commission were considered to be more legitimate.
The reasons cited by Jerry Lansche in his book for taking these games a bit less than seriously should also be considered. He correctly notes that the 1903 World Series was no different than the 19th Century games in that there was no single governing body dictating things and it was largely the creation of the two competing clubs. The leagues’ role was just to say it was acceptable to play some games. In fact, he is correct. The only reason 1903 is accepted as part of the World Series canon is common usage and the fact that two years later a permanent structure was set up and we, the sporting public, have accepted it.
He also points out (p.64) that Clark Griffith (1910 Ohio G-6) and Johnny Evers (1922 Chicago G-2) showed up long after their active careers had ended to make an appearance in these games for fun. However, a review of the records shows that each was on the active roster and had played one game during the season. Those games counted.
Lansche does not differentiate between the sanctioned and unsanctioned games, which is correct for his purposes since the scope of his book was on championships between real teams and not on “real” games. Similarly, he does not include the 1909 and 1913 regional series because they were not for a championship of anything—just a pair of best of 7 series. The reason for the exclusion of these last two sets of games by Total Baseball’s article is less clear, although they are mentioned in passing with no summary and no result.
The games were played with at least the structure and seriousness of those between late season tailenders—probably more seriousness, more money was at stake.
There are numerous significant items in these games for the history of baseball. The 1912 Chicago Series was the only one until the 2004 AL LCS where a team came back from a 3-0 deficit to win, Ed Walsh wrecking his arm in the 9th game, after pitching 41 innings in 10 days; the 1910 Manhattan Series featured Christy Mathewson appearing in four games and going 3-0 with a save; the 1909 Inter-city Series saw Tris Speaker run wild with a .600 average and 2 homers; the 1913 inter city series was the only official meeting of Honus Wagner and Nap Lajoie; the 1925 Chicago opener featured a 19 inning 1-1 tie game with Grover Cleveland Alexander going all the way with a masterful 20-hitter; the last complete game double header shutout in the majors was achieved by Grover Lowdermilk of the 1917 Browns; the first night post season games were played in the last few Chicago Series (at Comiskey, of course); and in 1942 when Ted Lyons (14-6) pitching every Sunday, finished all 20 games he started, he added two more complete games but not on Sunday going 1-1. Most poignantly, the 1910 Ohio Championship marked the last big league game for Addie Joss of Cleveland, who after missing over half the season with arm trouble returned in game 2 to hurl six innings and get the win with no sign of trouble other than fatigue. Sadly, he died of tubercular meningitis just before the start of the 1911 season.
V. Notes on the State of the Record
What we are doing is providing for publication by this website, as separate but yet official games, as many play-by-play accounts as I have been able to amass from newspapers (and one recording) over the past 15 years. As far as summaries go, there are already the above books in print as well as a 1979 SABR article by Emil Rothe [may need to be a SABR member to access], and baseballyarn.com with game and statistical summaries of the Chicago Series. Consequently, I will provide detailed descriptions only for the two Series that have been totally left out from 1909 (Boston AL over New York NL, 4-1) and 1913 (Cleveland over Pittsburgh, 4-3) . These appear as links on the pages with the line scores for those two series.
[Webmaster’s note: The games for which we have full play-by-play accounts include the typical Retrosheet box scores. We hope eventually to post boxes for the other games, but no target date for doing so has been established.]
Beyond the box scores provided by Jerry Lansche you can find all of them in Sporting News [currently available to SABR members on its web site from the Paper of Record feature] and Sporting Life (up to 1916) on the web and the Reach Guide and Spaulding Base Ball Record Books available on the web have some of them as well. The newspapers of the day that are currently on line have most if not all of them if you look hard enough, and there are actually a few play-by-play newspaper accounts that you can find on either Google or Newspaper Archive.
The game accounts are slightly less detailed, particularly in baserunner movements, than the typical Retrosheet account. There are often discrepancies between the pbp and the box and many of them cannot be reconciled on the information available. I will try to note alternative solutions. If anyone discovers an error that I have made (and they undoubtedly exist), or questions anything, please contact me at email@example.com or the Retrosheet webmaster at the address on the site’s home page. I am more concerned with providing an accurate record than any other interest.
As to the existence of the accounts themselves, I will provide the source publications should anyone care to check. As stated, these have been accumulated over a 15 year period. The missing games are all from Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, and having been to the public libraries there, I am reluctantly satisfied that I have exhausted all the reasonably expected sources The fact, however, that I have discovered some play-by-play accounts in newspapers from Racine, Sheboygan, and Madison, WI as well as Lincoln, NE, and Davenport, IA (albeit for games already collected) gives me some slight hope that there may be others. It should also be noted that except for 1905 and 1939-42 all Chicago gaps are from Sunday games, which is the bane of all researchers. The gaps for the last four Chicago Series have much to do with the advent of night baseball, on the South Side anyway, and lack of print space caused by the war. Falling attendance may also have contributed to a lack of newspaper interest.
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Page Updated: 12/19/2009
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