On May 8th, 1901 a first happened for the Boston Red Sox, who were known as the Boston Americans. At Huntington Street field, they defeated the Philadelphia Athletics for their first home win in history by a score of 12-4.
That inaugural season had started with a ten game roadtrip in which they returned home with a 5-5 record. Eventually the Americans posted a record of 79-57 to finish four games behind the Chicago White Sox. That was the end of the season since the first World Series would not be played until 1903.
Certain things jump out for that first season. The player manager for the Americans was Jimmy Collins who switched allegiances in Boston from the Braves or Beaneaters, as they were then known, to the Americans. Cy Young, then 34-years-old, won 33 games and the Triple Crown for pitching.
Ted Lewis also was on that staff as he switched Boston teams. Lewis was known as “The Pitching Professor” for his extensive educational background including Harvard University. Lewis left after the 1901 season in which he posted a 16-17 record to return to academia and Columbia University.
Nig Cuppy was a member of that staff and that is an ignominious nickname in baseball history. The reader can easily determine the simplification of his name in reference to a person of color. Yes, this was the turn of the century America.
Buck Freeman also came over from the Beaneaters. Freeman was unusual for a power hitter as he was on the smallish side at 5’ 9” and 170 pounds. Freeman became the first player to lead both leagues in home runs. Freeman also led the AL in RBI twice while with Boston.
The exodus from the NL Boston entry saw Chick Stahl arrive and eventually become a tragic figure in Boston Sports. Stahl was a jovial and fun loving outfielder who took his own life in spring training of 1907. Reports are that Stahl, then the manager, was despondent over having to release his close friend Collins.
Tommy Dowd was on the Americans that first season and he was a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Dowd, an exception centerfielder, played baseball at Brown University and left after the 1901 season to coach at Amherst College.
Freddy Parent played shortstop and was a noted glove man who was also the last surviving member of the two 1903 World Series teams. Parent broke up three no-hitters in his career and saved a perfect game for Young with a sparkling defensive play.
Win Kellum became the first starting pitcher in Red Sox (Americans) history when he opened the season in Baltimore for the fledgling team and league. Kellum was a disappointment for the season going 2-3.
Personal catchers are nothing new and Lou Criger joined Boston to serve his usual role for Young. Criger played 16 seasons and caught a substantial number of Young’s 511 victories.
Another personal catcher, Ossee Schrecongost, was also on the team only he had been the personal catcher and the roommate of the infamous Rube Waddell. Ossee had it written into Waddell’s contract forbidding Rube from eating animal crackers in bed. In those days players shared both rooms and beds.
Those were some of the players on that first team we now call the Red Sox and some of the high points and some of the low points.
New Century, New Team – Bill Nowlin
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