What was different yesterday is getting to be a habit now. On this date only one former Pirates player was born and no significant transactions that I could find so today's article will be about Kaiser Wilhelm and the team he played for, the 1903 Pirates team, which went on to play in the first modern day World Series.
Kaiser Wilhelm was a 29 year old rookie when he made his ML debut on April 18, 1903 in the 3rd game of the season that year. A right-handed starter, he pitched 12 games total for the Bucs that year, and went 5-3, pitching 7 complete games with 1 shutout. He posted a 3.24 ERA on the season while striking out 20 batters, but he walked 25. Kaiser did not appear in the postseason and by next year he would be playing with the Braves. In 1905 with the Braves he had one of the worst records for a pitcher going just 3-23 for a team that finished 51-103.
Wilhelm didn't pitch the next 2 years in the majors, but when he returned in 1908 he posted a 1.87 ERA over 36 starts and 42 games. Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers were 53-101 that year and Kaiser went just 16-22. He finished his career in 1915 pitching in the Federal League and had a 56-105 record. He returned in 1921 at the age of 47 to pitch 4 games for the Phillies (0-0 3.38 in 8 innings), a team that finished 51-103. In his 7 seasons in the NL, Kaiser played for just 1 team that didn't lose at least 90 games, the 1903 Pirates.
The Pirates were coming off a season where they won the NL title with a 103-36 record, and were 27 1/2 games better than the 2nd place Dodgers. The team played in Exposition Park and had drawn 243,000+ fans in 1902 (3rd most in the NL) and by next year they would draw 326,000+ in 70 home games.
The manager was Fred Clarke, who also played outfield. He was in his 4th year as the Bucs manager and his 7th season of managing overall. Players in their first year with the Bucs in 1903 include Otto Krueger, Harry Smith, Art Weaver, Joe Marshall, Gene Curtis, Hans Lobert, Fred Carisch, Solly Hofman, Reddy Grey, Ernie Diehl, Lou Gertenrich and just 3 of the pitchers returned from the previous season with top newcomers being Brickyard Kennedy, Wilhelm, Bucky Veil and Cy Falkenberg. Key players gone from the previous season were Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Chesbro, 20 game winner Jesse Tannehill, outfielder Lefty Davis, catchers Jack O'Connor, Chief Zimmer and infielders Wid Conroy and Jimmy Burke.
The teams leaders at each position were Catcher- Babe Phelps( 76)/Harry Smith (60), 1B- Kitty Bransfield (127), 2B -Claude Ritchey (137), SS- Honus Wagner (111), 3B- Tommy Leach (127), LF- Fred Clarke (101), CF- Ginger Beaumont (141), RF- Jimmy Sebring (124) and Starting Pitchers- Sam Leever(34) and Deacon Phillippe(33).
Ginger Beaumont led the team in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, home runs (tied with Tommy Leach) and total bases. Honus Wagner led the team in batting average, triples, RBI's, stolen bases and he tied for team lead in on base %. Fred Clarke led the team in doubles, on base %(tied), slugging % and sacrifice hits. Claude Ritchey led the team in walks. The Pirates team leaders also led the NL in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, average, slugging %, total bases, doubles and triples.
For pitchers, both Sam Leever and Deacon Phillippe won 25 games. Ed Doheny went 16-8 while the rest of the staff went 25-25 and they finished 91-49. They completed 117 of 141 starts with Phillippe finishing 31 of 33. The had 16 shutouts to lead the league with Leever throwing 7 of them (which also led the NL). Deacon also led the team in innings (289) and strikeouts with 123. Leever had a team low 2.06 ERA. The Pirates as a team led the league in runs scored and tied for the league lead in fielding %.
The Bucs took the NL by 6.5 games over the Giants in 1903 and went on to play the Pilgrims (Boston Red Sox) in the World Series, which was a best of 9 series. The first game occured on October 1st and the Huntington Avenue Grounds, and 16,242 fans showed up to watch Cy Young take on Deacon Phillippe. The Pirates took game one by a score of 7-3. Jimmy Sebring hit the first World Series homer, and the Pilgrims made 4 errors. The Pilgrims won game 2 by a score of 3-0. Bill Dinneen threw a shutout, while Patsy Dougherty hit 2 home runs. Sam Leever took the loss, after giving up 2 runs in the 1st, he was replaced by Bucky Veil who finished the game.
Deacon Phillippe started game 3 and again won, this time by a 4-2 score. They drew 18,801 fans which was a high for the series. Game 4 happened 3 days later in Pittsburgh and the Bucs took a 3-1 lead in the series as Phillippe won his 3rd straight game, pitched his 3rd complete game, and won 5-4. Game 5 was won by the Pilgrims big as they scored 11 runs and Cy Young went the whole way for them. The Bucs made 4 errors in this game. The Pilgrims evened up the series in the 6th game, with Dinneen again beating Leever.
Boston took game 7 as Young beat Phillippe 7-3. They went back to Boston for game 8 with Boston up 4 games to 3. The Bucs went with Phillippe for the 5th time, and although he pitched good, Bill Dinneen threw a shutout to clinch the World Series. Jimmy Sebring had the highest BA for the Bucs as he hit .367 (11-30) and Tommy Leach drove in 7 runs and had 4 triples. Honus Wagner hit just .222 while the other Hall of Famer, Fred Clarke hit .265. Phillippe pitched 5 complete games, won 3 games and had an ERA of just 2.86.