1903 World Series Program - Game One at Boston!

Sold For: $94,000

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1227

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Extremely rare fold-over program for the first game of the 1903 World Series between the Boston Pilgrims and Pittsburgh Pirates held on October 1st at Boston's Huntington Grounds. This is both one of the rarest and most historically significant baseball pieces in the entire world of collecting. The 1903 World Series program is one of the few printed memorabilia items with a significance equivalent to that of a T206 Wagner to the world of baseball cards. This is an item of monumental importance to the history of the game and universally revered as one of the pinnacle items of all historic baseball memorabilia. It is also extremely rare (literally ten times as rare as a T206 Wagner). Very few 1903 World Series programs exist (we know of only approximately five) and the fact that the offered example was issued for Game 1 of the series and is also scored further distinguish it as one of the most desirable examples extant. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only known 1903 World Series program dating from the historic first game of the Series. Because 1903 World Series programs are so rare, few collectors would have any way to know this: in addition to being able to date the game of the program by its scoring (if scored, which is ideal and the case with this program), the date of the game intended for its use is preprinted on the interior. This program is positively for the first game of the very first World Series! It may be the only surviving example in the world that is dated and scored for the very first game. We know of no other. (Even the collection of the Hall of Fame is without a program for Game 1 of the 1903 World Series.) All of the few surviving 1903 World Series programs are among the baseball-collecting world's greatest treasures and are the most important all World Series programs, but a program that was printed specifically for use and scored for the very first game is the ideal. The cover features portrait images of each team's respective manager, Jimmy Collins for Boston and Fred Clarke for Pittsburgh, as well as that of the famed leader of Boston's Royal Rooters, Mike "Nuff Said" McCreevy, which is used in conjunction with an advertisement for his tavern, 3rd Base. The preprinted text along the base of the cover identifies it as a "souvenir card of the World's Championship Games - Boston vs. Pittsburg [sic]." The date of the game "Thursday, October 1, 1903" is preprinted on the interior. The preprinted lineups for each club include Collins, Young, Stahl, Parent, Dougherty, and Freeman for Boston, and Wagner, Clarke, Leach, Phillippe, and Beaumont for Pittsburgh. Game 1 featured what many expected to be a pitcher's duel between Boston ace Cy Young, winner of a league-leading twenty-eight games, and twenty-four-game winner Deacon Phillippe. Unfortunately for Boston fans, Young was roughed up for four runs in the first, and later served up the first home run in World Series history to Jimmy Sebring in the seventh, in the team's 7-3 loss. Ideally, all of the action from that game, including Sebring's home run, is duly recorded here in pencil. Young later avenged his opening-game loss by defeating Pittsburgh in Games 7 and 10, helping Boston upset the Pirates in baseball's inaugural fall classic. A 1903 World Series program for any game of the series is without question one of the hobby's most iconic pieces and the offered program, issued and fully scored for Game 1, may very well be the most significant of the few surviving examples. The World Series was born when Barney Dreyfuss and Henry Killilea, the respective owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox, each agreed in August to match their first-place clubs in a best-of-nine postseason series that fall to determine what they declared to be the "World's Championship." (The 1903 World Series was the first postseason series between inter-league champions since 1890, when the National League champion Brooklyn Bridegrooms met the American Association champion Louisville Cyclones.) Fan interest in such postseason championships had waned during the 1890s, but the revival staged by Boston and Pittsburgh was well received, as evidenced by the 16,242 fans who showed up at Boston's Huntington Grounds on October 1, 1903, to watch Game 1. In total, nearly 100,000 fans poured through the turnstiles to witness the first World Series in modern history. That patronage, with the brief exception of John McGraw's obstinate refusal to play in 1904, all but insured the World Series would remain the institution that it is today. One of the most curious side notes to the 1903 World Series that bears mentioning concerns the players' share of the profits. Boston players received $1,182.00 each for the series; however, Pittsburgh's players, who lost the series, received $1,316.25. The reason for that anomaly was the generosity of Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, who turned over his share of the gate receipts to his players. It was the first and only time in World Series history that the losers' shares exceeded those of the winning players. This program, which is in apparent Excellent to Mint condition, has benefitted from professional restoration to a number of flaws. Originally the program's front cover displayed at least three small horizontal tears extending from the right border that were repaired by a piece of clear tape. There was a small corner chip to the front cover in the upper right, and a corresponding corner chip on the rear cover in the upper left. Additionally, there was a partial separation along the spine, primarily along the top half. During the restoration process, all of the front-cover tears were repaired and the tape was removed. The corner chips on each cover were also rebuilt and the areas of spine separation were both reattached and reinforced. It should be noted that all of this work was done to the highest professional standards and from the naked eye none of the former defects can be observed. The only visible flaw to the program at present is a slight uneven fold when it is closed. (Please Note: we have posted photos of the program in its original state on our website so that bidders can see for themselves the nature of the restorative work.) We might further add that none of the restoration has impinged upon the integrity of the piece and all of the work is similar to what is seen on other programs of this age and construction. The restoration has only served to return this piece to all its former grandeur and enhance its display value. This is one of the most historically important pieces in the entire hobby, and former auction results reflect its lofty status. Over the last ten years we have seen fewer than five 1903 World Series program offered for sale at public auction, with the prices ranging from a low of $58,139 to a high of $105,000. Reserve $25,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $94,000

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