Thursday, September 22, 2016

Red Sox Team of the Decade: 1901-1909

Because I needed more stuff to do, I decided to try to lay out the best players of each decade in Boston's history.

In 1901, they were not yet the Red Sox, known more frequently as the Americans.  Boston's American League franchise was formed in 1901, even though there was already a National League team in Boston.  The franchise was an immediate success and picked up a number of National League stars who would perform well for the first several years in the new league.  Boston won the first ever World Series in 1903 and also won the AL pennant in 1904.  There was no World Series in 1904 however, as the New York Giants refused to participate.  Unfortunately, Boston's fortunes took a drastic downturn in the latter half of the decade as their ownership was not really that interested in continuing to make moves to improve the team.  Upon getting new ownership, Boston began picking up a number of young players who would turn the team's luck around in the next decade.

Criger was not much of a hitter, but he was the primary catcher for almost the entire decade.  Ossee Schrecongost had a much better year at the plate than Criger ever did, but he only played one season in Boston.  Criger was with Boston from 1901-1908 and hit .208/.279/.279 with six home runs, 193 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases.  He was a very good defensive catcher and regularly caught close to 50% of attempted base stealers.  He led the league in that category three times with Boston.

First base was a tough call.  Moose Grimshaw and Candy LaChance both played more than Stahl, but neither one was better than Stahl.  Stahl first appeared in Boston in 1903 and played in 40 games for the World Champions.  He then played for Washington and New York before returning to Boston in 1908.  He was the starting first-baseman for the full season in 1909 and hit .294/.377/.434 with six home runs, 60 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.  It was the Deadball Era, but Stahl was one of the few players who had some legitimate power.  He also contributed 19 doubles and 12 triples that season.  

Amby McConnell had a better season, but Hobe Ferris spent close to the entire decade as the primary second-baseman, including the 1903 World Championship season.  Ferris hit .239/.265/.341 with 34 home runs, 418 RBIs, and 78 stolen bases for Boston from 1901 through 1907.  He also clubbed 148 doubles and 77 triples.  He was also a good defensive player at second.

Like Ferris, Freddy Parent played for Boston from 1901 through 1907.  Parent hit .273/.317/.361 with 19 home runs, 386 RBIs, and stole 129 bases.  Parent also hit 156 doubles and 63 triples while playing impressive defense, for the time period.  Parent was a big reason that Boston won the World Championship in 1903 as he hit .281 with three triples and four RBIs in the Series, overshadowing his more famous counterpart Honus Wagner.

Collins was one of the first players targeted by Boston ownership when it was announced that the city would receive a new franchise in the American League.  Collins had been a star for the Boston National League team and had revolutionized the way that third base was played.  Collins was stolen away and named manager for the new team.  Collins led Boston to the World Championship in 1903 and a pennant in 1904 while hitting .296/.336/.423 with 25 home runs and 102 stolen bases.  Collins is in the Hall of Fame.

Freeman was a rare Deadball Era player with a lot of home run power.  He held the previous record for home runs in a season with 25 until Babe Ruth broke it in 1919.  Freeman played first base for Boston in 1901 but moved back to the outfield in 1902.  Freeman led the Majors in home runs (13) in 1903.  He also led the Majors in RBIs in both 1902 and 1903 and triples in 1904.  Freeman hit .286/.339/.442 with 48 home runs, 59 stolen bases, 158 doubles, and 90 triples during his stint with the Boston franchise.

The circumstances of Stahl's death (he committed suicide by drinking carbolic acid) tend to overshadow what was a very impressive career.  Stahl was an excellent center fielder and hitter who hit .290/.357/.389 in six years with the Boston American League franchise.  He also contributed 105 stolen bases, 17 home runs, 122 doubles, and 62 triples.  Stahl, no relation to Jake Stahl, was named the team's manager after Collins was removed from the position in 1906.  He tied for the Major League lead in triples in 1904 with teammate Buck Freeman.  Stahl hit .303 in the 1903 World Series with three triples and two stolen bases.

Of all of Boston's offensive weapons in 1903, Dougherty may have been the best.  Dougherty was in just his second year in 1903 when he led the league in runs (107) and hits (195).  Dougherty hit .331/.372/.424 with four home runs and 35 stolen bases that year.  During his time in Boston, Dougherty hit .325/.382/.401 with 65 stolen bases in just under three seasons.  Dougherty clubbed two home runs in the World Series against Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, Dougherty was traded to New York during the 1904 season in a deal that may have been orchestrated by American League president Ban Johnson to provide New York with a star.  Boston received utility man Bob Unglaub in the first truly awful trade with New York.

Obviously, the man for whom the pitching award was named had to be a terrific pitcher in his own right.  Young, like Collins, was sought after to make Boston's new team a force in the American League.  Young was in his mid 30's when he was brought to Boston, but still had a lot left in the tank.  He won more than 20 games in a season six times with Boston, including twice with 30 or more wins.  He led the league in a variety of pitching categories during his time in Boston, including three times leading the league in wins, and once ERA.  Young was 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in the 1903 World Series.  He was 21-11 with a 1.26 ERA in his last season in Boston.  At age 41.  But he still pitched well the next season.  Young is tied for the team record in career wins with 192 and also had a 2.00 ERA and 1,341 strikeouts during his time with Boston.  Young is in the Hall of Fame.

Cy Young was impressive in the World Series, but Bill Dinneen stole the show, going 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA, striking out 28 in 35 innings in the first Fall Classic.  Dinneen won more than 20 games in a season three times in a row from 1902 through 1904.  He was 85-85 in his career with Boston, but his record did not tell the whole story as he pitched for some bad teams near the end.  His career ERA was 2.81 with Boston and he struck out 602, while walking 338.  Dinneen later served as an umpire for several years.

Like Young and Dinneen, southpaw Jesse Tannehill won 20 games or more multiple times for Boston.  Tannehill was 21-11 in 1904 and 22-9 in 1905 after being acquired by the New York American League franchise in exchange for Long Tom Hughes, who had won 20 for Boston in 1903.  Tannehill pitched a no-hitter against Chicago in 1904.  Tannehill was 62-38 with a 2.50 ERA for his time with Boston.


  1. Great idea for a post!!! And thanks to you I might need to go looking for more tobacco cards to compliment my Cy Young. I'm looking forward to seeing these future posts!

  2. Excellent post. Look forward to the next few. The 1906 Fan Craze set is one of my favorites

  3. I had never heard of that one before starting this post. Unfortunately, I only own the modern cards shown in this post.