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    An exceedingly rare relic from the very first Fall Classic

    1903 World Series Game Three Program (Boston Americans). The beginning of the relationship had been a contentious one. After a quarter century of unchallenged professional baseball supremacy, the National League quite reasonably considered mere existence of a viable competitor with wary disdain. Tensions grew as American League president Ban Johnson raided the talent pool of the entrenched Senior Circuit, snatching stars from Cy Young to Jimmy Collins and increasing the bargaining power of all National League players, draining black ink from team owners' accounting logs. All agreed that the brash newcomer was a thorn in the side of the National League.

    The first signs of a detente came at the end of the 1902 season, as Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss agreed to a four-game exhibition series against a cast of American Leaguers, emerging with a two games to one advantage, the other contest ending in a tie. Months later, the leagues signaled a truce with the formation of the National Commission to preside over organized baseball, empowered to hire and maintain umpiring crews, settle labor disputes and ultimately pave the way for the absolute rule of Kenesaw Mountain Landis that would follow the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

    With the warming of baseball's cold war, the stage was set for the inaugural edition of a tradition that would come to be known as the World Series. Presented is one of just a handful of relics to emerge from that first battle between the teams flying the flags of National and American League superiority, thus one of the most significant publications from the full breadth of the baseball collecting hobby. It derives from the third contest of the 1903 World Series, a clash of Dead Ball Era titans that launched the most celebrated tradition of our national pastime.

    The understated design of the program, essentially a standard four-page format with center scorecard and the usual array of local advertisements, speaks to the humble beginnings of the Fall Classic. Only in the bold cover text, "1903 Souvenir Card of the World's Championship Games, Boston vs. Pittsburg," and the twin portraits of dueling Hall of Fame player/managers Jimmy Collins and Fred Clarke, is the elite significance trumpeted.

    The pencil-scored interior allows us to assign the specific vintage of the Series' third contest, a contest that saw the legendary Cy Young pitch seven innings of one-run relief in a losing effort. The four to two Pirates victory supplied the National League a two games to one advantage heading back to Pittsburgh for a four-game stretch. Just 18,801 fans would pass through the turnstiles of the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds for this penultimate Boston game of the inaugural World Series.

    The sparse attendance and passage of more than eleven decades since have thinned the supply of available 1903 World Series programs to near extinction, with this offering representing the first to have crossed our desks at Heritage Auctions. It presents beautifully, with the handling wear one would suspect from a raucous day at the ballpark followed by over a century of storage. We must report that, as common for scorecards of such advanced vintage, the spine connecting the two halves of the program was split at some point, and since reassembled by an expert restorationist. We stress that this spine work accounts for the totality of the restoration.

    Certainly the extreme scarcity of the relic should excuse any such condition concerns, and only the most eagle-eyed collector will even notice the repair. With the acquisition of this piece, the path to completion of a full World Series run becomes considerably less treacherous, with only a scant few obstacles that begin to approach that of this inaugural edition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2016
    20th-21st Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,913

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