Boston Red Sox’s Mookie Betts celebrates his walk-off solo home run in front of Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver in the 10th inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston earlier this season. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Boston Red Sox fans have a reputation for being hard to satisfy and quick to vent their anger on players or a team that is, in their perception, underachieving. Ask Carl Crawford, Bobby Valentine, Pablo Sandoval, David Price or the 2011 and 2012 Red Sox teams if the reputation is deserved and they will readily affirm the validity of the reputation.
The fans are also quick to show their admiration for players or a team that is playing up to or beyond their expectations.

Carl Johnson

Ask Pedro or JD Martinez, David Ortiz, Carl Yastrzemski, Chris Sale or the 2004 or 2013 Red Sox teams how quickly and fervently those fans can get behind you when you’re doing well.
That’s why it is no surprise to find that pennant fever — that condition that makes a diverse, multi-cultural city like Boston, into one big family — has taken over the city. Even with the Patriots beginning their exhibition season this week, the Sox are the big story in New England.
The oldest park in baseball, Fenway, is again filled to capacity for every game and even the nay-sayers on WEEI seem resigned to the Red Sox winning the pennant and perhaps their fourth World Series of the century. Although I still have heard negative remarks such as “I hope Price gets belted in the last game of the recent Yankee Series but the Sox come back to win the game.” (How you can root for the Sox on the one hand and against one of their starting pitchers is one of the reasons I feel WEEI needs a complete change of their on-air staff.)
Dave O’Brien and his crew on NESN have been celebrating the 2013 Red Sox World Series win all season with nightly reports on what that team did five years ago that date.
That was a great Red Sox team, as were the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox and the current version which is proving to be the best in baseball this year.
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that 115 years ago this year the Boston Americans, who changed their name to the Red Sox in 1908, won the first World Series ever played. That team won 91 and lost 47 and won the pennant by 14 1/2 games over the Philadelphia Athletics. They ended the season on September 28 with a double header win, 8-7 and 6-0, over the St. Louis Browns to put them 44 games over .500 in a 138-game season as opposed to this year’s 162.
On May 30, 1903, the Americans were managed by Jimmy Collins and were 19-15 after starting their season with a 3-3 split of six games with the Athletics. They won 11 of their next 16 games and took over sole possession of first place with a 1-0 defeat of the Detroit Tigers on June 23. They would stay there the rest of the season. They won 61 and lost 27 of their last 88 games for a .693 won loss percentage.
Collins was the player/manager of the Americans from 1901 to 1908 and won 455 and lost 376. He had had a 14 year career as a third baseman for several different teams, hitting .294 with 1,999 hits and was voted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1945.
I don’t mean to compare that team with this year’s because doing so would be like comparing apples and oranges because the game and the players who play it have evolved over the past 115 years and it is a much different game. The only way to fairly judge a team or a player is in comparison to their contemporaries.
In comparison to its contemporaries, the 1903 Americans were about as good as it got in those days. With a 20-man roster, including only five starting pitchers, the great Cy Young, who won 28 and lost 9 and finished 34 of the 35 games he started, Bill Dineen, 21-13, Tom Hughes, 20-7, Norwood Gibson, 13-9, and George Winter, 9-8. Only Nick Altrock who, according to, started and lost one game was the only other pitcher who appeared on the mound for the Americans that year.
Offensively, left fielder Patsy Dougherty led the team in batting with a .331 average which was good for 10th in the league behind Honus Wagner’s .356. Buck Freeman, the Sox slugging right fielder, led the league in homers with 13 and tied for the RBI lead with 104.
The second highest batting average on the team, .304, belonged to shortstop Freddy Parent, Biddeford’s own Flying Frenchman, who was born in Biddeford in 1875, and died in Sanford, at the age of 96, in 1972.
The American’s would go on to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first official World Series winning five of eight games including the last four in a row after being down three games to one. Freddy Parent went 9-for-32 in the series for a .281 batting average with three triples, four runs batted in and eight runs scored.
The 1903 Boston Americans gave Boston a win in the first World Series of them all and I expect that the 2018 Boston Red Sox will close out the 2018 World Series with a win on or before October 30th in what will then be the latest of them all.
The current version of the Red Sox has provided us all with one of the most entertaining and successful seasons ever no matter what happens the rest of the way. As anyone who follows baseball closely knows, even the best teams can get derailed in the playoffs due to the short series, but this team — barring catastrophic injuries — has the ability to make it all the way.
My only wish at this point is that the Red Sox ownership is willing and able to spend the money they need to keep the core players on this powerhouse together as free agency looms shortly ahead for many of them.

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