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The Americans and the Perfectos

Your Humble Blogger had already been musing about the old-fashioned air surrounding some of the World Series commentary before seeing the Grauniad’s note called Red Sox vs Cardinals: an old time World Series with a new spin, by Harry J. Enten. He points out that there are only nine teams (out of 30) who have been playing in the same city since the founding of the Junior American League in 1901. Those of course are the founding Junior American League teams from Cleveland, Boston, Detroit and Chicago and the venerable Senior National League teams from Philadelphia (est. 1883), St. Louis (1882), Cincinnati (1882), Pittsburgh (1882) and Chicago (1876). Go Chicago! Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation!

So. How often does that happen, that the World Series is between teams from those nine sticks-in-the-mud? Quick trivia question: what was the last time, points for… 2006, St. Louis and Detroit. Hah! You forgot about 2006, didn’t you, and you thought it was a trick question, and that the answer was the last time the Red Sox and Cardinals met in the World Series, in 2004. Or did you think the Yankees played in New York in 1901?

And of course the two teams in each league playing in the League Championship Serieses’s were all at least 112 years old, but the one that shall remain nameless moved to California a few years ago, so perhaps that doesn’t count. Last year, the four were again all 1901 or earlier, but two of the four had moved, including my very own Giants. When was the last time that all four teams in the LCS were still representing the cities they represented in 1901? Now that one is a trick question: it has never happened that all four teams in the LCS were still representing the cities they did in 1901. Unless I missed one—I kept getting confused by the Baltimore Orioles.

Anyway, all that’s sorta interesting, if you care about the illusion of permanence (all is vanity, remember) and the history of the game. I do take issue, however, with Mr. Enten’s comment that Woodrow Wilson could watch this World Series and say "hey I know these teams". First of all, why President Wilson? Why not Teddy Roosevelt, who was actually Vice-President of the United States when Ban Johnson formed the Junior American League. I think. I’m not sure about the timing, there, in 1901. Still. Maybe the Woodrow Wilson idea is that the American League team from Boston was called the Americans until 1908 (the Cardinals had settled on their name in 1900, it looks like). But if you are admitting that there were no Red Sox in 1901, well, then, where’s your old-timeyness?

And here’s the other thing: this is the Boston American League baseball team in 1901:

Boston Americans team picture

And the 1903 St. Louis Cardinals. Here is the 1901 Boston roster and the Cardinals roster.

I’m not saying that a Red Sox-Cardinals World Series isn’t historically whatnot and all. I’m just saying that you should probably be careful about overstating the thing.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.