The relationship between the Yankees and the cancelled World Series of 1904

John McGraw in Giants uniform

Today 111 years ago, John McGraw, manager of the New York Giants, announced that if the Giants would win the NL pennant, they would not play the American League champion. The Boston Americans/Pilgrims/Red Sox won the pennant of the Junior Circuit and the World Series were not played.

What was the reason for this behaviour by the Giants/McGraw?

Well, McGraw was the manager of the 1901 and 1902 Baltimore Orioles of he American League. The American League, previously know as the Western League, reorganized in 1900, moving three teams to the East Coast Area, to challenge the dominance that the National League had there. Ban Johnson (President of the AL) placed a team in Baltimore, a city that was abandoned by the National League after the league shrunk form twelve to eight teams. The Orioles started to play in 1901 and John McGraw, partially owner of the O’s, managed the team. Halfway the 1902 season, McGraw got into a feud with Ban Johnson and decided to jump ships to the National League’s New York Giants. If that wasn’t enough, the Giants, helped by McGraw gained a controlling interest in the Baltimore team and started to raid the Orioles’ roster for it’s best players. To prevent that the Orioles would be plundered completely, the American League took control of the team.

In January 1903, both leagues held a peace conference. Both leagues tried to live next to each other. Ban Johnson asked to place a team in New York next to the Giants. The National League put the request to vote and fifteen of the sixteen Major League owners voted for the request. You may guess who voted against it. John T. Brush, owner of the Giants.

With the American League getting the nod, the new owners of the Orioles, Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery, moved the team to New York to a place in Manhattan that earned the team the nickname Highlanders (later officially to be changed into Yankees). Their stadium, Hilltop Park, was situated on the highest point of the island.

During the 1904 season, Highlanders were in a tight pennant race with the Boston Americans/Pilgrims/Red Sox. As it started to look like that the Yankees would win the AL pennant, the Giants’ John McGraw announced that they would not face the AL winner as the winner of the NL pennant would be the winner of the only real Major League. And all this because the Giants still disagreed with a second party in their territory.

The 1904 New York Highlanders

Even though the Red Sox won the whole thing at the last day of the season in a game that was lost by the Highlanders on a wild pitch by famed pitcher Jack Chesbro, the Giants didn’t crawl back from their decision, so there was no World Series in 1904.

It would take ninety years before the World Series was cancelled again; this time due to a player strike. A decision that cost the Montreal Expos an eventual shot at a World Series title.

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