When the calendar flipped to 2021, it ushered in the 150th anniversary of Boston’s first professional baseball team–the Boston Red Stockings! And this year marks the 151st consecutive season of professional baseball in Boston!
Those of you who are observant, and most of you are, noticed the “150th Anniversary” uniform patch worn by the Atlanta Braves when they visited Fenway Park this year. That patch honors the founding of the Boston Red Stockings in 1871 since the Atlanta Braves are their direct descendants.
Boston’s 151 consecutive seasons are the most in major league baseball—in fact the most in the world! Chicago is second with 149 consecutive seasons, and we can thank Mrs. O’Leary’s cow for shutting down Chicago baseball in 1872, leaving us with the world record. It is ironic that Atlanta is celebrating the 1871 Boston Red Stockings but our home team isn’t doing anything to celebrate our world record of 150 completed consecutive seasons of professional baseball!
From 1871 to 1900, the Boston Red Stockings/Beaneaters were the dominant team in professional baseball. Then in 1901 the Boston Nationals—who became the Braves in 1912—were joined by the Boston Americans—who became the Red Sox in 1908. The two teams fought for fans’ affections for the next 52 seasons until the Braves waved the white flag of surrender and moved to Milwaukee for the 1953 season.
The sale of some fellow named “Ruth” after the 1919 season kicked off two dismal decades of baseball in Boston. But the arrival of another fellow named “Williams” in 1939 kicked off a resurgence of interest.
In 1946 the Red Sox carried the St. Louis Cardinals to a seven game World Series. And in 1948 the Braves won the NL pennant while the Red Sox tied the Indians for the AL pennant. A disappointing Red Sox playoff loss to the Indians spoiled the city’s chance for a subway series and the Braves fell to the Indians in a six-game World Series.
The Red Sox bottomed-out with 90 losses and a ninth place finish in 1966, while average attendance fell to 10,000 fans per game. But the 1967 Impossible Dream team overcame 100-1 odds to win the AL pennant on the last day of the season and baseball fever returned to New England.
Seven-game defeats in the 1967, 1975, and 1986 World Series only seemed to stoke the passion of Red Sox fans. When the 2004 Red Sox staged one of the great comebacks in sports history by defeating the New York Yankees and then sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series, Red Sox Nation was in full-flower.
World Series wins in 2007, the improbable 2013 World Championship, and the record-breaking 2018 season remind us that Boston baseball dominates the first two decades of every century!
And the challenge of going deep into the postseason ensures that the 2019 Red Sox season will give us another very exciting year!