The Dodgers have won the National League pennant 23 times. The Red Sox have been kings of the American League 14 times. But surprisingly, for all that success, the teams have only met once before in the World Series -- all the way back in 1916, when the Red Sox
The Dodgers have won the National League pennant 23 times. The Red Sox have been kings of the American League 14 times. But surprisingly, for all that success, the teams have only met once before in the World Series -- all the way back in 1916, when the Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins (named after manager Wilbert Robinson) in five games for the club's fourth championship.
Needless to say, baseball has changed a lot since then -- there are more than two teams playing west of the Mississippi now, for one -- and when the Dodgers and Red Sox clash in Game 1 of the 114th World Series tonight, it won't be anything like their last meeting in the Fall Classic more than a century ago. Here's a look back at some fun facts from the last time these teams met in October, all those years ago.
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1. The Red Sox didn't play their World Series home games at Fenway Park
It's tough now to imagine a Red Sox home game anywhere other than America's oldest ballpark, but a five-year-old Fenway Park in 1916 hadn't yet developed the hallowed place in baseball culture that it occupies today. Still one of the smallest ballparks in MLB today, Fenway Park only seated 35,000 until 1947. With that in mind, the Red Sox chose to play their home games for both the 1915 and 1916 World Series at nearby Braves Field, home of the NL's Boston Braves, which could hold more than 40,000 people.
2. The Robins were led by a young outfielder named Casey Stengel
Long before he was the Hall of Fame manager for seven World Series-winning Yankees teams, a young Stengel was the 26-year-old right fielder for the first-place 1916 Robins, second on the team with eight homers and third in hitting with a .279 average. He was 4-for-11 with two runs scored in the World Series, though he didn't start Games 2 and 4 because the Robins were to face a pair of tough left-handers: 18-game winner Dutch Leonard and the American League's ERA leader, a 21-year-old Babe Ruth.
3. Ruth threw 13 scoreless innings in Game 2
In one of the greatest World Series games ever pitched, Ruth, a budding star, threw a 14-inning complete game as the Red Sox outlasted the Robins, 2-1. After allowing an inside-the-park homer to Brooklyn center fielder Hi Myers, Ruth threw 13 shutout innings to close out the contest, scattering five more hits and three walks while striking out four in the longest pitching performance of his career. The 13 scoreless frames started a then-record streak of 29 2/3 scoreless innings in the World Series for the Bambino, which stood for 43 years until Whitey Ford broke it in 1961.
4. Game 2 was the longest World Series game (by innings) until 2005
Ruth wasn't the only pitcher with a titanic performance in that marathon Game 2; Brooklyn starter Sherry Smith also went the distance, pitching 13 1/3 innings until finally allowing a pinch-hit, walk-off single to Del Gainer in the 14th. (The first run off Smith was driven in by Ruth himself, on a third-inning RBI groundout.) When all was said and done, the 14-inning contest was the longest in World Series history by innings -- a record that has been tied twice, by Game 3 of the 2005 World Series and Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. Being that it was 1916, the game was still over in a snappy two hours, 32 minutes.
5. Boston used a total of five pitchers in the series
This wasn't uncommon in the era -- in fact, Boston only used three pitchers in the 1915 World Series -- but it's worth noting for comparison's sake to today's bullpen-heavy games. Don't tell Craig Counsell, but the Red Sox squeezed 49 innings out of only five arms during the five-game series: Ruth, Leonard, Ernie Shore, Carl Mays and Rube Foster. Ruth, Leonard and Shore pitched complete games in Games 2, 4 and 5, while Shore also lasted 8 2/3 innings in Game 1 before he was relieved by Mays, the Game 3 starter, for a one-out save. Foster pitched three innings of relief in Game 3 after Mays was lifted for a pinch-hitter. In comparison, the 2018 Red Sox have used five or more pitchers in seven of their nine games this postseason.
6. It was the first World Series in which both teams recorded a save
Since starting pitchers went so deep into games in the early days of baseball, the save -- so prominent in the modern day -- wasn't yet a significant factor in most World Series games. In fact, prior to 1916, there had only been one save recorded in the World Series in total, when Doc White of the White Sox registered a three-inning save against the Cubs in Game 5 of the 1906 World Series. Mays' one-out save in Game 1 of the 1916 Fall Classic was followed by Brooklyn right-hander Jeff Pfeiffer, who closed out Game 3 with 2 2/3 perfect innings. The feat wasn't repeated until 1924.
7. Three homers were hit in the series, but only one left the yard
We have funky early 20th-century ballpark dimensions to thank for this one. Myers' inside-the-park homer in Game 2 off Ruth was a shot to right-center at Braves Field, where straightaway center field was 550 feet from home plate and the left-field and right-field foul poles were both situated at 402 feet, leaving a cavernous expanse in which balls could roll. When the series moved to Brooklyn, Boston third baseman Larry Gardner took advantage by clubbing a homer over the short 301-foot wall in right at Ebbets Field. A day later, Gardner took advantage of the marked asymmetry at Ebbets by knocking an inside-the-park homer to left-center, with left field at 419 feet and center at 450 feet away from home plate.
8. Red Sox manager Bill Carrigan retired after the series ...
... to become a banker. Carrigan was the player-manager of the Red Sox for four seasons from 1913-16, leading the team to a fourth-place finish in '13 before finishing second in '14 and winning a pair of World Series rings in 1915-16, becoming the only Red Sox manager to win multiple titles until Terry Francona won a pair in 2004 and '07. Despite that success, he chose to step away from baseball immediately following the 1916 World Series to go into banking in Maine. He tried to make a comeback in the late '20s, but his teams finished in last place in all three seasons.
9. The Red Sox and Dodgers wouldn't meet again until 2002
The 86-year drought between meetings makes more sense when you consider that the Red Sox only won four AL pennants between 1918 and 2004, and Interleague Play wasn't introduced until 1997. The Dodgers swept the Red Sox at Dodger Stadium when the clubs finally met again in 2002, and they've only faced off 12 more times since then. Since that 1916 World Series, the Dodgers are tied for the second-fewest games against the Red Sox in MLB, ahead of only the Reds. In fact, the Dodgers have only won once at Fenway Park since it opened in 1912.
10. The series began the longest gap between World Series meetings in MLB history
Given how infrequently the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in general, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise, then, that the 102 years between matchups in the World Series between the franchises is the longest in Major League history. In second place, the A's and Giants went 76 years between Fall Classic showdowns, while the Phillies and Yankees round out the top three, having played 59 years apart.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.