The matchup on this Wednesday afternoon at Chicago's South Side Park, featured two pitchers who would make it to the Hall of Fame. One was Cy Young of Boston, the other was Clark Griffith, the player/manager of Chicago. (He would be inducted as an executive.) About 3000 people saw Chicago hold on to its first place lead with a 3-2 win over Boston.
The American League had started play in 1900, but didn't declare itself to be a major league until 1901. Chicago had won the first AL pennant with an 83-53 record and Boston was second. The two leagues were at war with one another with players jumping contracts and switching leagues and court decisions flying all over the U.S. trying to keep players in place. Nevertheless, the fans enjoyed the action and attendance was comparable between the two leagues. The 1902 AL did have a team in Baltimore, but it would move the following season to New York and from 1903 until 1953 (when the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee), the two leagues each had eight teams and no team was farther west than St. Louis.
The two leagues had one major rule difference at this time. In the AL, foul balls were not counted as strikes. In the NL, foul balls were counted as strikes as they are today (i.e., the first two are strikes, the rest are not). The lack of strikes on foul balls led the AL to put up some gaudy offensive numbers for the day. The league batted . 275, compared to .259 in the NL. Nap Lajoie led the AL in batting at .378 despite playing in just 87 games as a court injunction kept him from playing any games in the state of Pennsylvania after he jumped his contract with the NL Phillies.
Griffith and Young had last faced each other in Boston back on May 23 and Boston won 6-3. But on this day, Chicago got an early lead and held on.
Third baseman Sammy Strang led off the bottom of the first with a hard grounder that Boston first baseman Candy LaChance couldn't flag down and the play was ruled a hit. Center fielder Fielder Jones sacrificed and Strang went to second base. Right fielder Danny Green bounced back to Young who had Strang in a rundown, but it lasted long enough for Green to make it to second. Shortstop George Davis singled home Green.
Strang started things again in the third with a leadoff triple and when the relay throw from Boston second baseman Hobe Ferriss got past third baseman and manager Jimmy Collins, Strang scored the second run of the game. Singles by Green, Davis, and left fielder Sam Mertes brought home another run.
Boston loaded the bases in the fifth with one out and catcher Lou Criger was up. He hit a grounder back to Griffith who threw home to catcher Billy Sullivan, who relayed it back to first baseman Frank Isbell for a 1-2-3 DP. It would be the only DP Griffith would participate in his 28 games on the mound in 1902. Griffith went 15-9 in 1902. He would win 237 games in his playing career, which lasted until 1914.
In the seventh, Boston scored on singles by shorststop Freddy Parent, Ferriss, and Criger to get a run. Parent doubled in the ninth and scored on a pair of infield outs, but that was all and Chicago won 3-2.
Young didn't lose too often in 1902. The 35-year old righthander went 32-11 in 384 2/3 innings of work with a 2.15 ERA. But Young probably wouldn't have won an award named after him in 1902.
Philadelphia's Rube Waddell went 24-7 and led the AL in strikeouts with 210 and had an ERA of 2.05. However, ERA was not an official statistic at the time. In 1903, once the AL adopted the foul strike rule, Waddell's strikeouts went up to 302. Waddell's Philadelphia squad won the AL with an 83-53 record. Boston would finish third at 77-60 and Chicago fourth at 74-60. St. Louis, which had played its initial season in Milwaukee, finished second at 78-58.
In 1903, the AL and NL reached a peace agreement and agreed to honor each other's contracts. They also agreed to have a postseason series between the champions of each league. The first AL vs NL World Series was played in 1903 between Boston and Pittsburgh and has been played every season since then except for 1904 (when the NY Giants refused to play because John McGraw didn't like the AL much, among many other reasons) and in 1994 (when a labor dispute ended the season early).
Sources: Boston Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com