The 1883 National League season got underway on May 1 and the featured game of the day marked the return of National League baseball back to New York City after a seven-year absence. An estimated 15,000 fans came to the Polo Grounds (then located around 110th Street and Sixth Avenue) to watch the game. Former president Ulysses S. Grant was attendance. Grafulla's Seventh Regiment Band provided pregame music. I have a lot of their stuff on my iPOD now and I can tell you, they rock!
Although there was a New York entry in the National League's initial season in 1876, that team was kicked out after one season because it refused to play out its schedule. Apparently the memory of that New York NL team had been erased from the mind of the New York Times writer covering the game who wrote "It was the first time in the history of base-ball that a New-York club played for the League championship ..."
There was a coin flip to decide who would get the option of first or last ups and Boston won and opted to bat last. But New York didn't waste time to get on the board. The second batter of the game, Roger Connor, tripled to right field. John Ward followed with a hard grounder that Boston shortstop Sam Wise couldn't handle and Connor scored to make it 1-0. Pete Gillespie singled Ward to third. Both men later scored on a hit by Mike Dorgan. New York led 3-0 after just three outs.
In the second, Ewing, a catcher batting leadoff, singled in Ed Caskin to make it 4-0 (the newspaper called him Caskins). In the third, hits by Dorgan, Welch, and Caskin along with an error (Boston made eight on the game) led to two more runs and a 6-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings.
Boston finally scored in the bottom of the third thanks to three errors in the inning by New York shortstop Dasher Troy. Troy's miscues led to two runs and a 6-2 score after three innings.
New York kept on coming as Frank Hankinson doubled and he came around to score on a single by Connor to make it 7-2 New York. Boston scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but could not get any closer and New York won its opener by a 7-5 count. The band played "See the Conquering Hero Comes" by Handel in celebration.
But when the season was done, it would be Boston claiming the NL pennant. Boston finished with a 63-35 record, four games better than Chicago. New York finished 16 games out in sixth place. New York spent the season sharing the Polo Grounds with its American Association counterpart. And it was not as if the teams were scheduled to not be in town the same day. In 1883 the two teams literally shared the Polo Grounds. There were two diamonds and the NL New York team took one end and the AA team took the other.
The New York and Boston teams from 1883 are of course what we know today as the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, but at this time they only had informal nicknames, mostly applied well after the fact. Record books refer to the New York team as "the Gothams" and the Boston team as "the Beaneaters", but the newspaper accounts rarely used those names.
And although Boston was the champion of 1883, the New York team had the roster full of future Hall of Famers. Ewing, Connor, Ward, and Welch would all be inducted into the Hall of Fame, albeit quite a while after they had passed away. Ward, who had started his career as a pitcher, was slowly moving away from that position due to arm problems and would still be a standout playing in the infield for the rest of his career. Boston's team had no one who was deemed worthy of Cooperstown. Boston would not win the pennant again until 1891 and then would dominate the last decade in the NL. New York would eventually win the NL in 1888-89 and then become one of the NL's most troubled franchises until John McGraw arrived on the scene in 1904.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.