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1913 vs. 2011, the Yankees-Red Sox version

 

  Photo Credit: Jim McIssac; color removed by newsday.com

Try to imagine New York sports talk radio in 1913.

The Yankees couldn’t seem to beat the Boston Red Sox that year, either. Then, as now, the Yankees went winless in their first five home games against Boston. Enough, judging by current events, to stir Yankee fans to disgust and anger and calling for violence. (Brush back the Red Sox hitters!)

There weren’t as many bridges from which depressed Yankee fans could jump then. But the city’s oldest, the High Bridge, which opened in 1848, was handy: it connected the Bronx, near the western end of West 170th St., with Manhattan. (It still exists, though it was closed to traffic in 1970.)

At the time, the Yankees played their home games at the Polo Grounds, only blocks from the High Bridge on the Manhattan side, at 155th street. The Brooklyn Bridge, completed in 1883, was a distant alternative.

The 1913 Yankee team certainly was of the sort to drive the hard-core fan nutty: A team batting average of .237 at the end of that season, with a total -- total -- of five home runs. The highest batting average among the regulars was outfielder Bridie Cree’s .272. The Yanks wound up seventh in the eight-team American League. (Boston finished fourth.)

Then again, there didn’t appear to be so many hard-core fans. The Yankees averaged 2,368 spectators per game in 1913. (Boston drew 2,915.) If there was a blustering for bare-knuckle play -- Yankee pitchers hit 54 batters that season -- it didn’t seem to help much. Only one Yankee pitcher (Ray Caldwell, 9-8) had a winning record.

The only player worth a bubble gum card on either team was Boston’s Tris Speaker, a future Hall of Famer who spent the better part of his career with Cleveland. Speaker hit .363 in 1913.

Babe Ruth didn’t play his first Major League game until the following season—with Boston, of course. He wasn’t sold to the Yankees until 1920, and the house that he figuratively built didn’t open until 1923.

And, of course, there was no talk radio in 1913. (Maybe a good thing.) There barely was radio, and the first radio broadcast of a baseball game didn’t come until Aug. 5, 1921 -- Philadelphia at Pittsburgh.

 

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