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The history of tensions between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox go much farther back than an errant slide from Manny Machado or the beaning of our players by Boston pitchers. Each year we are subjected to the throngs of Boston fans that invade our fair city. Surprisingly this is nothing new; this has gone on since the pennant race of 1897.
In the early 1890’s the Boston Beaneaters were a symbol of virtue in the world of deadball baseball. Boston and its fans relied on clean play and rabid fandom to overtake its rivals. Baltimore, on the other hand, won games through guile, intimidation, and violence if need be. The Beaneaters won the pennant in 1891, 1892, and 1893. Baltimore followed by winning the pennant in 1894, 1895, and 1896. The teams were destined to have a rubber match in 1897.
The 1897 Boston Beaneaters were lead by outfielders “Sliding Billy” Hamilton and Hugh Duffy, third baseman Jimmy Collins and starting pitcher Kid Nichols. All became members of the Hall of Fame. Manager Frank Seele formed his team to be virtuous in the midst of growing calls to clean up the game of baseball. At the time, national newspapers recommended that women and children not go to the ballpark, because “blackguards” who were ready fight and use fowl language. Seele however, focused his players on nuances of the game. They practiced positioning, timing and fielding drills. Boston was often referred to a “Ballet on Dirt.”