The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball as a member club of the American League East division. Founded in as one of the American League’s eight charter franchises, the Red Sox’ home ballpark has been Fenway Park since. The “Red Sox” name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the “Boston Red Stockings,” including the Boston Braves. The team has won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any Major League Baseball team, and has played in 13 World Series. Their most recent World Series appearance and win was in. In addition, they won the American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series.
The Red Sox were a dominant team in the new league, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903 and winning four more championships by 1918. However, they then went into one of the longest championship droughts in baseball history, dubbed the “Curse of the Bambino” after its alleged inception due to the Red Sox’ sale of star player Babe Ruth to the rival New York Yankees two years after their World Championship in 1918. The Sox endured an 86-year wait before the team’s sixth World Championship in. The team’s history during that period was punctuated with some of the most memorable moments in World Series history, including Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” in the “Impossible Dream” of Carlton Fisk’s home run in and Bill Buckner’s error in. Following their victory in the 2018 World Series, they became the first team to win four World Series trophies in the 21st century, with championships in and 2018. The team’s history has also been marked by the team’s intense rivalry with the New York Yankees, arguably the fiercest and most historic in North American professional sports.
The Red Sox are owned by Fenway Sports Group, which also owns Liverpool F.C. of the Premier League in England. They are consistently one of the top Major League Baseball teams in average road attendance, while the small capacity of Fenway Park prevents them from leading in overall attendance. From May 15, 2003, to April 10, 2013, the Red Sox sold out every home game—a total of 820 games for a major professional sports record. Both Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and The Standells’ “Dirty Water” have become anthems for the Red Sox.
As of the end of the 2022 season, the franchise’s all-time regular-season record is 9,796–9,098.
The name Red Sox, chosen by owner John I. Taylor after the 1907 season, refers to the red hose in the team uniform beginning in 1908. Sox had been previously adopted for the Chicago White Sox by newspapers needing a headline-friendly form of Stockings, as “Stockings Win!” in large type did not fit in a column. The team name “Red Sox” had previously been used as early as 1888 by a ‘colored’ team from Norfolk, Virginia. The Spanish language media sometimes refers to the team as Medias Rojas, a translation of “red socks”. The official Spanish site uses the variant “Los Red Sox”.
The Red Stockings nickname was previously used by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who were members of the pioneering National Association of Base Ball Players. Managed by Harry Wright, Cincinnati adopted a uniform with white knickers and red stockings and earned the famous nickname, a year or two before hiring the first fully professional team in 1869. When the club folded after the 1870 season, Wright was hired by Boston businessman Ivers Whitney Adams to organize a new team in Boston, and he brought three teammates and the “Red Stockings” nickname along. The Boston Red Stockings won four championships in the five seasons of the new National Association, the first professional league.
When a new Cincinnati club was formed as a charter member of the National League in 1876, the “Red Stockings” nickname was commonly reserved for them once again, and the Boston team was referred to as the “Red Caps”. Other names were sometimes used before Boston officially adopted the nickname “Braves” in 1912; the club eventually left Boston for Milwaukee and is now playing in Atlanta.
In 1901, the upstart American League established a competing club in Boston. For seven seasons, the AL team wore dark blue stockings and had no official nickname. They were simply “Boston”, “Bostonians” or “the Bostons”; or the “Americans” or “Boston Americans” as in “American Leaguers”, Boston being a two-team city. Their 1901–1907 jerseys, both home, and road, just read “Boston”, except for 1902 when they sported large letters “B” and “A” denoting “Boston” and “American.” Newspaper writers of the time used other nicknames for the club, including “Somersets”, “Plymouth Rocks”, “Beaneaters”, the “Collinsites” “, and “Pilgrims.”
For years many sources have listed “Pilgrims” as the early Boston AL team’s official nickname, but researcher Bill Nowlin has demonstrated that the name was barely used, if at all, during the team’s early years. The origin of the nickname appears to be a poem entitled “The Pilgrims At Home” written by Edwin Fitzwilliam that was sung at the 1907 home opener. This nickname was commonly used during that season, perhaps because the team had a new manager and several rookie players. John I. Taylor had said in December 1907 that the Pilgrims “sounded too much like homeless wanderers.”
The National League club in Boston, though seldom called the “Red Stockings” anymore, still wore red trim. In 1907, the National League club adopted an all-white uniform, and the American League team saw an opportunity. On December 18, 1907, Taylor announced that the club had officially adopted red as its new team color. The 1908 uniforms featured a large icon of a red stocking angling across the shirt front. For 1908, the National League club returned to wearing red trim, but the American League team finally had an official nickname and remained the “Red Sox” for good.
The name is often shortened to “Bosox” or “BoSox”, a combination of “Boston” and “Sox”. Sportswriters sometimes refer to the Red Sox as the Crimson Hose and the Olde Towne Team. Recently, media have begun to call them the “Sawx” casually, reflecting how the word is pronounced with a New England accent. However, most fans simply refer to the team as the “Sox” when the context is understood to mean Red Sox.
The formal name of the entity which owns the team is “Boston Red Sox Baseball Club Limited Partnership”. The name shown on a door near the main entrance to Fenway Park, “Boston American League Baseball Company”, was used prior to the team’s reorganization as a limited partnership on May 26, 1978. The entrance also figures in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser-and-baseball novel Mortal Stakes.
1901–1919: The Golden Era
In 1901, the minor Western League, led by Ban Johnson, declared itself to be equal to the National League, then the only major league in baseball. Johnson had changed the name of the league to the American League prior to the 1900 season. In 1901, the league created a franchise in Boston, called the “Boston Americans”, to compete with the National League team there.
Playing their home games at Huntington Avenue Grounds, the Boston franchise finished second in the league in 1901 and third in 1902. The team was originally owned by C.W. Somers. In January 1902, he sold all but one share of the team to Henry Killilea.
In 1903, the team won their first American League pennant and, as a result, Boston participated in the first modern World Series, going up against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Aided by the modified chants of “Tessie” by the Royal Rooters fan club and by its stronger pitching staff, the Americans won the best-of-nine series five games to three.
In April 1904, the team was purchased by John I. Taylor of Boston. The 1904 team found itself in a pennant race against the New York Highlanders. A predecessor to what became a storied rivalry, this race featured the trade of Patsy Dougherty to the Highlanders for Bob Unglaub. In order to win the pennant, the Highlanders needed to win both games of their final doubleheader with the Americans at the Highlanders’ home stadium, Hilltop Park. With Jack Chesbro on the mound, and the score tied 2–2 with a man on third in the top of the ninth, a spitball got away from Chesbro and Lou Criger scored the go-ahead run and the Americans won their second pennant. However, the NL champion New York Giants declined to play any postseason series, but a sharp public reaction led the two leagues to make the World Series a permanent championship, starting in 1905.
In 1906, Boston lost 105 games and finished last in the league. In December 1907, Taylor proposed that the Boston Americans name change to the Boston Red Sox.
By 1909, center fielder Tris Speaker had become a fixture in the Boston outfield, and the team finished the season in third place. In 1912, the Red Sox won 105 games and the pennant. The 105 wins stood as the club record until the 2018 club won 108. Anchored by an outfield including Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis, and pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, the Red Sox beat the New York Giants 4–3–1 in the 1912 World Series best known for Snodgrass’s Muff.
From 1913 to 1916 the Red Sox were owned by Joseph Lannin. In 1914, Lannin signed a young up-and-coming pitcher named Babe Ruth from the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. In 1915, the team won 101 games and went on to the 1915 World Series, where they beat the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one. Following the 1915 season, Tris Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox went on to win the 1916 World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Robins.
Harry Frazee bought the Red Sox from Joseph Lannin in 1916 for about $675,000. In 1918, Babe Ruth led the team to another World Series championship over the Chicago Cubs.
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