During the formation of the American League in late 1900, it was agreed that a team would need to be formed in Boston. With unofficial nicknames being thrown around like wildfire by fans, press, and clubs, it seemed fitting that this team, formed in the heart of New England, home of the American Revolution, would be named the Boston Americans. However, this generic title proved unfitting for the team, and by 1902, they had earned a new nickname: the Boston Somersets. (For those not in the know, somerset is just an archaic term for "somersault," but the team name came from owner Charles Somers.)
Despite the new name, little else changed from the team that had finished second in the new league the year before. Manager Jimmy Collins returned, along with most of the starting lineup, led by slugging outfielders Buck Freeman and Chick Stahl and their speed demon fieldmate Patsy Dougherty, along with the heavy hitting Collins manning third base and solid batters in Candy LaChance, Hobe Ferris, and Freddy Parent guarding the bases. The team's real strength, however, lay in its pitching staff, helmed by the greatest pitcher in Major League history, Cy Young. With him were two young phenoms, Bill Dineen and George Winter, and an untested greenhorn named Tom Hughes.
Before the season even began, the team made the headlines on January 26, when Stahl's ex-girlfriend Lulu Ortman showed up to his Fort Wayne, Indiana home and fired two shots at him, missing both times. On April 19, 1902, on Opening Day, the team won 7-6 behind the steady work of Young and the timely hitting of Dougherty. By July 1, the team was 33-26, in second place behind the Philadelphia Athletics and their outstanding hitting by Socks Seybold and Lave Cross. However, they couldn't keep the pace, getting shellacked 22-9 by the A's a week later and spending most of the season hovering around third place, and none of the teams could really catch the unstoppable Athletics. The squad finished 77-60, square in the middle of the second place St. Louis Browns and fourth place Chicago White Sox.
Freeman had had a banner year, with 283 total bases on .309 hitting; Collins had clubbed .322, and the team had finished second in the league in four baggers. Their team MVP, however, was the 35 year old Young by far: his 2.15 ERA was third in the league, and he was tops in the circuit with a 32-11 record and 41 complete games! Dineen was respectable with a 21-21 record, but the run support simply wasn't there to help the team.
By 1903, a new nickname had overtaken the team's media saturation: the geographically incorrect "Boston Pilgrims," which managed to finally bring the team its biggest successes.
Boston Rustlers | California Angels