1901—1902: The Toast of Boston
Y ENTERING the Boston baseball market in 1901, the new American League was — in the accepted metaphor of the day — declaring war on the Boston Beaneaters. During the previous quarter century the National League team had garnered an unrivaled eight pennants and earned the enthusiastic support of Boston's fans. In light of such intensity of feeling among partisans, many suspected that a transfer of fan loyalty to the new franchise was unlikely and predicted that the new American League entry would be laughed out of town. Ban Johnson could not let that happen, of course, and that is why he paid so much attention to his Boston commitment, developing with Charles Somers, the chief owner of the new team, a strategic plan to penetrate the local baseball market. The first step was to build a new ballpark. Snow was still on the groundwhen construction began at the end of a trolley line on Huntington Avenue. With seating for over 9,000 fans and an expansive outfield (530 feet in center field), the Huntington Avenue Grounds would be Boston's best ballpark. Another marketing step involved underpricing the competition—specifically, offering bleacher seats for a quarter when the Beaneaters sold no seats for less than half a dollar. A third step aimed at providing new conveniences for the paying customer, the most discussed of which was the introduction of an announcer with a megaphone who informed the fans about batteries and personnel changes. Still, in the last analysis a business can't succeed if it doesn't provide a quality product. And so the fourth and most important element in the new club's marketing plan was to use Somers's money to purchase a strong and popular team.
The easiest way to achieve that goal was to fish for stars who had played in 1900 for the Boston National League squad. Each catch would