Temple Cup

A steel engraving of the 1894 Temple Cup. It could be yours for $20,500.

After doing the piece on Cy Young and seeing “Temple Cup”, I decided to do some investigating as to what it was because I had never heard of it. Maybe I should have. I probably assumed the World Series existed when the National League started. I may not have assumed it, but I haven’t really cared to look for the answer. I guess this is what this blog is about. Correcting that mistake. Anyway, what follows is what I found out.

In 1893, a Pittsburgh businessman named William Temple donated a 30-inch tall cup to be awarded to the winner of a seven-game series between the first and second-place teams in the National League (remember, there was no AL yet). The cup and series were called the Temple Cup in honor of Mr. Temple, a coal and lumber baron and the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Beginning in 1894 and continuing through to 1897, the Temple Cup was an exhibition (not officially sanctioned under league rules or schedules) series, but it would be stopped after 1897.

One reason was that people began to lose interest because the second-place team won three of the four contests, and it didn’t seem right (maybe someone should have told them about small sample sizes and then prophesied that the Cardinals would somehow win the 2006 World Series).

Another reason was that the league did not officially sanction the series. The previous season, the same proposition came before the committee, but it was soundly rejected. However, it won unanimously the next year, even though New York owner Mr. Freedman wanted it to continue because he thought his team would be really good the next season. He voted for stopping the series anyway, although he did set aside $5,000 to give to his players if they indeed won the league the next season. The World Series started in 1903, but that’s the subject of a later post, probably some time around the actual World Series.

Just because I find it cool, here is the article and box score for Game 4 of the first Temple Cup in which the New York Giants defeated the first-place Baltimore Orioles. Take a look at the journalism, nice and biased with license taken. After the series, the teams were supposed to split the profits 65-35, but before the series, the teams agreed to split it evenly. However, the Giants swindled some Orioles out of some of their money, and the Cup was tainted (another reason the series wasn’t so popular).


One Response to “Temple Cup”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    There was a World Series in the 1880’s, between the National Leage champion and the American Association champion.

    might be worth looking at.

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