top of page

The Royal Rooters

In a dark, musty bar on 940 Columbus Avenue in the Roxbury Crossing neighborhood of Boston, the faithful patrons of the Third Base Saloon were growing frustrated. Here they were, simple hardworking folk who loved their local ball club, attending games in full force as much as possible, only for their beloved Braves to raise ticket prices. They were stumped and not even Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy could come up with an apt solution. That was new to them! They had always known the mustachioed proprietor of their beloved watering hole to have some sage advice on various barroom disputes (hence his nickname). Surely, he of all people could come up with a solution!

Soon, however, they began to hear rumblings about a new team opening up for business in the recently rebranded American League. The fact that its new ballpark was a short walk from their beloved bar and that the league was supposed to be a direct competitor of the powerful yet greedy National League was too good to pass up. So the men who had declared themselves the most devoted fans in all of Boston while rooting for that other, money-grubbing team across the train tracks, switched allegiances. Now the Royal Rooters were rooting for another team, the Boston Americans.

True to form, the Royal Rooters quickly dominated the Americans' fanbase and soon their collective voice began to fill the stands of the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. Much to their delighted surprise, the Americans were very good very early and two years into their franchise's brief history were in the very first World Series.

Pitted against Honus Wagner and the mighty Pittsburgh Pirates, great crowds filled the stands as the Fall Classic began to play. Back and forth the series went but the Royal Rooters were never a bunch to go down quietly. Before Game Four, Tom Burton uncovered sheet music for a popular Broadway musical, The Silver Slipper and began to formulate a plan. All through Game Four, the Royal Rooters sang Tessie, in sync or rather, with the almost-as-loud band that they had hired for the occasion, all the while stomping on the Pirate's dugout and the bleachers nearby and acting more and more rambunctious as the game went on.

Inspired by their rambunctious following the Americans fought on. They fought on when they went found themselves staring at a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 deficit heading into the ninth inning. They fought back and nearly pulled it off, ultimately losing 5-4. But despite losing the game and facing a daunting 3-1 series deficit, the Americans began to feel inspired and rode that inspiration to victory after victory. Looking at the lyrics, it's hard to imagine how it alone could inspire a championship-winning rally. The song went like this:

Tessie, you make me feel so badly.

Why don't you turn around?

Tessie, you know I love you madly.

Babe, my heart weighs about a pound.

Don't blame me if I ever doubt you.

You know I wouldn't live without you.

Tessie, you are the only, only, only.

Strange as it may seem, those lyrics stirred something within the players that were trying to make history on the field. As they heard those words, they began to feel something still in its infancy but ever so powerful: fandom. It was like a drug. As Boston's players listened to those lyrics and saw their Pittsburgh counterparts begin to whither amidst the growing vocalization of support, they recognized that this was their chance to snatch victory.

Of course, it didn't hurt that the Royal Rooters added some spice to the lyrics, specific for the occasion:

Honus, why do you hit so badly?

Take a back seat and sit down.

Honus, at bat, you look so sadly.

Hey, why don't you get out of town?

Spurred on by lyrics such as those, as well as the consistent following that followed the team back and forth between the two cities, the Americans won the very first World Series, beating the Pirates in eight games. From then on, the Royal Rooters were a Boston staple. Over the years, the group got louder and rowdier, bigger and more popular. They even caught the attention of one John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald.

The future grandfather of John F. Kennedy would throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the opening of Fenway Park in 1912 as well as the first pitch of that year's World Series while serving as the chairman of the Royal Rooters. He would continue the tradition of rabble-rousing that was started years earlier and witnessed from the stands as the Red Sox dominated the 1910s, winning three more Fall Classics.

Nuf Ced McGreevy owned the Third Base Saloon until Prohibition had its way with Boston's original sports bar. When he was forced to shutter his saloon, Nuf ced donated his vast collection of photographs and scorecards to the Boston Public Library. Although he passed away in 1943, his legacy lived on when the Dropkick Murphy's bassist Ken Casey reopened the Third Base Saloon, but with a twist.

He renamed it McGreevy's. In a short amount of time, it became a favorite hangout for sports lovers all over Boston, until it was shuttered once more, this time by COVID-19. Although the Third Base Saloon is no more, its spirit lives on in Red Sox fans all over the world. After all, it was within those hallowed walls that modern sports fandom was born.

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page