The original Royal Rooters were a fan club for the Boston Americans, which in 1908 changed its name to the Boston Red Sox, in the early 20th century. They were led by Michael T. McGreevy, who owned a Boston saloon called "3rd Base". While M.T. "Nuf Ced" McGreevy was certainly the spiritual (in both libations and foundations) leader of the Royal Rooters, Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald, the maternal grandfather of John F. Kennedy, served as chairman for a while, and during that time, M.J. Regan was the secretary. Other members included C.J. Lavis, L. Watson, T. S. Dooley, J. Kennan, and W. Cahill, among others. Their theme song was "Tessie" from the Broadway musical "The Silver Slipper". Though the musical ran for less than six months, the song has gone down in history. The original Rooters disbanded in 1918.
Their spirit lives on via the current version of the Royal Rooters represented within a group known as Royal Rooters of Red Sox Nation. The current Rooters are based in the Boston area and meet informally for Red Sox games as well as for "outings" in various locations around the country. There is a fairly large contingent in New York City, and their base has been the Riviera Café (known as "The Riv") in the West Village.
The current members of Red Sox Nation kept in touch most often through a dedicated website, Redsoxnation.net, which has since gone defunct. The combination message board, fan forum, and blog had several thousand members.
On game days the Royal Rooters marched in procession from the 3rd Base Saloon to the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which was the team’s home field before Fenway Park opened in 1912. The Rooters had a reserved section of seats along the third base line, close enough to the field to intimidate or distract opposing players with their insults and vicious taunts. The 1912 World Series went down in Rooter history. The Rooter’s seats on “Duffy’s Cliff” were sold to other fans and the Rooters became angry. Mounted police were called in to stop the riot.
The Rooters sang "Tessie" at games to encourage their Sox, while simultaneously distracting and frustrating the other team. They were especially important in the first World Series, in 1903, when the Americans played the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Royal Rooters would go to Pittsburgh and sing Tessie to distract the opposing players, especially Honus Wagner. Therefore, after falling into a 1-3 deficit, Boston rallied to win the Series with four straight victories.
The band Dropkick Murphys released a re-working of "Tessie" in 2004. Their version became the official song of the Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series run and the band was able to share in the experience of the Red Sox winning the World Series championship. Their version of "Tessie" is still sung widely throughout Red Sox games and in Red Sox Nation.
McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon
In 1894,“Nuf Ced” McGreevy opened his “3rd Base Saloon” in Boston. It was the place to be for ballplayers, politicians, and gamblers. Every inch of wall space decorated with historic pictures from Nuf Ced’s own collection and memorabilia he got from friends like Cy Young. The light fixtures were made from bats used by Red Sox stars and the painted portrait of McGreevy that hung above the bar looked down upon customers. McGreevy’s was America’s first documented sports-themed bar.
In 1920 the bar was forced to close due to prohibition. He leased the saloon to the City of Boston for the “Roxbury Crossing” branch of the Boston Public library.
In 1923 McGreevy donated a majority of the plethora of memorabilia and famous baseball photography to the Boston Public Library. Sometime between 1978 and 1981 almost twenty-five percent of the collection was stolen with no leads to this day.
Eighty-eight years later, in 2008, Dropkick Murphy leader Ken Casey joined forces with film producer and baseball historian Peter Nash (aka Pete Nice) to officially re-establish and re-open McGreevy’s 3rd Base Saloon at 911 Boylston St. The new McGreevy’s is a replica of the former bar. There is even a baseball museum dedicated to Boston’s history. The collection features originals and reproductions of McGreevy’s pictures on the walls and the new McGreevy’s even has on display the original glass portrait of its founder, Michael T. McGreevy.