|For current information on this topic, see 2009 World Series.|
The World Series has been the annual championship series of the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada since 1903, concluding the postseason of Major League Baseball. Since the Series takes place in October, sportswriters many years ago dubbed the event the Fall Classic; it is also sometimes known as the October Classic or simply The Series. It is played between the League Championship Series winning clubs from MLB's two circuits, the American and National Leagues. The World Series has been played every year since 1903 with the exception of 1904 (boycott) and 1994 (player strike). Though professional baseball has employed various championship formulas since the 1860s, the term "World Series" is usually understood to refer exclusively to the modern World Series.
Although the name "World series" might imply an international competition, no international federation has ever sanctioned the series as a world championship event. Nevertheless, as only a handful of countries have national baseball leagues and, historically, the best baseball players generally play for MLB teams, the winners of the World Series are sometimes informally referred to as "world champions" by fans, players, executives, and the media within the United States and Canada.
The World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff except for 1903, 1919, 1920, and 1921, when the winner was determined through a best-of-nine playoff. The winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy and the team presents its players and executives individual World Series championship rings. The Series-winning club also receives a larger proportion of the gate receipts from the series.
The New York Yankees of the American League have played in 40 of the 105 World Series and have won 27 World Series championships, most of any Major League franchise. From the National League, the Dodgers have participated the most in the Series with 18 appearances (9 each in Brooklyn and Los Angeles), and have won the Series 6 times (once as Brooklyn, five times as Los Angeles). The St. Louis Cardinals have represented the National League 17 times and have won 10 championships, which is the second most of any Major League Team. Presently, the Chicago Cubs have played the most seasons without winning the World Series, with their last championship coming in 1908.
Until the formation of the American Association in 1882 as a second major league, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (1871–75) and then the National League (founded 1876) represented the top level of organized baseball in the United States. All championships went to whoever had the best record at the end of the season, without a postseason series being played. Starting in 1884 and going through 1890, the National League and the American Association faced each other in a series of games at the end of the season to determine an overall champion. These matchups were disorganized in comparison to the modern Series: games played ranged from as few as three in 1884 to a high of 15 in 1887 (Detroit beat St. Louis 10 games to 5), and both the 1885 and 1890 Series ended in ties, each team having won three games with one tie game.
The series were promoted and referred to as the "The Championship of the United States", "World's Championship Series", or "World's Series" for short. As baseball outside of North America was not equal to that of North America at the time, the winners of the championships were by default the best baseball team in the world.
The 19th-century competitions are, however, not officially recognized as part of World Series history by Major League Baseball, as the organization considers 19th-century baseball to be a prologue to the modern baseball era. Until about 1960, some sources treated the 19th-century Series on an equal basis with the post-19th-century series. After about 1930, however, many authorities list the start of the World Series in 1903 and discuss the earlier contests separately. (For example, the 1929 World Almanac and Book of Facts lists "Baseball's World Championships 1884-1928" in a single table, but the 1943 edition lists "Baseball World Championships–1903-1942".)
According to baseball scholars cited in the Public Broadcasting Service television documentary Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns, players searched worldwide for teams to compete in "World Games" or "World Series" during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Players and promoters such as Albert Spalding would travel the world for teams to play against each other or against American teams. The barn-storming "tours" didn't last long, yet they gave the opportunity to promote sporting goods, as well as to create new leagues and rules. Although the tours did not succeed in spreading baseball to the rest of the world (or in creating foreign teams that would be accepted into the existing annual competition), the title "World Series" has remained.
Following the collapse of the American Association after the 1891 season, four of its clubs were admitted to the National League. The league championship was awarded in 1892 by a playoff between half-season champions. This scheme was abandoned after one season. Beginning in 1893 — and continuing until divisional play was introduced in 1969 — the pennant was awarded to the first-place club in the standings at the end of the season. For four seasons, 1894–97, the league champions played the runners-up in the post season championship series called the Temple Cup. A second attempt at this format was the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup series, which was played only once, in 1900.
After two years of bitter competition and player raiding (in 1902, the AL and NL champions even went so far as to challenge each other to a tournament in football after the end of the baseball season), the National and American Leagues made peace and, as part of the accord, several pairs of teams squared off for interleague exhibition games after the 1903 season. These series were arranged by the participating clubs, as the 1880s World's Series matches had been. One of them matched the two pennant winners, Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL and the Boston Americans (later known as the Red Sox) of the AL; that one is known as the 1903 World Series. It had been arranged well in advance by the two owners, as both teams were league leaders by large margins. Boston upset Pittsburgh by 5 games to 3, winning with pitching depth behind Cy Young and Bill Dinneen and with the support of the band of Royal Rooters. The Series brought much civic pride to Boston and proved the new American League could beat the Nationals.
The 1904 Series, if it had been held, would have been between the AL's Boston Americans (Boston Red Sox) and the NL's New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants). At that point there was no governing body for the World Series nor any requirement that a Series be played. Thus the Giants' owner, John T. Brush, refused to allow his team to participate in such an event, citing the "inferiority" of the upstart American League. John McGraw, the Giants' manager, even went so far as to say that his Giants were already "world champions" since they were the champions of the "only real major league". At the time of the announcement, their new cross-town rivals, the New York Highlanders (now the NY Yankees), were leading the AL, and the prospect of facing the Highlanders did not please Giants management. Boston won on the last day of the season, and the leagues had previously agreed to hold a World's Championship Series in 1904, but it was not binding, and Brush stuck to his original decision. In addition to political reasons, Brush also factually cited the lack of rules under which money would be split, where games would be played, and how they would be operated and staffed.
During the winter of 1904–05, however, feeling the sting of press criticism, Brush had a change of heart and proposed what came to be known as the "Brush Rules," under which the series were played subsequently. One rule was that player shares would come from a portion of the gate receipts for the first four games only. This was to discourage teams from "fixing" early games in order to prolong the series and make more money. Receipts for later games would be split among the two clubs and the National Commission, the governing body for the sport, which was able to cover much of its annual operating expense from World Series revenue. Most importantly, the now-official and compulsory World's Series matches were operated strictly by the National Commission itself, not by the participating clubs.
With the new rules in place and the National Commission in control, McGraw's Giants decided to show up for the 1905 Series, and beat the Philadelphia A's four games to one. The Series was held in every subsequent season for 89 years.
The list of post-season rules evolved over time. In 1925, Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets convinced others to adopt as a permanent rule the 2-3-2 pattern used in 1924. Prior to 1924, the pattern had been to alternate by game or to make another arrangement convenient to both clubs.
Gambling and game-fixing had been a problem in professional baseball from the beginning; star pitcher Jim Devlin was banned for life in 1877, when the National League was just two years old. Baseball's gambling problems came to a head in 1919, when 8 players of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.
The Sox had won the Series in 1917 and were heavy favorites to beat the Cincinnati Reds in 1919, but first baseman Chick Gandil had other plans. Gandil, in collaboration with gambler Joseph "Sport" Sullivan, approached his teammates and got six of them to agree to throw the Series: starting pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, shortstop Swede Risberg, left fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson, center fielder Happy Felsch, and utility infielder Fred McMullin. Third baseman Buck Weaver knew of the fix but declined to participate. The Sox, who were promised $100, 000 for cooperating, proceeded to lose the Series in eight games, pitching poorly, hitting poorly and making many errors. Though he took the money, Jackson insisted to his death that he played to the best of his ability in the series (he was the best hitter in the series, but had markedly worse numbers in the games the White Sox lost).
During the Series, writer and humorist Ring Lardner had facetiously called the event the "World's Serious". The Series turned out to indeed have serious consequences for the sport. After rumors circulated for nearly a year, the players were suspended in September 1920.
The "Black Sox" were acquitted in a criminal conspiracy trial. However, baseball in the meantime had established the office of Commissioner in an effort to protect the game's integrity, and the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned all of the players involved, including Weaver, for life. The White Sox would not win a World Series again until 2005.
The events of the 1919 Series, seguéing into the "live ball" era, marked a point in time of change of the fortunes of a number of teams. The two most prolific World Series winners to date, the Yankees and the Cardinals, did not win their first championship until the 1920s; and three of the teams that were highly successful prior to 1920 (the Red Sox, White Sox and Cubs) went the rest of the 20th century without another World Series win. The Red Sox and White Sox finally won again in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The Cubs are still waiting for their next trophy.
The New York Yankees signed Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox after the 1919 season, appeared in their first World Series two years later in 1921, and became frequent participants thereafter. Over a period of 45 years from 1920 to 1964, the Yankees played in 29 World Series championships, winning 20. The team's dynasty reached its apex between 1947 and 1964, when the Yankees reached the World Series 15 times in eighteen years (missing only 1948, 1954, and 1959), winning ten. From 1949 to 1953, the Yankees won the World Series five years in a row; From 1936-1939 The Yankees won four World Championships in a row.There are only two other franchises to have won at least three consecutively.
The Oakland Athletics, World Series champions from 1972–1974,and the New York Yankees, 1998-2000 are the other teams to win three straight championships.
Prior to 1969, the National League and the American League each crowned its champion (the "pennant winner") based on the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season.
A structured playoff series began in 1969, when both the National and American Leagues were reorganized into two divisions each, East and West. The two division winners within each league played each other in a best-of-five League Championship Series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven.
The National League Championship Series (NLCS) and American League Championship Series (ALCS), since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2-3-2 format: Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home-field advantage, and Games 3, 4 and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not.
MLB night games started being held in 1935 by the Cincinnati Reds, but the World Series remained a strictly daytime event for years thereafter. In the final game of the 1949 World Series, a Series game was finished under lights for the first time. The first scheduled night World Series game was Game 4 of the 1971 World Series. Afterwards more and more Series games were scheduled at night, when television audiences were larger. Game 6 of the 1987 World Series was the last World Series game played in the daytime.
During this seven year period, only three teams won the world series: the Oakland Athletics from 1972-1974, Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976, and New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978. This is the only time in World Series history in which three different teams have won consecutive series in succession.
The National and American Leagues operated under essentially identical rules until 1973, when the American League adopted the designated hitter rule, allowing its teams to use another hitter to bat in place of the (usually) weak-hitting pitcher. The National League did not adopt the DH rule. This presented a problem for the World Series, whose two contestants would now be playing their regular-season games under different rules. From 1973 to 1975, the World Series did not include a DH. Starting in 1976, the World Series allowed for the use of a DH in even-numbered years only. Finally, in 1986, baseball adopted the current rule in which the DH is used for World Series games played in the AL champion's park but not the NL champion's. Thus, the DH rule's use or non-use can help the team that has home-field advantage.
When the 1989 World Series began, it was notable chiefly for being the first ever World Series matchup between the two San Francisco Bay Area teams, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. Oakland won the first two games at home, and the two teams crossed the bridge to San Francisco to play Game 3 on Tuesday, October 17. ABC's broadcast of Game 3 began at 5 p.m. local time, approximately 30 minutes before the first pitch was scheduled. At 5:04, while broadcasters Al Michaels and Tim McCarver were narrating highlights and the teams were warming up, the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred (magnitude 6.9 with an epicenter ten miles (16 km) northeast of Santa Cruz, CA). The earthquake caused substantial property and economic damage in the Bay Area and killed 62 people. Television viewers saw the video signal deteriorate and heard Michaels say "I'll tell you what, we're having an earth--" before the feed from Candlestick Park was lost. Fans filing into the stadium saw Candlestick sway visibly during the quake. Television coverage later resumed, using backup generators, with Michaels becoming a news reporter on the unfolding disaster. Approximately 30 minutes after the earthquake, Commissioner Fay Vincent ordered the game to be postponed. Fans, workers, and the teams evacuated a blacked out (although still sunlit) Candlestick. Game 3 was finally played on October 27, and Oakland won that day and the next to complete a four-game sweep.
In 1994, each league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and the newly introduced wild card winner advancing to a best-of-five playoff round (the "division series"), the National League Division Series (NLDS) and American League Division Series (ALDS). The team with the best league record is matched against the wild card team, unless they are in the same division, in which case, the team with the second-best record plays against the wild card winner. The remaining two division winners are pitted against each other. The winners of the series in the first round advance to the best-of-seven NLCS and ALCS. Due to a players' strike, however, the inaugural NLDS and ALDS were not played until 1995. Home field advantage is given to the team with the better regular season record, with the exception that the Wild Card team cannot get home-field advantage.
After the boycott of 1904, the World Series was played every year until 1994 despite World War I, the global influenza pandemic of 1918–19, the Great Depression of the 1930s, America's involvement in World War II, and even an earthquake in the host cities of the 1989 World Series. A breakdown in collective bargaining led to a strike in August 1994 and the eventual cancellation of the rest of the season, including the playoffs.
As the labor talks began, baseball franchise owners demanded a salary cap in order to limit payrolls, the elimination of salary arbitration, and the right to retain free agent players by matching a competitor's best offer. The Major League Baseball Players Association refused to agree to limit payrolls, noting that the responsibility for high payrolls lay with those owners who were voluntarily offering contracts. One difficulty in reaching a settlement was the absence of a commissioner. When Fay Vincent was forced to resign in 1992, owners did not replace him, electing instead to make Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig acting commissioner. Thus the commissioner, responsible for ensuring the integrity and protecting the welfare of the game, was an interested party rather than a neutral arbiter, and baseball headed into the 1994 work stoppage without an independent commissioner for the first time since the office was founded in 1920.
The previous collective bargaining agreement expired on Dec. 31, 1993, and baseball began the 1994 season without a new agreement. Owners and players negotiated as the season progressed, but owners refused to give up the idea of a salary cap and players refused to accept one. On August 12, 1994, the players went on strike. After a month passed with no progress in the labor talks, Selig cancelled the rest of the 1994 season and the postseason on Sept. 14. The World Series was not played for the first time in 90 years. The Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball at the time of the stoppage, with a record of 74-40. (Since their founding in 1969, the Expos, now the Washington Nationals, have never played in a World Series.)
The labor dispute lasted into the spring of 1995, with owners beginning spring training with replacement players. However, the MLBPA returned to work on April 2, 1995 after a federal judge, Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that the owners had engaged in unfair labor practices. The season started on April 25 and the 1995 World Series was played as scheduled, with Atlanta beating Cleveland four games to two.
Prior to 2003, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated from year to year between the NL and AL. After the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game ended in a tie, MLB decided to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star Game. (It is unclear who would receive home-field advantage if the All-Star Game ends in a tie or if the All-Star Game is rained out.) Originally implemented as a two-year trial from 2003 to 2004, the practice has been extended indefinitely. The American League has won every All-Star Game since this change and thus has enjoyed home-field advantage since 2002, when it also had home-field advantage based on the alternating schedule. The decision has upset some purists (and National League fans). Subsequently, the AL has won the Series four times, and the NL has won three times; no series has gone seven games.
|New York Yankees [Highlanders] (AL)||27||2009||40||2009|
|St. Louis Cardinals (NL)||10||2006||17||2006|
|[Philadelphia/Kansas City] Oakland Athletics (AL)||9||1989||14||1990|
|Boston Red Sox [Americans] (AL)||7||2007||11||2007|
|[Brooklyn] Los Angeles Dodgers (NL) ‡||6||1988||18||1988|
|Cincinnati Reds (NL)||5||1990||9||1990|
|Pittsburgh Pirates (NL)||5||1979||7||1979|
|[New York] San Francisco Giants (NL)||5||1954||17||2002|
|Detroit Tigers (AL)||4||1984||10||2006|
|Chicago White Sox (AL)||3||2005||5||2005|
|[Boston/Milwaukee] Atlanta Braves (NL)||3||1995||9||1999|
|[Washington Senators] Minnesota Twins (AL)||3||1991||6||1991|
|[St. Louis Browns] Baltimore Orioles (AL)||3||1983||7||1983|
|Philadelphia Phillies (NL)||2||2008||7||2009|
|Cleveland Indians (AL)||2||1948||5||1997|
|Chicago Cubs (NL)||2||1908||10||1945|
|Florida Marlins (NL,1993) *||2||2003||2||2003|
|Toronto Blue Jays (AL,1977) *||2||1993||2||1993|
|New York Mets (NL,1962) *||2||1986||4||2000|
|Kansas City Royals (AL, 1969) *||1||1985||2||1985|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (AL, 1961) *
[Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels]
|Arizona Diamondbacks (NL, 1998) *||1||2001||1||2001|
|San Diego Padres (NL, 1969) *||0||2||1998|
|Houston Astros [Colt .45's] (NL,1962) *||0||1||2005|
|Colorado Rockies (NL,1993) *||0||1||2007|
|[Seattle Pilots] Milwaukee Brewers (AL 1969; NL 1998) *||0||1||1982|
|Tampa Bay Rays [Devil Rays] (AL,1998) *||0||1||2008|
|[Washington Senators] Texas Rangers (AL,1961) *||0||0|
|[Montreal Expos] Washington Nationals (NL,1969) *||0||0|
|Seattle Mariners (AL,1977) *||0||0|
|Key to table|
|AL = American League
NL = National League
|* Joined the AL or NL after 1960|
|† Totals include a team's record in a previous city or under another name.|
|‡ The Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Robins in 1916 and 1920.
For further details, see individual team articles or Major League franchises.
|See also List of World Series baseball champions
American League (AL) teams have won 62 of the 105 World Series played so far (62–43 or 59%–41%). Of that number, the New York Yankees have won 27, accounting for about 25% of all the series played and about 44% of the 62 wins by American League teams. The St. Louis Cardinals have won 10 World Series, or about 10% of all victories and about 23% of the 43 National League victories.
By the first World Series in 1903, eight teams belonged to the American League (founded in 1901), and another eight to the National League (or "Senior Circuit", founded in 1876). Each of the 16 original teams has now won at least two Series.
No new team joined either league until 1961. Out of the 14 "expansion teams" which have joined since then, 11 have reached the World Series so far, while 18 out of the 47 Series (and 94 pennants) after 1960 have included an expansion team, always playing against one of the original 16 teams. Expansion teams won 9 of those 18 Series.
This information is up to date through the 2009 World Series:
When two teams share the same state or city, fans often develop strong loyalties to one and antipathies towards the other, sometimes building on already-existing rivalries between cities or neighborhoods. Before the introduction of interleague play in 1997, the only opportunity for two teams in different leagues to face each other (and for their fans to compare them) in officially-recorded competition would have been in a World Series.
Fourteen "Subway Series" have been played entirely within New York City. Thirteen matched the American League's New York Yankees with either the New York Giants or Brooklyn Dodgers (NL) before those franchises moved to California in 1958. The fourteenth Subway Series, between the Yankees and New York Mets, took place in 2000. No subway, in fact, was necessary to travel between fields of the first two "Subway Series" in 1921 and 1922, since the opposing Yankees and Giants shared the Polo Grounds as their home park.
Only one other Series has been played entirely on one field: the 1944 World Series, where the St. Louis Cardinals (NL) defeated the St. Louis Browns in six games, all held in their shared home at Sportsman's Park.
The 1989 World Series, sometimes called the "Bay Bridge Series" or the "BART Series" (after the connecting transit line), featured two teams from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Oakland Athletics (A's) defeated the San Francisco Giants (NL) in a four-game sweep, after the series had been interrupted just before the start of Game 3 by an earthquake which severed the bridge and halted play for ten days.
For the other two cities where a cross-town competition, connected by local transit, was once possible — Boston (till 1953 when the Braves moved to Milwaukee) and Philadelphia (till 1955 when the Athletics moved to Kansas City) — an October meeting came closest to occurring in 1948, when the Boston Braves won the National League pennant, and their nearby rivals, the Boston Red Sox, tied for the American League pennant on the last day of the season. However, the Cleveland Indians defeated the Red Sox in a one-game playoff, and then defeated the Braves in the Series.
An opportunity for an all-Boston contest between league champions was missed in 1891, when the Braves, then the Boston Beaneaters, of the National League declined to play the Boston Reds of the soon-to-dissolve American Association. The only cross-town series before the modern World Series era occurred in 1889, when the National League's champion, the New York Giants defeated the American Association's champion, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (later the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League).
The historic rivalry between Northern and Southern California added to the interest in the Oakland Athletics-Los Angeles Dodgers series in 1974 and 1988 and in the San Francisco Giants' series against the then-Anaheim Angels in 2002. (The two Los Angeles area teams have never competed in a Series, nor has the only team in San Diego, the Padres, ever played a Series against another California team.)
Other than the St. Louis World Series of 1944, the only postseason tournament entirely within Missouri was the I-70 Series in 1985 (named for the interstate highway connecting the two cities) between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals, who won at home in the seventh game.
While the Philadelphia Athletics never played in World Series against either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates, they did engage in a popular semi-annual tradition of preseason City Series exhibition games against the Phillies.
In the only other states that also have or once had teams in both major leagues since 1903, there has never been a World Series between teams in Ohio (Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians), Florida (Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays), or Texas (Houston Astros and Texas Rangers).
In Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays never played a World Series with the then-Montreal Expos before the Expos left Canada in 2005 to become the Washington Nationals. Before the Expos' departure, they and the Blue Jays had won an equal number of contests for the all-Canada Pearson Cup.
At the time the first modern World Series began in 1903, each league had eight clubs, all of which survive today (although sometimes in a different city or with a new nickname), comprising the "original sixteen".
In spite of its name, the World Series remains solely the championship of the major-league baseball teams in the United States and Canada, although MLB, its players, and the media sometimes informally refer to World Series winners as "world champions" of baseball. The United States, Canada and Mexico (Liga Méxicana de Béisbol, established 1925) were the only professional baseball countries until a few decades into the 20th century. The first Japanese professional baseball efforts began in 1920. The current Japanese leagues date from the late 1940s (after World War II). Various Latin American leagues also formed around that time.
By the 1990s, baseball was played at a highly-skilled level in many countries, giving a strong international flavor to the Series. Many of the best players from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim, and elsewhere now play on Major League rosters. The notable exceptions are Cuban citizens, because of the political tensions between the USA and Cuba since 1959 (however, a number of Cuba's finest ballplayers have still managed to defect to the United States over the past half-century to play in the American professional leagues). Players from the Japanese Leagues also have a more difficult time coming to the Major Leagues because they must first play 10 years in Japan before becoming free agents, although they may be posted by their Japanese teams for bids from MLB teams before 10 years of service. Reaching the high-income Major Leagues tends to be the goal of many of the best players around the world.
Rooftop view of a 1903 World Series game in Boston
Game action in the 1906 Series in Chicago (the only all-Chicago World Series to date)
Bill Wambsganss completes his unassisted triple play in 1920
Washington's Bucky Harris scores his home run in the fourth inning of Game 7 (October 10, 1924)