The World Series: Then and Now
Growing up 60 miles from St. Louis I was a diehard St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. I used to practice fielding ground balls by bouncing a tennis ball off the side of our barn. We had pickup games in the summertime in my front yard. Baseball then didn’t have all the competition of video games and CDs. We had to make our own fun and baseball filled the bill.
The First World Series
A couple of historic baseball events happened on October 1st. The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the home team Boston Americans 7-3 in the very first World Series game ever played in 1903. On this date in 1961, Roger Maris beat Babe Ruth’s home run record by hitting his 61st home run.
Baseball purists are quick to point out that Ruth hit 60 home runs during a 154 game season while Maris did it in the modern 162 game season. So it was decided that there would be an asterisk next to Maris’s name in the record books.
Baseball Over the Years
Many people have described baseball as the world’s most perfect game. In spite of all the advances in equipment, the layout and rules haven’t changed much in over 100 years. Four balls and three strikes, 60’ 6” from the pitcher to home plate are still the same. Ninety feet between the bases and three out and the other team bats. It’s also the only game where you can only score when the opposing team has the ball.
Baseball purists do have some problems with some of the more modern rule changes. The biggest is the “designated hitter.” That’s the practice where pitchers normally don’t bat in American League games and a “designated hitter” bats in their place but doesn’t play on the field. The National League did not adopt this rule so the pitchers bat in National League games.
This presented a problem when interleague games began because it would be unfair to one team to have a designated hitter and not the other. So the came up with a system where some National League games use the hitter and others don’t.
The Baseball Play Off System
The World Series used to always be played in the afternoon. I remember going nuts in school not knowing the score of the daily game. It was great to have a teacher who was also a fan who would allow a radio in the room during class.
Night games became the norm when television came along and brought games live into our living rooms. And, when owners discovered that there were big bucks to be made in TV contracts and even more could be made with playoffs leading up to the series.
Some Final Thoughts
I have to admit that I miss the old days of baseball. There’s just something wrong with the Atlanta Braves instead of the Milwaukee Braves. San Francisco Giants? And Canadian teams? What’s up with that? I guess that does make it international.
Well, I will be rooting for the Cards in the next couple of weeks and maybe sometime in November we’ll know who the world champ of baseball is. See you at the ball park.