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The World Series: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

World Series, tom egelhoff, san francisco giants, detroit tigers
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 24: Angel Pagan #16 of the San Francisco Giants an celebrates with his teammates after defeating the Detroit Tigers in Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants defeated the Tigers 8-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Over a ten-day span each October, American’s put politics, the economy and other concerns on the back burner and turn their undivided attention to 18 men playing a children’s game. That game is of course — baseball.

Who invented Baseball?

The most common answer, for most of us, is Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 – January 26, 1893). Some historians feel that the Doubleday story is a myth since he was a cadet at West Point at the time and his family had moved away from Cooperstown the year before. Doubleday never claimed publically that he invented baseball and there is no writing about it in his personal papers or effects. He has never been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His real claim to fame is firing the first shot at Fort Sumter that began the Civil War and later for gaining a patent on the San Francisco Cable Car process that still operates in that city today. He was also prominent in the Battle of Gettysburg.

The First World Series

Although there was a type of World Series that began in 1884, the World Series of the modern baseball era began in 1903. There was no series in 1901 or 02 because the newly formed National and American Leagues didn’t like each other very much. There was a lot of stealing and swapping players trying to gain business supremacy. Even back then there was a strong profit motive among the owners. Boston upset Pittsburgh 5 games to 3. Yes, they played eight games. This was the equivalent of Joe Namath upsetting the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in January 1969. Proving the two leagues equal in talent.

Some World Series Trivia

1919: Arguably the most damaging World Series occurred in 1919. The Chicago White Sox were heavy favorites to win against the Cincinnati Reds. Six members of the White Sox agreed to throw the series. The Sox lost in eight games. The six players were acquitted of any wrong doings but all were banned from the game for life.

1957 The Series Moves West: The former Brooklyn Dodgers became the Los Angeles Dodgers after their move to LA in 1957 and beat the Chicago White Sox in the 1959 Series.

1969: League Championships began in 1969. Up until that time the best records in the American and National leagues won their respective pennants.  Owners felt it would increase interest in post-season play by having multiple teams vying for the final two spots.

1971: Light Em Up. In 1971 the World Series moved under the lights. Although many stadiums had lights and played night games for many years, the World Series was traditionally played during the day. As TV became more prevalent owners decided that more people could watch at night. The last indoor World Series game was Game 6 in 1987 between the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first time each team won only on their home field. 4 Games to 3 — Minnesota.

1976: Baseball is the only known sport where the rules for one team can differ from another. “How is that fair?” you might ask. For many baseball purists it’s not even close to fair. I’m speaking of the “Designated Hitter Rule.” In 1973 the American League adopted a rule allowing a batter to hit for the normally poor hitting pitcher but the pitcher could still remain in the game. The National League decided that they would not adopt this rule so that presented an obvious problem when the two teams met in the Fall Classic. The final decision came down to allowing the American League rules to prevail when playing in American League cities and not in National League cities. Thus giving an enormous help to the American League team whenever they enjoyed the advantage of four home games.

2003: Until 2003, home field advantage in the World Series alternated between leagues each year. After an All Star game tie, it was decided to let the winning league of the All Star Game determine the home field advantage. Since this rule has been in place each league has won four times but only one series since that time has gone a full seven games. That would be the 2011 series that the St. Louis Cardinals won over the Texas Rangers.

Some Final Thoughts

Who are the big winners in World Series history? That would be the New York Yankees who have appeared in 40 World Series winning 27 of them. Next you have the St. Louis Cardinals who have won in 11 or their 18 appearances. Rounding out the top ten are the Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves.

Longest time span without a World Series appearance? Say it with me — Chicago Cubs whose last World Series appearance was in 1945. Go Cubs.

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