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If a horse can't eat it, I don't want to play on it."  Dick Allen, on artificial turf, 1970

World Series History

Each year, the primary focus in any professional sport is the race for a championship. Every sport has their pinnacle trophy, but none is as coveted as baseball's World Series; a best of seven contest that celebrates our national pastime. An event as important as any holiday on the calendar, it is as traditional as Thanksgiving, as patriotic as the Fourth of July and as anticipated as Christmas morning. Over the last century, the World Series has been woven into the fabric of America's culture evolving far beyond a mere baseball tournament. It has become the game of all games and has continued to provide us with an endless highlight reel of magical moments evoking childhood memories of agony and ecstasy.

How would one define the World Series? It's Willie Mays catching what can't be caught and Don Larsen being perfect where perfection is simply not possible. It's Babe Ruth telling the fans and media where he is going to deposit the next pitch and a heavily outscored team of Pirates beating the unbeatable Yankees off a ninth inning Bill Mazeroski blast. The World Series is the crushing blow of Fred Snodgrass dropping a routine fly ball and Willie McCovey hitting the final out straight to Bobby Richardson. It's the Curse of the Bambino, when loyal Red Sox fans live their entire lives without witnessing a championship and when Yankees fans witness four in five years...

Although the "Fall Classic" as we know it didn't begin until 1903, Major League Baseball had several versions of a post-season championship series before that. In 1884, the Providence Grays of the National League outplayed the New York Metropolitan Club of the American Association in a three game series for what was originally called "The Championship of the United States." Several newspapers penned the Grays as "World Champions" and the new title stuck. Over the next six years, different variations took place between the National League and American Association pennant-winners, ranging in length from six to fifteen games. The American Association folded unexpectedly after the 1891 season forcing a suspension of the series. The following year, the National League absorbed four of the American Association's former franchises and expanded to twelve teams in an effort to promote the growth of baseball and maintain the public's interest. They played a split season in which the first-half winner played the second-half winner for the league championship. Many fans did not support the new system and the split season was promptly dropped in 1893.

In 1894, Pittsburgh's owner William C. Temple offered a championship trophy to the winner of a best-of-seven-game series between the National League's first and second-place teams. In addition, he stated that the winning franchise would receive 65% of all ticket sales and the losing team would pocket 35%. Temple's novel idea would last for the next three years and helped to build the foundation for baseball's post-season popularity. More changes were on the horizon and in 1901, the American League was established much to the dismay of the senior circuit. Suddenly, baseball found itself engaged in a "civil war" as both rival leagues competed separately for the fan's loyalty and attention. Two years later a truce, previously known as the "National Agreement", was redefined outlining baseball's employment, salary and travel requirements. The 1903 compromise produced the business blueprint for major-league baseball and resulted in a merger that has lasted to this day. Once again Boston and Pittsburgh, the top American and National League teams, found themselves competing against one another in the first official "World Series".

What happened to the 1904 World Series? The inaugural World Series of 1903 was a resounding success and represented the first step in healing the bruised egos of both the veteran National and fledgling American Leagues. Pittsburgh and Boston went head-to-head for eight games proving that great baseball between the two leagues was possible and that a merger would benefit the growth of the sport. Unfortunately, some owners still disagreed with the concept and in 1904, it was prematurely cancelled. John T. Brush, president of the National League champion New York Giants, refused to play the returning American League champion Boston Americans. He was quoted as stating that he refused to compete with a "representative of the inferior American League". Surprisingly, Brush regretted the decision and later that year proposed to continue with the series as originally conceived. His about-face spawned the "Brush Rules," a set of guidelines relating to the on-field play and off-field finances of the World Series which exists to this day.

On October 10, 1920, during the fifth inning, Bill Wambsganss caught a line drive hit by Clarence Mitchell. He then stepped on second to putout Pete Kilduff and personally tagged Otto Miller who was coming from first. This unassisted triple play is probably the most amazing fielding feat to ever take place during any series game.

Did you know that through 2006, the American League has won sixty World Championships, the National League has won forty-two World Championships, there have been three tie games, one-hundred eight shutouts, one perfect game and eleven instances where a team lost the first two games yet rallied to win the World Championship.

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