The World Series – or Fall Classic – pits the winners of the American and National League pennants against each other in a best-of-seven series for the Major League Baseball Championship.
The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series titles, by far the most of any team. The St. Louis Cardinals are second at 11, followed by the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia / Oakland A’s, who are tied at nine apiece.
1903: First World Series played
The first modern World Series was a best-of-nine series played in 1903 between the American League champions, the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox) and the National League champions, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Americans have won the last four games to win the championship, 5-3. Boston pitcher Cy Young, the all-time MLB leader in wins (511), won Games 5 and 7. (The only other best of the nine World Series was in 1919, 1920 and 1921. )
The World Series, which typically begins in October, featured some of the most dramatic moments in sports history. Among them were an over-the-shoulder grab by Willie Mays of the New York Giants (Game 1, 1954, against the Cleveland Indians) and series-winning home runs by Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Game 7, 1960 , vs. New York Yankees) and Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays (Game 6, 1993, against the Philadelphia Phillies). A spectacular and winning ninth inning home run by Kirk Gibson of Los Angeles in Game 1 in 1988 set the tone for this World Series, won by the Dodgers against the Oakland As in five games.
Blunders and controversy have rocked some World Series. The most infamous World Series scandal involved the Chicago White Sox in 1919.
1919 Black Sox World Series Scandal
The scandal involved eight members of the Chicago White Sox, who were accused after the World Series of organizing games against the Cincinnati Reds for money from a gaming syndicate. Cincinnati won the series of eight. matches, 5-3.
The players involved – nicknamed the “Black Sox” – were acquitted by the court but banned from the sport by Major League Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the greatest hitters in MLB history, was the most famous of the banned players. His career batting average of .356 ranks among the best in MLB history. Despite his excellent Baseball Hall of Fame credentials, Jackson remains on the MLB’s ineligible list for the honor, a move that remains controversial.
READ MORE: Did Shoeless Joe Jackson Conspire to Start 1919 World Series?
New York Yankees dominate World Series
In 1923, the Yankees, led by outfielder Babe Ruth, who completed 41 regular-season home runs, won their first World Series championship. New York followed its initial championship with World Series titles in 1927 and 1928. The 1927 team, considered one of the greatest teams in MLB history, won 110 games during the season. regular and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in four games in the World Series.
READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About Babe Ruth
In addition to Ruth, who hit a record 60 MLB home runs in the regular season, the team included first baseman Lou Gehrig (47 home runs and 173 RBIs) and pitcher Waite Hoyt, who has won 22 matches. Six Yankees players on this team were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York: Ruth, Gehrig, Hoyt, pitcher Herb Pennock, second baseman Tony Lazerri and outfielder Earle Combs.
The Yankees continued their dominance of the sport into the 1930s (five championships), 1940 (four titles) and 1950 (six titles). Defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers in the “Subway Series” in seven games in 1956, Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 on October 8, 1956. It was the only time in the history of the World Series that a pitcher retired all 27 batters for a perfect game.
In addition to winning the most World Series championships, the Yankees have competed in more World Series (40) than any other team. Only the Dodgers, with 14, have lost more World Series than the Yankees (13.)
New York’s loss in the 1960 World Series was particularly heartbreaking for the Yankees and their fans. Although it dominated the Pirates, 55-27, New York lost the World Series in seven games. In Game 7 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s home run late in the ninth inning over the left-field wall won the title for the Pirates. It was one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history.
READ MORE: The most dramatic home run in World Series history
Other notable world series
In 1975, the Cincinnati Reds, known as the “Big Red Machine” for their dominance of the 1970s, beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The Reds have won 108 regular season games and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the playoffs in three games. In Game 6 at Fenway Park in Boston, Red Sox wide receiver Carlton Fisk hit one of the most spectacular home runs in World Series history. The ball struck the post of the “Green Monster”, the iconic left-field wall of Fenway Park, as Fisk waved his arms to keep the ball fair.
READ MORE: What Was The Bambino’s Curse And How Baseball’s Biggest Hex Was Shattered?
In 1986, the New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games. Early in the 10th inning of Game 6, the Red Sox took a two-point lead. But the Mets rallied for three points to win, 6-5. The winning point was scored when a ball on the ground rolled between the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner for a mistake, one of the worst blunders in World Series history. The Mets won the game 7, 8-5. The loss kept an ignominious streak alive for the Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series since 1918.
In 1991, the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves in seven games. Five of the games were decided by a round. Both teams finished in last place the previous season. In Game 7, the Twins’ Jack Morris pitched all 10 innings to Minnesota’s 1-0 win.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games to win their first World Series since 1918 and end “The Curse of the Bambino”. The Cardinals weren’t ahead in any game.
READ MORE: 6 of the craziest moments of the 1986 New York Mets Championship season
1989: World series of earthquakes
On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked northern California in Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics at Candlestick Park, forcing the game to be postponed. The World Series resumed 10 days after the earthquake, which killed 67 people, injured more than 3,700 and caused property damage estimated at $ 5 billion.
Less than half an hour before the match started, the earthquake struck, shaking Candlestick Park. When the shaking stopped, there was a brief lightheartedness at the stadium – the Giants even yelled “We Will Rock You” from Queen over the PA system. Then reality set in.
The As swept the World Series in four games.
1994: Cancellation of the World Series
The World Series has not been played just twice: in 1904, a year after the first World Series, when the New York Giants refused to face American League champions, the Boston Americans, and in 1994, when the season was canceled due to a strike by players. The Montreal Expos (74-40) and New York Yankees (70-43) appeared to be on a collision course for the World Series that season.
World Series Most Valuable Player Award
Since 1955, the World Series Most Valuable Player award has been given to the player with the most outstanding performance. The award, now voted on by media, officials and fans online, went to the player on the winning team of all but one of the World Series. In 1960, New York Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson won the award following the team’s loss in a seven-game series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017, the award was named in honor of Baseball Hall of Fame Willie Mays.
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