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History of the World Series
History of The World Series (Pre-1900)
Prior to the agreement between the National League and the American League - in fact prior to the creation of the American League - baseball had a post-season series that foreshadowed the "modern" World Series.
In 1882, the National League and the American Association agreed to a series following their regular season to determine the "World's Champion." The Reds of Cincinnati represented the American Association, and the White Stockings of Chicago played for the NL. Due to restrictions at the time that prohibited AA players from competing against NL players, the Reds were forced to "release" all of their players from their regular contracts and sign them to special "World Series" contracts. The two teams played a pair of games, with the Reds winning the opener 4-0 and the White Stockings taking the second by a score of 2-0.
After a season of unrest, the rival leagues reached an arrangement in 1884, which allowed their champions to square off once again. The NL champ - the Providence Grays - beat the AA's New York Metropolitans easily as the post-season affair was made tradition. That series was played until 1891 when the American Association collapsed. In 1892, the NL tried a split-season format to revive the popular post-season series, but the fans were not impressed.
From 1894 to 1897, the first and second place teams in the NL squared off at season's end in what became known as the Temple Cup. Pittsburgh owner William C. Temple donated the trophy and hence the name. The series was far from successful. The media saw it as a gimmick and in three of the four years the first-place squad lost to their runner-up, rendering the regular season a farce. In the 1895 Temple Cup series, Cy Young led Cleveland to the title when he won three games in less than a week.
History of The World Series (1903-present)
In 1901 Ban Johnson challenged goliath and won. At least he made them flinch. Johnson, leader of the upstart American League (formerly the Western League), declared his baseball league was every bit the equal of the National League. The NL, in existence for more than twenty years, was not amused or unimpressed. Then, in 1902, more than 100 NL players jumped to the AL, lured by money, comfort, and revenge. That year, the NL decided to join them rather than try to beat them.
The two leagues came together under the "National Agreement," or one governing body. Each league would operate independently but share the same game rules and agree to allow the trading of players among their 16 teams. No provision was made however, for post-season play.
At the conclusion of the 1903 season the two owners of the league champions (Barney Dreyfuss of the National League's Pittsburgh Pirates and Henry Killilea of the AL's Boston Pilgrims), agreed to play a best-of-nine series to decide the champion of baseball. This matchup - won by Boston - is considered by most baseball historians to be the first "modern" World Series. A series between the two league champs has been played every year since, except in two notable exceptions.
In 1904, the NL champion New York Giants, led by team president John T. Brush and manager John McGraw, refused to meet the Boston Pilgrims (who had repeated as AL champions), and they weren't under any legal obligation to do so. The National Agreement had not been amended to require a league champion to participate in a post-season series, and McGraw used this fact to wriggle out of the series, stating, "We're the champions of the only real major league." Obviously, the two leagues were far from chummy.
Beginning in 1905 the National Commission (comprised of each league's president and one owner), seized control of the "World's Series," and the two league winners have been bound to play each other since. Even though two World Wars failed to stop the "Fall Classic" (as it became known), in 1994 a players strike forced baseball to cancel the World Series for the first time in nine decades.
In 1947, the first integrated World Series was played when the Brooklyn Dodgers, with Jackie Robinson, faced the New York Yankees. Every Series since, except in 1950, has featured at least one African American player.
The Yankees have been the big winners in baseball's modern World Series. Through 2002, the Yankees have won 26 titles and appeared in 38 of the 98 series played. The St. Louis Cardinals have been the most successful National League team in the Fall Classic - winning nine championships in 15 appearances.
The first 92 World Series pitted two first-place teams representing their leagues as pennant-winners, but in 1997, the first wild card team appeared in (and won) a World Series. The Florida Marlins, who finished second in the NL East, advanced to the World Series and defeated the Indians in seven games. In 2000, the Mets became the second wild-card team to advance to the World Series, and in 2002 both teams in the Fall Classic were actually second-place finishers during the regular season.
The first World Series night game came in Game Four of the 1971 World Series between the Pirates and Orioles, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Since then, every World Series has had at least one game played at night, and starting in 1985, every World Series game has been played in the evening.
The first World Series game played on artificial turf was in 1970, when the Cincinnati Reds played their games against the Baltimore Orioles in Riverfront Stadium. From 1970-1993, 14 of the 24 World Series featured games on artificial turf. In 1987, every game was played on turf for the first time, when the Twins and Cardinals squared off. That Series was the first played indoors, at Minnesota's MetroDome.
In 1976, the World Series used the designated hitter rule for the first time. For the next few years the rul alternated from one-year to the next, and finally the rule was changed so that the Dh could be used in AL parks and not in NL parks. In 2003, the All-Star Game got involved with the World Series in a strange way. For the first time, home-field advantage in the World Series would be determined by the winner of the All-Star Game. The previous rule saw the seventh game host rotated between each league in odd-years.
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