The first two games of the series are played in one team's home ballpark, the next three in the other team's ballpark, and the final two, if necessary, back in the first team's ballpark. Until 2003, the team given the home-field advantage was switched every year between the American League and the National League. Starting in 2003, however, the league that wins the All-Star Game is given the home field advantage in the World Series.
A portion of the gate receipts from the World Series - and, from 1969 onward, the other rounds of postseason play preceding it - is used to fund a Players' Pool, from which descending shares are distributed to the World Series winner, the World Series loser, all the other teams qualifying for the playoffs which did not reach the World Series, and certain other teams which did not qualify for the playoffs, the criteria for the latter changing at various times. Prior to 1969, teams finishing in the first division, or top half of the leagues' standings, received such shares; today only the teams finishing in second place in their division but not earning a wild card receive them, because there are more divisions and each division is smaller.
The "World" appellation has stuck despite the fact that only teams in the United States and Canada participate. While some would contend that there is no reason to believe that the World Series winner is a significantly better team than any club team outside Major League Baseball, no challenges have been made by other leagues. Attempts to pit the North American champions against champions in the Japanese or Latin American leagues have, so far, not succeeded.
A persistent myth is that the "World" in "World Series" came about because the New York World newspaper sponsored it. Baseball researcher Doug Pappas refutes that claim, demonstrating a linear progression from the phrase "World's Championship Series" (used to describe the 1903 series) to "World's Series" to "World Series". Furthermore, investigation of the New York World for the relevant years revealed no evidence of the supposed sponsorship. (For details, see Mr. Pappas's web page on the subject).
Baseball tournaments between international teams do occur, notably at the world championships and at the Olympic Games. To the Summer Olympics, the US has always sent a team of minor-league players, since the MLB hasn't been willing to stop playing and thus free its players during the Olympics until now. The US team won the gold medal in 2000, suggesting that a major-league team could defeat any non-American national team. Of course, major league teams do not consist entirely of US nationals; for example, about 10% of MLB players are from the Dominican Republic. Not all of the US nationals in MLB are eligible for Team USA; a significant minority are from Puerto Rico, which fields its own teams in international sports competitions. The famed Cuban national team (which was beaten by the Americans in 2000) has defeated Major League teams in some confrontations. At the 2004 Summer Olympics the USA was not represented, since its minor-leaguer team did not survive qualifying. The International Baseball Federation (IBAF ) has tried to lobby MLB into suspending play during the Summer Olympics, so that MLB players could compete for their respective national teams. The IBAF is of the opininon that if this does not happen at the 2008 Olympics, Baseball is likely to be removed from the Olympics to make room for Rugby. The IBAF has agreed to shortening the Olympic tournament if the MLB agrees to freeing its players. According to the IBAF chairman, such a move would do more for popularizing Baseball around the world than any amount of money spent by the MLB for its current worldwide marketing.
Currently, Major League Baseball, in cooperation with the IBAF, is trying to institute a World Cup of Baseball, to be held at least quadrennially during the Northern Hemisphere winter at a warm-weather site, to serve as a true world championship of national baseball teams. The winter scheduling would allow players from the North American and Japanese professional leagues to participate. The first such World Cup is tentatively scheduled to follow the 2005 season. The IBAF has already organized thirty-five editions of the Baseball World Cup since 1938.
The 1904 Series was supposed to be between the AL's Boston Americans and the NL's New York Giants. The Giants' owner, John Brush, refused to allow his team to play, citing the inferiority of the upstart American League. Brush also cited the lack of rules under which the games would be played and the money would be split. During the winter of 1904/05, however, Brush proposed what came to be known as the "Brush Rules", under which the series would be played over subsequent years.
One rule was that player shares would come from gate receipts from the first four games only. This was to discourage teams from throwing early games in order to prolong the series and make more money. Receipts for later games were split among the two teams and the National Commission (the new governing body for the sport, which was able to cover much of its annual operating expenses from World Series revenue).
The list evolved over time. In 1925, Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets convinced owners to adopt the current 2-3-2 system of scheduling World Series games (one team would host the first two games, the other team would host the next three, and the first team would host the last two if necessary; the leagues alternated which representative would host the first games).
List of World Series after 1904
The World Series has been a best-of-seven series except in the years 1903, 1919, 1920 and 1921, when it was best-of-nine.
Some consider this the greatest World Series upset. The Chicago Cubs record was 116-36, setting a regular-season winning percentage record which still stands. The White Sox had a strong pitching staff but were the worst-hitting team in the American League. The "Hitless Wonders" got all the hitting they needed to shock their crosstown rivals.
The Tigers might have finally won the Fall Classic in their third try had it not been for Babe Adams. A rookie pitcher for Pittsburgh that year, manager Fred Clarke started him, on a hunch, in game 1. Adams won that game and two more.
Philadelphia third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker earned his nickname during this series. His home run in Game 2 was the margin of victory for the Athletics, and his blast in Game 3 off Christy Mathewson tied that game, which the Athletics subsequently won. The Giants never recovered.
This dramatic Series involved great pitching from Christy Mathewson and from Boston fireballer Smokey Joe Wood, who won two of his three starts and pitched in relief in the final game, won when Boston rallied for two runs in the ninth inning thanks to two costly Giant fielding misplays.
This would be the last Red Sox World Series win until 2004. The subsequent drought of eighty-six years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino, as the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth for cash the next year.
The Black Sox scandal. Eight Chicago players conspired with gamblers to lose the Series, and were led to apprehension and permanent suspension from the league, despite being heavy favorites at the conclusion of the regular season.
Walter Johnson, making his first World Series appearance toward the end of his storied career, lost his two starts. Washington battled back to force a game seven, giving Johnson a chance to redeem himself when he came on in relief in that game. Johnson held on to get the win and to give Washington its only World Series win. The franchise would not win another World Series until 1987, by which time it had been playing in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) for over a quarter-century.
"Babe" Ruth hits his famous "called shot" home run--which is followed immediately by a Lou Gehrig solo home run, "The Thunder after the Lightning"--in Game 3 of this dominating New York Yankee performance.
In Game 1, Willie Mays makes "The Catch" -- a dramatic over-the-shoulder catch of a line drive to deep center field which would otherwise have given Cleveland the lead. Dusty Rhodes won two games with his bat, pinch-hitting.
The Milwaukee Braves become the first team to win a Championship after relocating. Until 1953, they had been the Boston Braves, winners of the 1914 Series. In 1995 they would win again, as the Atlanta Braves.
Before Randy and Curt, there was Sandy and Don. Koufax, Drysdale and Johnny Podres combine to give up only 4 runs in 4 complete games. This is the first time that the New York Yankees were swept in a World Series in four games (the 1922 series had one tie).
Koufax and Drysdale return to the Series. LA's lefty-righty one-two punch had combined for 49 wins and 15 shutouts in '65, but after Sandy and Don got rocked by the Twins in the first two games, it took a five-hit shutout by Claude Osteen to get the Dodgers back into the series. By Game 7, Koufax regained his form and clinched the title with a three-hit, 10-strikeout, 2-0 victory. Koufax was the MVP while Ron Fairly hit two home runs.
Both 1968MVPs, the Tigers' Denny McLain and the Cardinals' Bob Gibson, pitch in the Series, but Lolich steals the show by becoming the last pitcher to date to win three complete games in a single World Series.
The Miracle Mets: The New York Mets, 73-89 in 1968, won 100 regular seasons games and swept all before them in only their 8th year of existence, behind the pitching of Tom Seaver and Jerome "Jerry" Koosman.
Reggie Jackson hits three home runs off of three consecutive pitches from three different Dodger pitchers in the deciding game six, only the third time a player has hit three homers in a World Series game (Babe Ruth did it twice, in 1926 and 1928). His nickname of "Mr. October" is born here.
Famous for a controversial play in which Reggie Jackson breaks up a double play by using his hip to bat the ball heading to first base away allowing Thurman Munson to go to second base on the error. There would not be any repeat World Champions for the next fourteen years. This was also the first of 10 consecutive years that saw 10 different teams win the World Series, a string unprecedented in MLB history.
Famous for a blown call by umpire Don Denkinger that helps the Royals stave off elimination in Game 6, followed by a Cardinals meltdown in Game 7. Known as the I-70 World Series or the Show Me State World Series.
This was the first World Series in which every game was won by the home team. Game 1 was the first World Series game to be played indoors (in the Metrodome). The 1987 Twins have the dubious distinction of the lowest regular-season win-loss record (85-77) of any World Series champion in the history of baseball.
In the bottom of the ninth inning of the opening game, with Mike Davis on base and Dodgers down 4-3, the injured Kirk Gibson hits the game-winning home run off Oakland's ace reliever Dennis Eckersley and limps around the bases in what would be his only at-bat in the series.
Five of the seven games in this series were decided by one run; four of the five were won on the last play. Three of those five went into extra innings. Morris started three games and won two, including the dramatic seventh game, to win series MVP honors. Down three games to two, the Twins won Game 6 behind Kirby Puckett's extra-inning home run. The next night, after Morris pitched ten innings of shutout ball in game 7, Gene Larkin's single scored Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th for the deciding game's only run.
Some consider the 1991 World Series to be the best ever. It was certainly the longest (measured in number of innings), due largely to the 12-inning horse-race of Game 4.
This was the first World Series to feature two teams that had finished the previous season in last place. Like the Twins' previous Series win in 1987, every game in this Series was won by the home team.
Joe Carter, Toronto, hit the first (and so far only) come-from-behind walk-off home run to win a World Series (Bill Mazeroski's famous home run in 1960 was hit with the score tied). The fourth game, won 15-14 by Toronto, was the highest-scoring game in any World Series. Toronto became the first repeat World Champions since the 1977-78 New York Yankees.
The Florida Marlins win in just their fifth year, beating the New York Mets' record as the fastest expansion team to win the World Series. The Marlins were also the first wild card team ever to win a World Series.
This Series is often cited alongside the 1991 World Series as the most exciting in history. It featured two extra-inning games. In both games, the Yankees hit ninth-inning homers off Diamondbacks closerByung-Hyun Kim to tie the game and went on to win. In Game 7, the D-backs pulled off a ninth-inning comeback of their own to win the game and the Series, victimizing Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with Luis Gonzalez knocking in the game-winning RBI with a bloop single into the outfield.
The Diamondbacks, in their fourth year of existence, break the Marlins' short-lived record as the fastest expansion team to win the World Series.
This is the last World Series to date to be won by a division champion.
2002 was the first time two Wild Card teams met in the World Series. Featured the greatest comeback in Series history by a team facing elimination, when the Angels erased a 5-0 deficit with 8 outs remaining, to win Game 6 (6-5) and Game 7 (4-1). There was considerable controversy regarding Glaus' selection as Series MVP; despite being on the losing team, Barry Bonds was by most accounts the biggest star of the Series, hitting .471 for the Series with 4 homers, 6 RBI, and a mind-boggling 13 walks, vs Glaus' 7 runs, 8 RBI, 3 homers and a .385 average.
The Marlins, 19-29 in mid-May of the season, completed one of the most spirited comebacks in MLB history. They went 75-49 under new manager Jack McKeon, owning the best record in the league since May 23. The Marlins shocked the defending NL-champ Giants and the Cubs before capping their run by beating the Yankees. Jack McKeon became the oldest manager to ever win a World Series. The Marlins also became 6-0 in postseason play in only 11 years of existance.
Boston's victory breaks the Curse of the Bambino, coming from the largest upset in post season MLB history (a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the Championship Series) to sweep St. Louis. The Red Sox's eight consecutive wins constitute the longest post season winning streak in MLB history. It would also be the second year in a row that the home team (in this case St. Louis) did not win the deciding game of a World Series.
†Denotes wild-card team (since 1995).
Note: New York NL (1) represents the New York Giants (1883-1957), later the San Francisco Giants. New York NL (2) represents the New York Mets (1962-present).