Major League Baseball World Series

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The World Series is the championship series of Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada, the culmination of the sport's postseason each October. It is played between the pennant winner of the American League and the pennant winner of the National League. The Series winner is determined through a best-of-seven playoff (except in 1903, 1919, 1920 and 1921 when the winner was determined through a best-of-nine playoff) and is awarded the World Series Trophy, as well as World Series rings. Baseball has employed various championship formulas since the 1850s. The modern World Series has been an annual event since 1903, with the exceptions of 1904 and 1994.

The New York Yankees have the most World Series titles, with 26 championships through the 2005 season. Eight teams, all established since 1961, have never won a World Series title: the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Of those eight teams, only three have appeared in the Series: Milwaukee, San Diego, and Houston. The Chicago Cubs have gone the longest between titles, having last won the World Series in 1908.


The first two games of the series are played in the home ballpark of the team awarded home-field advantage; the next three are in the other team's ballpark, and the final two, if necessary, are back in the first team's ballpark. That has been the pattern since 1924, with the exception of World War II, when travel restrictions were in place. Until 2003, the team given the home-field advantage was switched every year between the American League and the National League. Starting with the 2003 World Series, the league that wins the mid-season All-Star Game has been awarded home-field advantage.

Since 1986, the designated hitter rule has been applied based on the rules normally in effect at the home ballpark. In an American League ballpark, both teams use a designated hitter to hit for the pitcher. In a National League ballpark, both team's pitchers must hit. From 1975 through 1985, the designated hitter was used for all games in even-numbered years, and was not used in any games in odd-numbered years. The designated hitter was not used at all prior to the 1975 Series, although the DH rule had been adopted by the AL in 1973.

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 with each having fewer teams. The shares for the actual participants are limited to the gate receipts of the minimum number of games necessary to play the series. That rule has been in place from the beginning, to keep the games "honest".

The "World" appellation has stuck despite the fact that only teams in the two major leagues, which happen to cover only the United States and Canada, actually participate. At the time the term was first used, baseball at the major league level was only played in the United States. 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. Moreover, virtually all of the best international players — from the Pacific Rim, Latin America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere — play on Major League rosters, with the notable exception of Cuban nationals.

The World Series winners have occasionally played winter exhibition series against the best players of other leagues around the world, such as Japan. Sometimes the Japanese have gained the upper hand in those series; but since they are only exhibitions, their results cannot be regarded as conclusive. Attempts to pit the North American champions against champions in the Japanese or Latin American leagues in a truly meaningful way 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 as well as some of the 19th-century postseason series) to "World's Series" (a term first used in the 1880s and which persisted for decades) 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' web page on the subject.)

In deference to any controversy, more and more the term "World Series Championship" is being used, the subtlety being that it is merely a title and not a political statement.

Baseball tournaments between international teams do occur, notably at the world championships and at the Olympic Games. The United States sends a team of minor league players to the Summer Olympics, as it takes place during the regular Major League season. At the 2004 Summer Olympics the United States was not represented at all, since its team of minor league players did not survive the qualifying rounds. The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) has lobbied MLB to suspend play during the Summer Olympics, so that MLB players could compete for their respective national teams, and has agreed to shorten the Olympic tournament if 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.

Recently, Major League Baseball conducted the inaugural World Baseball Classic. In light of the International Olympic Committee recently voting baseball out of the Summer Games as a medal sport, the results of this competition hope to prove to the IOC that baseball is truly an international game. 16 countries competed in the classic, including baseball hotbeds Japan, United States, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Korea, along with China, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Italy, Mexico, South Africa and Panama. In the Final, Japan defeated Cuba, 10-6. The United States, favored by most to at least make the last stages of the tournament, were eliminated in the second round. The WBC is planned to be held again in 2009, and every four years after.

The term World Series has since been appropriated by other championships, such as the College World Series, the Little League World Series, the World Series of Golf, the World Series of Poker, the World Series of Birding and the World Series of Martial Arts. World Series Cricket was a short-lived but influential cricket competition.

Precursors to the World Series (1857-1901)

The following are teams that played an earlier version of the "World's Championship Series" or otherwise claimed the national championship "Pennant".

National Association of Baseball Players (Amateur -> Professional)

  • 1857 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1858 New York Mutuals
  • 1859 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1860 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1861 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1862 Brooklyn Eckfords
  • 1863 Brooklyn Eckfords
  • 1864 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1865 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1866 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1867 Morrisania Unions
  • 1868 New York Mutuals
  • 1869 Brooklyn Atlantics
  • 1870 Chicago White Stockings

National Association of Professional Baseball Players

National League

National League vs. American Association

  • 1882 Chicago White Stockings NL, Cincinnati Reds AA - 2 game Series, each club wins 1
  • 1883 Boston Beaneaters NL, Philadelphia AA - Philadelphia cancels scheduled Series after losing "City Series" to Phillies.
  • 1884 Providence Grays NL, Metropolitan [New York] AA - 3 game series, Providence wins all 3, 60-game winner Old Hoss Radbourn pitches every inning
  • 1885 Chicago White Stockings NL, St. Louis Browns AA - 6 game Series, ends in dispute
  • 1886 St. Louis Browns AA win 4, Chicago White Stockings NL win 2
  • 1887 Detroit Wolverines NL win 10, St. Louis Browns AA win 5
  • 1888 New York Giants NL win 6, St. Louis Browns AA win 2
  • 1889 New York Giants NL win 6, Brooklyn Bridegrooms AA win 3
  • 1890 Brooklyn Bridegrooms NL, Louisville Colonels AA - each win 3, no resolution
  • 1891 Boston Beaneaters NL, Boston Reds AA - NL instructs Beaneaters not to play Series as leagues discuss restructuring

National League

  • 1892 Boston Beaneaters win 5, Cleveland Spiders win 0 - split-season championship
  • 1893 Boston Beaneaters - no Series
  • 1894 New York Giants win 4, Baltimore Orioles win 0 - Temple Cup Series
  • 1895 Cleveland Spiders win 4, Baltimore Orioles win 1 - Temple Cup Series
  • 1896 Baltimore Orioles win 4, Cleveland Spiders win 0 - Temple Cup Series
  • 1897 Baltimore Orioles win 4, Boston Beaneaters win 1 - Temple Cup Series
  • 1898 Boston Beaneaters - no Series
  • 1899 Brooklyn Superbas - no Series
  • 1900 Brooklyn Superbas win 4, Pittsburgh Pirates win 1 - Chronicle-Telegraph Cup Series

National League - American League

The modern World Series (1903-present)

The first attempt

After two years of bitter competition and player raiding, the National and American Leagues made peace and, as part of the accord, several pairs of teams squared off for interleague exhibition games after the 1903 regular season. These series were arranged by the individual teams, not by the leagues directly, the same as the 1880s World's Series matches had been. One of these series at the end of 1903 was a meeting between the two pennant winners and is known as the 1903 World Series. It had been arranged well in advance by the owners of the respective teams, as both were league leaders by large margins.

The boycott of 1904

The 1904 Series would have been between the AL's Boston Americans and the NL's New York Giants. The Giants' owner, John T. Brush, refused to allow his team to play, citing the "inferiority" of the upstart American League. At the time of the announcement, their new cross-town rivals, the Highlanders, were leading the AL. Boston won on the last day of the season, but Brush stuck to his original decision. Brush also cited the lack of rules under which the games would be played and how the money would be split. During the winter of 1904/05, however, feeling the sting of press criticism, Brush saw the light and 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 governing body for the sport, which was able to cover much of its annual operating expenses from World Series revenue.

Most importantly, the now-official (and compulsory) World's Series match was to be operated strictly by the National Commission itself, not on the whims of individual teams.

The list of post-season rules 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), already used in the 1924 Series, as a permanent rule. Prior to 1924, the pattern generally had been to alternate, or to make other arrangements convenient to both clubs.

Highlights and lowlights

List of modern World Series

1903Boston AmericansAL5Pittsburgh PiratesNL3
1904Boycotted by New York Giants (NL)
1905New York GiantsNL4Philadelphia AthleticsAL1
1906Chicago White SoxAL4Chicago CubsNL2
1907Chicago CubsNL4Detroit TigersAL0
1908Chicago CubsNL4Detroit TigersAL1
1909Pittsburgh PiratesNL4Detroit TigersAL3
1910Philadelphia AthleticsAL4Chicago CubsNL1
1911Philadelphia AthleticsAL4New York GiantsNL2
1912Boston Red SoxAL4New York GiantsNL3
1913Philadelphia AthleticsAL4New York GiantsNL1
1914Boston BravesNL4Philadelphia AthleticsAL0
1915Boston Red SoxAL4Philadelphia PhilliesNL1
1916Boston Red SoxAL4Brooklyn Robins/DodgersNL1
1917Chicago White SoxAL4New York GiantsNL2
1918Boston Red SoxAL4Chicago CubsNL2
1919Cincinnati RedsNL5Chicago White SoxAL3
1920Cleveland IndiansAL5Brooklyn Robins/DodgersNL2
1921New York GiantsNL5New York YankeesAL3
1922New York GiantsNL4New York YankeesAL0
1923New York YankeesAL4New York GiantsNL2
1924Washington SenatorsAL4New York GiantsNL3
1925Pittsburgh PiratesNL4Washington SenatorsAL3
1926St. Louis CardinalsNL4New York YankeesAL3
1927New York YankeesAL4Pittsburgh PiratesNL0
1928New York YankeesAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL0
1929Philadelphia AthleticsAL4Chicago CubsNL1
1930Philadelphia AthleticsAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL2
1931St. Louis CardinalsNL4Philadelphia AthleticsAL3
1932New York YankeesAL4Chicago CubsNL0
1933New York GiantsNL4Washington SenatorsAL1
1934St. Louis CardinalsNL4Detroit TigersAL3
1935Detroit TigersAL4Chicago CubsNL2
1936New York YankeesAL4New York GiantsNL2
1937New York YankeesAL4New York GiantsNL1
1938New York YankeesAL4Chicago CubsNL0
1939New York YankeesAL4Cincinnati RedsNL0
1940Cincinnati RedsNL4Detroit TigersAL3
1941New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL1
1942St. Louis CardinalsNL4New York YankeesAL1
1943New York YankeesAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL1
1944St. Louis CardinalsNL4St. Louis BrownsAL2
1945Detroit TigersAL4Chicago CubsNL3
1946St. Louis CardinalsNL4Boston Red SoxAL3
1947New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL3
1948Cleveland IndiansAL4Boston BravesNL2
1949New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL1
1950New York YankeesAL4Philadelphia PhilliesNL0
1951New York YankeesAL4New York GiantsNL2
1952New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL3
1953New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL2
1954New York GiantsNL4Cleveland IndiansAL0
Year Winner League Games Loser League Games MVP
1955Brooklyn DodgersNL4New York YankeesAL3Johnny Podres
1956New York YankeesAL4Brooklyn DodgersNL3Don Larsen
1957Milwaukee BravesNL4New York YankeesAL3Lew Burdette
1958New York YankeesAL4Milwaukee BravesNL3Bob Turley
1959Los Angeles DodgersNL4Chicago White SoxAL2Larry Sherry
1960Pittsburgh PiratesNL4New York YankeesAL3Bobby Richardson (New York)
1961New York YankeesAL4Cincinnati RedsNL1Whitey Ford
1962New York YankeesAL4San Francisco GiantsNL3Ralph Terry
1963Los Angeles DodgersNL4New York YankeesAL0Sandy Koufax
1964St. Louis CardinalsNL4New York YankeesAL3Bob Gibson
1965Los Angeles DodgersNL4Minnesota TwinsAL3Sandy Koufax
1966Baltimore OriolesAL4Los Angeles DodgersNL0Frank Robinson
1967St. Louis CardinalsNL4Boston Red SoxAL3Bob Gibson
1968Detroit TigersAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL3Mickey Lolich
1969New York MetsNL4Baltimore OriolesAL1Donn Clendenon
1970Baltimore OriolesAL4Cincinnati RedsNL1Brooks Robinson
1971Pittsburgh PiratesNL4Baltimore OriolesAL3Roberto Clemente
1972Oakland AthleticsAL4Cincinnati RedsNL3Gene Tenace
1973Oakland AthleticsAL4New York MetsNL3Reggie Jackson
1974Oakland AthleticsAL4Los Angeles DodgersNL1Rollie Fingers
1975Cincinnati RedsNL4Boston Red SoxAL3Pete Rose
1976Cincinnati RedsNL4New York YankeesAL0Johnny Bench
1977New York YankeesAL4Los Angeles DodgersNL2Reggie Jackson
1978New York YankeesAL4Los Angeles DodgersNL2Bucky Dent
1979Pittsburgh PiratesNL4Baltimore OriolesAL3Willie Stargell
1980Philadelphia PhilliesNL4Kansas City RoyalsAL2Mike Schmidt
1981Los Angeles DodgersNL4New York YankeesAL2Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager
1982St. Louis CardinalsNL4Milwaukee BrewersAL3Darrell Porter
1983Baltimore OriolesAL4Philadelphia PhilliesNL1Rick Dempsey
1984Detroit TigersAL4San Diego PadresNL1Alan Trammell
1985Kansas City RoyalsAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL3Bret Saberhagen
1986New York MetsNL4Boston Red SoxAL3Ray Knight
1987Minnesota TwinsAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL3Frank Viola
1988Los Angeles DodgersNL4Oakland AthleticsAL1Orel Hershiser
1989Oakland AthleticsAL4San Francisco GiantsNL0Dave Stewart
1990Cincinnati RedsNL4Oakland AthleticsAL0José Rijo
1991Minnesota TwinsAL4Atlanta BravesNL3Jack Morris
1992Toronto Blue JaysAL4Atlanta BravesNL2Pat Borders
1993Toronto Blue JaysAL4Philadelphia PhilliesNL2Paul Molitor
1994Cancelled due to strike.
1995Atlanta BravesNL4Cleveland IndiansAL2Tom Glavine
1996New York YankeesAL4Atlanta BravesNL2John Wetteland
1997Florida MarlinsNL4Cleveland IndiansAL3Liván Hernández
1998New York YankeesAL4San Diego PadresNL0Scott Brosius
1999New York YankeesAL4Atlanta BravesNL0Mariano Rivera
2000New York YankeesAL4New York MetsNL1Derek Jeter
2001Arizona DiamondbacksNL4New York YankeesAL3Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling
2002Anaheim AngelsAL4San Francisco GiantsNL3Troy Glaus
2003Florida MarlinsNL4New York YankeesAL2Josh Beckett
2004Boston Red SoxAL4St. Louis CardinalsNL0Manny Ramírez
2005Chicago White SoxAL4Houston AstrosNL0Jermaine Dye
2006St. Louis CardinalsNL4Detroit Tigers AL1David Eckstein

Denotes wild-card team (since 1995).

World Series Appearances

39New York Yankees2613.666
18Los Angeles Dodgers612.3331-8 as Brooklyn Dodgers
17San Francisco Giants512.2945-9 as New York Giants
17St. Louis Cardinals107.588
14Oakland Athletics95.6425-3 as Philadelphia Athletics
12Atlanta Braves39.2501-1 as Boston Braves; 1-1 as Milwaukee Braves
10Boston Red Sox64.6001-0 as Boston Americans
10Chicago Cubs28.200
9Cincinnati Reds54.555
10Detroit Tigers46.400
7Pittsburgh Pirates52.714
7Baltimore Orioles34.4280-1 as St. Louis Browns
6Minnesota Twins33.5001-2 as Washington Senators
5Chicago White Sox32.600
5Cleveland Indians23.400
6Philadelphia Phillies24.333
4New York Mets22.500
2Florida Marlins201.000
2Toronto Blue Jays201.000
2Kansas City Royals11.500
2San Diego Padres02.000
1Arizona Diamondbacks101.000
1Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim101.0001-0 as Anaheim Angels
1Houston Astros01.000
1Milwaukee Brewers01.000
1Tampa Bay Rays01.000

Down to the wire

Teams that won by scoring in the last inning of a tied series:

Teams that came close to losing but recovered to win:

  • 1912 Red Sox - two outs away from elimination.
  • 1924 Senators - four outs.
  • 1925 Pirates - four outs.
  • 1960 Pirates - four outs.
  • 1985 Royals - two outs.
  • 1986 Mets - one strike.
  • 1997 Marlins - two outs.
  • 2001 Diamondbacks - two outs.
  • 2002 Angels - six outs.

The only team to win after being one out away from elimination, the 1986 Mets, were actually twice down to their final strike in Game 6. In addition, they were five outs away from losing before scoring the tying run in the 8th inning.

Deficits overcome

50 teams have lost the first two games of a World Series (excluding ties). 11 have come back to win:

41 teams have fallen into a three-games-to-one deficit. Six have come back to win:

22 teams have lost the first three games of a World Series (excluding ties). All of them were swept except three which lost in five games:

Only the 1958 Yankees and the 1985 Royals have been behind two-games-to-none and three-games-to-one in the same World Series and come back to win. The 1985 Royals also overcame a three-games-to-one deficit in the American League Championship Series to defeat Toronto.

Only the 1985 Royals, the 1986 Mets, and the 1996 Yankees came back to win after losing the first two games at home.


  • The New York Yankees have won two or more championships in seven different decades - 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1990s.
  • The New York Giants' four consecutive World Series appearances from 1921 to 1924 are the most for any non-Yankees franchise.
  • The Oakland Athletics' three consecutive World Series victories from 1972 to 1974 are the most for any non-Yankees franchise.
  • The 1907-1908 Cubs, 1921-1922 Giants and 1975-1976 Reds are the only National League teams to win two straight World Series.
  • From 1949 to 1956, every Series game was won by a team from New York City.
  • From 1949 to 1966, every Series involved the Yankees, Dodgers and/or Giants.
  • From 1978 to 1987, no franchise won the World Series twice, the longest such streak.
  • At 85-77 (.525), the 1987 Minnesota Twins had the lowest winning percentage of any World Series champion.
  • At 82-79 (.509), the 1973 New York Mets had the lowest winning percentage of any World Series team.
  • The 1906 World Series featured two franchises that had never appeared in the World Series. Amazingly, that has not happened since.
  • The 1908 World Series holds the record for poorest attendance including the record-low 6,210 in the finale.
  • The 1949 World Series featured the first Series game finished under lights.
  • The 1970 World Series featured the first Series game on artificial turf.
  • The 1971 World Series featured the first Series game scheduled under lights.
  • The 1976 World Series was the first Series to use the designated hitter rule.
  • The 1987 World Series featured the first Series game played indoors.
  • The 1991 World Series was the first Series to feature a team who had finished in last place the previous year. Oddly enough, this distinction applied to both Series participants that year, the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves.
  • The 1987, 1991, and 2001 World Series are the only Series in which the home team won every game.
  • Babe Ruth twice hit three home runs in one Series game (1926 and 1928). Reggie Jackson is the only other player to accomplish the feat (1977).
  • Bobby Richardson is the only player from a losing team to win a Series MVP award (1960).
  • Darold Knowles is the only pitcher to appear in every game of a seven-game World Series (1973).
  • The New York Yankees have won 26 World Series, but none of them came from the '80s.


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