You think you know baseball? Dazzle your friends and confound your enemies with some awesome facts about the World Series.
The first World Series took place in 1903, between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans, who later became the Red Sox. Boston won, but the World Series tradition wasn’t off to a great start. It was cancelled the next year, because the New York Giants, now the San Francisco Giants, refused to play their bitter rivals the Boston Americans, saying that the American League, of which Boston were the champions of, was not a real league. The Giants owner declared his team world champions anyway, but everyone agreed to just forget about 1904 and try again next year.
Baseball loves superstition and one of the most lasting ones is the curse placed on the Chicago Cubs. In 1945, Billy Sianis – the owner not coincidentally of the Billy Goat Tavern – was ordered to leave the Cubs’ World Series game against the Detroit Tigers. Apparently the pet goat that Billy travelled with was so smelly it was upsetting the other fans. Outraged at this insult to his goat, Billy announced that the Cubs wouldn’t win. They didn't, even though they kept trying every single year! Attempts were made over the years to break the curse, including getting Billy Sianis’ nephew to bring a goat onto Wrigley Field. Nothing worked...until 2016 when the Cubs finally won the World Series for the first time since 1908 and broke the curse once and for all!
The tradition of giving rings to the players who win the World Series started in 1922, and by the 1930s all the teams were giving their players and coaches special rings for winning the Series. Most players value them as reminders of their achievement. However, Frank Crosetti – who played for the New York Yankees for 17 years and then coached with them for 20 more – decided after 17 World Series wins that he’d finally had enough rings and asked for an engraved shotgun instead.
New York Yankees right-handed pitcher Don Larsen delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the World Series in this Oct. 8, 1956 file photo, en route throwing a perfect game. (AP Photo)
A perfect game in baseball is when a pitcher (or pitchers) doesn’t let a single person from the other team get on base. That means no hits, no walks. It may be a perfect game for one team but it’s the worst for the other. It’s very rare for this to ever happen and in World Series history it’s happened only once – in 1956. Don Larsen, pitching for the New York Yankees, threw only 97 pitches the entire game, but that was enough to take out 27 batters for the opposing Brooklyn Dodgers.
This Oct. 17, 1971, file photo shows Pittsburgh Pirates' Jose Pagan (11) hitting a double, off Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar, to drive in the eventual winning run in Game 7 of the World Series, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/File)
Even though baseball had been playing night games since the 1930s it wasn’t until 1971 that the World Series had a game at night. Baseball realized in 1971 that most people were watching the World Series on TV, but it’s hard to watch TV at school or work. That first night game – played by the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Baltimore Orioles – was so popular that by 1973 all World Series weekday games were played at night.
Getting to play in the World Series is the big dream of any baseball player, just like being in the Super Bowl is the dream of any football player. There’s actually one person who’s done both. Deion Sanders played in both a World Series and two Super Bowls. In the 1992 World Series he played with his team the Atlanta Braves against the Toronto Blue Jays. Then to follow that up he played in the 1995 Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers, and in 1996 with the Dallas Cowboys. Both those teams won the Super Bowl.
Toronto Blue Jays MVP Pat Borders, wearing catchers equipment, piles on top teammates at the Toronto Blue Jays down the Atlanta Braves to win the 1992 World Series in Atlanta Saturday, Oct. 24, 1992. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
It may be called the World Series, but it doesn’t seem like the rest of the world gets to play. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only team outside the US to have won the World Series – they were back-to-back champions in 1992 and 1993.