The 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals will be the 109th edition of the Fall Classic, which dates back to 1903 and has been played annually since then, with two exceptions.
With that, here are nine things you might not know about the World Series:
1. The World Series was once boycotted: The American League’s Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903 and were set to represent the upstart league again in 1904. The AL was only in its fourth season and New York Giants president John T. Brush refused to play against a “representative of the inferior American League” (per baseball-almanac.com). Later, Brush reversed his field and helped develop the so-called “Brush Rules” that related to the play and financial workings of the World Series and the Giants went on to win the resumed Fall Classic in 1905.
2. Among current ballparks, Fenway Park leads the way: The first and second iterations of Yankee Stadium hosted more World Series games than any other ballpark, 100, from its opening in 1923, renovation in 1974-75, reopening in 1976 and closure after the 2008 season. Among existing stadiums, Boston’s Fenway Park has hosted the most Fall Classic games with 28 and will add at least two more to that total this month (per baseball-reference.com). The first World Series game at Fenway Park was in 1912.
3. The World Series MVP award was once split three ways: There has been a Most Valuable Player named in every World Series since 1955, but only twice has the award been split. In 2001, Arizona Diamondbacks aces Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson shared the honor, but in 1981, the voters went one better. After the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in six games, the World Series MVP was given to Dodgers Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager (per baseball-reference.com).
4. The World Series MVP once played for the losing team: No player in World Series history drove in more runs in a single Fall Classic than did Bobby Richardson of the New York Yankees in 1960. Richardson had 12 RBIs in the seven-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Yankees lost the series despite outscoring Pittsburgh by a whopping 55-27 margin. The three games New York won were by scores of 16-3, 10-0 and 12-0, but they lost the other four games. Despite the outcome, Richardson was named the Series MVP (per baseball-reference.com)
5. Three World Series were played in one ballpark: Three times in World Series history, an entire Series was played in a single ballpark. It happened in back-to-back years, 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and New York Yankees squared off at the Polo Grounds … the home park for both teams. The last time it happened was in 1944, when the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns played all six games at Sportsman’s Park, which served as the home stadium for both clubs (per baseball-reference.com).
6. Three teams decided to play their “home” games at a different home: In both the 1915 and 1916 World Series, the Boston Red Sox played their “home” games not at Fenway Park, but rather at Braves Field. The reason was purely financial … the Sox could sell more tickets at Braves Field, which then held more than 42,000, than at Fenway, which held just 27,000 at the time (per ballparksofbaseball.com).
7. Two years, two cities … four teams? Boston and Philadelphia squared off in the World Series in back-to-back years, but the two series involved four different teams. In 1914, the Boston Braves won the National League pennant and played the AL champion Philadelphia Athletics (per baseball-reference.com). In 1915, the same cities collided again in the Fall Classic, only this time it was the NL champion Phillies taking on the AL champion Red Sox (per baseball-reference.com).
8. Twenty World Series ended on a non-batted ball: Of the 108 World Series contested thus far, 88 of them have ended with a ball put in play. Of the other 20, 18 of them ended on strikeouts. It’s the other two that are the most noteworthy. In 1926, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series when catcher Bob O’Farrell threw out New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth, who was trying to steal second base in a 3-2 game. The very next year, the Yankees completed a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates when Earle Combs scored from third base on a wild pitch by Johnny Miljus in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4, giving New York a 4-3 win (per baseballalmanac.com)
9. The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals … 83 wins and a championship: The St. Louis Cardinals of 2006 hold the distinction of having the fewest wins (in a full season) of any World Series champion. The Cardinals went 83-78 in 2006, but won the National League’s Central Division and went on to beat the San Diego Padres (88 wins), New York Mets (97 wins) and Detroit Tigers (95 wins) in the postseason. The 1973 New York Mets are the worst World Series team of all-time, going just 82-79 in the regular season, but they lost the Series to the Oakland A’s in seven games (per baseball-reference.com).