Major League Baseball’s World Series’ storylines are derived from many historic facts. In preparation for this season’s big diamond dance, let’s review four ‘Fall Classic’ gems and one modern jewel:
Boston Red Sox’ ancestors eight-game victory
Eight ‘championship games’ were played from 1884 through 1892. However, since those contests were between the two top National League teams, they aren’t considered part of what later became known as the ‘World Series’.
Due to emergence of the upstart American League, the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates (who had the best record in the NL) invited the Boston Americans (the Red Sox original franchise name) to battle them in the initial matchup between each League’s top squads in 1903.
Within a nine-game format, the Americans unexpectedly took five of the first eight games to beat the Pirates, which made the Americans the first unified champion of the baseball world.
The man who blocked the 1904 World Series
Ninety years before a strike caused the 1994 World Series to be canceled, the haughty feelings of one baseball man stopped the second ‘Fall Classic’ from being played.
John T. Brush, owner of the New York Giants (later the San Francisco Giants), stated that if his team were to win the NL pennant in 1904, he wouldn’t be as inviting as the Pirates were the season before. Brush’s feelings were backed by his fiery manager John McGraw, who believed that the NL was the only true major league.
The Giants did win the pennant in 1904. So, the Americans (who repeated as AL champs) were denied a chance to defend their title at the end of that season.
The Giants’ grand plan
Brush took heavy criticism for denying fans a chance to see the two League’s best teams square off against each other. So, he subsequently brokered an arrangement with the rival National League heading into the 1905 season. That somewhat collaborative effort enabled him to be credited as one of the founders of the World Series format.
Giants’ pitcher and future Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson carved an astonishingly low 1.28 ERA, which included a no-hitter to clinch the pennant, and went 31-9 that season. The pre-sabermetric statistics the 24-year-old created led the NL.
McGraw’s top pitcher then threw three complete game shutouts in six days to propel his team to a World Series’ victory (4-3) over Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. That championship proved to be the only one that ‘Matty’ would win during his fabled 17-year Hall of Fame career.
Cardinals delay Yankees’ fame
The 1927 New York Yankees boasted one of the most storied lineups in baseball history. However, manager Miller Huggins used an identical starting lineup the prior year.
The 1926 St. Louis Cardinals beat the Yankees 4-3 in the World Series with future Hall of Famer second baseman Rogers Hornsby playing double-duty as his team’s manager.
New York went on to win back-to-back championships during the next two seasons, which included a sweep (4-0) of the Cardinals in the 1928 rematch.
Three days to play one World Series game
Moving on to modern times:
The Philadelphia Phillies hosted the Tampa Bay Rays for Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. Based upon unusual weather circumstances, many red pinstriped loyalists were apprehensive even though their team led the series 3-1. Who knew they would have to wait for almost 50 hours through a suspended game in order to celebrate once more?
Cole Hamels worked six good innings on October 27. Rain fell on a gigantic scoreboard that showed 2-2 as he departed the mound.
When play resumed in the bottom of the sixth inning on October 29, the Phillies scored one run to take the lead. After the Rays tied the game in the top of the seventh, Pedro Felix knocked in Eric Bruntlett with the go-ahead and eventual winning run in the bottom of that frame.
Brad Lidge, who hadn’t blown a save all season arrived per his usual reservation in the ninth inning. A pop out, a single, a steal of second base and a lineout set up the final at bat of that year.
‘Lights Out’ struck out Eric Hinske swinging and then dropped to his knees to thank God. As Lidge embraced Carlos Ruiz an ensuing stadium celebration pronounced the franchise’s second-ever championship had been secured. The greatest Halloween Day parade in the Philadelphia’s history was seen two days later.
Other features from this author include:
Could One Baseball Shatter The Summer?
When Baseball Cards Were King
Was Babe Ruth the Greatest Baseball Player of All-Time?