A look at the history of the World Series

By on October 16, 2003

Finally, for the first time in a while, this year’s World Series has implications for many fans here at Quinnipiac. Many know what the World Series is, but how exactly did it evolve into the coveted championship that we cheer our teams toward today?

Baseball was once owned an operated by a handful of owners that broke away from the then defunct National Association. These owners formed the National League and proceeded to run it as a monopoly. A few years later in 1883, another group of businessmen created the American Association. The American Association designed its business practices towards attempting to destroy the National League. They cut ticket prices and attempted to lure players away from the N.L. through generous contract offers. Out of these cut throat practices, an agreement was reached between the two leagues, and a championship game against the two teams with the best records from each league would be held. The concept of a World Series was born.

Historians tend to point to the 1903 series, which pitted the Boston Red Sox against the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the first World Series. The series, originally called the Championship of the United States, consisted of a nine game playoff. Pittsburgh ace Deacon Phillippe won the first World Series game of the modern baseball era, as the Pirates beat Boston and their ace Cy Young, 7-3. However, it was the Beantown boys that were able to win five games and gain the title of United States Champions.

The next major significant moment in World Series history occurred in 1919. The Chicago White Sox were preparing to play the Cincinnati Reds when a rumor started to circulate that some of the Sox were planning to throw the series. The Reds went on to win the series and many of the White Sox were called into question. Shoeless Joe Jackson, an outfielder for the White Sox, was one of these players. Despite the fact that Jackson had the highest batting average, hit the only home run of the series, and never made an error, Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw fit to bar Jackson from the game for the rest of his life. This Chicago team is known to this day as the Black Sox and was the first time sports and gambling were brought together.

The 1947 World Series was one of the greatest series ever played. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in the seventh game of the series, but that was nothing compared to the feat accomplished that season by one of the Dodgers’ players. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier at the start of the season, becoming the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. Robinson is also known for being the first African-American to participate in a World Series. In the series, Robinson batted .259 with seven hits and three runs batted in. The ’47 Series is also memorable because it was the first World Series to ever be shown on national television.

As times change, so does the game of baseball. Gone are the days of Ruth calling his shot against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and Carlton Fisk frantically waving for his ball to stay fair against the Cincinnati Reds. Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases after his game winning home run against the Oakland Athletics and Yogi Berra jumping into Don Larson arms are just fleeting memories. Fans are no longer allowed to run onto the field as their team celebrates a triumphant end of a season. Baseball was once a great sport. The World Series itself produced bedtime stories for our fathers to tell. Names such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Don Larson, Pete Rose, and Mickey Mantle all echo through the halls of baseball immortality.

Baseball today has been changed by the times. In 1995 a wild card was created to generate more teams for the playoffs. Thus, the playoff format had to be switched from a two team championship game to a four team test of strength. Some say television networks have ruined the game for children. Games are no longer broadcasted in the early afternoon. Most games start while many of America’s children are sleeping. Advertisements pepper the outfield walls in stadiums and commercials take away from the essence of the game.

This year’s post season has breathed life back into a dying game. Watch Ivan Rodriguez celebrate with his Marlins and your spine will tingle. Will Sox fans be taunted with “The Curse” as they try to reach the Series or could it be the Cubs who end their championship drought? Mark Prior is the fresh face baseball needs to carry us into the new century. Sammy Sosa, despite the corked bat, is still what it means to play the game for the love of it. Joe Torre has a chance this year to solidify his coaching tenure with the Yankees as one of the greatest dynasties that has ever played. This year’s World Series will bring the game back to how it was once played, with passion and respect.


About Chris Lima