The World Series is the final round of the Major League Baseball post-season. It is an annual best-of-seven series played between the American and National League pennant winners and determines which team wins that year’s championship. The winning team receives the Commissioner’s Trophy and immortality in the baseball record books.
The Series has been played since 1903. For two years, the National League and American League were fierce competitors, raiding each other’s talent and jockeying for supremacy. Finally, the two leagues decided to cooperate, arranging an end-of-season interleague matchup between the champions of each organization.
Until 1969, the club with the best regular- season record from each league would automatically advance to the World Series, without any additional playoff rounds or elimination process. The organizations technically operated independently, but they were both governed by the Commissioner of Baseball, who had the power to make changes and decisions in either league.
The post-season was eventually expanded, and the two groups continued to operate independently until 2000. At that point, the associations were legally disbanded, and Major League Baseball became the single overall entity.
Known as the Fall Classic, the tournament typically begins in early October and ends in early November, at the latest. Now, after 113 World Series showdowns, the contest boasts a vibrant history with heroic performances, inspiring stories, and iconic moments in American history.
This article explores the history of this unique championship series, explains the road each team must travel to reach it, and extols the championship-winning franchises and record-setting performers.
Betting on the World Series
The World Series is a prime opportunity to bet. You’re dealing with the two very best teams of the year, each fresh off the emotional high of winning the pennant in their league. By the time the Series begins, you have hundreds of games worth of stats and data to utilize, plus their recent performances to help you handicap the matchup.
Every year the championship showdown also holds enormous implications for bettors that placed futures bets on the teams involved. A few years ago, a Las Vegas resident won over a million dollars off a longshot futures wager on the Kansas City Royals that he made at the beginning of the year. They came from seemingly out of nowhere to richly reward his faith.
Due to the World Series futures lines, you cant technically gamble on the contest all year. Then, once the playoffs begin you can place some new bets if necessary, or focus on individual matchups while hoping your card from the beginning of the year goes all the way.
Either way, you won’t have to worry about things like unexpected rest days, or lapses in focus like you get in the regular season. In the Fall Classic, everyone goes all out on every play, and that is a reassuring fact for gamblers.
The History of the Fall Classic
1884 – In 1882, the American Association, a second professional baseball league to the National League, was founded. From 1884 to 1890, the two leagues sent their championship clubs to compete in an end-of-season series. The clubs with the best regular- season records would be sent to fight for their respective league, although the early editions were somewhat disorganized.
The American Association shut their doors in 1891, effectively ending what was called “The Championship of the United States.” While these 19th-century contests were the precursors for the World Series, they are not officially recognized as part of the championship competition’s history.
1901 – The American League was founded, replacing the American Association’s role as the second professional baseball league in the country. The AL formed a rivalry with the NL involving raiding talent from each other’s rosters and competing for market share in several east coast cities.
1903 – After two years of cut-throat competition, the two major leagues came together to organize the World Series. It was to be played between the teams with the best record in each league. The inaugural contest was won by the Boston Americans (eventually the Red Sox), who vanquished the Pittsburgh Pirates in a best-of-nine series.
1919 – The Cincinnati Reds played the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. The Reds won, but it was discovered that several players on Chicago took bribes to throw the series to the heavy underdogs. Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from the Hall of Fame for life, due to this infamous event. It would later be called the Chicago Black Sox scandal.
1932 – The New York Yankees were playing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was game three, and Babe Ruth was at the plate. He pointed to the outfield wall with his bat, calling his shot. The next pitch was a home run. The Babe added another legendary story to his mythology, and the Yankees went on to sweep the Cubs.
1947 – Jackie Robinson broke the MLB’s color barrier this season before also becoming the first black player to participate in the World Series. His new club, the Brooklyn Dodgers, would face off against New York at the conclusion of Robinson’s first season. After a hard-fought seven -games, the Yankees triumphed over the Dodgers.
1954 – In 1954, the Giants were matched up against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. This is the series in which Willie Mays made his legendary over-the-shoulder rundown catch. Despite having won 111 games in the American League, the Indians went on to be upset by Mays’ Giants.
1956 – The New York Yankees were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. It was October 8 when Game 5 was played at Yankee Stadium. On the mound for the Yankees was Don Larsen. He would go on to throw a perfect game, needing just 97 pitches to retire all twenty-seven batters. It was the only perfect game in World Series history, and one of only twenty-three ever in the MLB.
1960 – Pittsburgh was playing the Mickey MantelMantle-led Yankees in Game 7 of a hard-fought series. Bill Mazeroski was up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, facing pitcher Ralph Terry. What followed was has been called “The Greatest Home Run Ever.” Mazeroski hit the game-winning homer, the only Game- 7 walk-off home run in MLB history.
1968 – This was The Year of the Pitcher. Bob Gibson set a World Series record, striking out 17 on behalf of the Cardinals. On the other hand, the Tigers got their own historic pitching performances from Mickey Lolich. Detroit’s star won three of the seven World Series games, playing an integral part in the Tigers’ seven-game -win.
1969 – The Mets lost 100 games or more in five of their first seven seasons before finding themselves in the ’69 World Series, opposite the Baltimore Orioles. Loaded with talented players like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, and Tommy Tommie Agee, New York caught the world of baseball off -guard, shocking the Orioles and winning the championship. It was the last year without playoffs, in which the team with the best record in each league automatically qualified for the series.
1975 – Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine met the Boston Red Sox in the 1975 World Series, one of the first monumental sporting events broadcast in prime-time in people’s homes. The Reds went on to win the series in seven games, but it was the ending of game six that stands out in people’s memories. In the 12th inning, Carlton Fisk watched as his home run flew down the foul line, desperately waiving it fair. It worked.
1986 – The New York Mets and Boston Red Sox series in 1986 is one of the all-time most painful memories for Red Sox fans. Still firmly in the grasp of the “Curse of the Bambino,” Boston was in excellent position in game six to end their World Series woes. That’s when Mookie Wilson’s grounder went through Bill Buckner’s legs, costing the Sox the game. The Mets went on to win game seven as well, completing the devastating collapse.
1988 – The most iconic moment of the 1988 World Series came late in game one. The Dodgers were facing the Oakland A’s, down 4-3 in the ninth inning. Facing Dennis Eckersley, the A’s top closer, an injured Kirk Gibson was called upon to pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot. Though he could barely walk, Gibson turned on a slider with a full count, belting the ball over the wall. The lasting image is Kirk Gibson rounding the bases, pumping his arm in celebration.
1991 – This year was a World Series anomaly. Both teams, the Twins and Braves, improved from worst in their respective leagues to first, meeting in the Fall Classic. The series went seven games, with the last contest reaching extra innings. The Twins’ Jack Morris pitched all ten innings of the final game, shutting out the Braves 1-0 for the title.
2001 – Mere months after the tragedy of 9/11, a loaded New York Yankees team was facing off with against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series. President Bush threw out one of the most memorable first pitches of all -time, a perfect strike. Each game was a thrilling contest, and the series dragged out to seven games. Behind the ace pitching duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling, the Diamondbacks sealed the deal in the final game.
2002 – In 2002, the Angels matched up against the San Francisco Giants for the championship. It was a noteworthy event, as this was the first time in World Series history that the final two teams were both Wild Card teams. Barry Bonds and Troy Glaus were on fire at the plate, hitting a litany of huge homers. The Angels got behind the magic of the Rally Monkey in en route to their franchise’s first title.
2003 – The Florida Marlins are an all-or-nothing club. They’ve only made the playoffs twice in their history, but they won the World Series on both occasions. In 2003, as an underdog against the New York Yankees, they would capture their second title. The Wild Card Marlins won in six games, riding the ace pitching of Josh Beckett, who won the series MVP.
2004 – The Curse of the Bambino haunted the Boston Red Sox for 86 years. They nearly ended their World Series drought numerous times, with several close calls that ended in painful collapse. Down 3-0 to the Yankees in the ALCS, the Red Sox suddenly reversed their fortunes. After coming back to win game four, the team caught fire, winning four straight to reach the World Series. They then went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals, finally breaking the curse.
2016 – When the Chicago Cubs met the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, it was their first time winning the pennant since 1945. Theo Epstein, their general manager, built the Red Sox squad that exorcised the demons of the Curse of the Bambino. He was now getting his shot to defeat the Curse of the Billy Goat as well. The Cubs ended up winning games six and seven on the road, the first team to do so since 1979, capturing their first championship in 107 years.
The Road to the World Series
Two Leagues, One Title
Major League Baseball is comprised of thirty teams, – fifteen in the National League and fifteen in the American League. Within each league are three divisions, representing the East, Central, and West. Each division consists of five franchises. The playoffs include ten clubs and four rounds of action, including the World Series.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the best record in each division “wins” the division, sending six teams through to the post-season. The remaining four spots are given to two Wild Card teams in each league. The two teams with the highest records that didn’t win their respective divisions are awarded the Wild Card spots.
The teams will play the first three rounds within their league, playing by their common rules. In order to reach the Series, a squad must win their league’s championship or pennant. Then, the two teams meet in the World Series. The rules of each individual game depend on the home team and which league they’re from. Pitchers hit in National League stadiums, while the Designated Hitter is utilized when the American League team is home.
Wild Card Game
The first round of the playoffs only involves a single game in each league. The two Wild Card teams play a single-elimination game, with the winning team advancing to a best-of-five divisional round series. The Wild Card team is then matched up against the winningest division winner. This round, which is basically a play-in game, was established in 2012.
Once the wWild Card slots are determined, the division series begins. The Wild Card team faces the division- winner with the best regular- season record, while the other two division winners play each other. This round is shorter than the next two, made up of best-of-five series, with the first team to win three games advancing to their league championships. These rounds are frequently referred to as the NLDS and ALDS.
League Championship Series
The league championships are essentially Major League Baseball’s semi-finals. The series in this round are best-of-seven contests, with the first team to four wins reaching the World Series. The team that wins their league is said to have won the “pennant.” Before 2000, the two leagues were legally separate entities, with each club representing their league. However, since then, the two associations have been dissolved and became one Major League Baseball organization. Regardless, both teams that reach the World Series are considered league champions, with the final series deciding the best franchise in all of baseball.
The World Series
The fourth and final round of the MLB post-season is the World Series. The two pennant-winning clubs face off in one last best-of-seven competition. Games played in the National League representative’s stadium are played under NL rules, with pitchers taking at-bats. Conversely, the games played in the American League stadiums involve a Designated Hitter. Home-field advantage is awarded to the team with the best regular- season record.
World Series Records
|Most World Series|
|14 – Yogi Berra|
|Most World Series won||10 – Yogi Berra|
|Most World Series appeared in with|
|4 – Lonnie Smith (PHI, STL, KC, ATL)|
|Most years played in Majors before|
appearing in World Series
|21 – Joe Niekro, MIN (1987); Mike Morgan, ARI (2001)|
|Youngest player to appear in World|
|Fred Lindstrom, NYG, 1924 (18 yr, 10 mo, 13 d)|
|Oldest player to appear in World|
|Jack Quinn, PHA, 1930 (46 yr, 2 mo, 29 d)|
|Most consecutive hits, series||7 – Billy Hatcher, CIN (1990)|
|Most consecutive games with a hit||17 – Hank Bauer, NYY (1956-58)|
|Most at-bats without a hit, series||22 – Dal Maxvill, STL (1968)|
|Only players w/ HR in first two World|
|Gene Tenace, OAK (1972); Andruw Jones, ATL (1996)|
|Last leadoff HR to start game||Derek Jeter, NYY (2000)|
|Last pinch-hit HR||Jim Leyritz, NYY (1999)|
|Most strikeouts one game (batter)||5 – George Pipgras, NYY (1932)|
|Only no-hit game (perfect game)||Don Larsen, NYY (Oct. 8, 1956)|
|Last no-hit bid (6 or more innings)||6 IP – Jerry Koosman, NYM (Oct. 12, 1969)|
|Last pitcher to win three games, series||Randy Johnson, ARI (2001)|
|Only pitcher to lose three games, series||George Frazier, NYY (1981)|
|Most strikeouts, one inning||4 – Ovrval Overall, CHC (Oct. 14, 1908)|
|Most consecutive scoreless innings||33 – Whitey Ford (1960-62)|
|Only pitcher to pitch in seven games||Darold Knowles, OAK (1973)|
|Most complete games, career||10 – Christy Mathewson|
|Youngest pitcher to throw|
|Jim Palmer, BAL, 1966 (20 yr, 11 mo, 21 d)|
|Oldest pitcher to throw complete-game|
|Randy Johnson, ARI, 2001 (38 yr, 1 mo, 18 d)|
|Most consecutive strikeouts, game||6 – Horace Eller, CIN (1919); Moe Drabowsky, BAL (1966);|
Todd Worrell, STL (1985)
|Best Career WS Batting Average||.418 – Pepper Martin; Paul Molitor|
|Most Career WS Hits||71 – Yogi Berra, NYY|
|Most Career WS Home Runs||18 – Mickey Mantle, NYY|
World Series Champions
The Last Twenty World Series Champions:
|Year||World Series Winner||League||Manager|
|1997||Florida Marlins||National||Jim Leyland|
|1998||New York Yankees||American||Joe Torre|
|1999||New York Yankees||American||Joe Torre|
|2000||New York Yankees||American||Joe Torre|
|2001||Arizona Diamondbacks||National||Bob Brenly|
|2002||Los Angeles Angels||American||Mike Scioscia|
|2003||Florida Marlins||National||Jack McKeon|
|2004||Boston Red Sox||American||Terry Francona|
|2005||Chicago White Sox||American||Ozzie Guillén|
|2006||St. Louis Cardinals||National||Tony La Russa|
|2007||Boston Red Sox||American||Terry Francona|
|2008||Philadelphia Phillies||National||Charlie Manuel|
|2009||New York Yankees||American||Joe Girardi|
|2010||San Francisco Giants||National||Bruce Bochy|
|2011||St. Louis Cardinals||National||Tony La Russa|
|2012||San Francisco Giants||National||Bruce Bochy|
|2013||Boston Red Sox||American||John Farrell|
|2014||San Francisco Giants||National||Bruce Bochy|
|2015||Kansas City Royals||American||Ned Yost|
|2016||Chicago Cubs||National||Joe Maddon|
|2017||Houston Astros||American||AJ Hinch|
World Series Championships per Team
|Team||League||# of Titles||Years Won|
|New York Yankees||American||27||1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943,1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953,|
1956, 1958, 1961, 1962,1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000,
|St. Louis Cardinals||National||11||1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982,|
|Boston Red Sox||American||8||1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007, 2013|
|New York Giants||National||5||1905, 1921, 1922, 1933, 1954|
|Philadelphia Athletics||American||5||1910, 1911, 1913, 1929, 1930|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||National||5||1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||National||5||1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988|
|Cincinnati Reds||National||5||1919, 1940, 1975, 1976, 1990|
|Detroit Tigers||American||4||1935, 1945, 1968, 1984|
|Oakland Athletics||American||4||1972, 1973, 1974, 1989|
|Baltimore Orioles||American||3||1966, 1970, 1983|
|Chicago Cubs||National||3||1907, 1908, 2016|
|Chicago White Sox||American||3||1906, 1917, 2005|
|San Francisco Giants||National||3||2010, 2012, 2014|
|Cleveland Indians||American||2||1920, 1948|
|Florida Marlins||National||2||1997, 2003|
|Kansas City Royals||American||2||1985, 2015|
|Minnesota Twins||American||2||1987, 1991|
|New York Mets||National||2||1969, 1986|
|Philadelphia Phillies||National||2||1980, 2008|
|Toronto Blue Jays||American||2||1992, 1993|
World Series MVPs, by Year
|2017||George Springer||OF||Houston (AL)|
|2016||Ben Zobrist||OF||Chi Cubs (NL)|
|2015||Salvador Perez||C||Kansas City (AL)|
|2014||Madison Bumgarner||P||San Francisco (NL)|
|2013||David Ortiz||DH||Boston (AL)|
|2012||Pablo Sandoval||3B||San Francisco (NL)|
|2011||David Freese||3B||St. Louis (NL)|
|2010||Edgar Renteria||SS||San Francisco (NL)|
|2009||Hideki Matsui||DH||NY Yankees (AL)|
|2008||Cole Hamels||P||Philadelphia (NL)|
|2007||Mike Lowell||3B||Boston (AL)|
|2006||David Eckstein||SS||St. Louis (NL)|
|2005||Jermaine Dye||OF||Chi White Sox (AL)|
|2004||Manny Ramirez||OF||Boston (AL)|
|2003||Josh Beckett||P||Florida (NL)|
|2002||Troy Glaus||3B||Anaheim (AL)|
|2001||Curt Schilling||P||Arizona (NL)|
|2001||Randy Johnson||P||Arizona (NL)|
|2000||Derek Jeter||SS||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1999||Mariano Rivera||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1998||Scott Brosius||3B||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1997||Livan Hernandez||P||Florida (NL)|
|1996||John Wetteland||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1995||Tom Glavine||P||Atlanta (NL)|
|1993||Paul Molitor||DH||Toronto (AL)|
|1992||Pat Borders||C||Toronto (AL)|
|1991||Jack Morris||P||Minnesota (AL)|
|1990||Jose Rijo||P||Cincinnati (NL)|
|1989||Dave Stewart||P||Oakland (AL)|
|1988||Orel Hershiser||P||Los Angeles (NL)|
|1987||Frank Viola||P||Minnesota (AL)|
|1986||Ray Knight||3B||NY Mets (NL)|
|1985||Bret Saberhagen||P||Kansas City (AL)|
|1984||Alan Trammell||SS||Detroit (AL)|
|1983||Rick Dempsey||C||Baltimore (AL)|
|1982||Darrell Porter||C||St. Louis (NL)|
|1981||Steve Yeager||C||Los Angeles (NL)|
|1981||Ron Cey||3B||Los Angeles (NL)|
|1981||Pedro Guerrero||OF||Los Angeles (NL)|
|1980||Mike Schmidt||3B||Philadelphia (NL)|
|1979||Willie Stargell||1B||Pittsburgh (NL)|
|1978||Bucky Dent||SS||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1977||Reggie Jackson||OF||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1976||Johnny Bench||C||Cincinnati (NL)|
|1975||Pete Rose||3B||Cincinnati (NL)|
|1974||Rollie Fingers||P||Oakland (AL)|
|1973||Reggie Jackson||OF||Oakland (AL)|
|1972||Gene Tenace||C||Oakland (AL)|
|1971||Roberto Clemente||OF||Pittsburgh (NL)|
|1970||Brooks Robinson||3B||Baltimore (AL)|
|1969||Donn Clendenon||1B||NY Mets (NL)|
|1968||Mickey Lolich||P||Detroit (AL)|
|1967||Bob Gibson||P||St. Louis (NL)|
|1966||Frank Robinson||OF||Baltimore (AL)|
|1965||Sandy Koufax||P||LA Dodgers (NL)|
|1964||Bob Gibson||P||St. Louis (NL)|
|1963||Sandy Koufax||P||LA Dodgers (NL)|
|1962||Ralph Terry||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1961||Whitey Ford||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1960||Bobby Richardson||2B||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1959||Larry Sherry||P||Los Angeles (NL)|
|1958||Bob Turley||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1957||Lew Burdette||P||Milwaukee (NL)|
|1956||Don Larsen||P||NY Yankees (AL)|
|1955||Johnny Podres||P||Brooklyn (NL)|
The Fall Classic is one of America’s greatest annual sporting traditions. For over 115 years, the best of the National and American Leagues have been facing off at the conclusion of the regular season to determine baseball supremacy. The first club to win four games is crowned World Series champion and receives the Commissioner’s Trophy.
The very first official World Series was played in 1903 between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans. The franchise that would eventually be named the Boston Red Sox won that inaugural competition, their first of eight titles. Since then, no team has won more championships than the New York Yankees, who more -than -double the second- place team’s total titles with twenty-seven series wins.
With over 113 World Series contests played, there’s a vast wealth of stories and memories from which to draw. Moments like Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run, Willie Mays’ catch, and Babe Ruth’s called shot all took place in the championship series and landed in baseball lore for eternity. Each season, more dreams are realized and more moments are created as teams battle to own their own little piece of baseball history.