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Will COVID Kill the World Series - World Series History


Only twice in history has the World Series NOT been played... 2020 could be number three. There will be plenty of disappointed fans if this happens.

There have been 115 World Series in 116 years and a season in 2020 reduced to 60 games. It all began in 1903 with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates vying for the championship of professional baseball. When the Fall Classic resumed in 1905, the New York Giants defeated the Philadelphia A's to become world champions. There has been a World Series champion crowned every year from 1905 until 1994 when the series was canceled due to a player's strike.

In the 115 World Series that have been played, the New York Yankees have dominated baseball's championship series with 40 appearances and 27 titles. The men in pinstripes have taken 24% of the titles which includes eight consecutive championships in 10 years during the 1950s. The Yankees also won six in the 1920s, five in the 30s, five in the 40s, and five in the 60s. Of course, the most famous Yankee of all is probably the legendary Babe Ruth. The St. Louis Cardinals have won the second most World Series with 11. The San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers (Washington Senators), Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Seattle Mariners remain the only teams NOT to win a World Series. The Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, and the Washington Senators (Montreal Expos) have won the Fall Classic just ONCE.

While several teams have never claimed a Major League Baseball title, other teams have made it there but came up short. The Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers have reached the pinnacle of baseball 20 times and lost 14 of those. For the Chicago Cubs, they've been to the World Series 11 times but their stretch between World Series victories is historical. Having won the title in 1908, it wasn't until 2016 that the city of Chicago would see their beloved Cubbies in another championship. That appearance was the first for the Cubs since 1945. The Boston Red Sox nearly match the Cubs for futility after winning the World Series in 1918 and not again until 2004. Many will remember the 1986 Fall Classic when Bill Buckner's error cost the Bosox a chance to win the World Series again and break the slump.

The memories of World Series gone by are countless - too many to name in one presentation. But there are a few that stand out.

  • Babe Ruth's appearance of calling for his own home run in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. As the "Great Gambino" looked to be pointing to center field, he smashed a home run directly there on the next pitch.
  • The Bill Buckner gaffe of 1986 that allowed the New York Mets to take game six and go on to win game seven and the World Series.

The dreams are that you're gonna have a great series and win. The nightmares are that you're gonna let the winning run score on a ground ball through your legs. Those things happen, you know. I think a lot of it is just fate.

Bill Buckner

  • The Boston Red Sox' Carlton Fisk encouraging a walk-off home run to stay in fair territory and defeat the Cincinnati Reds in game six of the 1975 World Series.
  • 15 years before Fisks's game-winning gem, in Pittsburgh Bill Mazeroski smokes a World Series-winning game-ending home run to defeat the heavily favored New York Yankees.
  • In 115 World Series, there has been only one no-hitter and it was also a perfect game tossed by the Yankees' Don Larsen
  • Another one and only in World Series history is a feat accomplished by Cleveland's Bill Wambsganss who turned in the only unassisted triple play in Fall Classic history.
  • Called the greatest team in baseball history... "Murderer's Row" the Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series 4 games to 0.
  • Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays joined Bill Mazeroski in hitting a walk-off home run in the 1993 World Series in game six to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 2.
  • Down three games to one in the 1979 World Series, Willie "Pops" Stargell and his We are Family Pittsburgh Pirates stormed back to win three straight games against the Baltimore Orioles to win the World Series making it the last time the Bucs won a baseball title. It was Pittsburgh's second World Series victory over Baltimore in eight seasons.
  • Major League Baseball's darkest day... the 1919 World Series thrown by the Chicago White Sox handed the Cincinnati Reds the victory leading to a trial and banishment from baseball of the "Eight Men Out" for purposely giving in to gamblers and fixing the series.
  • The 1987 Minnesota Twins, heavy underdogs to the St. Louis Cardinals, finish just eight games above .500, win the American League West Division, and then knock off the Cardinals in the World Series after St. Louis finished the season 95-67.
  • Worse than the 1987 Minnesota Twins were the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals who finished just five games above .500 but beat the Detroit Tigers in the Fall Classic in just five games.
  • The team that has won the most regular-season games and the World Series were the New York Yankees who won 114 games in 1998 and defeated the San Diego Padres in the Fall Classic.
  • The record for most victories in a regular season is 116 set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs who lost that season's World Series and the 2001 Seattle Mariners who never made it to the big dance, losing in the American League Championship series.
  • The 1927 Yankees won 110 games at a time when the major leagues were playing only 154 games. If they had the 162 game schedule, they may very well have set the early record for wins in a season or tied the 1906 Chicabo Cubs who won 116 games while losing just 36, but lost in the World Series to their crosstown rival White Sox.

Of the 115 World Series played through 2019, the American League has won 66 times while the older National League has crowned a champion 49 times. The New York Yankees' 27 World Series titles represents 41% of all American Leauge World Series triumphs!

How about some World Series records?

Hall of Fame member Yogi Berra who was a star with the New York Yankees holds many of the World Series hitting records:

  • Most at-bats (259)
  • Most doubles (10 - tied with Frankie Frisch)
  • Most hits (71)
  • Most plate appearances (295)
  • Most singles (49)
  • Second in most home runs (15 - Mickey Mantle hit 18)
  • Second in RBIs (39 - Mickey Mantle had 40)
  • Second in runs scored (41 - Mickey Mantle had 42)
  • Second in total bases (117 - Mickey Mantle had 123)

What about the pitchers?

  • Most complete games (10 by Christy Mathewson)
  • Most games pitched (24 by Mariano Rivera)
  • Most games started (24 by Whitey Ford)
  • Most home runs allowed (9 by Catfish Hunter)
  • Most innings pitched (146 by Whitey Ford)
  • Most victories (10 by Whitey Ford)
  • Most losses (5 by Joe Bush)
  • Most saves (11 by Mariano Rivera)
  • Most shutouts (4 by Christy Mathewson)
  • Most strikeouts (94 by Whitey Ford)

Single-game World Series records:

  • Most doubles in one game (4 by Frank Isbell in 1906 for the Chicago White Sox)
  • Most hits in one World Series game (5 by Paul Molitor & Albert Pujols)
  • Most home runs (3 by Reggie Jackson)
  • Most singles (5 by Paul Molitor)
  • Most strikeouts (5 by George Pipgras)
  • Total bases (14 by Albert Pujols)

Single-game World Series records for the pitchers:

  • Most base on balls (10 by Bill Bevens)
  • Doubles allowed (8 by Walter Johnson)
  • Most hits allowed (15 by Walter Johnson)
  • Most home runs allowed (4 by Dick Hughes, Charlie Root, Junior Thompson)
  • Most strikeouts by a starting pitcher (17 by Bob Gibson)
  • Most strikeouts by a relief pitcher (11 by Moe Drabowsky)
  • Most consecutive strikeouts to start a game (5 by Mort Cooper, Sandy Koufax)
  • Most strikeouts by a losing pitcher (12 by Walter Johnson (extra innings), Orlando Hernandex (nine innings))
  • Total bases allowed (25 by Walter Johnson)
  • Most triples allowed (5 by Deacon Phillippe)

Some final interesting World Series Trivia:

  • Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox holds the dubious record of the only skipper in Major League history to be thrown out of a game in two separate series (1992 & 1996)
  • There have been 21 World Series swept by the winning team in straight games
  • The longest World Series game in history was between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox who played for 18 innings in 2018
  • The 1978 World Series drew the largest television audience in history when 44,278,950 fans witnessed the series good for a rating of 32.8
  • Umpire Bill Klem worked the most World Series in history appearing in 18 series.
  • In 2017, players on the winning World Series team received a share of $438,901.57 while the losing team was paid $259,722.14 per man. In the very first World Series members of the victorious Boston Red Sox got paid $1,182 per man while Pittsburgh's team earned a share of $1,316.25
  • Only three players have won the World Series Most Valuable Player award twice and they were Bob Gibson (1964, 1967), Reggie Jackson (1973, 1977), Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965)

So there you have it and all that remains is whether the shortened 2020 season gives us another World Series or will we have to wait for 2021 and beyond?

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About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can also watch Harv’s videos on his YouTube channel “Total Sports Recall.”

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