20 Fascinating World Series Facts You Might Not Know
The World Series starts Wednesday night in San Francisco. Each year, baseball’s championship produces new memorable moments and heroes who add to the lore of the Fall Classic. Here are 20 fascinating facts about the World Series:
The World Series used to be best-of-nine games.
The Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, five games to three, in the inaugural World Series in 1903. It then became a best-of-seven, before reverting to best-of-nine again for three years starting in 1919. Since 1922, teams have had to win just four to claim the title.
The New York Yankees made 29 World Series appearances from 1921 to 1964.
Winners of 27 world championships, the Yankees have appeared in 40 total World Series, including five consecutive ones on two separate occasions (1949-1953 and 1960-1964)—all World Series records.
The Giants have a National League-record 19 World Series appearances.
San Francisco’s win in the 2012 NLCS nudged them ahead of the Dodgers, who have 18 World Series appearances. The Giants also hold the record for consecutive World Series appearances by a National League team, appearing four consecutive times from 1921-1924 while based in New York.
Six teams have played in the World Series but never won it.
The San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros have each participated in at least one World Series without winning the title.
The Seattle Mariners and Washington Nationals are the only current teams who have not played a World Series game.
A member of the American League since 1977, the Seattle Mariners have yet to play in a World Series, losing in the ALCS in 1995, 2000 and 2001. Introduced into the league in 1969 as the Montreal Expos, the Washington Nationals franchise has never played a World Series game, losing the NLCS in 1981.
There have been 15 walk-off home runs hit in World Series history.
David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals hit the most recent game-winning home run in the World Series when he won Game 6 against the Texas Rangers in 2011 in the 11th inning. Only Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960 and Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 have hit World Series-clinching homers.
Mickey Mantle has the most World Series home runs.
Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees was a fearsome World Series hitter. He holds records for home runs (18), RBIs (40), runs (42), walks (43), total bases (123) and strikeouts (123).
Bill Buckner has been a World Series goat twice.
Many fans know of Bill Buckner as the Boston Red Sox first baseman who misplayed a ground ball, allowing the Mets to score the winning run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. In 1974, Buckner, then with the Los Angeles Dodgers, tried to stretch a double into a triple against the Oakland A’s with his team down a run in Game 5. He was thrown out at third base, killing the rally and helping the A’s clinch the series.
Yogi Berra won 10 World Series rings.
A longtime New York Yankees’ catcher, Yogi Berra was a member of 10 teams that won the World Series, a major-league record. Berra also is the World Series record-holder with 14 appearances, 75 games played and 259 plate appearances.
There has been only one triple play in World Series history.
In 624 games over 107 World Series, Bill Wambsganss of the Cleveland Indians recorded the only triple play—unassisted, too—in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Joe DiMaggio holds the World Series record for grounding into double plays.
The great Joe DiMaggio, famed owner of the record 56-game hitting streak, also grounded into seven double plays in his World Series career, giving the Yankee Clipper a record he probably didn’t want.
Bobby Richardson won the World Series MVP even though his team lost.
Bobby Richardson won the Most Valuable Player award of the 1960 World Series, but his Yankees lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won Game 7 on Bill Mazeroski’s home run. Richardson is the only recipient of the World Series MVP to play on the losing team.
Lonnie Smith appeared in the World Series with a record four different teams.
Lonnie Smith appeared in the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies (1980), St. Louis Cardinals (1982), Kansas City Royals (1985) and Atlanta Braves (1991 and 1992).
George Frazier lost three games in one World Series.
A relief pitcher for the New York Yankees, George Frazier took the loss three times in the 1981 World Series. The Yankees lost the series to the Los Angles Dodgers, four games to two. Lefty Williams of the Chicago White Sox lost three games in the best-of-nine 1919 World Series, the one allegedly thrown by the Sox.
Darold Knowles pitched in all seven games of the 1973 World Series.
In the middle of their three-year run as World Series champions, the Oakland A’s used relief pitcher Darold Knowles to the fullest in 1973. He pitched in each game of the World Series against the New York Mets, saving two, including Game 7.
The largest single-game World Series crowd was 92,706.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the Chicago White Sox in the 1959 World Series at the cavernous Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, World Series attendance records were set that may never be challenged. In Game 5, 92,706 fans filled the stands intent on watching the home team clinch the title. However, the Dodgers lost 1-0 and had to win the series in Chicago in Game 6. The total attendance for the six-game series was 420,784, also a record.
The first World Series night game was in 1971.
The World Series was a daytime event until Major League Baseball scheduled Game 4 of the 1971 World Series at night. In that game, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The last World Series day game was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, won by the Minnesota Twins, 11-5, over the St. Louis Cardinals inside the Metrodome. The last World Series game held in actual daylight was Game 5 of the 1984 World Series between Detroit and San Diego at Tiger Stadium.
No ‘World’ team has ever lost a World Series.
The Toronto Blue Jays are the only team from the “world” (that is, outside the U.S.) to host the World Series. The Blue Jays defeated the Atlanta Braves in 1992 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1993.
The 1934 World Series ended in a near riot.
Fans of the winning team can sometimes get unruly after their team wins (or loses) the World Series. In Game 7 of the 1934 Series, Detroit Tigers fans got rowdy after Joe Medwick of the Cardinals spiked Tigers third baseman Marv Owen with St. Louis up 8-0. When Medwick returned to the field for the bottom of the sixth inning, the Detroit fans pelted him with garbage until Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ordered Medwick removed from the game and the premises for his own safety.
It has been 104 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.
The 104-year title drought is a baseball record. The Cubs’ last appearance in the World Series was in 1945, and their last World Series win was 1908, when they repeated as World Series champs. They lost the NLCS in 1984, 1989 and 2003 (rather famously). The Cleveland Indians’ drought is currently second, with 64 years since their last World Series championship.