May 25, 2013
The World Series originated in 1884 when it was agreed that the best club in the National League and best club in the American Association would face each other in post season play. In that first Series the A.A. champion New York Metropolitans took on the N.L. champion Providence Grays in a best out of five affair. The Grays won the Series in three straight games and were acclaimed "champions of the world" by the press.
A post season championship series was then held each year afterwards from 1885 through 1890 between the A.A. and N.L. pennant winners. These series ranged in length from six to fifteen games. (The longest World Series was in 1887, when the N.L. 's Detroit Wolverines took on the A.A. 's St. Louis Browns in a traveling, road show affair that was played in ten different cities - Detroit won the series ten games to five.)
No World Series was held in 1891, due to the demise of the American Association at the end of the season. In 1892 a twelve team National League, (which now had a monopoly on major league baseball) divided it's regular season into two halves, with the winner of the first half facing the winner of the second half in post season play. Boston beat Cleveland in that edition of the Series, but the divided season format did not prove to be popular and was not repeated in 1883.
1894 N.Y. Giants, winners of the very first Temple Cup
In 1884 William Temple, the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, donated a trophy, and the first and second place teams played each other for the Temple Cup. This version of the World Series was held annually through 1887, but the format did not catch on with the fans and no post season series was held in 1888 and 1889.
In 1900 second place Pittsburgh challenged pennant winning Brooklyn to a best out of five game post season series. The winner was to receive a silver cup donated by a Pittsburgh newspaper. All the games were played in Pittsburgh, and the Brooklyn Superbas took home the Chronicle-Telegraph Cup after beating the Pirates three games to one.
No World Series took place in 1901 and 1902. In 1901 the American League had upgraded itself to major league status, but the N.L. did not make peace with the new league until 1903, and it was then that the first modern-day World Series was played between the N.L. and A.L. pennant winners. The A.L. 's Boston Americans defeated the N.L. 's Pittsburgh Pirates five games to three in a best of nine affair.
No World Series was held in 1904 because John McGraw, manager of the N.L. pennant winning New York Giants, refused to face Boston in a World Series. He felt the champions of the upstart American League were not worthy opponents. But in 1905 baseball's National Commission established the World Series on a permanent basis and McGraw's Giants (who repeated as pennant winners) faced Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics in a best of seven affair. The Giants won the series four games to one. And the World Series has been a part of our lives ever since.