The World Series of History

Already a sport prone to steep in itself, baseball knows no greater temptation for self-mythologizing than the World Series. Between pennant races, wild card berths, division playoff battles, league championships games and commercial breaks, the modern game has built in ample time for fans to learn, then as the playoffs grind on, to obsess over Series lore. It’s from this nostalgia hothouse that past performances are fertilized, pruned, and re-presented as titled performances like the catch, the wave, or simply Buckner.

The first modern-era World Series game was played between the Boston Beaneaters and the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the time it was known as the “Championship of the United States,” a more accurate, if less grandiose, title. The Pirates have the honor of winning the first-ever World Series game (7-2) but the eternal shame of losing the first series in eight games. MLB.com recaps the ensuing 103 years.

The Sporting News runs through the history of the World Series, year by year from 1903 onward. From this trove that you can learn that artificial grass made its first World Series appearance in 1970, that the lowest Series attendance came in 1908 when a piddling 6,210 fans managed to drag themselves to the final game or that game three of the 1992 series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves was the first time the championship was held outside of America. To test your series knowledge try here.

Not content to watch or listen, some dedicated and patient (read unhinged) fan replayed Game six of the 1986 series on Nintendo. Since Pong, video games and sports have always had a snug relationship. Gamers now have eliminated the middleman—athletics—and launched their own world series. It joins stamp collecting and dice as pursuits worthy of a WS.

The world of fiction offers a glimpse of World Series future. In 2015, the Cubs finally beat their curse topping the Miami Gators, an expansion-team envisioned by the creators of Back to the Future II. More startling, baseball’s end is near—if Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is to be believed. The sci-fi TV series has Buck Bokai and the London Kings coming out on top in the 2042 World Series, the last before Major League Baseball—and planet Earth—disband.

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