The 2021 World Series will be the 117th time two teams have battled it out to claim the title of MLB World Champions and the best team in baseball. The Series starts this year on October 27th.
How many World Series do you recall? Depending on your age, you might recall World Series from several decades back…especially if your team had been in it.
So, let’s look back at the World Series from 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago. You’re going to be surprised how fast time has flown by, and you’ll likely know many of the names of the players, even if they played decades before you were born.
25 years ago. 1996 World Series.
New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves.
Outcome: The Yanks won in six by winning four straight games after dropping the first two at home.
Key Yankees: Bernie Williams, Jim Leyritz, Wade Boggs, Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neil, Jim Wetteland. Manager: Joe Torre.
Key Braves: Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Marquis Grissom, Steve Avery, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux. Manager: Bobby Cox.
Stadiums: Yankee Stadium, the Bronx. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta.
- In the 4th inning of Game 4, Braves outfielder Marquis Grissom dropped a fly ball, putting a runner on who then scored on a double. The game ended 1-0.
- Joe Torre’s first season as manager of the Yankees, his first of 12 seasons.
- The Braves’ Andruw Jones, 19 years old, hit home runs in his first two World Series at-bats.
The Yankees hadn’t been to the World Series since they’d lost to the Dodgers in 1981, 15 years earlier, and they hadn’t been WS champs in 18 years. The Braves were back in ’96 after defeating the Indians in the World Series the year before.
Behind great pitching, of course, and led by manager Bobby Cox, the Braves won the first two games, at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the next three games in Atlanta. In Game 4, the Yanks came back from 6-0 down to beat the Braves 8-6 in extra innings. Game 6 was a 3-2 Yankees win at Yankee Stadium and the end of the Series.
50 years ago. 1971 World Series.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Baltimore Orioles
Outcome: The Pirates took it in seven.
Key Pirates: Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Nelson Briles, Steve Blass. Manager: Danny Murtaugh.
Key Orioles: Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Don Buford. Manager: Earl Weaver.
Stadiums: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh. Memorial Stadium, Baltimore.
- Game 4 in Pittsburgh was the first-ever World Series game played at night.
- Baltimore had four 20-game winners: McNally (21), and Cuellar, Dobson and Palmer (20 each).
- Steve Blass of the Pirates had two complete-game wins.
This was the third straight year the Orioles had been in the World Series. They’d beaten the Reds in the Series the year before. However, they’d lost to the “Amazin’ Mets” in 1969. Baltimore started out strong, taking the first two games at home, the second one being an 11-3 blowout. Pittsburgh battled back and won Games 3, 4 and 5 on their home turf, with Game 5 being a 4-0 shoutout.
Down 3-2, Baltimore took Game 6 in 10 innings by a score of 4-3 when Frank Robinson scored on a Brooks Robinson sacrifice fly. Dave McNally, pitching in relief in the 10th inning, got the final out with the bases loaded.
Clemente hit a solo homer in Game 7, the Pirates added another run and Blass pitched his second complete game for a 2-1 win to take the Series. Clemente, the Series MVP, batted .414 with 12 hits and two home runs. Finally, the Pirates 1960 World Series hero, Bill Mazeroski, was on the Pirates roster in ’71 and had one at-bat.
75 years ago. 1946 World Series.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox
Outcome: Cardinals took the series 4-3.
Key Cardinals: Stan Musial, Joe Garagiola, Harry Walker, Enos Slaughter, Dick Sisler. Manager: Eddie Dyer.
Key Red Sox: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Jonny Pesky. Manager: Joe Cronin.
Stadiums: Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis. Fenway Park, Boston.
- Slaughter’s “Mad Dash”: With two outs in the 8th inning of Game 7, Enos “Country” Slaughter scored from first base on a hit by Harry Walker. Running lights-out and never stopping, Slaughter beat the tag at home when Boston shortstop Johnny Pesky hesitated slightly on the relay throw.
- It was the first time the defensive shift was used in a World Series game.
- St. Louis pitcher Harry Brecheen became the first southpaw to win three games in a World Series.
It was the fourth time in five years that the Cards had been to the Series. It was Boston’s first trip since they had won in 1918, 28 years earlier. This Series featured two of the game’s best-ever left-handed hitters in Ted Williams and Stan Musial. Both players had returned from military duty that season and were the MVPs of their respective leagues.
The teams alternated winning the first six games. Game 7 ended up being a 4-3 win for the Cardinals in St. Louis. However, Williams didn’t have much of a Series, batting only .200. The Cardinals used the shift against Williams in the Series, which was first used against him that season by the Cleveland Indians’ manager.
100 years ago. 1921 World Series.
New York Giants vs. New York Yankees
Outcome: Giants took the Series 5-3. (The World Series then was best-of-nine.)
Key Giants: Frank Snyder, Inish Meusel, Frankie Frisch, Jesse Barnes. Manager: John McGraw.
Key Yankees: Waite Hoyt, Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Wally Pipp. Manager: Miller Huggins.
Stadium: The Polo Grounds, Upper Manhattan, New York.
- Game 1 was the very first World Series game to be broadcast.
- New York’s Waite Hoyt threw a two-hitter in Game 2 and didn’t allow an earned run over three complete games.
- The Giants got 20 hits in Game 3, a record that stood for 80 years.
- The Meusel brothers (Inish and Bob) faced off in the Series. Inish was named the Series’ outstanding player.
This was the first-ever World Series Subway Series between the New York American League and National League teams, and it was the first time the Yankees had been in a World Series. All of the Series games were played in the Polo Grounds, which both teams shared. Yankee Stadium was two years away from opening in 1923.
The Yankees’ Carl Mays pitched 26 innings without walking a batter. Still, the Yankees lost in their first World Series appearance ever. Ruth hit .331, with one home run, his first in a World Series, but an injury forced him to miss the last three games. The Giants won all three to take the Series, 5-3.
Sources: “The World Series: An illustrated Encyclopedia of the Fall Classis,” Josh Levanthal, Tess Press; “20th Century Baseball Chronicle. A Year-by-Year History of Major League Baseball,” Tormont/Publications International Ltd.; “Baseball: An Illustrated History.”: Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns: Alfred A. Knopf; Wikipedia.org.